The St. Gallen MBA: What You Need To Know
If you’re looking for a job in the German-speaking part of Europe, then St. Gallen is going to be close to the top of your MBA school list. Located just an hour’s train ride from Zurich and the same on a plane from Frankfurt, St. Gallen places about two-thirds of its MBA class into Swiss jobs, with a further 10% finding employment in Germany.
Because the aim of St. Gallen’s full-time MBAs is to land jobs in that region, it is a very practical program, with lots of emphasis on the skills graduates will need to flourish there, and not so much hifalutin theorizing about modish abstracts like “leadership” and “intrapreneurship” (though of course they cover those topics). After the core MBA courses, students spend a month on practical Integration Courses, cases where they can use what they have learned before they move on. Waiting until the end of the program to integrate their new knowledge is too late, goes the rationale; in the St. Gallen way, students can move on to electives and in-house projects having already used their new skills.
MBAs take five of a possible 20 electives, which include mainstays such as Private Equity and Management Accounting but also newer ones like Machine Learning and AI, Being Digital, and Bringing IT To Life.
Playing into the overarching theme of practicality, 80% of elective classes are now taught by practitioners, such as managers from Microsoft and Amazon, rather than professors. That is useful for ensuring the information students receive is bang up-to-date, and also for making quality contacts for their future career. The MBA finishes with a 10- to 12-week project that involves solving a real-life business problem for a company.
St. Gallen is not the biggest school in the world, but it does have 84 nationalities in its alumni network, and a high reputation locally.
Ewa Maciejewski, Head of MBA Programmes and Career Services
Being located in the Swiss-German context, our aim is to get people jobs in this part of the world, and most of our full-time MBAs stay in German-speaking Europe. We are very clear that students learn useful things that make them more employable and accelerate their careers. We are very precise and direct about what we are trying to achieve. Obviously, that includes the core MBA course and electives, but we also help people with “missing skills.” These can seem basic, like using Excel properly, but can make a huge difference to someone’s ability to analyze a problem properly. Our MBA is all about competencies that give people good, long-term careers.
Sarah Chian, MBA 2019
One thing that attracted me to St. Gallen was that the MBA is a one-year program, because the opportunity cost of a two-year program seemed too long to me. German classes are included in the course, which is useful for me because I want to move to Zurich afterward.
A unique thing about St. Gallen is the exam at the end of the core courses. You are given a case in the form of a newspaper article, then you have 24 hours to prepare and present in front of a jury of professors and CEOs or board members. It’s exciting and scary, but it feels very practical.
My aims have changed during the MBA. I thought I wanted to work in a tech company, but I have discovered that my passion lies in working with traditional businesses, coming up with digital transformation strategy. I have learned a lot about myself during the MBA.