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European MBA vs US MBA -- which is better?
Karan Gupta
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December 12, 2006

I'd rather join a top university in Europe than an average university in the United States. Since many European universities ask applicants to take their own exams, I can get into a top ranked European university even with a low GMAT score," says Anurag Mathur (name changed), a business school aspirant.

Is Anurag's opinion a sign of changing trends? Are we now beginning to see a shift from Uncle Sam's green pastures to the European Union?

For many years, Indian students vied for admissions to business schools in the United States only. However, for the last few years, a new trend seems to be taking shape. Students are beginning to realise that the one-year European MBA may propel their careers in the right direction. In some cases, it may just be better than the traditional two-year US MBA.

Completing the entire MBA curriculum in one year is the number one concern for many students.

"I don't think I can study the entire MBA in one year. I need to go slow. Since I have no formal business education, I don't think I would like to study at a business school that offers a one-year MBA programme," says an engineering graduate.

However, for many students who want to get on the work wagon quickly, a one-year MBA programme is ideal. "No business person I know would do a two-year MBA," says David Standen, director, Instituto de Empresa, Spain. "Two-year MBAs are for potential business people; actual business people know the value of their time."

A one-year MBA does not necessarily mean the curriculum is more difficult. What it really means is that, just like in the real world, you work hard and you play hard. In fact, the curriculum for most one-year and two-year MBA programmes is pretty much the same.

The investment difference between European and American business schools is significant. If you were to get admitted to Harvard or Wharton, you would spend approximately US$ 71,000 or $ 80,000 for your tuition fees alone. In sharp contrast, if you were admitted to INSEAD, IMD or IE, you would spend $ 54,500, $ 43,000 or $ 45,500 respectively (London Business School is an exception as their MBA programme is two years long; your tuition at the LBS is a whopping $ 85,000). So, your European MBA not only saves you time; it also saves you money.

Top business schools


Best European Business Schools

Best American Business Schools


London Business School

Harvard University



University of Pennsylvania


IE (Instituto de Empresa)

Columbia University





University of Oxford



Cambridge University

University of Chicago


Manchester Business School

Northwestern University



New York University



Dartmouth College


Athens University of Eco & Business

Yale University


Source: ReportED Rankings, 2006

Source: ReportED Rankings, 2006

The table shows the rankings of European business schools in comparison with American business schools.

Does this mean IMD and Stanford are at par with each other? Or that the Columbia MBA and the IE MBA have the same value?

It's really not fair to compare universities on the basis of rankings. One cannot say with surety that Stanford is better than IMD or vice versa. Rankings can be used as a tool for you to decide which schools you want to apply to, but don't use rankings to answer the ultimate question -- which business school is better? Study the course content, student reviews and placement rates to find the answer to that question.

The ultimate goal for students who plan an MBA is the job prospects after graduation. Most feel it is very difficult to get a work permit after studying in an European business school.

However, the UK government has announced that, if you graduate from the 'top 50 world business schools', you are qualified to apply for a one year work permit in the UK. Remember, however, this is permission for you to work in the UK; it does not mean the government will give you a job.

Also, if you decide to learn the language of the place where you studied, chances are good that you'll get picked up by a local company in Europe itself. "Students come in two months early and learn Spanish. We don't charge students for this. When they graduate, it adds to their professional value if they have a working knowledge of Spanish. They have a much better chance of getting employment in Spain or abroad," says Standen.

What about employers back in India?

Ankit Miglani, director, Uttam Galva, says, "An international education is always held in higher regard than a degree from a more protected environment. It is expected that a college based in a more globally exposed environment will hone the interaction skills of an individual more effectively than an institution based in a smaller town, which may potentially lack a diverse international community. By large, European schools are exposed to multiple cultures owing to their location that allows convenient movement among countries. However, the quality of the school itself holds more merit. The latter implies higher quality of instruction due to availability of educators who are more experienced in practical applications of business tools. "

You have a vast range of opportunities open to you. The only way you can decide where to go is to first analyse your career goals. If you don't have any career goals, analyse the weather -- cold winters in New York versus sunny days in Spain or rainy months in London versus the warmth of California. Whatever you decide, you don't have to follow the herd.

Planning to do your MBA abroad? Get your queries answered by Karan in a live chat on December 14, 2.30 pm. 

Karan Gupta is an education consultant and can be contacted on


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Number of User Comments: 6

Sub: Executive MBAs

I have Joined an ITM Executive Part Time MBA School not Recognized by AICTE, will i get Better Job Oppurtunities as Compared to Full Time ...

Posted by Viral

Sub: EPBM recognition

Hi, I want to go for one year Executive Business Management Program course offered by IIM Calcutta. Is anybody aware of market value of it? ...

Posted by Mehal

Sub: Wrong ratings

I do not know on what basis you are giving these ratings. IMD is considered to be the best b-school in europe

Posted by Eswar

Sub: MBA

hello, its good that the trend is changing from chanting USA to UK. but what about those who aspire to settleup in UK or USA ...

Posted by shalini

Sub: European MBA v/s US MBA

The rankings displayed in the article are credited to reportED (sic) rankings. What is this agency? Instead, if some reputed agency's rankings (say FT or ...

Posted by Sagar Tanksali


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