By Stacy Blackman
Career potential is the key advantage that US MBA programs have over European (EU) business schools in the eyes of MBA applicants, according to Stacy Blackman Consulting’s MBA Applicant Trend Survey.
The study measured values among over 500 MBA applicants—46% US citizens and 54% internationals—for both US and EU MBA programs.
In it, applicants rate US MBA programs more highly across the career-related attributes of reputation, recruiting, and networking, with ratings between 54% and 75%. By contrast, the career potential of EU MBA programs was rated at just 17%.
Despite the uncertainty of the political climate under Donald Trump, career potential distinctly defines US MBA programs. Still, there are other attributes that are valued by applicants in EU MBA programs
What applicants said:
75% said reputation is stronger for US than for EU programs
62% said career path will be accelerated at US programs
54% said US programs have strong professional networks
48% said EU offers shorter duration, lower tuition costs
37% said EU better supports international career goals
35% prefer EU because unsure of US political climate
35% prefer EU due to desire for global student group
25% prefer EU because more likely to get admitted than to a US MBA program
75% said reputation is stronger for US MBA programs than non-US MBA programs
Reputation is the key indicator for MBA admission among all business school applicants. 75% of respondents report that reputation is stronger for US MBA programs than non-US MBA programs.
Second to reputation, the benefit of accelerated career path afforded by US MBA programs was high at 62%. The third priority in valuing US MBA programs, at 54%, is strong professional networks.
Reputation matters. “The reason top US MBA schools are in demand is that top employers continue to source their talent from these pools of students, and this is especially critical for students wishing to make an industry and/or functional pivot post-MBA.
“Between the on-campus recruiting opportunities and broad reaching alumni networks, there is tremendous value in a US-based MBA,” shared a current top-five MBA career coach who works for the Stacy Blackman Consulting team.
Survey respondents provided context to these values. Access to US employers was a key advantage expressed respondents. One commented: “I would like to change markets and go to the states, it’s difficult coming from a German undergrad.”
Industry switchers also favor the US MBA program as one respondent commented: “Coming from a non-business background, I am looking for two-year MBA programs versus the European one-year MBA.”
The depth of coursework and intellectual rigor that a two-year program affords was also recognized, as one respondent valued the “case-based and experiential pedagogies that are popular across US schools.”
And, for many US-based applicants, it’s merely a matter of logistics. They said: “Travel costs would be prohibitive for an international program; I wouldn’t like to travel overseas away from family for an extended period; I only want to work in the US.”
48% value the shorter duration and lower tuition costs of EU MBA programs
Shorter duration and lower tuition costs are EU MBA program advantages, endorsed by 48% of respondents. Further, applicants value non-US MBA programs when their post-MBA goals are international, at a rate of 38%.
Brand and career recruiting for non-US MBA programs was the least valued (at 17%) which is far lower than the perception of US MBA program brand, reported at 75%.
My advice: make an informed choice
Differences between US and EU programs also include composition of student class and geographical outplacement profiles.
Do you want a student class that is US or international dominant?
If your preference is fewer US students (10%) and a dominant (90%) international student class, programs in the EU such as INSEAD, LBS and HEC Paris are excellent choices. If you favor a US peer group (60%+) with around 30% international students, the US MBA programs are your fit.
Where do you want to live upon graduation?
If your professional goal is to live and work in Europe, pursuing an MBA there is arguably the best introduction to business life regionally. INSEAD, LBS, and HEC Paris place under 10% into US-based employment roles and many more, at 50-to-66%, into Europe.
If you prefer to work in the US, the US MBA programs dominate with 87-to-89% outplacement to the US.
Europe or the US? Wherever your career path leads, an MBA will help.