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Forbes MBA Ranking: European Business Schools Offer Best Return On Investment

Want a strong ROI on your MBA? Forbes ranking shows why many students are opting for shorter one-year MBAs in Europe

Mon Sep 30 2019

BusinessBecause
When Forbes released its MBA ranking last week, it was not a big US business school that drew headlines. Instead, it was IMD on the shores of Lake Geneva in Switzerland. 

The Forbes ranking is based solely on the median return on investment (ROI) achieved by graduates from the class of 2014. Schools are ranked based on their 'five-year MBA gain', or the net cumulative amount the typical alum would have earned after five years through an MBA, rather than staying in the workforce. 

IMD’s five-year gain is $168,900, far higher than elite US schools like Chicago Booth, which topped Forbes’ US ranking with a five-year gain of $94,400. Forbes produces separate rankings for the best one and two-year MBAs outside the US. 


One-year vs. two-year MBA programs

One-year courses have an inherent advantage under Forbes’ methodology, thanks to the lower opportunity cost of not working for a single year, compared to two-year MBAs. But Sean Meehan, dean of IMD’s MBA, also puts the stellar ROI down to the school’s strong cohort. 

IMD students are generally more experienced than their US peers, with seven years of work experience on average, he explains. So, on graduation they have great potential for promotion, thereby boosting their earnings. 

Forbes found that MBA candidates enrol at IMD with $82,000 salaries on average and earned $200,000 five years after graduation. 



This high ROI will be attractive to prospective students and goes some way to explaining the growth in applications to European MBA programs in recent years. With their short course durations, one-year non-US courses produced graduates with an average five-year gain of $62,300, according to Forbes. 

The high ROI is also because European programs tend to be more diverse than US courses and therefore draw more students from emerging economies, says Brandon Kirby at the Rotterdam School of Management in the Netherlands. This means that average pre-MBA pay can be lower at European schools, which leads to larger five-year gains on graduation, he says. 

The fact that many overseas students of US schools are struggling to secure work authorization in the country because of stringent visa checks and the lottery H-1B visa system, may also have limited US schools’ ROI, he says. 

Overseas students may be forced to return home on graduation to countries with lower average salaries than in the US—though earlier this year there were changes made to the H1B Visa process in the US, which could make it easier for international MBA graduates to secure employment. 

Given this backdrop, Brandon says now is an even better time than before to pursue an MBA in Europe. 

“With more prospective students considering Europe than ever before, European schools must seize this opportunity and solidify the idea that Europe is just as attractive as the US as a study destination,” he says.


The state of two-year MBAs in the US

The high European ROI compares with a $54,500 gain for graduates of two-year US programs in the Forbes ranking. 

These courses are suffering a second year of successive application plunges. Even most of the elite schools such as Stanford, Dartmouth Tuck, and Duke Fuqua have reported declines in recent months. 

This is in part due to the high opportunity cost amid a booming US economy, with prospective students less willing to put their salaries on pause and potentially miss out on promotion to get a pricey MBA. Forbes estimates that fees and forgone compensation can top $350,000 at the best US schools. 

However, the Forbes ranking does not take into account the many harder-to-measure returns of an MBA that are crucial for applicants to consider when choosing a study destination. These include the quality of the teaching, faculty, and alumni networks, as well as the composition of the cohort and career placement data. 

US based admissions consultant Stacy Blackman says: “If your professional goal is to live and work in Europe, pursuing an MBA there is arguably the best option. 

“INSEAD, LBS, and HEC Paris place under 10% of graduates into US-based jobs and 50% to 66% into Europe. If you prefer to work in the US, the US MBA programs are a good choice since they place 87% to 89% of students in the US.” 

Student Reviews

Bayes Business School

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31/10/2023

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Best Journalism school in Europe

When I first stepped onto the campus of City, University of London, I knew I was in for a ride - and not just on the Tube! With its vibrant energy and an impressive repertoire of programs, City U became my home away from home. The Journalism program was kind of a big deal. Rumour was that we were the best in Europe! The lecturers were not just experts in their field; they’re practically journalistic royalty. They were invested, passionate, and had a knack for turning the most flat press release into a riveting news story. With their guidance, I’ve learned to navigate the chaotic world of media like a pro. The campus was a melting pot of every culture, being that we had such a diverse international crowd. Being in the heart of London, I had the world at my fingertips - there was always a new corner to explore, a hidden gem of a cafe to discover, or a street performer! City, University of London wasn't just a university; it was a chapter in my life story that I’ll never forget.

Lydia

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23/02/2023

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The teacher-learner ration is manageable, giving each learner a chance to gain personal attention. It is also easier following up on the progress of a student, as the numbers per class is not large. the conducive environment for learning includes clean classes, standard desks, world class instructional facilities and the opportunity to engage lecturers even after their sessions. The team spirit at City is above board, with learners getting chance to learn both from instructors and colleagues. This is the university of choice; the place to be.

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I liked that each class had a manageable number of learners, making the professor-learner ratio favor knowledge acquisition. I also liked that study schedules were manageable, and not overwhelming. The focus on talents and gifts even within the learning environment makes it possible for learners to achieve the best of their potential, and this has worked to the advantage of those that have schooled at City, University of London

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The diversity at City University facilitates interactions and is a direction toward the unity of the world. The classes are well built to match the number and needs of all students regardless of the elements of diversity that set people apart. The use of technology in delivery makes learning even more interesting and achievable. At City University there is no distinction pegged on the issues that make people unique.

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professors

The team of lecturers at the Uiversity are well experienced. Their level of insight and the methodologies of delivery works for the interes of the leaeners. My learning experience was largely boosted by the level of knowledge of the professors at the institution, and their passion to transfer the same to learners. I appreciate every class I attended because of the level of insight I was able to gather

Nora

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17/12/2022

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The best university I’ve been to

The campus and the people I've met have made it a wonderful experience. I was reared in a small town with a graduating class of only 88 individuals, so moving to City University was a huge adjustment for me. My dorm has more residents than my whole high school combined! I enjoy the atmosphere here, and everyone is so friendly. Outstanding academic options and a stunning campus. Really great from beginning to end. The educators genuinely love what they do, and the students are ready to learn. On or around college, there is always something to do with friends, and the social scene is particularly warm.

Antonia

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As a student at City university attending Bayes Business School I would totally recommend choosing this university as the experience is exceptional with great social networking opportunities . Professors are significantly helpful, delivering with excellence and professionalism. Everyone is happy to help and make you feel welcomed in such an esteem university as City, offering exceptional development and guidance through out the course.

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Incredibly amazing university, the way they polish students and help them boost their morale and think intellectually is worthwhile. Many universities have international partnerships to allow exchanges between their students. The most obvious subjects for these opportunities would be those that involve languages, and the study of people and places.

Navya

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11/11/2022

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I really like it it’s perfect for me with not too many people and not too few either. All the modules are amazing. I love the toy bar. I love all the societies that I’ma part of. Especially the colour Bollywood society

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