Written by S.M. Audsley

Have you been wondering where in the world you could study business? Do you strive for excellence in all things and want a rigorous program that will be both demanding and life-changing? MBA programs are available in many countries -- in fact, there are so many options, it’s hard to choose. However, each country offers something different and selecting the program that will best fit your needs depends, in part, on what kind of business focus you have. Here's a look at six countries where studying business could really launch your career and the nations' unique appeal for business students. 

“There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure,” said American politician Colin Powell. Selecting where you study abroad can be one of the most important decisions and it can be tough to choose between programs, especially since there are so many options nowadays. Pamela Echeverria, head of international recruitment at BI Norwegian Business School, recommends, “Think about your entire international student journey from applicant, to student, to graduate. Does the socio-political climate of the host country allow accessible visa or residence permits to pursue employment opportunities post-graduation?” Also, Echeverria stresses that you should evaluate a business school on many factors: location, demographics, percentage of international students on campus, and rankings. 

Often, students want to experience studying abroad as an opportunity to explore new cultures and interact with students from diverse backgrounds to enhance their learning experience. For those who want to pursue an MBA and start a career in business, studying abroad in countries where there are great programs available, can be extremely advantageous, both personally and professionally. Consider how these six countries could help get your business career on its way!

1. USA -- the classic destination for business students

Whether you want to work in the cutting edge tech sector such as Silicon Valley or in the heart of the financial world such as Wall Street, then look no further than the US. 

Dominating the rankings for MBA programs and offering many opportunities for internships and professional development, the United States remains one of the foremost destinations to pursue a career in business. “American corporations still dominate the Fortune 500 list, and the USA is considered to lead the world in innovation, technology, and business. As the hub for global business, USA is, therefore, the first choice of MBA applicants too,” reports India Today. MBA programs in the US are some of the most highly ranked in the world, based on employment numbers, quality of faculty, diversity of the class, and return on investment (ROI). 

“There’s been no better time for MBA-minded professionals to submit applications and even to expect scholarships if admitted,” says Alex Min, CEO of The MBA Exchange, a top admissions consulting firm. “Schools are doling out record amounts of scholarship aid to candidates, often heavily favoring qualified young professional women, under represented minorities and males with high test scores,” writes John Byrne in the Forbes article. 

Mike Catania, the founder of the coupon website PromotionCode.org and a student in the executive MBA program at the University of California -- Los Angeles Anderson School of Management, says, “I got exactly what I wanted – access to brilliant classmates and faculty that I would never have encountered on my own. It's difficult to ascribe a value to that, but I look at it as only temporarily intangible -- the relationships forged over the next few years will positively affect my opportunities as an entrepreneur moving forward.”

There’s no doubt that an MBA from the US can set you up for a long successful career in business. The access to resources, networks, business professional development, and much more are just some of the reasons why the US is at the top of the list.

2. Australia - an excellent alternative to the US

Looking for an alternative to the traditional programs offered in the US? Australia not only offers excellent MBA programs, but access to beaches, stunning landscapes, and the true Australian Outback experience. 

Ranked fifth out of ten in terms of salaries for MBA grads by MBANews.com, Australia is often overlooked by aspiring business-minded students, yet it shouldn’t be. “Offering the best MBA graduate salaries in the Oceania region, Australia offers more than just fantastic beaches and wildlife. With average bonuses of US$17,800, MBA graduates can expect a total compensation package of US$116,200. Australia is also home to some leading business schools, including the Australian Graduate School of Management (AGSM),” writes Greg Peake for MBANews.com.

With over 75 internationally recognized programs, many with accreditation that is recognized around the world, Australia offers many advantages for the MBA experience. Australia’s focus as an inclusive country with “multiculturalism means you will have the opportunity to study alongside students from many different cultures, giving you a broad cultural perspective on management. You will also have the opportunity to study in an environment that merges Eastern and Western perspectives of business and management,” shares StudiesinAustralia.com. 

Sydney and Melbourne are Australia’s two major cities where MBAs are both an integral part of the academic experience at top-notch universities and also embedded into the business landscape. “Campuses are large and beautiful. More importantly, if you’re the type of person that wants flexibility with your course loads, this is the area to consider. Not only will you have access to one of the most impressive libraries in the entire world in Melbourne, but it is also one of the most beautiful cities in all of Australia, which is a nice added bonus,” reports Australia.edu

3. India -- the rising star 

Fast emerging as one of the most dynamic and important growing markets for MBA programs, India is a country of contrast and constant change. With one of the fastest-growing economies -- reporting an average 7% per year from 1997 to 2017 according to FocusEconomics -- India is poised to dominate the global markets. Pursuing an MBA in India, once thought of being off the beaten path, could become the norm.

“Experts forecast the Indian economy to grow by 7.4% in the 2019 fiscal year, compared with a projected 6.3% growth in China and just 2.5% in the United States,” writes Steven John for Markets Insider. Also, the level of English in the country, especially in the business world and in cities, is strong and ever-improving. MBA applicants looking to gain experience in growing and emerging markets will find that India is an ideal country.

MBA students can choose between studying in Mumbai, India’s financial capital; Bangalore, India’s version of Silicon Valley; Chennai, one of India’s IT hubs; and many more thriving, buzzing, rapidly-growing cities. The possibilities of studying business in India are vast, and limited only by your ambition. 

4. China -- another emerging player

China is a major player on the global stage, one of the major influencers of the global economy. It is also an emerging country for MBAs. In a competitive field, it is important to stand apart from the crowd. Being fluent in Mandarin Chinese and knowledgeable of Chinese customs and traditions are valued assets any employer would be thrilled to have in their workforce. 

In a recent interview with Financial Times, Leela Greenberg, an MBA student at top-ranked CEIBS Business School, says, “The whole axis of business -- the paradigm shift -- is rotating east. So with companies like Huawei, or Tencent, or Lenovo, or Alibaba-- all these companies-- are rising now in China, and having a global reach. So if you come to China for business, then you sort of become like a pioneer. Your differentiator is that you have access to the West.” 

With over 120 companies listed in the Fortune 500 and a fast-growing economy that hasn’t yet reached its limits -- it is unclear it ever will -- China boasts excellent MBA programs. “Schools aren’t far behind their European or American counterparts like CEIBS (Shanghai) and HKUST (Hong Kong),” according to IndiaToday. Students in MBA programs in China are setting themselves up for success in the Asian markets, with great access to local and multinational firms across all industries in Asia with an extensive alumni network. “Cities like Shanghai, Beijing and Hong Kong are global financial, trade and industrial centers, providing opportunities unparalleled in the region,” writes Christian Robinson for BusinessBecause.com.

5. Norway - ranked high for gender equality and more

A standout in terms of European countries offering MBA programs, Norway is high on the list of places you should consider to advance your career. The leader of the Scandinavian countries, famous for its fjords, mountains and coastlines, Norway attracts thousands of international students every year. 

The country is particularly attractive for females looking to study and work in business. The new Global Gender Gap Report from the World Economic Forum, which addresses the state of gender equality in 149 countries, places Norway second for gender equality (behind Iceland). It scores very highly in terms of a relatively low gender pay gap, the employment rate for women, and also its progressive maternity and paternity leave laws (45 weeks paid leave).

Yet another reason to take a closer look at Norway as an option for an MBA is that Oslo, Norway’s capital, is a place where innovations in green technology are fast being developed and implemented. “Oslo – which has been named the European green capital of the year for 2019 -- is a great mix of chic but fun, dynamic, yet still relaxed,” writes Helen Lock for Forbes. If merging environmentalism and business appeals to you, or is your driving passion, then Norway is an excellent place to pursue your goals. 

6. Sweden - top for green and sustainable business

Another Scandinavian country with leading business degrees and a focus on green technology and markets, Sweden is an ideal option for MBA students. Sustainability is no longer a nice-to-have but a necessity for today’s companies. Sweden is the ideal nation to witness sustainable thinking in action. Named as the most sustainable country in the world by Environmental Leader, Sweden is aiming for 100 percent renewable energy production by 2040. In fact, the country is so good at recycling that it recently ‘ran out of rubbish’, and so had to import it so that it could keep its recycling plants running. Sweden was one of the first nations to implement a carbon tax and is striving to be the first fossil fuel-free nation. It is an exciting opportunity for entrepreneurs. And many Swedish firms are willing to share the responsibility – and challenge – of environmental efforts alongside the government.

Sweden is a nation with thousands of coastal islands and inland lakes, along with vast boreal forests and glaciated mountains. Its principal cities, capital Stockholm in the east, built on 14 islands, and Gothenburg and Malmö to the southwest, are all coastal. So if you’re looking for an MBA experience in a stunning landscape, and in cities that strive for green technology, then Sweden has everything you ever dreamed of. Also, Sweden ranks number five for European countries that are supportive of women in business.

Choosing an MBA program can be one of the most important decisions you will make. Doing your research -- comparing rankings, professional development offerings, renowned faculty, location -- can help you find the best MBA fit for you. At the end of the day what really matters is where you think you will learn and grow the most. Sometimes that means looking further afield, even to programs on the other side of the world!

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