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The Ultimate MBA Degree Guide for International Students

Thinking about getting an MBA degree? This guide will tell you everything you need to know on how to get an MBA as an international student.

Sep 6, 2023
  • Student Tips
  • Study Abroad
MBA students looking at a laptop

The 5-second summary

  • MBA programs are a great way to expand your business know-how, advance your career and pivot specializations.
  • You may need to meet specific requirements like GRE/GMAT scores, language test scores or work experience.
  • MBA degrees are a great basis for pursuing higher-paying managerial roles.

What is an MBA?

An MBA, or Master of Business Administration is generally pursued after a Bachelor's program.

This intensive program spans one to two years, equipping students with a comprehensive understanding of business concepts and managerial skills.

Types of MBA programs

The world of MBA programs is diverse, offering various paths to suit different career goals and interests. Here are some common types:

  1. Traditional MBA: A well-rounded program focusing on a broad spectrum of business principles and practices.
  2. Executive MBA (EMBA): Designed for professionals with significant work experience, offering advanced insights into executive leadership and strategy.
  3. Specialized MBA: Focuses on particular sectors or fields within the business domain, offering courses in areas like finance, marketing, or entrepreneurship.

How do you get an MBA?

Pursuing an MBA generally consists of the following stages:

1. Coursework (core and elective courses)
2. Capstone project or internship
3. Final presentation or defense

Core and elective courses: Engaging in a structured curriculum that offers both foundational and specialized subjects to develop business acumen and managerial capabilities.

Capstone project or internship: Undertaking a project or internship that applies the acquired knowledge in real-world business scenarios.

Final presentation or thesis defense: If required, presenting a comprehensive project or defending a thesis before a panel of faculty members specialized in the field you're covering.

How long does it take to complete an MBA?

An MBA program typically requires 1 to 2 years of study.

However, the duration can vary based on different formats such as accelerated programs, which may condense the learning into a shorter timeframe, or part-time programs that allow professionals to balance studies with work commitments.

Want to find your dream MBA?

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How to choose the right MBA program

Pursuing an MBA is a big decision, and it involves investing both time and money. So, it's really important to think carefully about what you're trying to gain from this degree.

Consider the following factors:

Career goalsWhat are your long-term career plans, and how can an MBA help you achieve them?
Your budgetHave you figured out how much you can spend on this degree?
The benefits of an MBADo you think the potential increase in salary and job opportunities will be worth the investment in an MBA?
Area of interestWhat field are you interested in, and are there any well-known programs or schools in this area?
Current life situationHow will doing an MBA fit in with your personal life and other responsibilities? Do you need a flexible schedule?

You can use Keystone Academic Student Hub to save and compare different programs.


Need help deciding what European MBA program you should apply for? Take our 5-minute test and get personalized recommendations on exact programs that would suit your individual needs and preferences.

MBA requirements

It's essential to get acquainted with the various MBA requirements needed to start applying.

Since these can vary quite a lot, a good first step is to check your chosen university's website for their specific requirements.

These are some of the most common requirements you'll see:

  • Academic transcripts
  • Personal Statement / Motivation Letter
  • Work or Research Experience
  • Language Proficiency
  • GRE/GMAT or another entrance test
  • Recommendation letters
  • Academic CV/Resume
  • A portfolio.

What can you do with an MBA?

Wondering why you should pursue an MBA? An MBA program doesn't just polish your skills in business and leadership; it stands as a testimony to your dedication and profound understanding in the realm of business management.

Let's explore the various perks of stepping into an MBA program.

What can you do with an MBA? - infographic

Advance your career

Acquiring an MBA can do wonders for your career. It's more than just a shiny new addition to your CV; it could be your ticket to a substantial salary increase or a well-deserved promotion.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Master's degree holders in Business earned 89% more than their Bachelor's counterparts.

Similarly, the average base salary plus bonus paid to 2022 MBA graduates in the US was $110,879.

In general, you can expect your MBA to pay off if you work in the following fields:

  • Business strategy and consulting
  • IT/Software management
  • Finance, investment and economics
  • Marketing and advertising

Though the exact figures might vary depending on the sector, having an MBA under your belt can certainly boost your financial prospects.

Explore your interests and pivot

An MBA isn't just about sticking to the known paths; it allows you to venture out, explore new interests, or even switch your career direction entirely.

If you find yourself pondering over career options or contemplating a shift, an MBA can provide you with the tools and knowledge to make that transition smoothly.

You'll find that this degree can serve as a springboard into various promising fields.

Expand your professional network

Enrolling in an MBA program often means getting involved in projects where you'll be surrounded by industry experts and thought leaders. It'll give you an opportunity to experience many things, such as:

  • Engaging in vital industry research
  • Building a robust professional network
  • Contributing to publications
  • Participating in significant business conferences

How much does an MBA cost?

The cost of an MBA program will depend on a variety of elements, such as the location of the university, your residency status, the availability of scholarships or financial aid, and the necessary visa procedures. However, the average cost of an MBA is quite high compared to similar majors.

Here's a small breakdown of the tuition expenses in popular study abroad locations:

United StatesBetween $30,000 to $120,000, averaging at around $70,000
United Kingdom£15,000 - £20,000 on the low end, up to £60,000 for the top business schools
GermanyGenerally costs €30,000 - €50,000
FranceRanging from €5,000 to €30,000

MBA scholarships

There are lots of scholarship for MBA students out there. To name a few:

The average salary of an MBA graduate - Jobs that require an MBA

Given the often high average cost of getting an MBA, it's not surprising that many students want to make sure they're getting their money's worth.

Here are some examples of average salaries of MBA graduates in different countries:

Job titleUnited StatesUnited Kingdom
Business Strategy Consultant$139,246£155,676
General / Operations Manager$93,244£57,596
Marketing Manager$75,553£45,516
Finance Manager$100,957£63,791
Information Technology (IT) Manager$98,048£54,205
Business Intelligence Consultant$101,993£49,764
Senior Product Manager$137,553£71,571

Source: Payscale, 2023

Sara Evans


Sara is the Content Designer at Keystone Academic Solutions, in charge of creating and curating content for students across the globe. Due to her background in UX and teaching, she's always in pursuit of new ways of presenting information more clearly.

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