The pros and cons of doing an MBA abroad

More and more young professionals today are choosing to pursue an MBA abroad.

On the surface, the trend isn’t surprising. In today’s super-connected business world, international business skills and cross-cultural know-how are non-negotiable for anyone looking to excel in their chosen field. What better way to sharpen your international business acumen than to pack your bags and pursue your studies on an international playing field?

The decision to pursue an MBA abroad shouldn’t be taken lightly, however. After all, completing an MBA program is a big commitment (with potentially even bigger dividends). It’s a good idea to weigh up the pros and cons before printing out your boarding pass.

First, let’s take a look at the pros:

  • International travel is an enriching experience.
If you enjoy experiencing new cities, cuisines, and cultures, then you won’t need much convincing that doing an MBA abroad can be one of the most exciting and memorable things you’ll ever do. Business skills and an international network of contacts aren’t all you’ll get out of the deal; you’ll come away with life experience, a more open mind, and the sorts of memories you’ll be recounting around the dinner table for the rest of your life.

  • Learn a new language.
The best way to learn a foreign language is to immerse yourself in it—and living and studying abroad will do just that. Having more than just one language in your repertoire makes you instantly more attractive to recruiters and employers, and gives you an obvious edge when it comes to doing international business.

  • Get international exposure and experience.
By opting to do your MBA abroad at one of the top business schools in the world, you’ll learn the skills you need to successfully do business in a range of different countries and cultures. The result? You’ll walk out of the program a worldly-wise and incredibly versatile businessperson. Stepping out of your home country—and your comfort zone—also means you’ll gain access to new markets.

  • Network with people from all over the world.
One of the most beneficial aspects of MBA programs with an international focus is student diversity. You’ll be living and learning alongside professionals from a wide range of nationalities, which means you’ll walk away with a truly global network of business contacts. More fundamentally, however, you stand to learn just as much from your classmates about international business as you do from your curriculum. Exposure to such a diverse range of people will furnish you with excellent people skills, giving you the enviable ability to do business with almost anyone in the world.

  • Get your foot in the door of the country you wish to relocate to.
Looking to move? Doing your MBA abroad is an excellent way to start setting down roots in a foreign country. Living and studying in a foreign country means you’ll not only have the opportunity to make connections with local businesses on the ground, but you’ll also learn the language and come to understand the culture. What’s more, once you graduate, you’ll have the credibility of a business school potential employers recognise behind your name. If you’re an American professional hoping to relocate to France, for example, getting your MBA abroad at a top business school in Europe is an excellent way to make yourself more appealing to French employers.

There are potential drawbacks to jetting off to pursue an MBA away from your home turf:

  • The costs all add up.
Of course, doing an MBA abroad comes with a sizeable price tag. While tuition fees may work out similar to those charged by business schools in your home country, you’ll also need to account for things like travel and living costs. That said, it’s wise to view the extra costs associated with doing an MBA abroad in the context of the incredible return on your investment you stand to gain. Put some time aside to thoroughly research the various financial aid and funding options available to you, as many of the top business schools in the world offer a range of scholarships and funding opportunities specifically for MBA candidates.

  • Culture shock can leave you reeling.
Depending on how you look at it, experiencing culture shock can be as much a pro as a con. That’s because working through culture shock now means you’ll be primed to thrive in unfamiliar locations in future. Open-mindedness and adaptability can be learnt, and exposing yourself to new cultures while doing an MBA abroad is a sure-fire way to evolve into a more cosmopolitan businessperson. That said, culture shock can be difficult to deal with at first, so it’s a good idea to seek support if you find yourself struggling to find your feet while abroad.

Electing to do your MBA abroad gives you the pick of some of the top business schools in the world. Finding the right program for you, however, can seem like a daunting process. Where do you start? Download our whitepaper How to find the perfect MBA for a useful overview of the four key considerations to keep in mind when choosing an MBA program.

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