MBA Programs: The Value of Attending Grad School in the U.S. vs Europe
Many undergraduate students get to the point in their schooling when they begin to question the importance of attending graduate school in regards to their own career path. In recent decades, attending graduate programs abroad has become an increasingly popular and valid option.
As the validity of European master’s programs continues to solidify in the eyes of employers, many students may be wondering what the key differences are in an MBA obtained in the U.S. as opposed to in Europe, as well as which holds more value based on their professional goals. Noodle Pros is providing prospective graduate students with the rundown.
The Basics of a Standard MBA Program in the U.S.
MBA programs in the United States have become more frequently attended in the last century as we have seen an influx in the number of students opting to further their education beyond a Bachelor’s Degree.
The typical U.S. business program spans about two years and can cost anywhere between $30,000 and $120,000 in total, unless of course your employer is funding your attendance. A two-year American program typically gives students the opportunity to gain relevant practical experience beyond the classroom such as internships. The requirements to attend a U.S. graduate program are as follows:
- A four-year Bachelor’s degree from an accredited U.S. institution or its international equivalent
- A minimum of two to three years of work experience, depending on your responsibilities
- Personal Statement
- Two letters of professional recommendation
- GMAT score over 600 or GRE score over 130 (probably the most important).
The Benefits of Attending a U.S. Grad School
There are many advantages to obtaining your MBA in the U.S., and all of these should factor in as you weigh the options and decide which is a better route for you personally. For example, the longer U.S. programs (compared to Europe’s 12-18 months) provide students with the opportunity to gain relevant experience and build their resumes in the process of earning their degree. In addition, U.S. graduate programs are becoming increasingly flexible to accommodate the ever-changing lifestyle of the modern professional.
If you’ve planned ahead in relation to attending a master’s program, the hard work that you presumably dedicated to receiving your target test scores for the GMAT or GRE will have paid off. American graduate schools have very specific standards to gain acceptance, and the more prestigious the program, the higher the standards are. If a student takes the time to seek out professional tutoring and implement the appropriate test preparations, these heavily-weighted factors are very much in students’ control.
Attending an MBA program in the U.S. will allow you to reap the benefits of networking with well-connected peers. The likelihood of gaining employment in a Fortune 500 company post-graduation is better for students in the U.S. than it is for those in European MBA programs.
Disadvantages of Attending Grad School in the U.S.
There are a number of potential downsides to attending a U.S. graduate program, depending on what your specific needs are. Many students have a difficult time attending a two-year program because it is so time-consuming, and it can be difficult to put in your best efforts at school while working a full-time job or managing an active household.
Many students find budgeting for a two-year master’s program difficult for several reasons, including the fact that these programs are costly, many students have to decrease their workload or cease working altogether, and many are working to decrease the debt they have already accrued in school loans.
Depending on your strengths and weaknesses, both academically and professionally, gaining admission to a U.S. MBA program can be exceptionally challenging for those who didn’t achieve optimal scores on the GMAT or GRE before applying. There are plenty of competitive applicants who have impressive resumes and relevant real-life experience, but if you don’t have the scores to support your experience, your likelihood of admission will probably take a hit.
The Basics of an MBA Program in Europe
The option of attending a European MBA Program becam an option to students in 1957, so this is a newer option to consider when making your grad school decisions.
European grad school programs typically last a year, although more specific programs can last up to 18 months. The cost of tuition for these shorter programs typically range between $3,500 and $8,000 per year.
The requirements for consideration of acceptance in Europe are as follows:
- Minimum 3 years of full-time experience
- A Bachelor’s degree or equivalent
- GMAT, GRE or pass an admissions test
- International study or work experience
The Benefits of Attending a European Grad School
Receiving an MBA in Europe can be an enticing opportunity for many students, and that is for good reason. As detailed above, master’s programs in Europe cost significantly less than those offered in the U.S. Costing about half as much, a student’s return on investment ends up being significantly higher when receiving a degree in Europe, if their place of work is not paying for their MBA program. The lower cost per year paired with a shorter program length can be a huge deciding factor for students without an obligation to stay in the U.S.
Additionally, European graduate programs place more importance on real-life experience when considering candidates. This means that if you don't achieve the optimal score range on your GMAT or GRE, it won’t weigh as heavily against you when you apply for programs. Due to the fact that full-time work experience is required for admission, you are much more likely to be hired immediately after graduate school, whereas the lack of experience required for some U.S. programs may result in a bit of lag time when landing a post-graduation gig.
Although attending grad school in Europe may not give you the same leg up with Fortune 500 companies that a U.S. program does, there certainly are benefits to be considered. Due to the fact that European programs accept a global student body, the people you meet will come from far and wide. Depending on where you hope to land after graduation, your professional network can help you achieve international employment status.
Negatives of Attending a European Grad School
Unfortunately, attending school in Europe as an American may not be a good option for everyone. For those who have ties to the U.S., whether they be family, work, or other obligations, the opportunity may not be a feasible one. Although European programs are more flexible, the distance may cancel out the benefit. A 10-plus hour plane ride is a detail that can easily turn many applicants off, which forces students to weigh which they value more: convenience or financial ease.
Many students have already made career decisions that included little work experience but great GMAT/GRE test scores. For those students, a European grad program may not view their application as favorably as they would someone with full-time career experience. If you are early in your MBA prep journey, you can decide whether or not gaining this work experience is a better plan for you than achieving high test scores. For students that hope to accomplish both, it may be difficult to manage the balancing act that comes with the challenge.
Deciding on an MBA Program
The benefits and deficits of these programs are extensive and details such as eventual salary and cost of living are serious factors to consider. While we’ve laid out the facts for you, this is a decision that can only be made by each individual applicant. Weighing the options is a task that should be thoroughly considered and done with time and care. Once your decision has been made, Noodle Pros can guide you through the admissions process and assist you in your test prep needs.
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