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International MBA, are they worthy?

Updated: Jun 22

Student looking for book in shelve

What is an international MBA?

An international Master of Business Administration (MBA) is an advanced degree program designed to prepare business students for careers on a global scale. Typically, an international MBA offers specialized courses and experiences that expose students to different cultures, markets, and business practices from around the world.

This type of MBA is ideal for expats interested in working at foreign startups, joining globalized firms, or pursuing entrepreneurship abroad. If you have a bachelor's degree in international relations or business, an international MBA could be the next logical step in your academic and professional journey.

How much does an international MBA cost?

Compared to a Master of Arts (MA) or Master of Science (MSc), an MBA is one of the most expensive master’s degrees. The cost varies significantly depending on the university, with private, top-tier schools generally having much higher tuition fees than public, second-tier institutions.

Here are some average tuition costs for popular countries to pursue an MBA in:

MBA tuition overview per country

Duration of an international MBA

MBA programs worldwide generally last 1–2 years for full-time students, and this holds true for international degrees as well. If you opt for a part-time program, it will typically take about three years to complete.

Online MBAs

While online MBA programs have existed for some time, they have seen a significant rise in popularity in recent years. Traditionally, employers preferred graduates with in-person MBAs over those with online degrees. However, this perception has shifted significantly since the COVID-19 pandemic, which led to a global transition toward remote learning.

Graduates with an online MBA can now expect little difference in starting salary or employability compared to their peers with in-person MBAs from the same institution.

The range and quality of online MBA programs have improved post-pandemic. Many universities worldwide now offer online international MBAs that provide the same benefits as on-campus degrees, with added flexibility. For instance, the ESSCA Online Campus in France offers a hybrid, part-time MBA in Business & Technology.

Two men making application for an international MBA


Nearly all private health insurance plans provide access to an international help center, which can connect you with English-speaking doctors or hospitals and facilitate medical evacuations. While particularly beneficial in non-English-speaking regions, this service is available worldwide, offering support wherever you may be.

Salary expectations

Having an international MBA significantly increases your earning potential compared to just holding a bachelor's degree in business. Here’s an overview of the average annual salaries you can expect with an MBA in different countries:

Annual salary expectations overview per country international MBA graduates

MBA holders typically command higher salaries in fields such as finance and technology, particularly within multinational corporations. Among the highest-paid roles are those of business consultants and C-level executives, including CEO, CFO, COO, and others.

Requirements for an international MBA

Top international MBA programs are highly competitive, often requiring a bachelor's degree in a related field with above-average grades as the minimum entry requirement.

Many institutions prefer candidates with prior work experience abroad or proficiency in at least two languages. Therefore, if you lack international work experience or language skills, you might want to explore alternative paths.

Some programs prioritize candidates based on career ambition and openness to global perspectives rather than language proficiency. It's crucial for prospective international MBA students to be decisive about their career goals—both the industry and specific employer—before enrolling in a program abroad.

Opting for the right International MBA Program

Embarking on the journey towards an international MBA degree can feel daunting, particularly when navigating the selection process for the right program to shape your future. To make an informed decision, consider the following steps:

  • Explore the institution’s website: International MBA programs often provide insights into their recent student cohorts and post-graduation career paths. Assess whether graduates are employed in industries and roles aligned with your aspirations.

  • Verify accreditations: Look for accreditation from recognized bodies such as AACSB or Equis (European Foundation for Management Development) to ensure the program meets global standards of quality.

  • Review business school rankings: Consult reputable publications like the Financial Times, QS, The Wall Street Journal, and Business Week for MBA program rankings to gauge the program's standing and reputation.

  • Seek opportunities to engage with alumni through networking events hosted by the university's alumni clubs. Alumni insights can offer valuable perspectives on the program's strengths and opportunities.

Students studying in university library


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