international MBA

Guest Post By Matt Symonds, Fortuna Admissions

How to best prepare for the complexity and uncertainty of today’s business world? To drive your career forward in any sector, an MBA from one of the world’s top business schools will give you the fundamentals. In addition to offering a foundation in economics, finance, ethics, accounting, strategy, operations, and marketing, the MBA is now combined with lessons in leadership, decision analysis, communication, and entrepreneurial thinking to create value and empower students to embrace change.

“Really, business school should be called leadership school. The most important qualities for catalyzing meaningful change across the industries that shape our everyday lives have to do with inspiring innovation, galvanizing support, motivating others, and collaborating in service of a greater—often audacious—goal,” writes my Fortuna Admissions colleague Judith Silverman Hodara in an earlier column, What You Can Do Now to Cultivate Your MBA Leadership Potential. “Sure, you need analytical acumen and creative instincts too. But the MBA is about so much more. Business school isn’t just about creating decision-makers—it’s about creating leaders and global citizens.”

And if positioning yourself for the possibility of a global career is appealing, there’s never been a better time to consider an international MBA. More Americans are realizing the value added of going abroad for business school, especially if their undergrad degree is from a U.S. college. Among their many points of distinction, many top European schools like INSEAD offer a one-year MBA—a highly efficient and cost-effective format for those who can handle the pace and intensity.

“We’ve seen a dramatic increase in interest for the top European schools from the U.S. market over the last 18 months,” my Fortuna colleague and former head of Admissions at INSEAD, Caroline Diarte Edwards, told me. “While the rest of the world has reacted to a changing political climate and concerns about visa opportunities in the U.S., a growing number of American applicants are looking to enhance both their personal and professional development with a more affordable international study experience.”

Thirteen of the top 15 business schools in this year’s Fortuna Ranking of MBA Rankings Europe are located in countries facing political turmoil and societal division. Yet, as Diarte Edwards cites, international demand for their MBA programs has rarely been higher.

While Brexit uncertainty is far from over, the future pioneers of Renewable Energy and FinTech are flocking to London Business School and Imperial College Business School to hone skills and access unrivaled networks in what remains Europe’s leading financial center. If you want a career in the luxury sector, then France’s HEC Paris and ESCP Europe and Italy’s SDA Bocconi and MIP Milano are the favored choice among globally-minded MBA students. And more than 90% the graduates of IESE Business School and Esade Business School in Barcelona accepted job offers within three months of graduation, with an average alumni salary close to $150,000 three years after graduating.

So how exactly did the top European Business Schools perform in the Fortuna Ranking of MBA Rankings 2018?

Since 2015, INSEAD has held the #1 spot in our Fortuna MBA ranking, which combines the results relative to other European business schools of the league tables published by Forbes, The Economist, the Financial Times, and BusinessWeek. But this year, the powerhouse program with campuses in France and Singapore shares the top spot with Spain’s IESE Business School. Founded in Barcelona in 1958, IESE formed an alliance with the Harvard Business School in 1963 and launched the first two-year MBA program in Europe. Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is at the heart of its programs, and its roster of notable alumni includes the CFO of IKEA, the European MD of Airbnb, and CEO of Calvin Klein.

The other big winner this year is Switzerland’s IMD on the shores of Lake Geneva, which was the highest ranked European school in the first global MBA ranking published last year by BusinessWeek. Competition for one of the 90 places in the MBA program has spiked, with applications up 63% in the last year.

You can view the full results of the Fortuna Ranking of MBA Rankings 2018—Europe here, featuring schools who appeared in at least three of the four major MBA rankings in the past 12 months. We have compiled the Fortuna Ranking of MBA Rankings since 2011 to show how the top business schools perform across all of the major MBA rankings.

The good news for anyone who has made applying for business school a new year’s resolution is that European business schools are still accepting applications for a September intake. This includes INSEAD, London Business School (LBS), Cambridge Judge, HEC Paris, IESE and Oxford Saïd, among others.

“An MBA is and should be more than just a degree. It’s a life changing experience for most students and the fact that they are abroad gives them the opportunity to grow in so many additional ways,” says Deise Klein Leobet, IE Business School’s International Development Director for North America. “Being exposed to different cultures—European MBAs are among the most diverse worldwide—the opportunity of mastering a foreign language, and also being challenged to see problems and find solutions using different decision-making lenses are definitely triggering the interest in going abroad for the MBA in the U.S.”

About the Author

Matt Symonds is Co-Founder and Director at MBA admissions coaching firm Fortuna Admissions. Fortuna Admissions is composed of former admissions directors and business school insiders from 12 of the top 15 business schools.

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