Does a Global MBA Really Give You an Edge?


Business schools around the world are increasingly focusing on globalizing their programs.  Schools are offering student and faculty exchanges, programs abroad, and required study trips abroad, as well as opening campuses in foreign countries. 

Yet, an article in the Wall Street Journal questions whether or not this trend is built on realistic expectations.  Of course, the schools want to enhance their international reputation and “prepare their students for work overseas,” but are these endeavors really beneficial for the students?

Warren Bennis, professor at the University of Southern California’s Marshall School of Business believes, “To become sophisticated enough to work and live in another country, you have to be there for at least six months to a year.”  

Moreover, according to the WSJ article, recruiters responsible for hiring MBAs for global positions say that “a school’s efforts alone often aren’t enough to nab an international job.” Diverse classrooms and working on case studies about international companies is just not going to cut it.

Bottom line: “There may be a disconnect between schools’ globalization efforts, and specific skills employers want in job candidates.”  For example, global consulting firms are looking for applicants who are proficient in other languages and have experience working with international companies.  As a result, although some schools are coming up with creative and innovative ways to “go global,” their efforts will not always give their students a leg up.

On the bright side, David Smith, managing director at Accenture, feels, “a broad global outlook, including understanding nuances in other cultures and a willingness to relocate, is key for landing top positions. Two otherwise identical applicants would have to prove they know how international markets differ from domestics ones, and show that they know how to manage expectations to team members in other countries.”

In the end, the question remains whether treks to emerging markets and courses on international business are enough to create a truly “Global MBA.”

International MBA ~ Helping You Write Your Best

International MBA Programs: Are Global B-Schools Right for You?

Thinking about applying to an international MBA program? Like the idea of having international experience on your resume, but don’t know much about your global options? Not sure if you should attend an internationally-run program or an American-based program transplanted to foreign soil? 

Internationalizing the MBA, a special report written by Accepted editor and international b-school expert, Tanis Kmetyk, will explore the pros and cons of joining the overseas MBA scene, helping you make your big decision—should you study for your MBA on home soil, or take the leap and head abroad to an international or American b-school in a foreign country?

Learn whether an international MBA is right for you by understanding the strengths and weaknesses of these different programs.

Download  Internationalizing the MBA.

By Linda Abraham, President and Founder of

Essays That Stick and AIGAC’s Graduate Admission Summit

I am a big fan of the book Made to Stick by the brothers Chip and Dan Heath. It has so much of value for anyone interested in communicating. I have decided to show you how to apply their six key principles to your application essays and personal statements in my webinar “Essays that Stick” which I am presenting on April 28 at 11:00 AM PT/2:00 PM ET/6:00 PM GMT as part of the Association of International Graduate Admissions Consultant’s (AIGAC) first annual Graduate Admissions Summit. Please join me at this free webinar.

After you register for “Essays that Stick,” explore AIGAC’s Summit. No mountains to climb. No fees to pay. No travel involved. Just lots of great information from the thought leaders in graduate admissions consulting available at your computer. There are sessions and articles on dual degrees, test taking, law school admissions, business school admissions, medical school admissions, the TOEFL, international admissions, and more. The day starts at 5:00 AM Pacific Time with a presentation on identifying personal goals and continues throughout the day with a only a one-hour break. Presenters, all AIGAC members, are located in the US, Israel, Germany, the UK, Russia, and Japan. Most of the presentations are in English, but one is in Spanish and one is in Russian. There are chats, webinars, and articles. And it’s all free to you, the applicant.

Sign up for any webinars that interest you at the AIGAC Summit. Mark your calendar for chat sessions and new articles that will be posted on April 28.

By Linda Abraham, President and Founder of

Take the MBA Search Survey!

Applicants turn to as a source of reliable information and valuable advice on the MBA admissions process.  As a member of the Association of International Graduate Admissions Consultants, we are conducting a survey to help us better understand our readers’ goals and needs.  We’d like to invite all of our readers to share their school selection priorities and views on the MBA application process.

This online survey should take just 10 minutes to complete.  We would love to receive as many responses as possible before the closing date of Friday, April 9th – and will be giving away an iPod Touch and two iPod Shuffles as a token of our gratitude!  We’ll also be sharing the results of the survey this spring to help candidates better understand the nature of today’s applicant pool.

Thanks in advance for your participation!

Simply click here to begin. ~ Helping You Write Your Best

FT Global Rankings: Expansionist Dreamers

B-schools are no longer content staying on home soil, reports the Financial Times in a supplementary article to their recent Global MBA Rankings.

The latest expansionist trend is to extend the traditional four-walled classroom overseas. Harvard Business School used to pride itself on its steadfast commitment to bring students to the school and NOT to bring the school to the students; even Harvard has succumbed in a limited way.

The mighty help support others to become mighty as well. In the 1950s Harvard helped the burgeoning IESE and INSEAD programs in Europe get started and succeed. Now top European b-schools are expanding off shore (like IESE to New York City) and helping new MBA programs grow in Asia and the Middle East. Even India (a country that generally beats its own drum in management education) has “signaled a green light to international business schools to enter the market.”

Ajit Rangnekar, Indian School of Business Dean predicts the future of educational expansionism and the effects it may have on management education:

Global institutions from emerging markets, with an inherent cost advantage, will become more attractive destinations for management education, as well as a resource pool for management talent. There will also be a growth in demand for research on emerging markets, accompanied by a spurt in collaborations/partnerships among business schools globally.

The first part of Dean Rangnekar’s prediction has already come true, as is evidenced by the boom in foreign student enrollment in China. The number of non-Chinese students at CEIBS in Shanghai, for example, has doubled in five years.

Even U.S. students are experiencing this blossoming “wanderlust” as they begin to look “beyond their home market to study for an MBA.”

Related Resources: ~ Helping You Write Your Best

Is India Paving the Way to Become a Hosting Spot for American Universities?

The Indian government has shifted around its priorities, moving the topic of higher education from a peripheral concern to its key priority, reports The Chronicle last week. In part, this reprioritization is due to India’s shift from a mostly agrarian economy to one that the international business world relies upon for supplying qualified workers. A highly skilled workforce requires a higher quality of education, and the Indian government knows that.

The transition from minor importance to main spotlight will not be an easy one, especially given the highly “centralized and burdensome” higher education government. “Indian higher education,” explains The Chronicle, “is huge, complex, and full of contradictions…much like the country itself.” With a huge pool of potential students, the country can only accommodate about 12% of eligible students. 12% may not seem like a lot, but in a country the size of India, that translates into 22,500 institutions of about 600 students each. 450,000 Indian students study abroad; the majority of Indian students stay on Indian home turf. Most of them study in the public system which has been neither motivated nor pressured to improve—that is, until now.

With the growth of private institutions in India and the growing role Indian graduates play in the global business economy, even small public universities and vocational schools are interested in moving away from a rather apathetic attitude to a more ambitious and improvement-oriented one. This change is especially true for information technology programs.

Educational reforms are in order and include:

  • Implementing a “choice-based” curriculum.
  • Creating and updating new and varied syllabi.
  • Establishing an autonomous educational authority.
  • Improving the anti-educational-malpractice system.
  • Erecting an educational tribunal to fast-track conflict resolution.
  • Implementing mandatory assessment practices.
  • Ensuring proper accreditation practices.

Changes in Indian educational policy will help encourage American universities to begin setting up shop in India. India’s education minister, Kapil Sibal, has been described as “reform-minded” and has “endorsed the entry of foreign universities into the country.”

India will benefit from the foreign investment necessary to set up a university branch on Indian soil, but how will the international institutions benefit from establishing a base in India?

“A robust presence in overseas markets like India or China could enhance a college’s academic standing, intellectual, prestige, and reputation,” explains another Chronicle article. “A presence in a country brings access to power, people, and principal”—three strong pulls for a country like the United States.

Sibal has singled out Harvard (his alma mater), MIT, and Stanford as “desirable providers for India.”

There are many questions that American institutions need to ask themselves before making this move: Will fewer Indians choose to study abroad at the American-based facilities if they can get the same education closer to home? Who will then fill those empty spots—will schools be lucky enough to find the right students (who can pay the high fees)? Will the international university be able to maintain all its own rules, policies, curricula, and tuition rates? Will American educational traditions mesh with India’s culture and values? How will the move affect the U.S. partnership with India, not to mention its relationship with other countries and other schools?

There is a lot to gain, a lot to lose, and lots to consider. ~ Helping You Write Your Best

“Rankings Fever” Hits International Rankings Scene

Whenever a major ranking report is released (like last month’s Financial Times rankings), the world starts to go crazy about rankings: Are rankings valuable? Are they accurate? How can prospective students benefit from rankings? How do you read rankings? And lastly, the topic of a recent Chronicle article, how will global rankings affect global education?

The Chronicle article discusses the European Union’s initiative to create a comprehensive global university ranking system. The project promises a “superior product” that will significantly influence the internationalization of higher education.

The EU’s new rankings have a budget of $1.6 million. It will be run by a German-Dutch-Belgian-French consortium whose mission is to develop a ranking system “that goes beyond the research performance of universities, to include elements such as teaching quality and community outreach.”

The consortium will develop university profiles based on the following six categories: teaching and learning, student body, international orientation, research, disseminating research, and regional engagement.

Why are universities so inclined to “measure up” on an international scale? A few factors have led to this increased pressure:

  • Worldwide enrollment jumped more than 50% last decade.
  • An increase in university expansion to and partnership with foreign universities.

As universities and prospective students become more and more hyped about global rankings, those rankings will hold more and more weight, and attract increasing criticism.

“[The rankers] all understand they’re very vulnerable to criticism,” says Thomas D. Parker of the Institute for Higher Education Policy. “All of them are aware that they started out with pretty simple tools, and that if they’re going to satisfy anybody, they need to get a bit smarter.”

Most of the skepticism on the forthcoming EU rankings rests on the rankings’ perceived vagueness. For example, Frans van Vugt, one of the leaders of the new project, describes the “resulting classification of each institution to a sunburst, with each category contributing a ray.” I guess we’ll have to see it to know what he’s talking about.

Potential areas of weakness in the EU’s rankings include:

  • Peer review, one of the EU ranking’s criteria, is subject to abuse and is highly criticized. Will peer attitudes be biased or will they accurately reflect what test scores and more measurable criteria can’t assess?
  • Research, a key criterion in other major rankings, may move decidedly off the radar. The EU rankings will steer focus away from “research intensity and toward a handful of other indicators.”

In all fairness, the EU rankings are still in the early stages of development. A test run is scheduled for 2011. We’ll reserve judgment until then.

Related Resources:

? ~ Helping You Write Your Best

Duke University Continues to Expand Worldwide

Duke University is once again expanding its global footprint, by forging two new partnerships in China. The new cooperative will create new educational and research opportunities.

According to a press release by Duke University’s Office of News & Communications, a groundbreaking ceremony was held last Friday in China along with a formal announcement of the partnership between Duke, the Shanghai Jiao Tong University, and the city of Kunchan, the site of the new educational complex and a fast-growing economy located in China’s Yangtze River Delta. The 200-acre five-building campus will include educational, research, and living facilities, and will be built by Kunchan’s municipal government.

Duke’s Fuqua School of Business will lead this initiative, using the campus for the first time for EMBA, pre-experience masters in management program, and non-degree executive education programs as well as training PhDs and recruiting top faculty members.

Richard Brodhead, president of Duke, explains:

We look forward to working with the Ministry of Education, the government of Kunchan, and Shanghai Jiao Tong University to support education and business development in this most dynamic region of China. The Duke-Kunchan campus will create great learning opportunities for our students, and represents a new model of international educational collaboration.

Following the success of the b-school expansion, Duke intends on expanding other graduate and undergraduate programs to the new campus. ~ Helping You Write Your Best

Another College and MBA Admissions Round Up

Here are some news tidbits from last week:

  • BusinessWeek reported some good news last week regarding the job market, particularly for new college graduates. The National Association of Colleges and Employers reported a turnaround in college hiring. Surveys show that the recent economic recession hit college graduates ages 22 to 27 among the hardest. BW states that this new job market optimism may be a bit premature, but remains hopeful from this year’s graduates. 

  • Ash Martin, an MBA student at MIT Sloan, writes in BusinessWeek early last week about his experience with the MBA internship. Martin describes the internship as a test: A company evaluates your performance in a particular job. Do you fit with this office’s environment? Can you get the job done? Can you put your MBA skills to good use? Martin explains that your MBA internship should not be something you should fear (like possibly other tests you’ve taken in your life) but one that you enter with confidence—it’s a test, after all, that you should know all the answers to.

  • As India’s middle class emerges, so does the growing desire to study abroad at a top college or graduate school program in the U.S. A recent article in The Chronicle explains that international college recruitment is at an all-time high in India. The streets, taxis, and storefronts in New Delhi, according to the article, are plastered with advertisements for test-prep and admissions counseling and promises of securing a solid educational future abroad. Many factors contribute to this increasingly popular trend of attending overseas universities, but one reason remains strictly practical: The Indian universities simply cannot accommodate the number of students who would ideally attend locally. Colleges in Britain and Australia have pursued more active recruitment strategies than the American universities, which in general have little trouble attracting Indian students.

  • In an effort to expand its global footprint, the Financial Times reports, Harvard Business School will open its first overseas branch in Shanghai. The new Shanghai facility will open its doors this month for short executive courses and will serve as a base for full-time MBA students involved in international projects. ~ Helping You Write Your Best

HBS Launches International Seminar Program

Following the lead of other top MBA programs, reports a recent article in The Financial Times, Harvard Business School will be expanding its international immersion programs this year by holding small, intensive seminars across the globe.  

According to the FT, HBS has been “slow to initiate such projects, as data from the Financial Times 2009 rankings show.” Other top US b-schools rank higher in the international experiences offered to their first- and second-year MBA students. Stanford, the forerunner of such international immersion programs, ranks highest, followed by (in order) NYU Stern, MIT Sloan, Chicago Booth, Kellogg, Wharton, Columbia, and then lagging, Harvard Business School.

A recent press release on the HBS website elaborates on the b-school’s new “Global, Field-Based Immersions.” January term seminars give “students the opportunity to reflect in a different way on what they are learning in the classroom through in-depth study and by applying their learning in the field,” explains Professor Joseph Badaracco, HBS faculty chair.

According the January 13 press release, this year’s IXPs (Immersion Experience Programs) schedule will go as follows: 

  • China IXP: Understanding a Business Environment (Beijing, Hangzhou, and Shanghai)
    -led by Elisabeth Koll
  • India IXP: Creating and Transforming Competitive Advantage (Mumbai, Delhi, and Agra)
    -led by Stephen Bradley and Bhaskar Chakravorti
  • Peru IXP: Escaping the Natural Resource Curse (Lima, Caral, Puerto Maldonado, and Cusco)
    -led by Diego Comin
  • Rwanda IXP: Business and Social Enterprise in a Post-Conflict Country (Kigali and Akagera)
    -led by Louis Wells
  • United Arab Emirates & Bahrain IXP: Energy and Globalization: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly (Abu Dhabi, Dubai, and Manama)
    -led by Noel Maurer
  • Vietnam IXP: Globalization and Entrepreneurship Today (Hanoi, Can Tho, and Ho Chi Minh City)
    -led by Regina Abrami
  • Boston IXP: High Potential Entrepreneurial Ventures in the Boston Metropolitan Area
    -led by Shikhar Ghosh, Robert Higgins, and Joseph Lassiter
  • New Orleans IXP: Service and Leadership in an Entrepreneurial Environment
    -led by Shawn Cole, Alnoor Ebrahim, and Herman “Dutch” Leonard
  • Silicon Valley IXP in Partnership with the HBS Rock Center for Entrepreneurship: Entrepreneurial Ventures in Silicon Valley (Palo Alto)
    -led by Thomas Eisenmann and Michael Roberts ~ Helping You Write Your Best