European MBA Programs

Let’s all give two quick woot-woots for Europe. Who doesn’t enjoy chasing a lovely, buttery snail or two with a swig of Chateauneuf du Pape? Spending winter vacations swishing down the Alps, the summers coasting around the rock of Gibraltar after a quick visit to the Alhambra?

Say what you will, but Europe gave the world Da Vinci, Pizza, Radiohead, and Sophie Marceau. [Please respect this.]

These days, with the struggling American economy and US banks losing favor, Europe is looking more attractive every day.

But what about European MBAs? Is this the right choice for you? Well, that all depends. On you and your goals.

First thing to consider is this: Where do you want to work afterwards?

Although the job market in Europe is quite open, you are more likely to remain in the country where your school is located, than if you were an international MBA student here in the US. So, fold that into your planning… a possible nesting ground, on account of the rich job prospects that will await you.

Quick rundown of some of the more famous and successful European schools:

In Spain, there is the Spanish “Trinity” which consists of IESE, Instituto Empresa (IE), and ESADE. In Italy, you have the lone-gunner SDA Bocconi. Switzerland gives us the estimable IMD, located in Neuchatel. An excellent choice with older candidates with some executive experience. [If you do end up in Switzerland, pay a visit to Lucerne. Haven’t been to a more beautiful city, yet.]

France offers the renowned INSEAD and HEC programs, as well as several other “grande ecoles” that are only known to those who speak French.

In Her Majesty’s Dominion, LBS and Said Oxford are the two heavy hitters, and last up is Rotterdam’s (that’s Holland for those of you who are clunky in geography) Erasmus.

Surprisingly, Germany, despite producing several world-class industrialists, has no (not yet anyway) world-class MBA program, but isn’t that just a matter of time?

“Fair enough gents, but I don’t care what country I live in!” you tell us, “I just want to go to a respected MBA program, learn business skills, and break the glass ceiling that is holding me back.” It’s all well and good, and there are many folks like you. But don’t make a point of it to a European school, that you don’t care which country you end up in.

So what are the main differences between American and European business programs?

1) Internationalism – Although many American schools are made up of lots of International students, they are still faaaaaaar less “international” then any European program. To give you an example, Wharton, one of the US’s most international business programs, has about 40% international students, whereas HEC has more than 80% international folk!

2) Time – European programs are shorter. For the most part (with the notable exception of LBS) European programs run from 12-18 months… at least a half-year shorter than US programs. So this might be ideal for those of you in situations where you have to get back to work immediately, or have other circumstances feeding your timing needs.

3) Money – As everyone knows, time is money, and the less time you spend in the school, the less you pay.

So, considering all that, is a European MBA program right for you?

The Tuesday Q&A: For The MBA Reapplicant, Does a Ding Hurt Your Chances?