7 Key Differences Between U.S. and European MBA Programs

Applicants familiar with American-style MBA programs may be surprised to learn how different things are across the pond.

MBA in Europe vs US
MBA in Europe vs US

MBA programs are challenging. Having started in the USA these programs are widely spread in Europe. Many European colleges offer high quality MBA programs. Thus, students are facing a dilemma of which college to choose and where to study. MBA programs both in Europe and the US offer similar content and frame of reference. Applicants have a tough issue gauging the pros and contras of MBA programs in different continents. The MBA degree made its way from America to Europe about seventy years ago with the founding of INSEAD.

Why choose a top US MBA program over a top EU program?

Even though Europe is nowadays a holder of hundreds of different MBA programs, the USA still remains students’ election. A few decades ago this question could sound even rhetoric, nevertheless, concepts and concerns have changed lately. European MBA vs American is not just an emphasis already, but a question to ponder. European MBA programs have flourished ever since, offering countless opportunities to study in breathtaking Old World cities while mastering business in the world’s largest trading bloc. However, applicants familiar with American-style MBA programs may be surprised to learn just how different the degree is across the pond. European and American MBA programs seem to be in a contest for being the best. Our MBA admissions consulting experts state key differences to consider as you weigh whether a European degree is right for you.

How to decide US or Europe?

  1. Most European programs are one-year. While UK schools tend to follow the American model, the vast majority of continental programs are one year long. Some may see this as a disadvantage, but for others, the reduced opportunity costs and the denser format are a distinct advantage. List of MBA programs in the US is available on the web,where you can also find information on durability and compare it with other MBAs.
  2. Many Euro MBAs have lower costs and better ROIs than U.S. programs. One year less of studies also means one year less of tuition, lost salary and living costs. Even compared to graduates of more onerous U.S. programs, graduates of elite European programs often land similar jobs with similar salaries! Check some top MBA programs in Europe and compare them with their “colleagues” in the US. 
  3. You can apply as an older candidate. The average age at U.S. MBA programs hovers between 25-28, but European programs average anywhere from 28-35. Candidates are older and more experienced on average, and the age range in classes tends to be wider than in U.S. schools.
  4. More flexible application requirements. U.S. schools have a tendency to recruit within a very tight GMAT range. Few schools are willing to go out of their way to recruit candidates with GMATs or GPAs far lower than their target. European schools, on the other hand, have class profiles with a far wider range of GMAT scores and GPAs due to the greater emphasis put on experience and application quality. Students normally have a mess with all different types of tests and certificates they need to apply for the programme. Admissions consulting specialists can guide the applicants and help them with the options. 
  5. European B-Schools are very international. Whereas international students make up 20-40% of the student body at American MBA programs, the number hovers around 90% at European schools. This is as true for faculty members as it is for students. Even though numbers have become more flexible in the last years, US students are still a majority at the US MBA programs. 
  6. International placements from European MBAs are higher than from U.S. MBAs. Going along with European schools’ international nature, international placements are much more common. So if you are targeting jobs in Asia, Europe or Africa, Euro programs can offer you unique access. Top European vs American MBA programs have a definite pro-european inclination in this sense. 
  7. There are many great unranked and unknown schools in each country. Everyone knows the Financial Times rankings, which are a great place to start when looking for an MBA in Europe vs US. Prestigious European and international MBA programs have great outcomes, nevertheless, there are other less famous schools with a really powerful MBA program and content. But beyond the most famous/highest ranked schools, there are a plethora of very good options. For example, have you ever heard of a famous Norwegian B-school? I hadn’t until I wrote this article. But as a highly developed country of 5 million with a strong oil and gas industry and amazingly high salaries, there are certainly many opportunities for job-seekers coming from BI or NHH.

These are some differences to consider while choosing your MBA program. However, there are other points to consider also. Sometimes it is impossible to leave your country to study abroad because of many reasons: job, family and more. Also being used to one or another teaching style can also play an important role in the choice of the school. There has been a misleading concept of only US MBA program quality. And we have to state that there are many benefits to taking your MBA degree in the USA. But those looking for a quicker, cheaper, more international experience should also consider a European MBA.