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MBA in USA vs Canada vs Europe vs Asia: Which is the best country for MBA abroad?

MBA in USA vs Canada vs Europe vs Asia

For most people, the MBA dream begins with a picture in their minds. The words “MBA” and “abroad” glow like neon signs in the head, with images of a plane taking off, a beautiful campus with Greek columns, Roman arches, and grass greener than you’ve ever seen before all flashing before the eyes like the slides of a PowerPoint presentation playing on endless loop on a sleepy day at work.

It’s a beautiful picture. Trouble is, this picture could be anywhere in the world.  And if you want to get any closer to realizing your MBA dream, you need to roll up your sleeves, get down to the nuts and bolts, and find the devil hiding in the details.

Best country for study abroad students?

Till the early 90s, “abroad” meant only 2 places – the USA or the UK. However, a lot of coffee has been dispensed by office coffee vending machines since then. 

Canada, France, Spain, Germany have all emerged as lucrative destinations luring the best MBA talent from all over the world.

The second decade of the 21st century has also seen the rise of Asia as a higher education powerhouse – China, Singapore, Hong Kong, Dubai, and even South Korea now have B-schools in the top 100.

With so many options, how do you choose the best place to do an MBA from?

Below we present a lowdown on the pros and cons of doing an MBA from the 4 most preferred destinations – USA, Canada, Europe, and Asia. Each geography is analyzed under 4 headings:

  • Tuition Fees
  • Duration of MBA
  • Post-MBA Opportunities
  • Cost of Living and Other Expenses



USA remains the most popular MBA destination worldwide for obvious reasons – by far the largest economy in the world, and expected to remain so for the foreseeable future, home to some of the largest corporations, unmatched quality of life, the list is endless.

Tuition FeesTop American MBA programs are among the costliest in the world. The average cost of an MBA in the US can vary between USD 60,000 to USD 1,50,000. In fact, 14 out of the 15 most expensive MBA programs in the world are based in the US.

However, before you grab a pencil and cross the US of A off your list, read on.

Duration – American MBAs tend to be of 2 year duration, which is part of the reason why they are more expensive. You are paying for two years of education and learning rather than just one, so it makes sense that you should pay more.

Post MBA Opportunities – USA remains unmatched when it comes to post-MBA employment opportunities. Home to the Silicon Valley, Wall Street, and the new hottest business destination – Texas – practically every big business has a home in the US. American B-schools also offer great post-MBA salary jumps – according to The Economist, 7 out of the top 10 B-schools ranked by post-MBA salary increase were in the US.

Cost of Living and Additional Expenses – America is great, and America isn’t cheap. So, expect to be shelling out a decent amount for living, travel, and other overheads. For a two-year MBA, living and additional expenses sometimes add up to almost the same amount as the tuition fee.
Read more about international student life in USA. And be aware of these problems of international students in USA and how to tackle them.

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MBA in Canada

There was a time when going to study in Canada was thought of as a means to getting a toehold in the great American dream. Times however have changed, and Canada has emerged as a top destination in its own right, not just for education but for pursuing one’s career and settling down.

Tuition Fees – Canadian MBAs tend to be a little less expensive than American ones on average. The cost of an MBA in Canada is anywhere between USD 30,000 to USD 1,00,000. The upper end of this band is represented by the top ranked Canadian B-schools such as University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Business.  If, however, you are not aiming for one of these elite colleges, it is possible to find a great B-school at about half the cost of an American MBA.

Duration – Most Canadian MBAs are of the same duration as American MBAs, which is 2 years.

Post MBA Opportunities – Canada is known for its liberal immigration policies, and if you intend to work and/or settle in Canada, a Canadian MBA is a great investment.  Canadian cities such as Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver are consistently rated as among the best cities for doing business in, besides providing the highest quality of life anywhere on earth. Also, Canada is breathtakingly beautiful, though you probably already know that.

Cost of Living and Additional Expenses – Canada is a vast, cold country covered in snow and it imports a lot of the stuff that it consumes. This means that prices of items of everyday use tend to be high. Unless you are willing to forego the pleasures of gorging on rich tropical delicacies such as Kadhai Paneer and mangoes for lunch, be prepared to spend a decent amount on food. Oh, and the Canadian housing market has been on fire these last few years with no signs of relenting in the foreseeable future, so expect rents to be high too in most Canadian cities. Here’s more on the international student life in Canada

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MBA in Europe

Europe is the cradle of western civilization, the birthplace of modern industrial capitalism, and consequently, of the modern business firm. The world of commerce as we know it today was shaped by Italian trade guilds, British and Dutch trading companies, and German and Swiss Mittelstands.

Also, entrepreneur is a French word.

You get the point – studying business at the top business schools in Europe is like going on an exciting adventure back to where it all began from.

Tuition Fees – European MBAs cost significantly less than comparable MBA programs in North America. For example, the tuition cost of an MBA at Cambridge Judge Business school is approximately USD 77,828 in 2022, whereas the tuition fees at MIT Sloan in the US can run up to USD 165,992.

Duration – European MBAs are usually of 1 year duration. So this automatically brings down both tuition fees and living costs. A shorter period spent in an MBA program also usually means lesser time spent being out of work, and thus reduced opportunity cost.

Post MBA Opportunities – Cities such as London, Amsterdam, Paris, and Berlin continue to be the nerve centres of global commerce in the 21st century, so Europe offers opportunities comparable to those in the US.

European B-schools are also far more cosmopolitan, with international students making up upto 90% of the student body at some schools. This allows for far better networking opportunities than in American B-schools.

You should, however, take into account the fact that European countries don’t usually have very accommodating immigration policies. So while studying in Barcelona or Prague might seem like a dream come true, settling there might not be a very feasible plan.

Cost of Living and Additional Expenses – These can vary from country to country. Some European countries such as Switzerland are notoriously expensive to live in, whereas others such as Spain, Italy, or East European nations are more affordable.

Also read:
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How to improve your odds of finding a local job after graduation

Benoit Banchereau, Executive Director, Communications, Marketing & Admissions, MBA Programs, HEC Paris

Best country for study abroad students We encourage our students to immerse themselves in the local French culture as much as possible – especially when they are interested in working in the country after graduation.

The majority of our students make a career transformation – for the Class of 2021, 69 percent of our graduates secured positions outside of their home country, 79 percent changed sectors, and 62 percent changed location. A total of 41 percent changed two of the three elements, while 40 percent made the MBA “triple jump,” changing all three.

The percentages of non-Europeans finding jobs in Western Europe was 57 percent of the placement rates in this region. From the Class of 2021, 23 percent secured positions in France. It’s helpful if students do an internship in France during their MBA and if they make an effort to learn the local language.

During their studies, our MBAs have access to and are required to take language classes (whether in French or another language of their choice). New students attend a French Touch event in their first weeks on campus where they sample French wine and cheese and our Careers Center holds workshops on subjects such as writing your CV in French.

In addition, we hold local networking events in France and we host events at our Alumni Office near the Champs Elysees in Paris. Our French Connection club is another way in which our students immerse themselves in French culture, with company visits, presentations and networking events.

Top industries in France that recruit international students

Our MBA graduates secure positions in a variety of industries in France but some of the most popular industries are Technology and Retail & Luxury. In addition, France has a vibrant startup scene and some students go on to found their own companies here.

HEC promotes entrepreneurship and nearly 400 schoolwide entrepreneurial projects are created each year. The school is also tied to Station F, where we house our HEC Incubator, and where HEC Seed, our annual pitch competition, takes place each year.


MBA in Asia

Asia is the future. Asia is also like the proverbial box of chocolates – you never know what you’re going to get. This is because it is a large and diverse continent lacking the centralized governance and policy making of the European Union. So, it is much harder to generalize for Asia. But that doesn’t stop us from trying our best:

Tuition Fees – Asian MBAs tend to be cheaper than both North American and European MBAs. For instance, tuition fees at CEIBS, Shanghai, Asia’s top ranked B-school is USD 67,153, while that at NUS Singapore is USD 62,098 as of 2022, making it one of the most affordable MBAs among the global top 50.

Duration – When it comes to duration, most Asian MBAs walk the middle path between the North American and the European models, offering MBA programs that typically last 18 months. So, if you feel that the 2 years of an American MBA will age you like Gandalf the Grey, and the 12 months spent at a European B-school would pass by sooner than you can say Oktoberfest, an MBA from a leading Asian B-school might just be your thing.

Cost of Living and Other Expenses – This is a metric that varies wildly among Asian cities. Singapore, for instance, is notorious for its expensive housing.

However, other Asian cities such as Shanghai or Bangkok are known to be very affordable. You won’t have to worry about mangoes and melons; the paneer though, you might still have to live without.

Post MBA Opportunities – Asia is the growth engine of the world, and it goes without saying that it offers great opportunities for those willing to invest in it. Asian MBAs, like their European counterparts, tend to be very cosmopolitan, with foreign students making upto 90% of the batch at most leading Asian B-schools. Given their lower costs, Asian MBAs also offer great RoIs.

Also read:
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Second MBA from top Asian business schools: China vs India vs Hong Kong
International student life in Singapore: Everything you need to know
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How I got a job in Singapore after MBA
Top business schools in the Philippines, Singapore, Hong Kong

So which one’s the best MBA destination – USA or Canada or Europe or Asia?

As with most things in life, there’s no one size fits all when it comes to deciding where you want to pursue an MBA from. It all boils down to your short-term and long-term plans.

Want to settle abroad post B-school? A Canadian MBA might be your best bet.

Don’t want to spend 2 full years at school? Head to Europe.

Looking to get the most bang for your buck? Go for an Asian MBA.

Willing to pay more for the best things in life? The US of A is your oyster.

Regardless of the geography you select, MBA Crystal Ball admission consultants can help you put your best foot forward when it comes to your applications. Drop us a message when you’re ready: info at mbacrystalball dot com

Also read:
Top MBA in USA, Canada, Europe with GMAT GRE waiver
How I improved my profile for MBA in India, USA and Canada with scholarships

References: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 | Photo by MD Duran on Unsplash

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