Thursday, March 15, 2018 at 11am

Location, Location, Location: How Much Does Where You Study Matter for Your MBA?

Location, Location, Location: How Much Does Where You Study Matter for Your MBA? main image

As well as the choice of school itself, the physical location of your chosen MBA has a significant impact on your business school experience too, both inside and outside the classroom. It’s very unlikely you wouldn’t take location into account, at least in some respects, when deciding where to study your MBA, but it’s maybe not going to seem as important as the business school’s reputation or the course content. So, how much does location actually matter?

Life inside the classroom

The location of a school matters less when it comes to life inside the classroom – after all, a good school is a good school, no matter where it is. However, where your school is based can have a real impact on your academic experience, as it may affect the number and quality of speakers that come to visit and give talks, as well as the connections you can make at school-organized networking events.

When choosing a school, it’s a good idea to take into consideration where you want to do your MBA internship, as your chosen location can have a big impact on this. You should already have an idea of the sort of industries and companies you’d be interested in before you start your MBA course, so focusing on locations with links to internships in your preferred industry could be useful to consider. For example, schools in California may be useful if you’re interested in the tech industry, while London is likely to be a good choice of study destination if you want to pursue a career in finance.

You can also explore schools that offer formal affiliations with other business schools or international campuses, allowing students on one program to study at the other campus and access both alumni networks. The University of Bath School of Management, for example, offers global residencies at 50 institutions worldwide for MBA students. These formal affiliations can not only double your location, but also double your network.

Life outside the classroom

Studying an MBA will be some of the most intense years of your life, so it’s important to be in an environment where you feel safe and comfortable and are able to take some downtime when you need to. Don’t just visit the school campus or buildings when you’re deciding where to apply. Take a couple of hours, or even a day, to explore the place it’s in, so you can establish if it’s somewhere you could see yourself living (or even working after graduation).

Taking your own personality into account is vital when deciding the right location for your MBA. If you prefer smaller towns with fewer people, you’d probably be unhappy and stressed in a non-stop, bustling city like New York, and may value the small campus experience offered by, for example, Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business instead. Don’t feel pressured to go for a school with a really good reputation if you know you won’t enjoy living there. You should also consider your financial situation when deciding where to study, as some cities are far more expensive than others.


You may also want to get involved in professional associations within your business school city, such as the American Marketing Association, so check to see if there are active local chapters near your school. These can be useful for networking and discovering new opportunities, both during your studies and after.

Life after the classroom

The most important thing to consider about study location is whether it will provide enough opportunities for career progression. Certain cities are simply superior to others in terms of both internships and post-MBA employability. Even if you don’t intend to stay in the city where you studied, the networking opportunities in certain cities are invaluable. A contact you make in London may lead to job opportunities back home in Chicago, for example. 

Plus, some cities are good to be based in for specific companies; for example, Seoul and LG, or Paris and L’Oréal. Think about industries and cities you’re interested in working in after graduation and take that into account when making your decision. It’s also worth considering alumni networks in the city or town – particularly the size and level of activity within the network – as these could prove very useful both during and after your MBA.

If you’re motivated by higher wages, this could also be a way to help narrow down the list of schools to consider. According to the TopMBA Jobs & Salary 2018 Trends Report, the highest MBA graduate salaries on offer are in Switzerland ($123,500), followed by the US ($102,100), France ($98,500) and the UK ($92,400). So, if you’re after a high salary, these countries should be your first port of call.


Ready to start researching possible study destinations? Click here to read our range of country guides.

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Julia is a writer for TopMBA.com, publishing articles for business students and graduates across the world. A native Londoner, she holds an MSc in Marketing Strategy & Innovation from Cass Business School and a BA in Classical Studies & English from Newcastle University.

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