Which are the most popular countries for MBA students? | TopMBA.com

Which are the most popular countries for MBA students?

By Craig OCallaghan

Updated January 31, 2024 Updated January 31, 2024

For potential MBAs choosing a destination is a major decision. The implications will affect everything from the topics they will cover, to networking opportunities and their careers post-graduation. Making the right decision is paramount.

To help you find the best country for an MBA degree, let's take a closer look at some of the most highly coveted destinations for overseas MBA programmes.

United States

The US originated the MBA, and boasts many of the world’s most highly-ranked business schools, with alumni as significant as former US presidents. As a result, it's historically considered to be the best country for an MBA degree.

MBAs in the country typically run for two years and include an internship during the summer months. This has the added benefit of providing students with real experience and the opportunity to explore a specific company. The length of the course also gives students more time to explore their career opportunities and build networks - with many courses including residential stays abroad.

Top business schools in the US

Stanford Graduate School of BusinessPenn (Wharton) and Harvard Business School are among the top business schools in the US according to the latest QS Global MBA Rankings.

Learn more about the top business schools in the US with the QS Global MBA Rankings: United States.

United Kingdom

London's status as one of the world’s most competitive financial centres helps make the UK one of the best countries for studying an MBA.

Top business schools in the UK

Many of the country’s top-performing institutions (London Business School, Imperial College Business School) are based in the capital, providing students with experience and connections in the financial heart of Europe. Other top schools include Cambridge (Judge) and Oxford (Said).

Find top schools in the UK and other European countries in the QS Global MBA Rankings: Europe.


Canada remains a popular option for overseas MBA programmes thanks to the quality of its business schools and the employment opportunities available post-graduation. These factors help make it one of the best countries for studying an MBA.

Top business schools in Canada

Toronto (Rotman)McGill (Desautels) and Western (Ivey) are among the top MBA programmes in Canada according to the latest QS rankings. View more top schools in Canada with the QS Global MBA Rankings: Canada.


Australia's position as a top MBA destination has been cemented in recent years, boasting a number of highly-ranked business schools, a strong entrepreneurial mindset and an enviable lifestyle.

Its positioning close to the growing financial and business meccas in Southeast Asia means that students in the country have a plethora of learning and exchange opportunities available to them.

Top business schools in Australia

Melbourne Business SchoolUNSW (AGSM), and University of Sydney Business School are among the top business schools in Australia, regularly ranked among the country's best MBA programmes by QS.


Germany is a nation known to be driven by innovation and technology. It is one of the world’s strongest economies and a leader in both the automotive and electrical industries. Business school students in the country benefit from the academic success of many of the business schools.

They also experience many networking opportunities provided by a country which is home to businesses including Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Siemens, Deutsche Bank and Bosch, a significant factor in making it one of the best countries for an MBA degree.

Top business schools in Germany

Frankfurt School of Finance & ManagementMannheim Business School and WHU (Otto Beisheim) are among the country's most well-regarded business schools and regularly perform well in the ranking of full-time MBA programmes published by QS.


France was the first country in Europe to offer the MBA and it still offers one of the most competitive business educations available, making it one of the best countries for studying an MBA.

Those studying in the country benefit from the financial and business hub of Paris, close links to many of Europe’s other major political and economic cities, and the ability to learn one of the world’s most important languages.

Top business schools in France

HEC ParisINSEAD and ESCP Europe are not just among the best business schools in France but also regularly rank among the top business schools in Europe.


While Spain remains a popular MBA destination for students all around the world, students hailing from Latin America, or those wishing to work within a Spanish speaking nation or region after graduation, will often regard it as the best country to study an MBA abroad.

Many of Spain’s cities are significant financial hubs, including Barcelona, currently the largest port in the Mediterranean Sea. Aside from this, the rich culture on offer is a draw in itself, with many artists, musicians and athletes hailing from the country.

Top business schools in Spain

IE Business SchoolIESE Business School and Esade Business School are widely considered to be among the best MBA providers in Spain, regularly ranking among the best schools in both Spain and Europe.


Next in our list of the best countries for studying an MBA degree is Singapore, one of the world’s most important business locations and home to companies including DBS Bank and Singapore Airlines, making it one of the best countries to study an MBA abroad.

Top business schools in Singapore

National University of Singapore (NUS) is the only business school in Singapore to be featured in the QS Global MBA Rankings, and is one of the world's top MBA providers.

Learn more about top business schools in this region with the QS Global MBA Rankings: Asia.


One of the best countries for an MBA degree, Switzerland is known globally as a financial institution, with both Zurich and Geneva among the world’s top centres for finance. It also houses the headquarters for many of the most powerful companies in the world, including Nestlé, the Zurich Insurance Group and Credit Suisse.

Top business schools in Switzerland

IMD and University of St.Gallen are the most reputable business schools in Switzerland and both regularly rank highly in the QS Global MBA Rankings.

The Netherlands

The Dutch are famed for their openness and hospitality. When coupled with the prestige of their institutions, it’s not difficult to understand why the nation is a popular location for overseas MBA programmes and one of the best countries for studying an MBA abroad.

The country is a hub for business, being home to companies including Unilever, Shell and KLM and the continents largest port, the Port of Rotterdam. Additionally, the Netherlands is a particularly entrepreneurial nation, with one of the highest percentages of startups in Europe.

Top business schools in the Netherlands

Erasmus (RSM) and TIAS Business School are both ranked by QS for their full-time MBA programme and are among the top business schools in the Netherlands.


Why should I study an MBA abroad?


Studying for a MBA abroad presents numerous advantages, with the international perspective gained through exposure to diverse cultures and business practices a key benefit. This global experience is increasingly valuable in the interconnected business world, emphasising the importance of understanding various markets and perspectives.

Networking opportunities are another compelling reason to pursue an MBA abroad. Building a global network of contacts by interacting with classmates, professors, and alumni from different countries can lead to international job opportunities and valuable business connections. Access to top-ranked programmes is also a driving factor, as renowned business schools abroad offer high-quality faculty, resources, and industry connections.

Career opportunities are also broadened, especially in industries and multinational corporations that value candidates with international exposure. The potential for immigration is a practical consideration, as studying abroad may open doors to post-graduation work permits or other immigration options, allowing for practical work experience in the host country. 

How much does it cost to study an MBA abroad?

The cost of pursuing an MBA abroad varies widely, influenced by factors such as the country, university prestige, programme duration, and whether the institution is public or private. Tuition fees alone can range from $20,000 to over $100,000 per year, with top-tier business schools often charging higher amounts.

Living expenses, including accommodation, food, and transportation, can contribute significantly, ranging from $1,000 to $3,000 or more monthly, contingent on the host country's cost of living. Additional costs include books, health insurance, visa fees, travel expenses, and miscellaneous fees, making it crucial to factor in these aspects when estimating the overall expenditure.

Financial aid, scholarships, and part-time work opportunities can potentially offset some expenses. Learn about scholarship opportunities offered by QS.

What are my career options after studying an MBA?

After completing an MBA, you gain a versatile skill set that opens up diverse career options. Many graduates pursue roles in management, such as becoming a business manager, project manager, or operations manager. Consulting positions are popular, offering the chance to work with various companies on strategic initiatives.

Finance-related careers, including investment banking, financial analysis, or corporate finance, are common paths. Marketing and brand management roles appeal to those interested in driving company visibility and product positioning.

Entrepreneurship is another avenue, as the knowledge gained in an MBA programme equips individuals to start their own businesses. The global perspective acquired during an international MBA can also lead to opportunities in international business or with multinational corporations.

What are the top universities for studying an MBA abroad?

Candidates are advised to check the latest QS Global MBA Rankings to discover the current top-ranked MBA programmes. Business schools from the US and Europe are frequently ranked among the world's best, such as Stanford Graduate School of BusinessLondon Business School and HEC Paris.

What are the admissions criteria for studying an MBA overseas?


Admission criteria for studying an MBA overseas typically include a combination of academic qualifications, professional experience, standardised test scores, recommendation letters, and a compelling personal statement. Most programmes require a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution, and some may specify a minimum GPA.

Professional experience, often ranging from two to five years, is frequently preferred, demonstrating candidates' readiness for advanced business studies.

Standardised tests like the GMAT or GRE are commonly required, with competitive scores varying among institutions. English proficiency tests, such as the TOEFL or IELTS, are mandatory for non-native English speakers. Strong recommendation letters from professional or academic contacts are essential, providing insights into the applicant's abilities and character.

A well-crafted personal statement or statement of purpose detailing career goals, motivations, and how the MBA programme aligns with these aspirations is crucial. Some programmes may also conduct interviews to assess interpersonal and communication skills. Additionally, a diverse and accomplished background, extracurricular activities, and achievements may enhance an applicant's profile. Requirements can vary, so prospective students should thoroughly review the specific criteria outlined by each institution during the application process.

This article was originally published in February 2018 . It was last updated in January 2024

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