International MBA cohorts at Global 200 schools: Top 10

International MBA cohorts at Global 200 schools: Top 10 main image

21st century business, as we all know, is a truly global affair. International exposure, therefore, is a key aspect of modern MBA programs. One of the primary ways in which top business schools achieve this is through ensuring a rich mix of nationalities in their MBA cohorts. This allows students to not only learn from each other, but also to get firsthand experience of dealing with an international workplace – the increasingly predominant reality in the modern business world.

When it comes to this kind of internationalization, top business schools – particularly those in the West, but increasingly top Asia-Pacific schools – truly excel. It is telling that the mean average proportion of international students at business schools featured in the 2012/13 QS Global 200 Business Schools Report is just over 50%. This increases to nearly 90% in North America and 80% in Europe. Notably, at Asia Pacific schools, the average has risen from 46 to 50% percent since 2010.

As well as offering the advantages of exposure to businesspeople from around the world, a high proportion of international students can also be a sound indicator of the quality of a program; students have had to make the effort to travel and live overseas to study there, after all.

Here are the top 10 (actually 12, as three schools tie for 10th place) schools included in the Global 200 report in terms of how international an MBA cohort they can boast. Notably, the UK and Spain are the standout nations here, with three representatives apiece.

Bradford University School of Management

Percentage international 2012: 99%
Size of cohort: 97
Base salary (2011 cohort): US$50,000
Location: UK

Our mission is to enhance the understanding and practice of business and management worldwide. We therefore actively seek to recruit students from across the world, through our international agents, partners, business and alumni networks. We have regional offices in China, Dubai and Germany and over 100 countries are represented at the university.

The rich cultural diversity at Bradford provides a fantastic opportunity for students to learn about different cultures and ways of working in different countries, and how management is applied in them.

Bradford was at the heart of the Industrial Revolution, and is now it is at the heart of the New Industrial Revolution, preparing students for the challenges management face in developing new business models around the principles of the circular economy, an area of key focus for the school.

Roger Beach, associate dean of postgraduate programs

European University

Percentage international 2012: 98%
Size of cohort: 230
Base salary (2011 cohort): not available
Location: Spain, Switzerland, Germany

In today’s business world, one single company can work in several languages, places and time zones simultaneously, so an international perspective and international exposure are vital in modern business education. EU consciously tries to diversify its international student population so that students can learn from each other both inside and outside the classroom. 

Our students learn how to relate to people from different cultures and nationalities by sitting side-by-side in the classroom. We consider class discussion a core learning component as it gives students an opportunity to express their opinions, background and values whiles while hearing the same from their respective classmates.

For non-native speakers becoming fluent in English is necessary to enter the international business world, and developing this skill in a classroom full of international students with the same goal produces amazing results. Each semester we are able to watch the initial communication barriers disintegrate and by the time they are ready to graduate, students are prepared and confident giving full business presentations in English.

Veronica Cancio De Grandy, communications director, Barcelona campus

IE Business School

Percentage international 2012: 97%
Size of cohort: 450
Base salary (2011 cohort): US$110,460
Location: Spain

Diversity is one of IE’s main assets. We make a big effort to embrace and achieve diversity within our programs. We want our students to be able to learn how things are done in different countries and in different business cultures. We have successfully been able to achieve this, and have had more than 100 different nationalities on campus in the past years.

An international cohort is fundamental in the learning process of MBA students and it constitutes the first step towards generating a truly international network. There is no doubt the world now is global, mobile and international, and we need to train our future business leaders to deal with this type of environment.

Internationality is not only a matter of nationalities but of global exposure; the number of countries lived in and the number of languages spoken. We currently bring together a cohort with over 90 different nationalities represented, who speak an average of three languages and have lived, studied or worked in more than two countries.

Camila Uribe, director of international development for Europe and the CIS


Percentage international 2012: 97%
Size of cohort: 90
Base salary (2011 cohort): US$129,600
Location: Switzerland

The international class mix is an extremely important element in IMD’s learning and selection approach. We strive for diversity in our class in order to get the best class of 90 participants who can learn and share from each other.  International diversity is one important element in the selection process.

MBAs frequently tell us that they learn at least as much from each other as from the faculty. With international diversity, they are able to learn about and work in teams with a wide range of cultures that enhances their global leadership skills and development.

We look for students with an international background, who want to continue on an international career track.  IMD has a strong international alumni and corporate network, so graduates are often able to find jobs to fulfill their international career aspirations.

Janet Shaner, director of MBA program design & delivery

The University of Hong Kong - Faculty of Business & Economics

Percentage international 2012: 96%
Size of cohort: 53
Base salary (2011 cohort): US$82,115
Location: Hong Kong

HKU values diversity and constantly reaches out to international markets to admit high caliber students from all over the world. The rapid rise of the MBA program in the rankings, its partnership with London Business School and Columbia Business School, and its Asian focus have contributed to its global reach.

The rapid growth of Asia as a hub for global business has created tremendous opportunities in the region. Our Asian and Chinese focus gives our students a unique advantage. Chinese students come to HKU to look at their country from the outside, and to learn the business methodologies of the West; while overseas students get to experience China and Asia firsthand. Both are able to relate their knowledge to a global playing field.

Our structure of one month in Beijing, nine months in Hong Kong and four months in either London, New York or Shanghai is very attractive for international students, as is our location in a city with a rich business and entrepreneurial heritage.

Sachin Tipnis, executive director, MBA

International University of Japan, Graduate School of International Management

Percentage international 2012: 96%
Size of cohort: 50
Base salary (2011 cohort): US$75,000
Location: Japan

Our aim is to have at least 40 if not 50 countries represented on our campus and in our classrooms at all times. It is now clear that today's and tomorrow's leaders must be equipped with the hard and soft skills to succeed not only domestically, but in the global competitive environment.  The focus of most of our educational and research efforts are on "leveraging emerging Asia for global competitive advantage". 

In addition to our high level of academics, and close ties with Japanese companies (our school boasts strategic partnerships with more than 50 of Japan's top companies), we are extremely effective in placing our students in jobs after their graduation. 

Finally, there are very few universities in the world that boast a campus like ours.We are nestled in the mountains of Japan's famous "Snow Country", in the heart of Japan, and boast a multi-cultural, multi-ethnic student community of 350+ students living and studying together all at master's level.  And we are only a short 90-minute bullet train ride to Tokyo.

Philip Sugai, dean and professor of marketing

Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University

Percentage international 2012: 96%
Size of cohort: 138
Base salary (2011 cohort): US$90,788
Location: Netherlands

At RSM we have always strived to enroll a class that is reflective of the global business landscape in which our students will operate. Therefore, you will see diverse nationalities in our class composition. We actively recruit in all regions in the world to ensure that this is true for every cohort. RSM has always been proud of the fact that we are more than 95% international.

It is great to have different perspectives reflected in class – it challenges the assumptions of our candidates, fosters creative thinking, ensures that they are sensitive to cultural differences and equips them to lead in multicultural environments. It also ensures that academic discussions are extremely rich because of the different perspectives they bring to the same subject matter.

Furthermore, an international cohort ensures a great student life outside of the classroom – they bring their cultural customs, festivals, and food to the MBA program, which makes for a rounded MBA experience.

The Netherlands is a great location for international education. We have some of the best visa regulations in Europe, ensuring that our students aiming to work in Europe can do so in a fairly streamlined manner.

Maryke Luijendijk-Steenkamp, director of marketing & admissions

University of Edinburgh Business School

Percentage international 2012: 96%
Size of cohort: 54
Base salary (2011 cohort): US$113,598
Location: UK

School of Management, Royal Holloway

Percentage international 2012: 95%
Size of cohort: 30
Base salary (2011 cohort): not available
Location: UK

Our recruitment process in the last two years, using social media, our website, alumni connections and interviews, has sought to reinforce our strong international credentials.  Many students are attracted by the opportunity to study at one of the University of London's leading colleges, as part of a truly global cohort of students.

MBA International Management students are enthusiastic about the peer-to-peer learning they gain while following a demanding academic programme. Significant learning takes place outside the classroom in social and semi-social situations throughout the year. For example student groups often take it in turns to host an evening sharing food from their home country.

The minimum three years work experience means that the MBA group benefits from direct insights into a wide range of roles and industries, but also students are able to bring to the fore their cultural knowledge and insights. The strong emphasis on group work in a pressurised situation sees students required to collaborate together and work through a wide range of personal and cultural issues.

Justin O’Brien, MBA director, and Jeffrey Unerman, head of the School of Management

Hult International Business School

Percentage international 2012: 94%
Size of cohort: 614
Global 200 category:
Base salary (2011 cohort): US$95,000
Location: US

CEU Business School

Percentage international 2012: 94%
Size of cohort: 32
Base salary (2011 cohort): US$69,062
Location: Hungary


Percentage international 2012: 94%
Size of cohort: 32
Base salary (2011 cohort): not available
Location: Spain

EADA values diversity and is constantly trying to increase the number of nationalities in class as well as the percentage of women on our programs. For this reason, we offer scholarships to candidates whose nationalities have historically been underrepresented at EADA, including those from India, the Near and Middle East, Central Europe and Eastern Europe.

When talking with current and former students at EADA, one of the clear highlights of the program in almost every case is the diversity among classmates. Participants value the exposure to a wide range of cultural perspectives when discussing cases and find that the international atmosphere not only enriches their learning, but accurately representative today's global business world.

Bibiana Camba, MBA admissions director

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Written by Mansoor Iqbal

Mansoor is a contributor to and former editor of He is a higher and business education specialist, who has been published in media outlets around the world. He studied English literature at BA and MA level and has a background in consumer journalism.

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