MBA in Switzerland | TopMBA

Switzerland has long been a favourite for prospective MBA students according to the QS Applicant Survey 2015. And it’s no surprise, with schools in Switzerland offering some of the highest MBA salaries for MBA graduates, both in Europe and the world as a whole. Beyond graduation, high employment opportunities, such as in Switzerland’s booming financial services sector, make a strong argument for pursuing an MBA in Switzerland.

Why study an MBA in Switzerland?

While the country itself is fifth most popular in Europe for pursuing an MBA (after UK, Germany, France, and Spain), MBA graduates working in Switzerland command the highest salaries in Western Europe – the base average salary in Switzerland being US$131,100 (+US$21,400 average annual bonus).     

Switzerland is attractive for employers as well, reflected, in part, by the impressive list of companies that has flocked to this non-EU, low-tax regime: Over the last decade, P&G, McDonald’s and Nissan have found homes in Switzerland for their European corporate headquarters.

Could Switzerland be your MBA destination?

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Furthermore, while most MBA programs are taught in English, students who stay on to work in Switzerland after graduation have the unique opportunity of working in a multilingual market. This can be a particular advantage for students who already speak any one of Switzerland’s official languages, including German, Italian and French. Some schools – like IMD – on the other hand, require candidates to speak at least one language in addition to English.  

Out of the 65 business schools in Europe to feature in the QS Global 200 Report 2014/15, four are located in Switzerland. The following three place among the top 30 based on two independent surveys of international employers and faculty that measure MBA employability and academic reputation, respectively:

IMD

Located in Lausanne, in francophone Switzerland, IMD is ranked eighth among its European counterparts in the latest QS Global 200 report. IMD offers a one-year full-time MBA and an executive MBA, alongside a strong portfolio of open executive education programs. The school's full-time MBA is highly international with over a quarter of students hailing from Asia, according to its latest class profile. Much of this may have to do with the program’s requirement for candidates to speak one language in addition English. Graduates of the IMD MBA in 2014 received a median base salary of US$129,976.  

IMD is located in Lausanne, in francophone Switzerland

University of St. Gallen

With a century-long reputation, the University of St. Gallen prides itself on having the largest management faculty in the German-speaking area of Switzerland. It was ranked 15th out of 65 schools in Europe in QS's most recent regional MBA rankings for Europe, having established its full-time MBA as recently as in 2005. The school also offers a part-time program as well as a range of executive MBA and pre-experience master’s degree options. Its full-time MBA graduates secured the second-highest salary uplift (150%) pre- to post-MBA across 46 business schools in Europe in the 2015 QS ROI report. St. Gallen’s 2015 MBA class also picked up an average base salary of CHF105,329 (equivalent to US$106,780).

University of St. Gallen has the largest management faculty in the German-speaking area of Switzerland

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Business School Lausanne

Another school located in the French-speaking city of Lausanne is Business School Lausanne. While placing 28th (out of 65) in QS’s latest MBA ranking of European MBA schools. In addition to its more traditional MBA program offering and an executive MBA, the school also offers a sustainable business MBA through a joint-degree program with the University of St. Gallen. 

Business School Lausanne is located in the French-speaking region of Switzerland
       

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Other study options in Switzerland

Internationl Organizations MBA, University of Geneva (HEC)

Those who aspire to hold managerial positions in an international organization, NGO, or social enterprise may want to consider the University of Geneva’s full-time International Organizations MBA (IOMBA). Located in Geneva, Switzerland’s second-most populous city (after Zurich), the school offers its students the benefit of close proximity to some of the world’s most prestigious international organizations, such as the United Nations. For more seasoned professionals, the school also offers an executive MBA in French or English through the university’s Geneva School of Economics and Management (GSEM).

SBS Swiss Business School

Zurich, the country’s largest economic and cultural center, is home to Swiss Business School (SBS), which offers both a full-time MBA as well as a 15-month flexible MBA, which requires students to come to class for one weekend each month. The school also offers an online MBA option as well as an executive MBA. 

The return on investment for graduates of an MBA in Switzerland

It’s no wonder Switzerland is a popular destination for professionals pursuing graduate degrees in business - the salaries on offer are among the highest available in the world.

Indeed, Switzerland’s base average salary of US$131,100, as reported by employer respondents in a 2015 QS report, was slightly lower than reported annual base salaries in New Zealand (US$145,000), and ahead of Australia (US$124,800 annually without bonuses) and the US (US$103,300).

Switzerland is a popular destination for professionals pursuing MBA degrees thanks to high salaries in the region

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For these monetary benefits, however, MBA candidates can expect to pay some of the highest MBA program fees by attending a business school in Switzerland, at an average of US$63,532, compared to the European average of US$49,413 found in QS’s 2015 ROI report for Europe.

Even so, in QS’s latest MBA jobs and salary report, the top three MBA graduate salaries in Western Europe, by school, are all to be found in Switzerland. It is high salaries that allow graduates of a European MBA to recoup their business school investment in just 30 months on average, with the University of St. Gallen, for example, averaging even lower than that, at 26 months. In terms of long-term return on investment (ROI), QS’s 2015 report also found the highest returns in Europe over 10 years in Switzerland, with IMD and St. Gallen averaging an ROI estimate of just over a million dollars in that timeframe.