Where to Get an MBA: Top 10 Study Destinations

Where to Get an MBA: Top 10 Study Destinations main image

The 2013 QS TopMBA.com Applicant Surveyasked MBA applicants from around the globe where they want to get their MBA. The top 10 destinations have remained relatively stable this year, with the same names featuring in this year’s report as appeared in 2012. The US and the UK, as ever, top the list.

However, this is not to say that there has been no change. Indeed, this year’s findings seem to signify that these two behemoths of business education are loosening their grip somewhat. There have also been significant changes in the order in which the nations appear.

1. US

Chosen by 65% of respondents

The number of MBA candidates interested in studying in the US rose 2.7% this year. While the US has been the front-runner since the Applicant Report was first published, its lead is narrowing. Despite the single-year rise, the figure is down on 2009’s figure of 70.7%.

Among many other factors, the US’s status as the birthplace of the MBA contributes significantly to its popularity. The concept of business education as a whole remained a North American phenomenon for several decades, prior to its introduction to Europe (the UK in particular) in the 1960s.

2. UK

Chosen by 41% of respondents

Where the US has always led, the UK has never been too far behind. The US & Canada was the only region in this year’s research in which fewer than 40% of applicants were considering the UK as a study destination.

The UK has consistently remained the most popular destination in Europe, and for good reason. UK business schools have a reputation for rigorous academics, as well as excellent post-MBA salaries and job opportunities.

Like the US, the UK has lost ground in the long-term, with 2009’s figure standing at 53.2%.

3. Canada

Chosen by 23% of respondents

Canada has seen the largest increase in interested candidates  in 2013 – up 5.4%. Latin American candidates in particular favored it, with 30.3% of the region’s candidates considering studying in the world’s second-largest nation.

Only 13.9% of respondents in the US & Canada indicated they would consider Canadian business education – a reflection of the greater proportion of US candidates, who tend to favor studying domestically, or travelling to Europe.

3. France

Chosen by 23% of respondents

The number of candidates interested in studying in France went up 2.6% this year. Eastern European candidates were the most interested in studying there, with 40.6% choosing it as their preferred MBA study destination.

The continuing strength of France can be attributed to its leading business schools, among which we can count INSEAD, the first European institution to offer the MBA.

5.    Australia

Chosen by 20% of respondents

Like Canada, Australia has also increased in popularity, with a 4.8% rise in applicants indicating an interest in studying there. It is most popular with those from the Asia Pacific region of which it is a part, and least popular with applicants in US & Canada, where only 3.4% of applicants are considering studying there.

Among other benefits, graduates of Australian business schools are known to enjoy handsome remuneration. The Macquarie University’s Graduate School of Management leads the way globally in this regard, with its graduates enjoying average salary packages of US$144,000.

6. Germany

Chosen by 15% of respondents

There was a 3.4% increase in the number of candidates who are interested in studying in Germany – a destination that is particularly popular with Eastern European applicants (28.3%), with proximity no doubt playing a part. A strong business culture and relative economic stability amid the turmoil suffered by its European neighbors are sure to have contributed to its steady rise in popularity since 2009 (12%).

6. Spain

Chosen by 15% of respondents

While the number of candidates interested in studying in Spain went down by 0.3%, it retains a firm foothold in the top 10. Spain is most popular with applicants in Eastern Europe, 25.6% of whom expressed in interest in travelling to the Iberian Peninsula. The number of interested Western European applicants, however, decreased from 23.7% last year to 16.2% this year. While an entrepreneurial small business culture certainly bolsters its appeal, the financial woes incurred in recent years cannot have failed to have had an effect. This year’s drop compounds a fall from 19.5% in 2009.

6. Singapore

Chosen by 15% of respondents

In 2009, Singapore was the only Asian country on applicant’s radars, with 6.4% thinking of studying there. Other Asian nations, namely Japan, China and India have gained ground, but with 15% of MBA applicants looking to the Asian Tiger economy, it is firmly entrenched as a top-10 designation; a rise which is nothing short of remarkable.

As well as the obvious appeal as a financial center, we should also factor in the rise of its higher education institutions, which have gone from strength to strength in recent years.

9. Switzerland

Chosen by 14% of respondents

Switzerland is another nation whose appeal is obvious. This year, it has enjoyed an increase in candidate interest of 1.3% percent. Again, it is particularly popular with Eastern European MBA candidates (30.7%), for whom it ranks after only the US, UK and France. Add Germany to this list, and the same can be said for their Western European peers.

10. The Netherlands

Chosen by 10% of respondents

The Netherlands replaced Italy in the top 10 in 2012, and has remained there this year, with global interest rising by 1.7% this year. Eastern European and Latin American applicants are those who favor studying in the Netherlands most.

The annual QS TopMBA.com Applicant Survey asks a global pool of MBA applicants about their study preferences, their aims and their aspirations, and affords a snapshot of who they are. This year’s findings were based on the responses of over 4,100 respondents.

Written by Mansoor Iqbal

Mansoor is a contributor to and former editor of TopMBA.com. 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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