MBAs beyond borders

Posted by: Xavier Brooke
on May 10th, 2013 No Comments

Relocating for a job has become the norm in the 21st century and mobility is now the key word, as more and more employers choose to go beyond borders in their search for international top talent.

But are jobs the only way to experience these multiple lifestyles? What if now you are able to use the same amount of time entirely for yourself, in order to learn about the new different markets, the different business environments and actually have time to meet interesting people from the places you live in? Business Schools today have responded to this need and designed several MBA programs that offer exactly this .

Digging more on this topic,, I got to read a lot of stories from MBA students around the world. Here’s one extract from a Lebanese student in Singapore , taken from MBA INSEAD Experience Blog:

“The other day, someone asked me where I was living before. I paused before I could answer. It hit me that I have lived in 4 different cities over the past years. I have 4 active phone lines and I alternate sim cards based on my travels. But, it’s not just me. Anyone who is exchanging campuses would have lived in a minimum of three cities by now. I then thought about the cycle I go through every time I move: the original aversion, followed by fondness, love and then that separation anxiety that comes with having to leave again. I also realized that, that cycle got shorter and faster at INSEAD, and that I learned to adapt to it better.” Shereen Chalak, Class of 2013. I invite you to read her full story too.

Luckily there are more and more MBAs that include a lot of travel and international experience in their curricula. Why do we like these type of programs?

Such MBA programs are designed to build a culturally-diverse peer network with students from different countries. They are embedded in the world’s most important economic regions, therefore students will have access to diverse classmates, companies, industries, and partners — a unique professional network not offered by other kind of MBA programs. This one builds more than global awareness; it provides the real-world experience that will help you develop global competence and prepare you for international job responsibilities.

To be brief about the advantages of this kind of MBA, you will:

  • Build work experience and your career options
  • Practice cross-cultural communication through both the curriculum and the setting
  • Understand the drivers of world economies and markets
  • Master business frameworks to address the world’s interdependencies
  • Prepare to lead a global enterprise

Furthermore, as a student, you will become part of a rich, culturally-diverse class from across the world — your classmates will become your friends and inspiration throughout your MBA experience.

However, if you are a person looking for stability, who takes time to adapt to new climates, backgrounds, people or cultures, then it might be more difficult for you.

The are a lot of benefits indeed, but don’t forget about the price too. As all good things out there, they  can be costly. Some of the most innovative programs range in price from a low of $75,000 for Purdue University’s International MBA that has five two-week residencies held in six countries on three continents to a high of $152,500 for Duke University’s Global Executive MBA experience which includes five residencies and visits to seven different countries. has made a selection and we chose the first 3 MBA programs for you to have an overview:

Chicago Booth Executive MBA – The most amazing attribute of this experience is that it is the mainstream EMBA program at Chicago. A unique strength of the program is that it boasts three campuses on three continents–downtown Chicago, London, and Singapore, making this a true global adventure that helps you build an enduring international network. The 270 admitted students–90 from each of the three locales–begin the program together in late June at Chicago’s Hyde Park campus.

“The very first day, we bring them to Rockefeller Chapel, our dean welcomes them, and then we have them envision themselves here in that very same space 21 months later walking down the aisle receiving their degrees,” says Patty Keegan, associate dean of the EMBA program at Chicago. “It’s a terrific ceremony. Then, they go to school. They take a leadership course, financial accounting and microeconomics that week. We end the week with a terrific cruise out on Lake Michigan for bonding until everyone returns to their home campus.”

Format: During the 21-month program, students take 15 of the 17 courses together with their colleagues. Each student then selects two electives from a limited menu that has included such topics as entrepreneurship, private equity, options and futures, advanced marketing, and creative leadership. Students may also earn a concentration in finance or strategy through two additional courses during the week before graduation for an extra fee of $6,000. If you decide to earn a concentration, an additional week of classes are required.

During the second summer of the program, students from the three campuses work and study together as part of four one-week international exchange sessions. A total of four weeks–25% of the program–is spent working with students from the other two campuses. There are two sessions in Chicago and one each in London and Singapore. Don’t think you’ll be on vacation in Europe and Asia. During those sessions, classes meet Monday through Saturday, starting at 9 a.m. and ending at 5 p.m. with a break for lunch and some study time.

Cost: $142,000, not including airfare

Darden Global MBA – The University of Virginia’s new 21-month global program enters its first class of some 40 students this August.

Format: Starting in August through May, students will undergo six separate two-week-long international residencies at the home campus in Charlottesville, Va., and Washington, D.C., but also in Brazil, India, Europe, and China. Fully a third of the course work will be delivered via the Internet, in live weekly

classes, virtual learning teams, and integrated work projects. Some 15 faculty members at Darden will be involved in delivering the program.

And all of it will be taught via the case study method, the dominant teaching approach at both Darden and Harvard Business School. For each of the program’s six terms, students will be expected to read and discuss 30 to 35 case studies—over 200 in all. Roughly 20% of the cases will be brand new at launch, designed specifically for the new global MBA.

Each residency is a two-week stint, evenly spread across program. The experience begins with two weeks at Darden’s home campus in Charlottesville, Va., in late August and then kicks into the distance learning portion of the program via the Internet. Each week, there will be a maximum of two online classes, requiring at least ten hours of work by participants.

The second term begins in mid-January in Brazil with a two-weeks in Sao Paulo and/or Rio de Janeiro.  The third term kicks off in Beijing and Shanghai in May, while the four term starts off with an immersion trip in September in Paris and Berlin. The final international two-week residency begins in December in India, in New Delhi and/or Chennai. The program ends with two weeks in Charlottesville and Washington, D.C., in May. Four Darden professors will be sent to each international residency.

Cost: $139,500, not including an estimated $12,000 in additional travel costs.


Duke MBA—Global Executive – Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business claims that this is the world’s first global MBA program for senior executives. Launched in 1996, the MBA experience includes five residencies and visits to seven different countries.

Format: This 15-month program is composed of five terms (an optional sixth is available for electives or a concentration in one of six areas, from strategy to energy and the environment). Short, in-person residencies are followed by longer distance learning periods via the Internet. Weekly real-time class meetings are held, along with faculty office hours. There are bulletin board discussions and online team meetings.

Students start their pre-reading assignments for the program in late April before arriving on the Duke campus in Durham, N.C., for the first residency (this year it will begin May 16th and end June 1st). There’s a short break before the distance learning kicks in. Then, in late August and into September, students go to London and St. Petersburg for a second residency. Dubai and New Delhi come up next for two weeks in December. Shanghai and Bangkok are the destinations for another two weeks in March. Students finally complete the degree with a return to Durham for one week before graduating on July 14th.

Roughly 60% of the total time in the classroom takes place during these residential sessions. Students study, discuss and experience the way in which region-specific institutions, markets, and cultures enhance and hinder global commerce. Duke also assigns a personal coach to each student to explore unique leadership and personal development issues.

Cost: $152,500 includes tuition, books, class materials, lodging, and meals at the five residential sessions. Excludes travel to and from the residential sessions.


Would you go for this type of MBA? Let us know your reasons in the comments below.

Leave a Reply