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Across the Seas: Studying in US vs Europe

Choosing the right business schools to apply to is a big decision for every prospective applicant. There are many elements examined, from program structure to faculty to career opportunities and much more. However even before reaching this stage, one of the most crucial decisions to make is which part of the world the students are looking to study in.


While there are business schools in most countries across six continents, there is no doubt that the US and Europe continue to be the two regions where the most, and best programs in the world are based. So today we delve into the differences between the two, and what are the factors you must consider before making a decision!


Local languages


Europe is home to some of the most incredible and culturally diverse countries in the world, such as France, Italy, Spain, among many others. While studying and living in these countries is undoubtedly a great experience, we can’t deny the heavy influence of the local language of each country. While all top management programs are conducted entirely in English, to fully embrace the country, one must reach a certain level of fluency with the local language. This is also often a crucial factor to get jobs in those countries, particularly in client facing roles such as consulting and sales.


The one exception to this of course is the United Kingdom, which is an English-speaking region. It’s no surprise at all then that schools such as London Business School, Oxford, and Cambridge continue to be among the most competitive in the world every year!


The US on the other hand is of course an English-speaking country. This makes settling in much easier for English speaking students and also removes the additional language barrier in getting jobs in the country irrespective of industry or sector.


Program duration


When it comes to MBA programs, there is a fairly clear distinction in the program duration between schools in Europe and the US.


US MBAs are almost always two year programs. This offers some unique opportunities, such as a proper internship between the two years, and more time to explore different subjects, electives, fields, and even career options. On the flip side however, students also incur tuition, boarding and other costs, and are away from a paying job for an extra year.


Most MBA programs in the UK and Europe are one year programs, although some might be closer to 1.5 years (such as HEC Paris). This means the programs are more compressed, and students are unlikely to have the opportunity to do a proper internship during the program itself. That being said, it gets them back to work in just a year, thereby having a lower opportunity cost, and in most cases also results in lower fees and expenses for the MBA.


Culture


The work culture in each country can vary drastically and is hard to capture in a few sentences, but we’ll try our best!


In a broad sense, the US is always seen to have a more demanding professional environment, with longer hours and a more intense work environment. That being said, there’s plenty of variety within the US itself, with the West Coast and Silicon Valley area having a more relaxed reputation as compared to the more formal “suit & tie” work style normally found in cities like New York and Boston.


Statistically speaking, many European countries have much shorter work weeks as compared to the US. Netherlands in fact is said to have an average work week of just 29 hours! Although that might be a bit too good to be true after graduating from a top school 😉


While the information we’ve given above is very generalized, and can vary greatly depending on the specific role, industry, or company you work with, there’s no doubt that the country’s work culture is an important factor to look into.


Reputation


Let’s not kid ourselves, no matter where you go in the world, people have heard of Harvard or Insead or Oxford.


That being said, there’s a simple rule to consider when choosing your schools and your future career plans. No matter the school, its reputation will always be the greatest in its own country and region. That’s why Stanford has a better standing than Harvard in California, and vice versa in Boston.


Similarly, an Insead MBA can be leveraged the most for careers in France, as compared to the rest of Europe, or the world.


While you most certainly can get jobs in countries other than the one where you studied, that option will always be harder than doing so in the same country.

Whether you go to the US or Europe, studying at a top business school will be an exceptional experience. But to truly get the most out of the cultural experience, the program itself , and your career after it, choosing where you want to study is a decision which is equally as vital as the school itself!

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