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Top Universities Abroad to Get Your MBA

Author: Christopher Williams

Driven by a strong U.S. dollar and shorter MBA programs – both resulting in a lower tuition bill – a growing number of U.S. students are heading to elite programs abroad. Which schools are worth considering? Harvard established the world's first MBA program in 1908, but now, half of the world's top 20 performing MBA schools are based outside the United States…throughout Europe and Asia. (See also: Top European MBA Programs.)

1. London Business School

University of London, UNITED KINGDOM

Belonging to the University of London, the school boasts one of the largest exchange programs in the world (with over 30 partner schools globally) and is consistently ranked as one of the top performing business institutions outside the United States. In fact, it's the only non-U.S. business school to have been ranked number one worldwide for its full time MBA program.

2. INSEAD

Institut Européen d'Administration des Affaires, or European Institute of Business Administration, FRANCE, SINGAPORE, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES

Co-founded in 1957 by venture capitalist and Harvard professor Georges Doriot, and funded by the Paris Chamber of Commerce, INSEAD has evolved into one of the world's most esteemed MBA programs. With campuses in Europe (Fontainebleau, France), Asia (Singapore) and the Middle East (Abu Dhabi), INSEAD prides itself on being the business school for the world, and remains a go-to for consulting firms.

3. IESE

Instituto de Estudios Superiores de la Empresa, or Institute of Higher Business Studies, SPAIN

With campuses in Barcelona, and just outside Madrid, IESE Business School stands as one of Europe's oldest management education institutions, with growing alliances in Latin America, China and Eastern Europe. Ninety percent of its students are working with top-tier management companies within three months of graduation.

4. CEIBS

China Europe International Business School, CHINA

Ranked No.1 in Asia and 11th in the world, the CEIBS MBA program, whose campus is in Shanghai, places a strong emphasis on global and China business. Eighty percent of the overseas students who graduate from CEIBS establish residence and work in the Asia-Pacific region.

5. IE Business School

Instituto de Empresa, SPAIN

Based in the heart of Madrid, IE's Global Executive MBA program has been acknowledged as the best in the world. Among the graduates of the 2014 class, 92% had gained employment three months after graduation, despite half of Spaniards under age 25 being unemployed at that time.

6. Cambridge Judge Business School

University of Cambridge, UNITED KINGDOM

Dubbed Silicon Fen, Cambridge is home to several electronics and biotechnology companies and just a half-hour train ride outside London. Students at Cambridge Judge Business School learn and live in true Cambridge tradition (the British university dates back to the 13th century), and the school sits in a burgeoning tech hub where students work with local startups on consulting projects within their first three months.

7. HKUST Business School

Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, CHINA

HKUST programs are focused on business in mainland China and its connections to the rest of the world. Sixteen percent of the professors are, in fact, American. Northwestern's Kellogg also teamed up with HKUST to form an executive MBA program aimed at business executives in Asia. More than 80% of HKUST graduates end up working in Asia after graduation.

8. HEC Paris

Hautes Etudes Commerciales, FRANCE

Situated on a 300-acre wooded campus near Versailles, just outside of Paris, HEC is an ideal choice for MBAs working in luxury marketing – especially if you seek a career in France. HEC allows students to personalize their MBA during the second half of the program, and is known to educate many of Europe's top business executives and political elite.

9. ESADE Business School

Escuela Superior de Administración y Dirección de Empresas, SPAIN

Located in Barcelona, ESADE's MBA program is grounded in Innovation, Strategy, Entrepreneurship and Leadership. Students can elect to take a bilingual course load in either English and Spanish or English and Catalan. ESADE's Family Business Lab caters to students who may wish to establish their own family business, or are poised to inherit one.

10. IMD

International Institute for Management Development, SWITZERLAND

Located lakeside in Lausanne, Switzerland, about 40 minutes from Geneva, IMD offers intensive one-year MBAs for an intimate group of just 90 students. Its MBA has been described as one of the most thoughtfully crafted MBA programs for individuals available.

The Bottom Line

The MBA is one of the world's most sought-after degrees today, and where it is obtained can make a huge difference in what it gets you. (See The Pros And Cons Of Going Abroad For Your MBA.) The case for studying abroad is strong. In addition to the favorable U.S. dollar, shorter programs and lower fees on offer, a number of foreign institutions are leading the way in MBA education. Plus you get to talk business over croissants or tapas.

See also, 6 Reasons To Get Your MBA Abroad.

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