With international prestige and growing demand worldwide, an MBA is the degree of choice for aspiring professionals pursuing a career in business management. There are many benefits to having the qualification, from mastering your communication and organizational skills, to expanding your network, and deepening your business knowledge.
Of course, it goes without saying that you can also expect a significant salary increase after graduating. In the 2019 QS World University Rankings report for global MBA rankings, the raise in question was an impressive 77% on average. The numbers do vary depending on the city and country, however.
At the same time, there’s more to a successful and rewarding career than the pay. You also need to consider factors like advancement opportunities and overall quality of life. And if you’re still deciding whether or not to pursue an MBA in the first place, you might be interested in finding out where the top business schools are located.
In this post, we will explore the best places around the world to study for your MBA degree, as well as the leading cities and countries to pursue your business career once you’ve graduated.
Top Cities for Business Students
While some entries on this list may be more obvious than others, there are still many interesting and surprising places that make for ideal business student destinations. Remember that you can always study for your MBA online, thus giving you the freedom to obtain your degree from any location.
Even so, it would be wise to look ahead and establish yourself in an area that provides ample opportunities for new graduates. Taking your course online tends to be more affordable, so it could help you afford to live in a more expensive area. That said, here are the top cities for business students.
Responsible for more than a fifth of its country’s GDP and home to over 800,000 privately owned businesses, London is often considered the financial hub of the world, and is certainly that of the UK. The city has much to offer prospective MBA students, including the headquarters of the 100 largest companies in Europe.
London takes third in the QS Best Student Cities rankings, and is home to some of the most prestigious business schools. However, living in the city comes at a high cost, so keep this in mind when considering your options.
The economic growth that South Korea has experienced in the past few decades is nothing short of astonishing, and it’s in the capital city of Seoul where this progress is most evident. It is now among the five largest metropolitan cities on the planet, serving as the training grounds for thousands of business students every year.
Seoul lags quite a few places behind London in the QS Best Student Cities rankings, though, taking the number 10 spot. This is partly due to high living expenses, along with potential language barriers that come with living in a Korean city.
Moving to the United States, the wider metropolitan area of Boston is among the most desirable cities for aspiring MBA students. It’s also home to one of the most well-known institutions, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). While more affordable than previous entries, Boston is still a fairly affluent city and takes 6th place in the QS rankings.
If you’re looking to be at the epicenter of technology, nowhere is the future more visible than in Hong Kong. Located on the southern coast of China, this thriving island city has quickly established itself as an economic hub of global trade and innovation. It’s also home to an advanced capitalist system that offers unrivaled economic freedom.
Hong Kong is also where you’ll find one of the largest stock exchanges in the world, as well as an ever-growing skyline and highly efficient infrastructure. It ranks 5th on the QS Best Student Cities list, undoubtedly having lost some positions to the hefty property prices that you’ll have to contend with if you want to live there.
Unbeknown to many, some of the most livable and student-friendly cities are located in Australia. This namely includes Melbourne, which stands out for its cultural diversity, pristine cityscapes, reliable service delivery and nearly nonexistent crime and corruption.
Melbourne also hosts one of the leading financial centers in the Pacific and a collection of the largest organizations in the country. The local industry is thriving in areas such as sports, healthcare, tourism, entertainment and research. Best of all, it takes the 2nd spot in the QS Best Student Cities rankings.
If you’re wondering who ranks first in the QS list, it’s Paris for the second year running. Key reasons include the relatively affordable higher education fees and the large presence of internationally recognized universities. It’s also the banking and financial center of France, with a bustling business district and many job opportunities.
Students looking to study their MBA abroad should also consider Amsterdam, Beijing, Milan, Tokyo, Singapore, Sydney and Toronto. In the United States, top cities include Chicago, New York and San Francisco. Now that we know where you should study, let’s take a look at how these rankings compare to the top countries for MBA salaries.
With an average base compensation of $123,500 per year, Switzerland is at the apex for MBA salaries. The median pay for bonuses in this country is an impressive $17,400. Granted, living in one of the richest countries in the world is unsurprisingly costly, which does tend to offset the astounding salary figures.
You get what you pay for, though, as Switzerland is also home to some of the highest standards of living and happiest populations found anywhere. Back to the business side of things, the country is a hub for several industries, namely banking and finance, pharmaceuticals and of course, watches.
Home to the MBA degree itself, the United States ranks second for MBA salaries, paying an average of $102,100 per year and $18,800 in bonuses. It’s also home to the likes of Harvard Business School, the Stanford Graduate School of Business and The Wharton School, which took the number one spot for top schools this year.
With the high concentration of business-focused institutions, you can expect strong demand for graduates in key cities. These include Ann Arbor, Austin, Boulder, Cincinnati, Denver and Detroit. New York City and Sacramento are also great areas for establishing your business career.
If you don’t want to be too far from home, Canada is an excellent choice for many reasons beyond the $99,800 average annual pay and $11,300 in bonuses. Being an energy superpower, the friendly country is particularly suitable for MBA graduates pursuing a career in the oil and gas industry, as well as more sustainable sources such as wind and water.
Canada is also renowned in areas such as diversity and healthcare, not to mention extremely low crime and corruption rates. There are also plenty of job opportunities, due in part to the growing elderly population. There is strong demand for qualified MBA graduates, making it an ideal starting point for your professional life.
Being at the top of the QS Student Cities rankings, it should come as no surprise that France is also high in the list for MBA salaries. The country pays an average of $98,500 per year and $17,700 in bonuses. This means it has the second highest graduate salaries in Europe.
France also ranks fifth in the Fortune Global 500, serving as the home base for more than 20 of the biggest companies in the world. It’s also renowned for offering employees a more ideal work-life balance, with every resident getting 30 days of paid vacation and businesses closing on Sunday or Monday to guarantee at least one entire day off.
Given the positioning of countries like South Korea and Singapore on the QS Student rankings, you probably wouldn’t think of Australia as the destination paying the highest MBA salaries in the Oceania region. But it is, with an average annual base pay of $98,400 and bonuses in the $17,000 range.
As we mentioned earlier, the quality of life in Australia is relatively high and the country’s leadership is well respected. With business booming, job opportunities for MBA graduates are ample Down Under and you’d be in a strong position to start your own company if you have the inclination.
Another hugely popular destination for MBA graduates is the United Kingdom, where you can earn an average base pay of $92,400 per year. It also pays the highest bonuses of any country, with an astounding average of $30,500. While we’re in Europe, you might also want to consider Italy and Germany, whereas Singapore and Japan round up the top 10.
It’s worth reiterating that compensation alone shouldn’t drive you towards a specific country. There are numerous other factors that should form part of your decision. Be sure to spend some time weighing up your options. Fortunately, with a highly desirable master’s degree, you will be in a good position to travel and relocate in the future.