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Online MBA Europe – The Top European Business Schools

A globe in a library representing Online MBA Europe

A Master of Business Administration is one of the highly sought-after programs amongst students around the globe. An online MBA Europe program provides a comprehensive insight into economics, sociology, marketing, finance, and several other disciplines that allow students to adopt a holistic approach to global business management. Such a versatile degree guarantees career success in various fields, making it necessary for many international companies looking to recruit knowledgeable managers.

Whether you favor a two-year, part-time, or full-time MBA, online MBA, or executive MBA, it will likely boost your career. If you are in the process of making a similar decision but cannot decide whether to opt for an online MBA degree in the United States or Europe, this writing is for you. It provides a comprehensive guide about the online MBA programs that top universities offer in Europe and a thorough comparison between the degrees in the US and Europe. Let’s get started!

What is an MBA?

The MBA, or Master's in Business Administration, is a highly sought-after and prestigious postgraduate qualification with its origins in America at Harvard in 1908. It is now taught all across the globe. However, online and on-campus MBAs in Europe and the USA are highly in demand.

80% of the top 40 MBA programs in the world were taught in the US in 2000. However, this figure dropped considerably to just above 40% only two decades later. About half of the top 100 MBAs are in the US. But several factors contribute to a gradual shift towards an MBA degree in Europe, such as the length and cost of courses.

Is an MBA Degree Different From a Master’s Degree?

The primary difference between an MBA and a Master’s degree is the work experience necessary to apply for an MBA program. Most MBA applicants lie between the ages of 27 and 29 and hold about five years of professional working experience. It allows them to develop the necessary practical skills for the workplace.

Graduates who opt for a Master’s degree directly after graduating from their Bachelor’s degree lack distinct working benchmarks because of their exposure to academic life only. Internships aside, such students primarily focus on academics rather than practice. Similarly, postgraduate students are typically younger, with a less broad focus than MBA students. For example, admission requirements for an online MBA in Europe include at least six years of professional work experience. Still, US universities allow students to enroll even with a three-year work experience.

Why Opt For an MBA Degree?

The MBA qualification undoubtedly opens many new doors to rapid career progression. They offer several networking opportunities, allow a convenient change in career direction, and extend support to entrepreneurship. An MBA can even elevate the short and long-term salary range. In addition, MBA holders can easily contest high-paying managerial positions, as this degree is respected and endorsed by professionals across the globe.

Recent reports show promising statistics that nearly half of MBA graduates succeed in securing high management roles on qualifying in the United States. Well-reputed companies such as JP Morgan, Apple, Facebook, Bain and Co, and Citigroup offer MBA graduates employment opportunities. That alone does not depict the desirability of an MBA. It also demonstrates the tendency of prestigious US business schools to focus on helping students obtain career-boosting positions in well-reputed organizations. However, that is not the case in the US alone.

Why Opt For an MBA Degree in Europe?

MBA graduates hold high reverence and equal value in Europe as in the States. Research estimates that an MBA salary can increase an individual’s salary by 85%. About a dozen European business schools declare the post-MBA salary augmentation well above 90%. In contrast, the average salary elevation in the USA is 74%, according to the QS ROI Report of 2018.

The highest salary increases in Europe reported in 2018 were by:

  • Vlerick Business School- 155%
  • University of St. Gallen – 150%
  • University of Edinburgh – 146%
  • ESMT Berlin – 125%
  • European University – 138%
  • HHL Leipzig Graduate School of Management – 127%
  • MIB Trieste School of Management – 114%
  • HEC Paris – 112%
  • Durham University – 111%
  • University of Bath – 110%
  • Emlyon Business School – 110%
  • London Business School – 107%

Although obtaining an MBA degree is not cheap, graduates can quickly compensate for that cost by earning a high return on investment in a relatively short period. The highest ROI that students can achieve are:

  • ESIC – 15 months
  • Bath – 16 months
  • Edinburgh – 17 months
  • Strathclyde – 17 months
  • Mannheim – 19 months
  • Durham – 20 months

Top 10 Online MBA Programs at European Business Schools

Spain’s IE Business School holds the first position as the best business school not only in Europe but also in the world, according to the QS Online MBA Ranking 2021. The top ten business schools in Europe are as follows:

  • IE, Business School, Spain
  • Imperial College Business School, UK
  • Warwick Business School, UK
  • Alliance Manchester Business School, UK
  • MIP Politecnico di Milano Graduate School of Business ,Italy
  • Vlerick Business School, Belgium
  • Durham University Business School, UK
  • Oxford Brookes Business School, UK
  • Birmingham Business School, UK
  • EU Business School, Spain

How Long is an MBA Course in Europe and the USA?

The length of an MBA program varies significantly depending on the type of business school. However, students can usually obtain an MBA degree by studying full time for a year in Europe and full time for typically two years in the States. Let’s look at the program length in some of Europe’s leading business schools and a rough estimate of the number of students and the percentage of international students enrolled.

HEC, Paris

  • Length of MBA course: 15 months
  • Average number of students: 281
  • Percentage of international students: 95%

INSEAD, France/Singapore

  • Length of MBA course: 10 months
  • Average number of students: 536
  • Percentage of international students: 91%

London Business School

  • Length of MBA course: 21 months
  • Average number of students: 497
  • Percentage of international students: 92%

IE, Madrid

  • Length of MBA course: 11 months
  • Average number of students: 598
  • Percentage of international students: 91%

IESE, Barcelona

  • Length of MBA course: 15-19 months
  • Average number of students: 368
  • Percentage of international students: 90%

Saïd Business School, University of Oxford

  • Length of MBA course: 12 months
  • Average number of students: 329
  • Percentage of international students: 95%

Judge Business School, University of Cambridge

  • Length of MBA course: 12 months
  • Average number of students: 206
  • Percentage of international students: 95%

Imperial College Business School

  • Length of MBA course: 12 months
  • Average number of students: 70
  • Percentage of international students: 91%

SDA Bocconi

  • Length of MBA course: 13 months
  • Average number of students: 92
  • Percentage of international students: 74%

A Comprehensive Guide to MBA in Europe

An international MBA is considered the ultimate business qualification by many. Thus, there are numerous things for an applicant to consider before applying. They can choose to attain an MBA degree through virtual or part-time learning or opt for an in-person, overseas experience. It provides the students with a considerable advantage, including deep insight into business matters that sets them apart from fellows in their home country. Opting for an international degree is a highly sought-after choice amongst students: research shows that 61% of MBA students in Europe are studying in a country other than their home country.

The MBA remains one of the highly popular business qualifications in Europe, with the one and two-year programs quickly becoming the talk of the town. European universities target undergraduate students, working professionals, and international students for this program. The Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC), the primary manager behind the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT), reports that European programs also actively recruit business owners, entrepreneurs, and women.

The primary reason behind the popularity of European business programs is that they offer opportunities for students to learn a new language. EU MBA’s may also come with innovative and exciting business specializations, including luxury goods, fashion, and even wine trading. Institutes in the UK, Spain, and France continue to take the top positions in the European ranking of business schools. However, several German, Danish, and Italian schools also strive to reach the top. In contrast, the USA is also one of the top choices for MBA aspirants, and Asia is gaining ground in this domain. However, a noticeable trend shows international students’ inclination to show interest in European programs. Primarily they entail a global outlook, cultural openness, and a flexible immigration network.

Before making a life-altering choice, let’s examine several aspects MBA aspirants should review.

1. Accreditation

One of the most significant factors students need to look into when choosing a business school is the accreditation of its MBA program. A few of the highly renowned accreditation bodies include the following, and finding their names in the accreditation section is always a good sign:

  • AACSB – The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business
  • The AACSB is based in Florida and Tampa and holds an Asia office in Singapore
  • AMBA – The Association of MBAs. AMBA is based in London.
  • EQUIS – European Quality Improvement System. EQUIS based in Brussels, Belgium.

A stamp of these institutions on an MBA program is a testament to its credibility and quality. In addition, only 59 institutions worldwide hold a triple-accreditation status, making their status top tier. About three-quarters of them are European-based. Apart from them, others with few accreditations also rank pretty high and are thus not to be overlooked.

The European triple-accredited business schools are in:

  • Belgium (one school): Vlerick Business School
  • Denmark (one school): Copenhagen Business School
  • Finland (one school): Aalto University Business School
  • Ireland (one school): UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School
  • Italy (two schools): ESCP Europe in Turin;  SDA Bocconi School of Management in Milan
  • The Netherlands (two schools): Maastricht University School of Management; Erasmus Rotterdam University
  • Poland (one school): Kozminski University Business School
  • Portugal (two schools): Catolica-Lisbon, School of Business & Economics; Nova School of Business and Economics in Lisbon
  • Switzerland (one school): IMD Lausanne
  • France (10 schools)
  • Germany (two schools)
  • Spain (four schools)
  • UK (16 schools)

2. Careers And Post-MBA Employment

An MBA is a professional qualification and offers a high employability rate for graduates. MBA graduates can also find employment opportunities in numerous local and global companies throughout Europe and the world, especially in the emerging economies looking to collaborate with partners in European countries.

Therefore, post-MBA employment and career path make other essential considerations for aspirants.

3. Local Employment Market

The local employment market also includes recent trends in the international business settlement. Which holds paramount significance if graduates intend on staying in the country or are looking to pursue a long-term career in a global company:

  • Guest lectures from private sector professionals and experts
  • On-campus recruitment from private sector firms
  • Graduate employability rates and international & national destinations
  • Size of the alumni network
  • Available career services

4. A Look Into Joint-MBAs and EuroMBA

Aspirants don’t necessarily need to undertake an MBA degree in just one European country or only in Europe. Many other great options are available as well, such as the following:

  • A joint MBA between two or more European universities bound in partnership, such as the University of Bradford and the University of Euromba or Perugia
  • A so-called European MBA offered by a US university in which the US school collaborates with a European partner, such as the Tippie Business School in Iowa
  • A European MBA in a European institution with one or more branch campuses abroad, such as ESCP Europe with branches in Spain, Italy, Germany, France, and the UK, or INSEAD, with campuses in France and Singapore

5. MBA Structure

It is typical for an MBA program to be complete in 12-24 months of full-time study. However, there are several part-time and executive learning options available. Business schools usually have more than one entry point or alternative start dates depending upon the institution and the type of degree, but most programs typically start in September.

All MBA degrees have a particular pre-decided curriculum. The structure includes core courses that provide students with a comprehensive knowledge of fundamental practical skills. Elective courses make up about a third of the total credits, and students can choose them as per their choice.

6. In-Person Activities for Online MBA

Online business school programs may also offer in-person, out-of-classroom activities as a practical experience. Some common examples include the following. Competitions or group activities that may involve local businesses:

  • Research paper and dissertations
  • Internships
  • Consultancy
  • Internships
  • Compulsory or optional time abroad

The Cost of an Online MBA in Europe

Tuition fees for MBA in Europe vary greatly and depend upon the institutions one chooses. The cost typically ranges from €11,000 to 40,000, but an international or executive MBA may have a higher expenditure.

Application fees

The application fee for most MBA programs is up to €100 but may change depending upon the institution. Some universities accept online applications free of cost, whereas others apply an administrative fee for non-EU students. However, students may have to pay a non-refundable deposit that secures their place in the program. This deposit is usually redeemed against the tuition fee once a student starts the program.


Students who attain sponsorship from their employers may explore the various scholarships to support their MBA studies. Some business schools in Europe offer MBA entrance scholarships based on merit. In contrast, others provide scholarships based on legacies and donations where students are selected on price and a wide range of criteria. Banks, financial institutions, and other external organizations may also offer scholarships.

Admissions Requirements For An Online MBA In Europe

Academic Requirements

Aspirants looking to apply for an online MBA in Europe should hold a minimum GPA of 3.0/4.0 in their undergraduate degree or its international equivalent, such as the UK upper second-class Bachelor’s. Some universities also require GMAT test results with a minimum of 500-600. However, there exists a considerable variation in this requirement.

Language Requirements

Applicants should have excellent written and verbal skills. They need to provide evidence of English language proficiency through tests such as IELTS or TOEFL if English is not their first language. Similar requirements may also apply in other languages if an aspirant applies for a program delivered primarily in the local language or a bilingual program.

Other Requirements

Some other admission requirements include the following:

  • 2-3 years of relevant work experience. Some institutions also accept one year of work experience.
  • Personal Statement
  • References
  • CV
  • Successful interview for the shortlisted candidates

In short, admission officers typically look for candidates who have:

  • The ability to practice maturity, leadership, and motivation
  • A solid academic background
  • Related work experience along with successful projects that depict their accomplishments and capabilities

Admissions Requirements For an Online MBA Program in the USA

In contrast to the admission requirements in Europe, universities in the USA have the following demands:

  • A bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution
  • A 3.0/4.0 or higher undergraduate GPA
  • A complete online application form
  • CV or resume
  • Minimum two years of professional work experience
  • Executive Assessment score or waiver
  • Letters of recommendation
  • Personal Statement
  • Application Fee (in most cases)

Some universities also offer provisional admission to applicants who meet all the requirements mentioned above but fall short of the GPA (hold a cumulative GPA between 2.0 and 3.0). In such cases, the provisional admission ranges only one semester of enrollment in which a student may earn a 3.0 GPA. Again, the institute may dismiss the students who fail to do so.

Comparing Top EU MBA Programs vs. Top US Programs

Weighing an online MBA program based in Europe against one in the US is not a clear-cut endeavor. Still, there are certain factors that you should look into before making a decision. Ranging from cost to brand reputation to duration, keeping the following in mind can help you ascertain a career and educational direction that suits you the most:

Global Experience

The online MBA programs in Europe are more global than even the most global US MBA programs. As a result, they attract students looking for a genuinely international educational experience and professionals who intend to work in Europe after graduating.

If you are looking to settle in Europe after graduating, pursuing an online MBA in Europe is arguably the wisest career choice and the best introduction to the local business. It is important to note that institutions like LBS, HEC Paris, and INSEAD place less than 10% of MBA graduates in US-based employment roles. They also put about 50-60% of graduates in employment positions in Europe.


America is globally known for its hustle and bustle, where businesses are functional almost all the time with little time for senior and junior executives. However, these factors can prove immensely beneficial to highly motivated individuals looking to make a mark in the world. In contrast, Europe holds a rich and dynamic history with conveniently accessible cities and great vacation times. It is also frequently said that 13 of the top 20 countries on the World Happiness Report rest in Europe, and thus such a location is bound to make you happy.


Diversity has now become the talk of the town with increasing awareness about its benefits. Based on the notion that diverse teams are successful teams, business schools take practical steps to enroll students of different nationalities, religions, genders, races, and industries. Organizations are following in the same footsteps: they are looking to employ teams from various backgrounds and increase diversity in the workplace.

Universities in Europe are far ahead of American institutes in this phenomenon. Since Europe comprises several small countries lying close to each other, European MBA programs tend to have a more extraordinary mix of people and nationalities. Although it is unfit to say that American schools lack diversity, you can find a broader range in European schools. If this is a priority for you, Europe may gain an advantage.

Niche Work Opportunities

MBA aspirants need to look ahead to the future when deciding on enrollment: where would they find better jobs and a favorable industry? Although the United States is the technological industry hub, Europe takes the lead in the fintech industry. Tech is still in its fetus state in Europe. Still, experts consider London the world’s fintech capital because of Europe’s banking passport legislation. It also standardizes products across the twenty-seven member countries of the European Union.

Thus, Europe holds a technical advantage over the US in the fintech industry, majorly because the US works on a legislation variable by state, which can prove to be a hurdle to digital banking.

Less Competitive Admissions

The relative competitiveness of schools also matters significantly for MBA applicants. Prestigious universities in Europe and the USA have cutthroat competition for seats. However, the odds are considerably better for admission to the top EU programs than a typical applicant’s top US programs. Many students who fail to secure access to top US MBA programs will reserve seats in European universities.

Schools in the EU are typically more open to a wider variety of students and a more significant percentage of international students, especially from the Commonwealth countries. However, US schools paint a dismal picture of such students in the applicant pool.

Job Market For MBA Students In Europe And The USA

A large majority of students undertake an MBA degree with the hopes of finding highly paid work positions, permanent resident status, or a comfortable life in the US. That is, however, not always the case, as the US only offers such facilities if you find an employer that will sponsor you for the H-1B visa. This visa lasts for six years, and the whole process starts all over again if you switch jobs. Compared to Canada, this process is considerably leaner as the Canadian government grants a fully-sponsored three-year work visa to candidates who qualify for it.

Although it is possible to find sponsors in the US, the competition from American-born MBA students is too tough to qualify. Recent studies show that the US produces more MBA graduates than the relatively small amount of American firms can absorb. So Europe is a more promising job market for MBA students.

Let us look at the top countries in the world with the highest MBA base salaries in the years 2019-2020:

  • Switzerland: $124,000
  • USA: $102,000
  • Canada: $99,000
  • France: $98,000
  • Australia: $93,000
  • UK: $92,000
  • Singapore: $82,000
  • Germany: $77,000

How Is A Top US MBA Program Better Than A Top European MBA Program?

The previously discussed statistics point toward the European MBA programs being a better option than the US ones. The distinction, however, is not that clear-cut, as some factors act in favor of US MBA programs as well.


The foremost factor that favors a US MBA program is reputation. Top employers typically look for candidates from top schools like Stanford, Harvard, and Wharton. This phenomenon, in effect, makes these schools high in demand. This factor is especially crucial for candidates looking to make an industry pivot post-graduation.

Career Potential

Career potential is another factor that tilts in favor of American MBA programs. Whether online or in-person, top US MBA programs hold higher career-related reputation attributes, networking, and recruiting than European programs. A survey conducted of the SBC client pool showed the applicants’ beliefs, which were as follows:

  • 75% believed that US MBA programs held a higher reputation than non-US MBA programs
  • 62% thought that the US programs held the potential to accelerate their career path
  • 54% said that US MBA programs have better professional networks

Thus, the on-campus recruitment opportunities and vast alumni networks put immense value on a US-based MBA program.

Access to US Employers

One of the most enticing factors in favor of US MBA programs for international students is free access to US employers. The US market is also favorable for industry switchers, who consider the intellectual rigor and thorough coursework in the two-year US program more insightful than the European one.

US Or EU?: How To Decide

Online or in-person MBA in Europe paints a much more internationally-minded picture than the USA, primarily because the continent’s geography facilitates cultural harmony and mobility. As a result, distances between European countries are short. In addition, the European Union encourages companies and individuals to act as a cohesive whole in cross-border terms, may it be commerce or education. Therefore, it can be an incredible option for those looking for a diverse environment.

In contrast, domestic students predominantly undertake an MBA in the USA. International students account for as low as 20-40% of the overall student body. Although most of the contacts you will make will be predominantly American, it also means that you would not study in an international environment.

In addition to the differences mentioned above, the US and European online MBA programs also differ in the composition of student classes and geographical outplacement profiles.

Deciding between the two may boil down to several factors. Still, one of the primary ones is whether you want the US or international dominant class. European schools are an excellent choice if you favor a predominantly international student class. However, suppose you desire a US peer group. In that case, online MBA programs offered by US universities are the best fit for you.

Final Thoughts About US Vs. European Online MBA Programs

Attaining an MBA degree elevates your academic standing and opens various new arenas of employment opportunities. Earning an MBA degree online has even more comprehensive benefits: it allows you to continue with your academics while simultaneously fulfilling the responsibilities of work or a household. Moreover, enrolling in an online MBA program provides the prerequisites for this age of internationalism and globalization, including support from a well-developed professional network and valuable contacts with motivated, outstanding, and like-minded people.

The US or Europe? Wherever your path leads, an MBA will help you achieve the highest levels of greatness. If you are in the process of making a similar decision, GetEducated might be able to help. Head over to to learn more about online MBA programs and make an informed decision!

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Question: Why should I study MBA in the USA?
Answer: Undertaking an MBA degree in the US has several advantages. American institutions offer diverse MBA specializations, and they provide a globally recognized degree along with several internship opportunities. In addition, opting for an MBA degree in the United States offers several unparalleled networking opportunities and high-paying employment options.

Question: What are some popular MBA specializations?
Answer: Some common MBA specializations include the following:

  • International Management
  • General Management
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Marketing
  • Finance Leadership
  • Strategy
  • Information Security Management
  • Healthcare Management
  • Environmental Management

Question: How do I choose the right university for an online MBA degree?
Answer: You can choose the most suitable online MBA degree by keeping in view the following factors:

  • Academic excellence
  • Geographical location
  • Accreditation
  • International student support
  • Cost