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Business Schools With the Most International Students

Many students choose to use B-school as an opportunity to go abroad in order to receive training, develop connections, and even launch a career in a country other than the one they’re from. So do some schools tend to attract an especially high proportion of international students?

It turns out there’s a significant gap between schools in the United States and in Europe when it comes to international students. While top B-schools are highly international places, this is even more true of top B-schools in Europe.

Take the top three European MBA programs in Financial Time’s Global MBA Ranking: INSEAD (2), London Business School (4) and IESE (11). The percentage of international students at these programs is 97, 92 and 83 respectively.

Now, there are a handful of U.S. schools that can compete with these numbers, but they’re not necessarily the ones you think.

Data from U.S. News reveals that the most international U.S. business schools are Stevens Institute of Technology’s School of Business, Hult International Business School and Syracuse University’s Whitman School of Management at 94.2 percent, 90.2 percent and 73.1 respectively.

Among the most highly ranked U.S. B-schools, the number of international students is significantly lower.

The top three U.S. MBA programs in FT’s global ranking are Stanford Graduate School of Business (1), University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School (3) and Harvard Business School (5). At these programs, the percentage of international students is 41, 36 and 36 respectively.

As it turns out, this is about as international as it gets for top U.S. MBA programs. Poets & Quants has a comprehensive ranking of highly ranked MBA programs by proportion of international students, based on 2016 data from Financial Times.

Taking programs from this list that are also in the top twenty of FT’s 2018 rankings, the only school that was more international than Stanford GSB in 2016 was Columbia Business School, at 48 percent (up to 50 percent this year).

Close on Stanford’s heels were MIT’s Sloan School of Management, Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business and Yale School of Management.

It doesn’t appear that U.S. B-schools are on pace to close the gap with European schools when it comes to international students, either.

The 2017 GMAC Application Trends Report found that the percentage of U.S. degree programs that had increased their number of international applicants was 32, down from 43 in 2013.

In continental Europe, it was up from 47 to 67, and in the UK from 32 to 65. In Canada, it had spiked from 48 to 77. Overall, 57 percent of applications to U.S. programs are international, compared with 70 for Canada and 89 for Europe.

That said, the trends are different for MBA programs versus business master’s programs. Worldwide, international MBA applications have dropped from 30 percent in 2013 to 24 percent in 2017, but international master’s applications have risen from 77 to 84.
Applying to a business school as an international student adds another layer of complexity to the process. We can help you figure out which programs align with your goals and how you can present a compelling person brand to adcoms: ask us for a free assessment!