Top MBA Programs Going Global

Posted by: Louis Lavelle on August 1, 2011

As national borders become less meaningful, business schools are pushing to increase the number of international students they attract as well as the amount of international work experience their domestic students get.

Raghu Tadepalli, dean of Babson College’s Olin Graduate School of Business, says 2011’s incoming class of 168 full-time MBA students is about 51 percent international. His goal is to increase the number of incoming international students to about 60 percent by next year.

“Since we are a global school, we feel it natural that more of our students should come from foreign countries,” Tadepalli says. He adds that one of the key changes made to achieve this goal was to increase the likelihood of international students receiving scholarships by removing the country of origin question on the scholarship application.

Top-tier schools have also made international diversity a priority. At the Wharton School, the incoming class is 36 percent international and has 73 countries represented, says Ankur Kumar, deputy director of MBA admissions for Wharton. She says the school considers all admitted students for fellowships regardless of country of origin and also makes loan products available for international students without co-signers.

"There's literally not a part of the globe that we don't travel to for our marketing efforts," Kumar says. "Being diverse in the broadest sense of the word has always been a priority for us. I think our travel, our student body, our alumni all reflect that."

But the latest diversity initiative from Harvard Business School isn't in the form of admitting more international students. Eileen Chang, the school's the director of MBA admissions operations, says the MBA program's incoming class is 34 percent international (the same as last year), a number that reflects the HBS applicant pool. "It really works best for the moment, and the faculty is really happy with that number," she says.

Kristen Raymaakers, assistant director of communications for the school, says in addition to having international students at Harvard, there's another drive to get current students to experience business internationally. She cites a required course being introduced in the fall that sends first-year MBA students to work with companies in emerging economies for about a week. The details of their assignments are still being finalized, Raymaakers said.

"It is important that everyone comes out of the school has international business experience and international business skills," she says.

--Tori Stilwell

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