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MBA Programs in the USA: A Guide for International Students

If you're an international student looking to pursue an MBA, the United States is an excellent destination. With its reputation for academic excellence, diverse student body, and robust job market, the US offers countless opportunities for international students seeking an MBA. In this blog, we'll explore the benefits of pursuing an MBA in the USA, the top MBA programs for international students, and the various factors to consider when choosing a program. Whether you're looking to advance your career or gain a competitive edge in the global job market, an MBA in the USA is an excellent investment in your future.


What is an MBA?

MBA programs are highly regarded and coveted by students worldwide for their comprehensive study of business and management principles. This course offers practical knowledge that can be applied to various real-world industries and situations, making it a valuable asset for future business leaders. As an international student pursuing an MBA in the USA, you can access some of the world's best MBA programs and gain a competitive edge in the global job market.

Why MBA in the USA?

Pursuing an MBA in the USA as an international student can provide a rewarding learning experience, career growth, and cultural exposure. Despite the recent decline in domestic applications, STEM-certified MBA programs are likely to see an increase in international applicants due to the added benefit of 24 months of OPT. The GMAC Application Trends survey 2019 reports that 50% of international candidates apply to the USA to secure a US job after graduation. Additionally, the USA is home to many top business schools, offering excellent career growth and transformation opportunities. For instance, earning an MBA from the highly selective Wharton School of Business can significantly boost your employability and brand value as an MBA graduate. According to a survey, approximately 75% of prospective students choose the USA as their study destination due to its esteemed academic excellence reputation.

Benefits of Earning an MBA for International Students in the USA

An MBA degree is among the most prestigious worldwide and can benefit your career in several ways. For international students looking to advance their careers in the USA, earning an MBA can open up many doors. Here are some ways an MBA can benefit your career:

  1. Advancing your career: An MBA can fast-track you to better opportunities and put you on the path to securing a more prominent role in your company.

  2. Developing your business savvy: Your MBA will help grow your professional network and make you an indispensable team member. Utilising the skills you learn from having an MBA will be invaluable in helping you with job security.

  3. Leading in an emerging field: An MBA can equip you with the expertise to lead in new and developing industries, making you a frontrunner for any leading role.

  4. Starting your own business: Many entrepreneurs choose to earn an MBA to acquire the personal and leadership skills required for effective leadership. Business school is also a safe place to test your ambitious ideas without fearing failure.

Earning an MBA is an investment in your future and can provide you with the knowledge and skills to succeed in any industry. With the flexibility of online learning, international students can now earn an MBA from some of the best business schools in the USA.

Benefits of Multicultural Exposure for International MBA Students in the USA

International students pursuing an MBA in the USA benefit from being exposed to a diverse range of cultures and experiences. This multicultural exposure can be a significant advantage in developing essential skills like global awareness, cross-cultural communication, and adaptability. It can also help MBA students build valuable networks with people worldwide, providing them with a more extensive range of contacts and opportunities. In addition, multiculturalism can help MBA students to broaden their perspective on business practices and ethics, preparing them to operate successfully in an international business environment.

Another critical benefit of multicultural exposure for international MBA students in the USA is the opportunity to gain exposure to different industries and business practices. The USA has various industries and sectors, from finance and technology to healthcare and consumer goods. MBA students can access leading experts in their field, innovative companies, and cutting-edge research by studying in the USA. They can also gain exposure to the latest business practices and trends, providing valuable insights to apply to their future careers. This exposure can be precious for international students with limited knowledge of the US business environment and who want to broaden their experience and knowledge base.

How do you begin?

Earning an MBA in the USA can lead to career advancement, enhanced business skills, and leadership opportunities in emerging industries or even entrepreneurship. Choosing the right program and school is the first step in achieving these goals. One of the first factors to consider is the program length. Full-time MBA programs generally take two years, but accelerated one-year options and flexible part-time programs exist. Accelerated MBA programs, while shorter, require a background in business education or self-study to make up for the faster pace.

When selecting a school, rankings and student satisfaction are essential considerations. Many schools across the USA, such as Auburn University in Alabama, American University - International Accelerator in Washington, DC, Emory University in Georgia, and Purdue University in Indiana, are ranked in the top 100 schools for MBAs.

Various factors to consider when choosing an MBA program

Choosing an MBA program is a significant decision that requires careful consideration. There are several factors to consider when choosing the right program for you. One of the most crucial factors is accreditation. Accreditation ensures that the program has met specific quality standards and that employers recognize the degree. The three most recognized accrediting agencies in the US are

  • the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB),

  • the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP), and

  • the International Accreditation Council for Business Education (IACBE).

It's essential to research whether the MBA program you're interested in is accredited by one of these organizations.

Another crucial factor to consider when choosing an MBA program is the specialization options available. MBA programs offer a variety of specializations such as marketing, finance, entrepreneurship, and more. Choosing a program that offers a specialization that aligns with your career goals is crucial. Additionally, you should consider whether the program provides experiential learning opportunities such as internships or consulting projects. These opportunities allow students to apply their knowledge in real-world settings and gain valuable experience. Lastly, it's essential to consider the program's location, cost, and reputation. Some schools may have a better reputation in specific industries, and the cost of tuition can vary significantly between programs. Ultimately, taking the time to research and consider these factors can help you make an informed decision and choose the MBA program that best fits your needs and goals.

The various stages of the application process in the USA

If you're an international student looking to apply for an MBA program in the USA, it's essential to understand the various stages of the application process. Pre-application involves researching different programs and determining which ones best fit your career goals and personal preferences. During the application stage, you'll need to gather all the required materials, including your resume, recommendations, essays, transcripts, and GMAT scores. Some business schools have multiple application rounds, so it's essential to know the specific deadlines for each round.

To increase your chances of being accepted into an MBA program, presenting a robust application across all evaluation materials is essential. It highlights your academic achievements, work experience, leadership skills, and other factors demonstrating your potential as a future business leader. Some business schools also offer the option to interview, so it's a good idea to take advantage of this opportunity if it's available. With careful preparation and a robust application, you can increase your chances of being accepted into a top MBA program in the USA.

Visa Requirements and Costs for International Students in the USA pursuing an MBA

International students who wish to pursue an MBA in the USA must obtain an F-1 student visa. To apply for an F-1 visa, you must have a valid passport, a certificate of acceptance from your chosen US university, and proof of sufficient funds to cover your education and living expenses in the USA. You must also demonstrate that you have a residence abroad that you intend to continue. The F-1 visa allows international students to study full-time in the USA and work part-time on-campus for up to 20 hours per week. After graduation, students can apply for Optional Practical Training (OPT), which allows them to work in the USA for up to 12 months. International students with a science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM) degree may qualify for an OPT extension of up to 36 months.

Regarding visa costs, international students must pay a non-refundable visa application fee, which varies depending on the country of origin. As of 2023, the F-1 visa application fee is $160. Additionally, international students may be required to pay a SEVIS (Student and Exchange Visitor Information System) fee, which supports maintaining the F-1 student visa program. The SEVIS fee for F-1 visa applicants is currently $350. It's important to note that visa requirements and prices are subject to change, so checking the latest information before applying for an F-1 student is essential.

Best MBA Programs in the USA

With some of the world's best business schools in the USA, students can access high-quality MBA programs and develop the knowledge, skills, and networks they need to excel in their careers.

Here are the best full-time MBA programs in the USA:

MBA in the USA – Best MBA Colleges

Tuition Fees

GMAT Score

(Class 2022)

Stanford GSB



Wharton School of Business



Kellogg School of Management



Booth School of Business



MIT Sloan School of Management



Harvard Business School



UC Berkeley (Haas)



Columbia Business School



Yale School of Management



NYU (Stern)



Virginia (Darden)



Dartmouth Tuck



Duke (Fuqua)



Michigan (Ross)



Cornell (Johnson)



UCLA (Anderson)



USC (Marshall)



Texas-Austin (McCombs)



CMU (Tepper)



UNC (Kenan-Flagler)



Top 10 US Business Schools for Online Learning

During the COVID-19 outbreak, many business schools in the USA have shifted to online learning, and Bloomberg Businessweek 2022-23 has recently surveyed the best business schools for online education. Here are the top 10 business schools for online learning during the pandemic:

  • Stanford GSB (GMAT Score: 737)

  • Chicago Booth (GMAT Score: 729)

  • Harvard Business School (GMAT Score: 730)

  • Northwestern Kellogg (GMAT Score: 729)

  • Dartmouth Tuck (GMAT Score: 726)

  • MIT Sloan (GMAT Score: 730)

  • Pennsylvania Wharton (GMAT Score: 733)

  • Columbia (GMAT Score: 729)

  • Virginia Darden (GMAT Score: 703)

  • Yale (GMAT Score: 723)

Each school has unique features, such as top industries, location, and GMAT scores, and all provide a high-quality online MBA program.

One-year MBA programs in the USA

While the traditional two-year MBA program is popular, many students opt for a one-year program that offers a faster route to earning a degree. The one-year MBA programs are designed for students with an undergraduate degree in business or a related field who have gained work experience in their respective industries.

The accelerated nature of these programs means that students are expected to hit the ground running with classes and coursework that are intensive and demanding. However, the benefits of a one-year MBA program are significant, including the opportunity to get back into the workforce quickly and put newly acquired skills into practice. Additionally, the one-year program is often more cost-effective than a two-year program, making it an excellent option for students looking to save on tuition and other expenses.

Top-ranked one-year MBA program in the USA

The top-ranked one-year MBA programs in the USA:

One-year MBA Programs USA


Kellogg Accelerated MBA


Cornell Johnson


Duke Fuqua Accelerated MBA


Notre Dame (Mendoza)


USC Marshall (I-Bear)


NYU Stern Tech MBA


Emory (Goizueta)


Babson College One-Year


University of Pittsburgh


Pepperdine Graziadio Business School

Accelerated MBA


Scholarship and Financial Aid for MBA Programs in the USA

MBA programs can be costly, especially for international students. The high tuition fees and living expenses are the primary reasons many students choose not to pursue an MBA in the USA. According to a report, 66% of prospective students agree that tuition is a significant deterrent, and 57% agree on the high cost of living. However, there are several ways to finance your education through fellowships, scholarships, assistantships, and loans. Around 33% of students choose the USA because of financial aid availability.

Many top business schools in the USA offer scholarships and financial aid to students. For instance, the Harvard MBA program provides an average scholarship of $40,000 annually, and nearly half of the class receives it. The scholarship is a gift and does not need to be repaid. Other leading MBA programs in the USA, such as Stanford, Wharton, and Columbia, also provide financial aid to international students. It's crucial to research the scholarship and financial aid options available at different schools and apply early to maximise your chances of receiving financial assistance.

STEM-Certified MBA Programs in the USA for International Students

MBA programs in the USA have begun to embrace the STEM designation, which stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. A STEM-certified MBA degree allows international students to stay and work in the United States for up to 36 months without needing an H-1B visa.

It is a significant advantage for international MBA graduates seeking employment opportunities in the United States. The federal government created the STEM-designated degree program in 2016 to address the shortage of qualified workers in STEM fields, which are projected to grow by more than a million jobs by 2024. As a result, graduates with STEM degrees have more excellent employment prospects in the US job market.

According to the GMAC application survey 2019, 44% of STEM-certified programs reported an increase in international applicants, indicating that international students recognise the value of STEM MBA programs in the USA.

The following table lists the STEM programs offered by the top MBA programs in the USA:

Business School

STEM MBA Certification

Columbia Business School

Entire Full-Time MBA program

Stanford GSB

Entire Full-Time MBA program

Harvard Business school

Management Science track in Full-time MBA

Michigan Ross

STEM-Designated Track

NYU Stern

Entire Full-Time MBA program

Yale SoM

STEM-MBA concentration

Dartmouth Tuck

Management Science and Quantitative Analysis

UNC Kenan-Flagler

STEM Concentration

Northwestern Kellogg

Management Science

Wharton School of Business

Majors in full-time MBA: Statistics, Actuarial science, Business Analytics; Business Economics & Public Policy; Business, Energy, Environment & Sustainability; Operations, Information, and Decisions

UC Berkeley Hass

MBA (All programs)

CMU Tepper

MBA (All programs)

Chicago Booth

Entire Full-Time MBA program

Simon Business School

MBA (All programs)

MIT Sloan

Entire Full-Time MBA program

Purdue – Krannert School of Management

MS Marketing, MS business analytics & information management, MS Finance, MS Global Supply chain management, MS Economics

Wisconsin School of Business

MBA in Operations and Technology Management, MBA in supply chain management

University of Massachusetts Dartmouth

MBA in Business Analytics

University of Notre Dame

MBA/MS in Business Analytics Dual degree

Tippie College of Business

Masters in Finance

Whitman School of Management

Masters in Finance

Darden Virginia

Specialisation in Management science full-time MBA

Georgetown (McDonough)

Management science major in full-time MBA

Indiana Kelley

Five majors in Full-time MBA: Business analytics, finance, marketing, accounting, and supply chain management


Entire Full-Time MBA program

Olin Business School

Entire Full-Time MBA program

Job Prospects for International Students MBA Graduates in the USA

International students who pursue an MBA in the USA have numerous job opportunities. MBA graduates can work in various sectors, including consulting, finance, marketing, operations, and technology. Graduates from the top MBA programs in the USA often receive job offers from prominent companies like McKinsey, Goldman Sachs, Amazon, and Google.

The job outlook for MBA graduates in the USA is positive, with an expected 10% job growth rate over the next ten years. Graduates can expect a competitive salary and benefits package, which includes health insurance, retirement plans, and bonuses. Moreover, companies in the USA prefer to hire MBA graduates as they bring unique skills and knowledge to the organisation, making them an asset to any team.

MBA Salary in the USA

With the rise in tuition costs for MBA programs in the USA, international students must consider the potential return on investment in post-MBA salaries. According to the NACE Salary Survey, the average starting salary for MBA graduates in the Class of 2021 is projected to be $79,043, over $20,000 higher than the average starting salary for graduates with a bachelor's degree in business. However, it's important to note that this number can vary greatly depending on the school you attend and the industry you enter. For example, graduates of top MBA programs such as Stanford can expect an average base salary of $150,000 or more.

In addition to a high base salary, many US companies offer signing bonuses to MBA graduates. According to the Corporate Recruiters Survey 2019, over half of US companies provide signing bonuses to MBA hires, with a median bonus of $10,500. This bonus can significantly boost a graduate's overall compensation package. When considering the financial aspects of pursuing an MBA in the USA, international students need to research the expected salaries and bonuses in their chosen field and location to ensure that their investment in their education will pay off in the long run.

In conclusion, pursuing an MBA in the USA as an international student is an excellent opportunity to enhance your academic, professional, and personal growth. With a wide range of business schools, specialisations, and funding options, you can design your MBA program as per your interests and goals. The STEM-certified MBA programs, multicultural exposure, and job opportunities make the USA a popular destination for international students. So, take the first step, research and explore the options, and apply to the business schools that align with your career aspirations.

Did You Know?

  • The first MBA program in the world was introduced in the United States in 1908 at the Harvard Business School, and since then, it has been considered the birthplace of modern business education. Today, the United States is home to some of the most prestigious MBA programs in the world, attracting students from diverse cultural backgrounds.

  • The United States has the world's largest number of top-ranked MBA programs, with Harvard, Stanford, and Wharton consistently ranked in the top three.

  • Multiculturalism is an essential part of the MBA experience in the United States. According to the Graduate Management Admission Council, the percentage of international students pursuing MBA programs in the United States has increased from 29% in 2009 to 36% in 2019. This diverse community of students allows for a rich exchange of ideas and perspectives, preparing graduates to work in a global business environment.

  • Many MBA programs in the United States offer international study trips, allowing students to immerse themselves in different cultures and gain first-hand experience in global business practices. These study trips can range from short-term visits to neighbouring countries to longer trips spanning several weeks or months in Asia, Europe, or South America. This exposure to different cultures and business practices can be a valuable asset for MBA graduates seeking careers in multinational corporations or international business.

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