MBA Study in the United States
Over a half-million foreign students are currently enrolled in U.S. colleges and universities, 20% of whom are in business fields. In graduate business education, the global presence and insight that foreign students tend to have become important elements in the international learning context of the education being presented. Many schools are now reporting foreign student enrollments of any where from 20 to 60 percent.
With the availability of internet-distributed information on the variety of MBA programs in the U.S., prospective students can easily research critical elements of specific programs and determine those that are top choices and/or good matches to achieve their further educational and career goals. Some important points to consider when narrowing choices would be:
- Length & strength of the program
- Curriculum choices/majors/specializations available
- Student body diversity—total size, geographic & cultural representations, professional backgrounds
- Faculty & program diversity, international diversity of the faculty, & international scope of the curriculum
- Student services—international student affairs office, career advising & management unit, alumni services Financial assistance opportunities.
Once a narrow list of programs has been identified, it is wise to speak with either current students within each program or alumni who have recently graduated to get a personal evaluation of their experience. If at all possible, a visit to the school is very helpful and recommended.
The application procedure should be carefully completed with all requested information showing the qualifications that schools request and highlight in their public materials. The admission selection process is competitive: schools competing for the best candidates and candidates competing for a restricted number of school openings. Your qualities—undergraduate performance, GMAT and TOEFL test scores, length and quality of work experience, career goals, other school specific requirements—should match the average profiles and public information that each school provides in order for you to be competitive.
The MBA Learning Enviroment
A basic assumption underlying the American educational system is that it is more important to synthesize information than to memorize it. You will be expected to combine information from many sources and then develop your own viewpoints and ideas—to be shared with your classmates and your professors.
Excellent English ability is a necessity in the MBA classroom. The grades in all classes are heavily dependent upon the results of class participation and/or team and group projects. It is a very good idea to practice your English conversational and listening skills by conversing as often as possible with a native speaker of English.
While the TOEFL is required by most schools as part of application documentation, many schools will ask admitted students to do additional testing in English during orientation activities and before the start of actual classes. If the results of the practical test do not validate the TOEFL scores, students may be asked to complete additional English classes before joining the MBA program.
While most MBA programs have personnel (Foreign Student Advisors) in their student services unit to assist non-U.S. students with visa concerns, it is the personal responsibility of each student to be in compliance with U.S. Immigration Policies, both general and specific, relevant to their country of citizenship.
Before schools can issue the travel documents necessary for entrance to the U.S. for educational purposes, admitted students must provide solid evidence that they have the financial resources necessary to pay for education and living expenses for the time spent in school. Each school will specify the amount to be certified and what documentation is necessary as evidence. Usually this information is not necessary for admission purposes. International students must maintain legal status while in the U.S. To do this, you must:
- Have a valid passport.
- Attend the school you are authorized to attend.
- Be enrolled full time each term.
- File an extension before you run out of time.
- Obtain proper authorization to work off or on campus.
- Report address changes.
- Follow procedure for school and/or program transfer.
Students should be aware that their ability to travel out of the country and re-enter and to continue their studies will be negatively affected if they do not maintain status.
International students are welcomed participants in the U.S. MBA environment. It is, however, important for students to match their qualities and goals with the specific criteria and expertise of a school to achieve a good match. The learning atmosphere is very dynamic and highly dependent upon qualitative participation from all students; hence, excellent English skills must be in place for effective contribution. The international student must be knowledgeable about all U.S. immigration regulations that apply to their situation and be responsible for abiding by them. While these guidelines may seem difficult to follow, you'll gain a learning experience that will help you to develop new skills, expand your circle of personal friends and professional contacts, and provide you with a sophisticated and expert view from which to make sound business decisions.