According to a survey by the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC), 73 percent of international MBA aspirants are keen on going ahead with their plans! The Council’s 2021 Prospective Students Survey Report finds that the proportion of respondents reporting that they are extremely or very concerned about COVID-19 declined from 41 to 33 percent over the survey period. 

So, if you had to push away your international MBA plans in 2020, this may be the perfect year to get started!

What makes 2021 a great year for MBA?

The aforementioned report states that over 40 percent of international candidates – those who wish to study outside of their country of citizenship – surveyed report working outside their country of citizenship as the primary career motivation. On the other hand 50 percent of domestic candidates are pursuing management education due to the skill gap in their current roles.

So, a huge skill gap has been created in the global marketplace, and as an international candidate this is your best chance to fulfill it as American and European citizens also try to cover up their own skill gaps. International candidates continue to look to the US as one of their top three choices to study business abroad. Prospective students from India rank the US their top choice, ahead of their home country, while those from Canada and the UK pick the US as their first international destination.

But, there is more to an international MBA than picking the right destination. Don’t get the wrong message – the right destination is absolutely important! 

Best countries to study MBA in 2021

  • United States

Despite some decline in interest among international applicants during the Trump administration, the United States remains the world’s most popular MBA study destination overall. In 2021, many experts are predicting a surge in international applications to top US full-time MBA programs as the Biden administration looks to project a more welcoming image to talented international students and professionals.

The United States offers a range of amazing B-schools to study MBA at. But more importantly, if you land a MBA in a respected American University such as Wharton, Booth, Columbia, etc.; your career path will never waiver again!

  • United Kingdom

Despite Brexit and its possible implications for the United Kingdom on the world stage, the country’s ability to attract topflight international talent to its MBA programs has perhaps never been stronger. In fact, recent changes to the UK post-study work visa program have been a major benefit to international students studying there.

The UK has a wide array of B-schools that you can apply to. But, not all of them compete with the Harvards and INSEADs. So, how do these programs rank against the other top MBA programs in the world?

Take a look at this list of top European B-schools for better understanding –

Rank (2019) Top B-Schools Europe Country
1. HEC Paris France
2. INSEAD France
3. London Business School England
4. IE Business School Spain
5. SDA Boconni Italy
6. IESE Business School Spain
7. Esade Business School Spain
8. Said Business School (Oxford) England
9. ESMT Berlin Germany
10. Judge Business School(Cambridge) England


  • Canada

With its immigrant-friendly policies, Canada has long enjoyed a reputation as being an extremely welcoming destination for international MBA talent. In recent years, that reputation has only grown. In fact, 81 percent of responding Canadian MBA programs said their MBA applications grew in 2020, more than any other country in the Graduate Management Admission Council’s 2020 Application Trends Survey.

If you are thinking of MBA in Canada to be an easy affair, it is not always so! But at the same time the pay-off is great. Many of these programs are 1 year in length, and provide career opportunities after completion. Canadian MBA programs also have a less strict application requirement than an American or European B-school.

Top Canadian B-Schools:

Rank Business School Location
1 Rotman School of Management Toronto, Ontario
2 McGill University  Montréal, Quebec
3 Robert H. Smith School of Business Kingston, Ontario
4 Ivey Business School London, Ontario
5 Schulich School of Business Toronto, Ontario
6 Sauder School of Business Vancouver, British Columbia
7 Alberta School of Business Edmonton, Alberta
8 John Molson School of Business Montréal, Quebec
9 HEC Montréal Montréal, Quebec
10 Dalhousie University Halifax, Nova Scotia


  • Singapore

If you are planning to pursue your MBA in Singapore then there are 4 top-tier institutions you need to concentrate on. Here’s a quick look at some of the important details of these programs –

B-school Global Rank Duration of MBA Program Approx Tuition Cost ($$)
National University of Singapore #17 17 Months $45,000
INSEAD Singapore #3 10 Months $97,000
Nanyang Business Schools #30 1 Year $45,000
Singapore Management University #43 1 Year  $48,000


These 4 institutions are considered to be truly some of the best places to receive international business education at. And Singapore is one of the fastest growing countries in terms of MBA applications as well.

The multicultural society and the gratuitous job offers for MBA degree holders makes it an amazing place to be in. On the other hand, the requirements for being admitted to one of these programs is much more relaxed compared to some of the top American and European B-schools.

5.     France

Some of the best Fortune 500 brands regularly carry out placements from the top French B-schools, and with the right attitude you will find yourself serving a high role in the consultancy or finance industry! If the absolute top-tier is what you are aiming for, then the two names you should be concerned with are HEC Paris and INSEAD. Not only are they the best B-schools in France, but they are also among the best in all of Europe.

Compared to the American B-schools, acquiring an MBA degree in France is a much easier task. Not only is the tuition fee much lower, but there are also plenty of scholarships that you can get hold of!

Take a look at the top B-schools in France:

Business School Duration Tuition (Approx.)
INSEAD 10 months $97,000 – $99,000
HEC Paris 16 months $81,000
EDHEC Business School Global 10 months $49,000
Essec Business School Global 12 months $56,000
EMLyon Business School International 12 months $43,000
Grenoble Ecole de Management 12 months $35,000

Should you consider an online MBA?

If your goal is to learn new hard skills, like accounting, finance, or marketing, there is not a large difference between an online MBA and a traditional MBA. What you learn in the University of Illinois’s iMBA and in its traditional MBA, for example, will be similar. But, certain activities such as learning about new careers or networking are better done in person. But even then, you can find MBA programs explicitly billed as ‘Hybrid’, such as the one offered by UCLA, to get a mixture of in-person and online instruction and engagement.

We are at a point in our society where online and in-person is blending and mixing. In that sense, now is the right time to jump into an online MBA. The only major gap between an online MBA relative to a traditional MBA relates to the internship between the first and second year that is offered by traditional full-time MBA programs in the United States. This is a powerful feature, particularly for those targeting to switch industries, such as investment banking or consulting.

What do you need to make it to a top MBA in 2021?

To give you a fair understanding of what it takes to make it to the top B-schools in the world here’s a look at the class profile from Columbia University’s 2020 MBA batch –

Applications Received 6971
Admitted 1130
GMAT Scores (average) 726
GMAT Scores (range) 580–780
Undergraduate GPA (average) 3.6
Work Experience (average) 5 years
Average Age 28
Age Range 23-41
Women 40%
International Citizens 44%

And to help you understand how the requirements changes over time, here’s the average GMAT scores for top MBA programs over a period of two years –

B-School Average GMAT Score 2018 Average GMAT Score 2017
University of Chicago – Booth School of Business  730 726
Kellogg School of Management  732 728
Harvard Business School 730 729
University of Pennsylvania – Wharton School 732 730
Stanford University – Graduate School of Business  737 737
UCLA – UCLA Anderson School of Management 715 715
University of Virginia – Darden School of Business 713 712
Columbia Business School 725 718


If you were worried about doing an MBA in 2021, definitely don’t be! If anything, a new age of opportunities is at hand, and having an international MBA degree from a top-tier business school will make you the perfect employee for the business bloom that is sure to come!

An MBA can help close potential skill gaps, some of which are becoming more prevalent in our rapidly changing world, especially with the changes caused by the pandemic. This is certainly prudent when it comes to digital transformation in business. And you will most likely be graduating when the market is predicted to begin to recover. So, now may be one of the best opportunities to strengthen a CV with an MBA, learn what the world of work will look like post-pandemic, and become one of the most equipped graduates in the new workforce.

Best of luck!


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