The Bargain MBA

You can still go to Asia for a bargain MBA

Not long ago I wrote about a recent graduate who had cut her college costs in half by going to another country. (See: "Royal College Bargain") Ever since then, I've wondered why so many American college students stay here and pay so much. Others are wondering the same thing " as this blogger put it, going abroad is "a hell of a lot cheaper, and you don't emerge deep in debt like you would back home."

But if you've stayed here, that's fine. You can still go to Asia for a bargain MBA.

Business students, of all students, should realize that competition is global, even in education. On top of that, they have a strong incentive to shop around because MBAs cost a fortune.

The math is striking: Duke University's MBA program is ranked 20th in the world on the Financial Times' list of the best business schools. It takes two years and roughly $100,000 to get a degree, although that's just for tuition, not housing or books.

The University of Michigan's business school is ranked 24th in the world and takes a similar amount - out-of-state students will pay $105,888 for two years there. Books and other expenses could add another $41,000.

Some other top U.S. schools cost even more. The University of Pennsylvania, Harvard, Columbia, Stanford, Northwestern, Dartmouth, University of Chicago and MIT all charge higher tuition, the Michigan representative cheerfully told me.

But the Indian School of Business in Hyderabad, India costs $45,750, which includes housing and all other expenses. Plus it takes one year of your life, not two, and is ranked 13th in the world.

To state the obvious, that means you pay half the price for a higher-ranked program. The salaries for ISB's recent graduates are about the same as salaries paid to recent grads of the U.S. schools: $136,563 for Duke, $137,189 for the University of Michigan, and $134,406 for India.

There's some risk to going abroad, to be sure. Studying in Scotland for your undergraduate degree makes you a global citizen, but studying in India for a professional degree may make you a regional or emerging market specialist. Companies may want to utilize that by keeping you there on the ground...

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