What Is an MBA Exchange Program?

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By Christina Payne

Reviewed by Krystal Covington, MBA

Published on August 19, 2021

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MBA exchange programs provide opportunities for MBA learners to study abroad while still working on their degrees. According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, 95% of consumers live outside of the United States. Business students studying abroad through an international exchange MBA can gain valuable experience and insight into foreign markets.

In the following sections, readers can learn about MBA programs and how exchange programs work for graduate students, including cost and potential benefits.

Why Try an MBA Exchange Program?

Many MBA programs provide traditional, cookie-cutter curricula that will not set graduates apart when they begin their job search. However, MBA programs with international exchange options offer academic and professional experiences that students who remain in the U.S. may not receive.

International schools feature courses, electives, and internship opportunities not typically available within the United States. These courses and internships can elevate a graduate's resume to improve their chances in the job market.

MBA international exchange programs also provide valuable insight into foreign markets and foreign consumers. Some of the top MBA careers require knowledge of international markets. Business students who wish to work for companies with international partners should strongly consider an MBA exchange.

Students learning a foreign language may improve their fluency by studying abroad. Businesses prize multilingual employees, as they can facilitate communication with international clients and more easily reach non-English speaking consumers within the United States.

How Do MBA Exchange Programs Work?

MBA exchange programs typically last for a semester or summer term. Many business schools partner with foreign universities, providing students with a set of countries to pick from when choosing between study abroad opportunities.

Learners should choose an exchange program that enhances their current course of study. Students must consider language barriers, potential markets, and the types of internships available to them when choosing a program. To learn more about their options, MBA students should speak to an academic advisor or visit the exchange university's website.

Many business schools partner with foreign universities, providing students with a set of countries to pick from when choosing between study abroad opportunities.

Most universities maintain a transfer credit system with partner universities. Students who take approved courses and/or internships should receive full credit toward their degree.

Learners may be able to study at an unapproved university after speaking with their academic advisor. Students should understand that courses at unapproved universities, and potentially even some courses at approved schools, may not count for credit.

Taking classes that don't award credits can prolong the length of an MBA program. This, in turn, can cost students more money if they need to pay for an additional semester or summer classes to make up the deficit. Students should only participate in international exchange MBAs for no credit if they are willing to spend more time and money earning their degree.

How Much Do MBA Exchange Programs Cost?

MBA exchange programs differ in cost depending on the destination and the school. Some exchange programs cover the cost of flights and housing and provide a stipend for meals; others do not. As cost of living varies from country to country, some students end up spending more while living abroad.

MBA exchange costs may be covered by grants or other types of financial aid. Students may be able to find financial aid opportunities through their school or through the federal government. Independent grant and scholarship organizations may also provide enough money for learners to study abroad.

Students can find these opportunities by looking at grant and scholarship databases or speaking with their school's financial aid office for assistance.

Some students also take out loans to finance their study abroad experience. However, loans should be a last resort for students, as they must pay these back after graduation. Grants and scholarships do not need to be repaid.

Is an MBA Exchange Program Right for Me?

An MBA exchange program may be the right choice for students interested in learning a foreign language. These programs allow students to take classes at a foreign university — sometimes in a foreign language — which helps improve fluency.

Students may also find an internship or employment opportunities while studying abroad. This experience is invaluable, particularly for students who wish to pursue careers abroad after graduation. Even students who choose careers in the U.S. may need to travel internationally — this is becoming increasingly true as more companies hire global teams. Practical experience in foreign markets with foreign consumers can help graduates get ahead of their competition.

MBA students should evaluate their career goals before determining if an exchange program suits their needs.

MBA programs with an international exchange may not suit every student. Readers who want to spend less time and money on their degree should not study abroad. Students need a certain amount of credits to graduate, and study abroad experiences may not meet the required credits for a semester. Students must typically fund at least part of their exchange experience.

Some learners may benefit from staying in the country as well. For example, students may miss opportunities for a key internship or work experience in the U.S. if they decide to travel abroad instead.

All MBA students should evaluate their career goals before determining if an exchange program suits their needs.

Frequently Asked Questions About MBA Exchange Programs

What are the best student exchange programs? true

Many top MBA schools offer international exchange opportunities to at least one country. Applicants who know they want to study abroad should explore their options for potential schools, paying close attention to any exchange programs offered. Readers can find information about exchange programs on the school's official website or by calling the admissions office.

How long are exchange programs? true

International exchange programs typically last a semester. Some students may study abroad over the summer, allowing them to complete all their normal coursework at their regular college. Students who wish to study abroad for longer than a semester should speak to their academic advisors about their options.

What are the benefits of exchange programs?

An exchange program gives students opportunities to learn new skills, including a foreign language. Many MBA programs with international exchange offer internships.

Are exchange programs worth it?

International exchange MBAs help students who may wish to work or live abroad after graduation. They can also help students understand foreign markets and build connections in other countries.

Reviewed by:

Krystal Covington, MBA, is a business growth strategist with 15 years of experience in marketing and public relations. Her company, Go Lead Consulting, provides clients foundational tools to build new client and customer relationships.

Krystal founded Women of Denver, one of the largest privately held membership organizations in Denver, Colorado. Her program helps women increase their business acumen, sharpen leadership skills, and connect with other high-achieving women. Krystal received her MBA from Western Governors University in 2012.

Preferred Pronouns: She/Her

Elevate your career with a convenient and affordable online MBA. Browse our ranking of the top online MBA degrees of 2021. A quality study abroad program can enhance a student’s educational journey. These colleges offer the best programs for students who wish to study abroad. Should you choose a full-time or part-time MBA program? Learn more about the pros and cons of each.

BestColleges.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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