Top MBA programmes for innovation and student experience

An MBA can be a quick path to a sizable salary increase and career advancement. Low-level staff can suddenly find themselves in middle and upper management, and with options to shift to other industries. These benefits are not merely theoretical or marketing gimmicks pitched by over-enthusiastic business schools as a number of respected studies have confirmed them. With this in mind, it’s no wonder that MBA programmes around the world are popular among the international student market.

Not convinced? Consider that last year, the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) said that the “median starting salary expected in 2015 for recent MBA graduates in the United States is US$100,000. This represents an increase of US$5,000 over 2014 salaries and is nearly double the expected starting salary of US$55,000 for bachelor’s candidates in 2015.”

Demand for MBA graduates is also increasing. GMAC’s 2015 survey of employers found that “[m]ore than 9 in 10 (92 percent) companies in the United States plan to hire MBA graduates in 2015 — up from 80 percent that hired MBAs in 2014.” This trend is also evident in the rapidly growing Asia Pacific region. The survey revealed that “[s]eventy-five percent of Asia-Pacific companies (69 percent in 2014) plan to hire recent MBA graduates.”


Image courtesy of Curtin Business School


With the advantages of MBAs established, it’s important to note that the world is changing, causing the MBA to change along with it. Contemporary business professionals must contend with rapid globalization, expanding and maturing markets, emerging markets in Asia, energy issues and the advent of climate change. Top MBA programmes have distinguished themselves by adopting a renewed emphasis on innovation, offering new specializations to meet market needs.

One such specialization is Energy Management, which makes a timely emergence on global landscape of volatile commodity prices, oil oversupply, advancing green technologies, and creeping climate change. Unsurprisingly, the field is set to experience rapid growth in the next few years.

A 2013 survey by the Association of Energy Engineers (AEE) of its members found that 66.9% of them believe there is a “shortage today of energy management professionals.” Looking to the future, 60.4% of AEE members “feel there will be a shortage of qualified professionals in the energy efficiency and renewable energy field within the next five years.”

Graduates with more traditional specializations, like strategy and management, are also set to do very well in the workplace. According to PayScale, graduates who specialize in Strategy and General & Strategic Management are the top earners in the MBA category.


Image courtesy of Monash University Malaysia


Prospective students should note that both of these concentrations have innovation at their heart. After all, they both require a global outlook, critical thinking, and novel approaches to ever-changing challenges. Many graduates end up as highly paid consultants to the growing number of multinational corporations that are desperate for new solutions.

Aside from offering innovative education, top MBA programmes also offer students an opportunity to experience the world. Through overseas travel, students have the opportunity to observe the business practices and culture of a foreign nation – essential in an interconnected world. Through internships and work placements, students gain first-hand experience, practical skills, and industry contacts; through extracurricular activities, students make lifelong friends, network with future business partners, and practice social skills.

Internships and work placements are particularly celebrated and common feature among the world’s best MBA programmes. Enrolled students are often embedded in prominent and prestigious businesses as a core part of their learning experience. Accordingly, those looking to undertake an MBA should research the extent of the university’s connections with the industry – after all, innovative education is pointless without quality industry experience, and vice versa.

Going by these criteria – that the ideal MBA programme provides innovative education and quality student experience – here are some of the top MBA-providing business schools the world has to offer:



Image courtesy of Haskayne School of Business


Established in 1967, the Haskayne School of Business, part of the University of Calgary, is a prestigious business school in Calgary, home to one of the highest concentrations of head offices per capita and close to the world-renowned Rocky Mountains. Well-regarded for its academic performance, the Haskayne MBA currently ranks 5th in the Better World MBAs by Corporate Knights and 9th in the Canada’s Best MBAs: The Top 10 by Value by Canadian Business. The University of Calgary itself is ranked first in North America in the QS Top 50 Under 50 by QS World University Rankings.

Haskayne offers an excellent selection of postgraduate programmes and has special expertise in the realm of energy and sustainability. Available programmes include the Haskayne MBA, the Alberta Haskayne Executive MBA, and the Global Energy Executive MBA. Students enrolled in the energy-related programmes will certainly benefit from Calgary’s status as a major hub for the energy industry.

Haskayne maintains several research centres, all of which advance knowledge in a certain area – including corporate sustainability, entrepreneurship and ethical leadership.



Image courtesy of Curtin Business School


Curtin Business School, part of Curtin University, is located in Perth, Australia. Curtin University is ranked in the top two per cent of the world’s universities (Academic Ranking of World Universities 2015).

Curtin Business School (CBS) is recognised as an elite global business school through accreditation by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) International. The School also received 4 Palmes of Excellence for significant international influence in the Eduniversal Business School Rankings 2015.

CBS courses are designed with careers in mind. Students learn from experienced, market-savvy teaching staff and are exposed to industry employers through field trips, internships, practical assignments, guest lecturers and networking events. Students also have exclusive access to a number of facilities that go far beyond the classroom including a stock market trading room and a social media command centre.

The School offers a wide range of business courses and flexible study options to suit students’ location, career goals, preferred learning style and prior experience.



Image courtesy of Auckland University of Technology


AUT Business School is one of the largest providers of business education in New Zealand. Located in the heart of Auckland City, it is internationally renowned for the high quality of graduates, positive impact of its research, and meaningful engagements with business and the broader community.

It is part of an elite group of only 5% of business schools worldwide accredited by AACSB International – the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business. The school offers postgraduate programmes in business (including MBA), professional accounting, applied finance, marketing, and more.

AUT Business School maintains strong and numerous links with industry players, ensuring that the curriculum always remains relevant and reflects the needs of the contemporary marketplace.



Image courtesy of Monash University Malaysia


Monash University Malaysia is the Asian footprint of the Australia’s prestigious Monash University. Located in Bandar Sunway, the School of Business at Monash Malaysia has already achieved AACSB and AMBA accreditation in its relatively short life.

The school’s MBA and Master of International Business gives students the opportunity to undertake an academically rigorous study of contemporary local and interntational business issues. The school features world-class facilities including a simulated trading lab, a focus group discussion room, and a neurobusiness behavioural lab.

All programs offered by the School in Malaysia are accredited in Malaysia and Australia and students are able to undertake exchanges with, or transfer to, Monash University Australia.



Image courtesy of The Eberhardt School of Business


The Eberhardt School of Business is a constituent of the University of Pacific, the oldest chartered university in California. Known for its high standards, Eberhardt School features a personalized learning experience and instruction by faculty, not assistants.

It offers a 16-month MBA accelerated full-time program that has joint degree options in Law, Pharmacy, and PeaceCorps. MBA students also have the opportunity to manage $3 million Eberhardt Student Investment Fund.

Students can look forward to a dedicated Career Management Center, top-rated and highly qualified faculty, classes with high interaction between faculty members and students, and state-of-the-art classroom technology.

Featured image courtesy of Haskayne School of Business

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