Three Key Differences of an European MBA

Posted by TheMBATour on 23 May 2012 / 0 Comments

Not sure if you want to enroll in a European program or North American program? Take a look at these key differences in the European MBA program to see what fits your style the best.

1. Program Timeline

European MBA programs tend to be much shorter in length–with some programs lasting only from January to December. Because of the shorter time period, European programs tend to be a much more intense, full-time student experience. Peter Rafferty of Vlerick Leuven Gent Management School details this in the video below:

Rick Doyle of the European School of Management and Technology (EMST) adds to this by explaining that the demands of these programs generally require European MBA students to be older and more experienced, with average students having “anywhere from three to five years work experience” and average age to be around 29-30 years old. Before considering a European program, you should keep in mind the time-frame and student requirements that you could expect when applying for European business schools.

2. Student/Team Interactions

Not only do European programs have a smaller time schedule, they also typically have smaller classroom sizes – with program sizes “typically 50-70 students,” according to Rafferty. Tight-knit classes and short time frames translate to quick turnaround projects designed to mimic the actual workforce. Mr. Doyle adds to this focus of teamwork in this video below:

"Students are expected to work closely in groups to complete projects in as few as a couple of weeks", Doyle adds "and some programs require students to travel in groups to complete their projects. Working in small groups at such a fast pace allows students to breakdown barriers and explore their strengths as well as identify weak areas that can be focused on throughout the program".

3. International/Cultural Diversity

When compared to North American programs, European classes are much more international and culturally diverse as described by Mr. Rafferty in this video below:

He explains how American programs, for example, can be dominated by a single culture in which classes may consist of 60% domestic students, whereas European programs range from 85-90% international, with as many as “35-40 different nationalities in the class.” In such a diverse atmosphere, students tend to learn they have so much to teach – as well as learn from – the various other cultures represented in the program.


While each individual program has something unique to offer, these are some major differentiating factors between European and North American MBA programs. Visit The MBA Tour website to register for an event where you can speak directly with the representatives of MBA programs, or check out our upcoming events schedule.

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