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The top MBA programs for international students

interstride logo by Interstride
April 14, 2023

Business is one of the top fields of study for international students in the US As the economy becomes increasingly global, a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree from a US university can give you the leadership skills and professional network necessary to succeed. The US offers many MBA programs and finding the right one for you requires a lot of research and understanding of your goals. To help, we compiled a detailed list of the top MBA programs `for international students.

The value of an MBA for international students

An MBA degree from a reputable US university can increase your reputation and connections in the business world and boost your earning potential. As an international student, it will be valuable whether you plan to work in the US or abroad. Some universities specifically offer a master’s in international business for people who want to work for a multinational company or do business abroad. If your goal is to remain in the US after graduation, there are also several visa options for business owners, entrepreneurs, and investors.

Many MBA programs are eligible for STEM OPT. STEM OPT work authorization allows graduate students on an F-1 visa in an eligible MBA program to work for up to three years while they are in school or after graduation. While the business field doesn’t intuitively fit into the STEM category, there are many ways to qualify for STEM OPT such as a master’s in business statistics or business analytics. Even if you used OPT or STEM OPT while pursuing an undergraduate degree in the US, you can use it again as a graduate student.

Which MBA programs in the US have the most international students?

An MBA program with a high number of international students demonstrates that the faculty and staff will cater to your unique needs and experiences as an international student. It will also give you opportunities to practice communicating across language and cultural differences in a professional way. This will help prepare you to compete in a diverse economy and build a strong global network which could help you advance your career after graduation and in the future.

There are 10 full-time MBA programs that have more international students than domestic students. The data below is from US News and is based on 2022 enrollment:

School Percentage of international students
University of North Florida (Coggin)75%
Indiana University of Pennsylvania (Eberly)72.3%
Troy University70.6%
Babson College (Olin)70.3%
Lehigh University69%
Brandeis University68.2%
Northern Michigan University62.5%
Adelphi University58.3%
University of San Francisco56.8%
University of New Haven54.9%

Top 10 business schools for international students

The following list of top MBA programs comes from Poets&Quants using a compilation of lists from U.S. News, the Financial Times, Bloomberg Businessweek, The Economist, and Forbes. Interstride does not endorse any specific rankings. Instead, we have provided insight into how these MBA programs might be attractive to and benefit international students. To demonstrate the value of these MBA programs for international students, we highlight program offerings, career outcomes, location, the number and percentage of enrolled international students, and whether the program qualifies as STEM.

1. Wharton School at University of Pennsylvania

The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania was ranked the number one MBA program in 2022 by Poets&Quants. The school boasts impressive career outcomes with 99% of job-seeking graduates receiving job offers with a median annual salary of $155,000. It was the first business school in the country which means you will have access to a large alumni network. Wharton also stands out because it is highly focused on building strong in-demand technical skills including business analytics.

Quick facts about the Wharton MBA program:

  • Two-year, full-time program
  • 20% acceptance rate
  • 30% of MBA students are international students
  • International students come from 77 countries
  • Offers six STEM-designated majors

2. Booth School of Business at University of Chicago

In 2022, the Booth School in Chicago tied for the number one business school in the US according to US News. They also rank number one in part-time MBAs. If you are interested in a diverse program located in a large, diverse city, this may be the right choice for you. The average base salary for graduates is $149,058, and 88.7% of students had jobs by graduation. This program specifically caters to international students by offering STEM OPT to all MBA students no matter their concentration.

Quick facts about the Booth School:

  • Two-year, full-time program
  • Three-year, part-time program
  • 23% acceptance rate
  • 37% of business students are international students
  • Entire program is STEM certified

3. Stanford Graduate School of Business

Stanford University is one of the top US universities located in the western half of the country. Their Graduate School of Business regularly ranks number one for MBA programs according to Poets&Quants. It is located about 35 miles south of San Francisco in the heart of the technology industry in the country making it an ideal place for business students interested in incorporating innovative tech into their business ventures. Over half of graduates work in finance or technology.

Quick facts about Stanford’s MBA:

  • Two-year, full-time program
  • 6.7% acceptance rate
  • 42% of MBA students are international students
  • 91% of students had jobs 90-days after graduation
  • MBA and MSx degrees are designated as STEM

4. Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University

Northwestern University is located near Chicago, giving students easy access to a major US economic hub. The Kellogg School offers six different full-time MBA degrees including an intensive one-year program and a joint degree with the prestigious McCormick School of Engineering. Their Executive MBA degree ranked number one in 2022. The Kellogg School also offers a part-time MBA program; however, F-1 visas are not available for part-time MBAs. International students interested in pursuing a part-time MBA in the US could potentially do so under a valid work visa such as an H-1B.

Quick facts about Kellogg MBA options:

  • Full-time and part-time MBA programs
  • 26% acceptance rate
  • 32% of MBA students are international students
  • 86.4% of students had jobs by graduation
  • Full-Time MBA, Evening/Weekend MBA, and MSMS programs are STEM certified

5. Harvard Business School

Located in Cambridge, Massachusetts (near Boston), Harvard is consistently ranked in the top three universities in the US according to US News. The school ranked number one in business management and number two in international business and marketing. They offer several joint degree options including some that qualify as STEM such as the MS/MBA Biotechnology: Life Sciences Program and the MS/MBA: Engineering Sciences Program.

Quick facts about the Harvard MBA:

  • Two-year, full-time program
  • 12% acceptance rate
  • 38% of MBA students are international students
  • $153,156 average starting salary for graduates
  • STEM designation with qualifying joint degrees

6. MIT Sloan School of Management

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is another prestigious university located in Boston, MA. MIT’s Sloan School of Management has a mission to focus on ethical business practices and innovation. In addition to a traditional MBA, they offer master’s degrees in finance, business analytics, and engineering and management. MBA students and alumni represent over 90 countries.

Quick facts about MIT Sloan:

  • Two-year, full-time program
  • 12% acceptance rate
  • 41% of business students are international students
  • 83.8% of students had jobs by graduation
  • Entire MBA program is STEM certified including the Fellows MBA and Executive MBA

7. Columbia Business School

Columbia is a top-tier university in New York City, the heart of the US economy and home of Wall Street. For this reason, most graduates of Columbia’s business school work in finance or consulting. 90% of graduates had jobs within three months of finishing their MBA program with a median salary of $150,000. Columbia does not offer a part-time MBA, but you can start the full-time program in August or January.

Quick facts about Columbia Business School:

  • Two-year, full-time program
  • 16% acceptance rate
  • 40% of MBA students are international students
  • MBA students and alumni represent over 90 countries
  • MBA and Executive MBA degrees are STEM certified

8. Yale School of Management

As an ivy league school, Yale is considered one of the most elite universities in the world. It is located on the East Coast of the US in New Haven, Connecticut. The program is geared towards building global business skills with a mandatory travel component. MBA students interested in pursuing STEM OPT can add a management science concentration to their degree. The Master’s in Asset Management is also STEM certified.

Quick facts about Yale’s SOM:

  • Two-year, full-time program
  • 24% acceptance rate
  • 48% of business students are international students
  • 90% of students had job offers within 3 months of graduation
  • Concentration in management science is STEM designated

9. Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth

The Tuck School is the world’s first graduate school for business management. It is located at Dartmouth College in the small town of Hanover, New Hampshire. The business school offers small class sizes and a mandatory experiential study abroad course to promote global leadership. An impressive 98% of students received job offers within three months of graduating.

Quick facts about the Tuck MBA:

  • Two-year, full-time program
  • 22% acceptance rate
  • 43% of business students are international students
  • Business students represent 42 countries
  • Offers a STEM-designated Management Science & Quantitative Analysis Track

10. Haas School of Business at University of California, Berkeley

UC Berkeley is another west-coast school located near San Francisco and Silicon Valley, the technology center of the US. 33% of MBA graduates go on to work in the technology industry, many working in software development. The Haas School of Business has an extensive career support system and an engaged global alumni network. They offer additional MBAs for executives and financial engineering.

Quick facts about the Haas School:

  • Offers a full-time and part-time MBA program
  • 17.5% acceptance rate
  • 37% of MBA students are international students
  • 90% of students had jobs by 90 days after graduation
  • Full-Time MBA, Evening/Weekend MBA, and Executive MBA are STEM designated

Choosing the best MBA programs for you

Consider what the MBA program offers in terms of courses, work experience, and networking when choosing the best MBA program for you. Ideally, the school should cater to international students and have faculty with experience in your specific industry who are interested in working with you.

According to an article by Kim Fernandez from the International Educator magazine, the highest-ranked MBA programs also have collaborations with different schools, representing the value of these kinds of business relationships in the global economy. Look at programs that have a lot of collaborations or partnerships to help you gain valuable industry connections and maximize the value of your MBA.

Interstride works with top universities across the US including many business schools to support international students. Click here to log in or check if your school has partnered with Interstride. Current MBA students at the Jones Graduate School of Business at Rice University and the Questrom School of Business at Boston University have access to Interstride’s dynamic platform right now. Interstride helps international students find job opportunities with employers that offer visa sponsorships, immigration advice, and more.

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