How to choose the right MBA programme

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An MBA diploma from a respected business school opens the doors to new career opportunities and new adventures. With so many options, it can be difficult to pin down the right MBA programme — especially when your choices as an expat span the globe.

Expat students have the opportunity to discover new countries as they earn their MBA diplomas, but they also have the opportunity to reap the benefits of the culture, economic environment and education systems of those countries. One such choice, the Netherlands, has been a favourite for expats due to its culture and the prevalence of English. Dutch business school Nyenrode Business Universiteit highlights the benefits of receiving an executive MBA in the Netherlands, and helps expat students select the right programme.

Netherlands: business schools in a central location

An MBA programme requires that you spend at least some time in the university’s city, depending on whether it is a full-time or part-time programme, so its location is paramount. Many cities have laid claim to being the “heart of Europe” — but the heart of international business may very well be in the Netherlands.

It is not only home to hundreds of international and local companies, especially in Amsterdam, the country’s location is prime for business. Surrounded by European cities including London, Paris, Brussels and Berlin, Amsterdam is in close proximity to Amsterdam Airport Schiphol, making these destinations easy to reach. Other leading Dutch cities such as The Hague, the seat of the country’s government, and bustling business cities Rotterdam and Utrecht are also within an hour’s train ride from Amsterdam on Dutch public transportation.

MBA programme

Study abroad in the Netherlands for an international experience

Beyond the allure of business, finding a country where you can quickly feel at home makes the transition — especially if studying for just a year — easier for expat students. Language barriers and accessibility make some European countries more difficult in terms of integration.

The Netherlands attracts expat students all over the world as the country is not only rich with culture, it has a welcoming attitude towards foreigners. In the World Economic Forum’s 2013 Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Report, the Netherlands ranked in the top 50 friendliest countries towards foreign visitors. It also excels in English — the Netherlands recently overcame reigning champion Denmark as the home of the world’s best non-native English speakers, according to the 2016 EF English Proficiency Index. Expat students looking for an international experience may find it much easier to commit to a year- or two-year-long MBA programme if it does not require the commitment of learning a new language outside the classroom.

The Netherlands: the new hub of business and education

The Netherlands has consistently been rated as one of the top countries for business, landing in 7th place out of 139 countries on Forbes’ list of Best Countries for Business. Its capital Amsterdam saw a record number of international companies establish offices in the metro area in 2014, many of which select English as the language of choice. And now, after the monumental Brexit vote, Amsterdam has been one of the many cities touted as a possible new home of European business; the economics affairs department has been busy reaching out to specific financial sectors in London to encourage them to move to Amsterdam.

The vote has also turned attention to the Netherlands’ business schools, five of which have made the rankings for the Financial Times’ European Business School Rankings for 2016: Rotterdam School of Management at Erasmus University, Tias Business School, Nyenrode Business Universiteit, Maastricht University School of Business and Economics, and Tilburg University. With so much more attention focused on the Netherlands after the Brexit vote, other business schools in the Netherlands will most likely see a growth in expat students as well.

Business schools in the Netherlands

Networking in the Netherlands and abroad

Many in the business world still adhere to the “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know” mentality. In the Netherlands, it’s easy to grow both. With its disciplined, career-oriented workforce and a Dutch business culture that encourages the sharing of ideas across a more lateral business hierarchy, the Netherlands offers MBA students the chance to network with executives right from the start.

Students more interested in broadening their international experience should look for MBA programmes that strongly support studying abroad. Many MBA programmes bring its students in contact with major corporations in the country, as well as provide opportunities for international experience. The part-time executive MBA programme at the Rotterdam School of Management (RSM), for example, sends students on two separate one-week-long study trips to countries such as Brazil, India, Japan and other locations, while other programmes such as the part-time EMBA programme at Nyenrode sends students on two separate two-week-long trips to China and South Africa.

MBA Diploma

Choosing the structure of the MBA programmes

Most business schools in the Netherlands offer full-time MBA programmes for expat students that have not yet entered the workforce or are currently unemployed, but they also understand the need for education options for mid-career students. The structure of part-time MBA programmes varies from school to school, so it depends on what the students desire: if they want to immerse themselves in an MBA programme, they can choose to follow programmes such those at Nyenrode, one of which is offered in six, two-week-long modules that take place every three months.

However, some students cannot accommodate being away from work or family. Some may opt to follow a programme that is offered in the evening or on weekends — RSM’s EMBA programme, for example, takes the same amount of time as Nyenrode’s (22 months), but the programme takes place every other weekend.

Expat students choosing an international MBA programme must take many factors into consideration: location, language accessibility, culture and, of course, educational offerings. The Netherlands is one of the most popular destinations for MBA programmes — which one you choose depends on the experience you want.


Nyenrode / Expatica


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