Ten Tips for Successful International Study

Receive an invaluable cultural education along with your graduate business degree.

If you are interested in obtaining your graduate business degree abroad, you need to do more than just find a school and program that’s a good fit. Here are 10 tips to ensure your international study experience is a successful one:

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Tip 1: Start with the GMAT exam

Hundreds of graduate business programs around the world require the GMAT exam as a prerequisite for admission. Preparing for the GMAT exam is very different than preparing for a traditional test that assesses how well you can reproduce information you have learned. The GMAT exam assesses higher order reasoning—a skill that improves with practice.

Practice takes time, significantly more time than studying for a conventional test. Preparation for the GMAT exam can take several months, so schedule your test appointment well in advance of school application deadlines.

Tip 2: Measure your English language ability

For non-native speakers interested in programs where English is used for instruction, exams such as PTE Academic and TOEFL measure your international academic-level English skills. PTE Academic is endorsed by and is the preferred test of English of the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC®).

Tip 3: Study the academic environment

Look at a country’s educational style and culture. Are you expected to participate in group projects and in class? Are you comfortable being challenged in front of your classmates?

Tip 4: Research support and resources for international students

For international students, can the school help with visa requirements? Can they put you in touch with alumni in your country? Is the school willing to be flexible if you have special dietary or religious needs?

Tip 5: Figure out your finances

Because the cost of a graduate business education varies greatly around the world, ask the school for information and counseling on total costs, student loans and other financing.

Tip 6: Ask about job placement opportunities          

For international students, talk to the school’s Career Services department about job placement rates. GMAC research shows that, in some countries, corporate recruiters prefer to hire people who already have the required visas and work permits.

Tip 7: Consider homesickness

If you have never lived away from home before, make sure you are open to spending a year or two away from family, immersed in a different culture marked by a different language, different foods, etc.

Tip 8: Make sure you understand visa and immigration issues   

Visa issues have become more complicated in recent years, so plan ahead. The schools you are considering can usually refer you to the correct government agency for student visas.

Tip 9: Network!      

Talk with people from your academic or career background who either attend the school or have graduated recently. Ask specific questions about what it is like to live and study at the school you are considering before you make a final decision.

Tip 10: Consider all options       

There are many ways to study internationally. If you’re not ready to commit fully to an international program, research international exchange programs and study abroad experiences through programs in your home country.