By Lindy Kravec
Regardless of where you are in the world, an American business degree remains the international gold standard in business education.
“The frontier of business research and training takes place at the top universities in the U.S.,” says Dr. Shan Yan, associate professor of finance in the Sigmund Weis School of Business at Susquehanna University in Pennsylvania
Getting a business education in the U.S. provides opportunities that may not exist at schools in your country. For example, many U.S. undergraduate business programs offer a valuable combination of classroom business theory and real-world case studies, a focus on specific areas of business, and the chance to obtain internships at top companies.
“When you combine the academic training with exposure to the real market, you can see how valuable U.S. business training is for international students,” Yan says.
There are more than 4,600 degree-granting institutions in the United States. How can you narrow those choices to find the school that’s right for you? Here are some tips:
THINK ABOUT LOCATION
The U.S. is a huge country, with geographic, demographic, and climate diversity. You may want to select a school that allows you to experience all four seasons or one that provides endless summer. You may prefer a school in a vibrant city or one in a charming small town.
As a business major, you may want a college or university that is close to a financial center such as Chicago or New York City and one that has a proven track record of helping students network with professionals. The opportunity to shadow a business professional for a day or work in a corporate setting as an intern is priceless.
After graduation, your international student visa allows you to work in the U.S. for one year to gain practical experience. With your American business degree, you may work for one of the leading companies in the world!
LOOK FOR SPECIALIZED COURSEWORK AND FACULTY MENTORS
Although many U.S. business schools offer degrees in general business management, most give students the opportunity to specialize in specific areas of business, such as finance, accounting, marketing, global management, or entrepreneurship. These programs also allow you to gain a well-rounded education through elective courses that include world languages, math and sciences, social studies, literature, and the arts. You’ll graduate with a wealth of knowledge that will boost your ability to think critically across many disciplines, a skill that employers value.
Don’t underestimate the importance of faculty in American business schools. Professors who trained at top universities can deliver the most up-to-date information to students, Yan explains. They are not only professors, but also researchers and mentors.
Professors schedule office hours when students can consult with them one-on-one to review coursework or discuss career plans. They will advise you of internship opportunities and help you complete applications for employment or graduate school.
Susquehanna University student Amanda Grosz, an economics major, attributes her recent internship success to such advocacy. Grosz participated in a unique leadership development program with JPMorgan Chase & Co. that introduced her to the business, its products and customers.
She credits courses such as Global Business Perspectives for giving her invaluable preparation for a finance career.
"It helped me develop that mindset of being able to identify opportunities and factors that would impact the decision of a proposal," Grosz says.
As you search websites of schools that interest you, read about the faculty members in your area of specialization. Knowing their educational background and research interests will provide insight into what you might learn from them.
CHECK FOR ACCREDITATION
How do you know if a business school meets the highest standard of excellence? Look for accreditation from AACSB International. The hallmark of excellence in business education, it’s awarded to fewer than 5 percent of the world's business schools.
AACSB accreditation ensures that the school follows a rigorous curriculum taught by highly qualified faculty and undergoes continuous assessment and improvement.
Lindy Kravec is a freelance writer based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.