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The Big Guide to Doing an MBA in China: Why, Where, When

A detailed breakdown of 11 top Chinese business schools.
By Aug 31, 2020 Education
Okay, so 2020 is kind of a write-off but it’s not too early to set yourself up for 2021. Maybe it’s the year you should think about starting an MBA, a Master of Business Administration degree, so that when the global economy recovers you are in a better position.

We wrote you an exhaustive guide to how to do that in China, where there are currently more than 200 MBA programs. We compiled this information from university websites, spoke with people working in the universities, called the business schools, and spoke to graduates.

An MBA gives you a serious boost on your resume and job credentials, a deeper understanding of business and management theory, and, generally, a significant bump to your salary. They do require you to have some work experience, usually two years of relevant experience at a minimum; the average age for starting an MBA is 28.

Why China?

Aside from being one of the world’s fastest-growing economies, programs hosted at Chinese universities occupy many of the Financial Times’ top 50 MBA rankings.

According to James Kent, Assistant Marketing Manager for CEIBS MBA Programme, the main reason any potential MBA student would want to study in China is to gain a broad understanding of both international and Chinese business practices, but more importantly a hands-on opportunity to apply these in Chinese business settings. Also, if you plan on working in Asia, studying here will give you an advantage thanks to your university’s alumni network.

“The professional network you build in the program is probably the most powerful part of it. These people become friends, future partners, and professional contacts,” says David Perez, an EMBA graduate of Kellogg School of Management (Northwestern University) and Peking University’s Guanghua School of Management.

Which city should I study in?

For David Perez, who now works as an entrepreneur, studying in Beijing made sense as it helped to boost his career and increase his professional network in a city/country he had been living in for 10 years. For him, the most important aspects of the university were reputation, flexibility in terms of presence (working full-time while studying), tuition fee, and global exposure.

A key piece of advice from Karla Wang, an EMBA (2018) graduate from CEIBS, is to speak to hiring managers of companies you may be looking to join as "they can give you an unbiased, unvarnished sense of the quality of graduates coming from [various] schools," and university alumni, who can offer, "a much better sense of what the program can offer you, beyond the glossy marketing materials".


China Europe International Business School (CEIBS)

Tuition: 438,000rmb
Course length: Full-time courses are 12-18 months, part-time (available only for specialized courses) 18-24 months.
Financial Aid/Scholarships: Over one-third of MBA 2021 students received scholarships and more than 30% of MBA 2020 students received scholarships or fellowships covering 20-100% of their tuition fees. Prodigy Finance, a UK based private finance company that offers loans to international students studying abroad, can help internationals wishing to study at CEIBS. It is also one of the few options we could find for funding study in China. Check its website for FAQs/limitations.
Application deadlines: April, but apply as early as possible (esp. for scholarships)

CEIBS is considered Asia’s best business school by the Financial Times (FT), and the fifth-best school in the world. The school says it has the "largest and most prestigious network" of alumni in China — about 22,000 graduates — including Mark Secchia (MBA 1999), Founder of Sherpa's; Billy Zhang (MBA 2007), Assistant General Manager of Strategy Development at Tencent; Leela Greenberg (MBA 2018), Head of Culture & Internal Branding at Alibaba North America; and David Gan (MBA 2017), Forbes 30 under 30 and Director of Global Business Development & Partnerships at Huobi Global.

Students are offered a 10-week long ‘internship’ elective to help them apply newly gained knowledge and skills in companies such as Shell and McKinsey. CEIBS grads go on to earn 97% more than their previous salary after completing the MBA course.

Shanghai Jiao Tong University Antai College of Economics and Management

Course length: The English IMBA is full-time for 24 months. Part-time MBA programs are taught in Chinese.
Financial Aid/Scholarships: Awarded for performance, for high GMAT scores, for holding CFA accreditation and for those with strong corporate backgrounds.
Application deadlines: There are four rounds of applications, usually staggered from October to April for the following year.

Ranked #37 worldwide and #1 for employment by FT, Antai College of Economics and Management of Shanghai Jiao Tong University is popular because it’s in downtown Shanghai. The FT says graduates see their salaries increase by about 200%.

ACEM was the first business school in China to be accredited by AACSB (The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business — US), EQUIS (EFMD Quality Improvement System – European Union), and AMBA (The Associations of MBAs — UK). Less than 1% of all business schools worldwide hold this.

The school offers free Mandarin classes to international students.

Fudan University School of Management

319,800rmb (2020 entry)
Course length: Full-time, 24 months.
Financial Aid/Scholarships: Up to 100% of tuition for high GMAT scores, and international students are automatically considered for scholarships. Loans available via Prodigy Finance.
Application deadlines: There are usually five rounds from November till April.

Ranked #33 globally and #1 among business schools in the mainland of China by FT, the Fudan International MBA program is a collaboration between Fudan and the MIT Sloan School of Management. Fudan has more than 48,000 alumni worldwide and IMBA alumni are invited to become MIT Sloan affiliate alumni, making them a part of the MIT Sloan network. Each year, three to four professors from MIT Sloan, plus a number of business executives, do visiting teaching stints.


Peking University Guanghua School of Management

Course length: Full-time, 24 months. Part-time courses taught in Chinese only.
Financial Aid/Scholarships: There are several, including a school waiver for full tuition, a Beijing Municipal Government Scholarship, the One Belt One Road Scholarship, and a need-based scholarship for up to 100,000rmb.
Application deadlines: There are five rounds of applications, those looking to apply for scholarships should apply between rounds one (October) and three (February).

Peking University is one of the country’s oldest universities, with a huge alumni network. Courses here are supplemented with language training and can also be doubled up for a second degree from overseas partner institutions in the US, Europe, Japan, and elsewhere.

Cheung Kong Graduate School of Business

Course length: Full-time, 14 months.
Financial Aid/Scholarships: 11 types of scholarships including a merit-based scholarship up to 50,000rmb; a GMAT one up to 100,000rmb; and more.
Application deadlines: Five rounds, staggered from October until June.

The Cheung Kong Graduate School of Business is China’s first private, independent business school, with some prestigious alumni: Jack Ma, found of Alibaba; co-founder of Ctrip, Fan Min; and president of Didi Chuxing, Liu Qing. About half of the English Global MBA program student body is female. It has 40 full-time professors, with more than half holding tenure or senior professorships at top business schools including MIT, Yale, and the University of Michigan.

Tsinghua University School of Economics and Management

Tuition: 198,000rmb
Course length: Full-time, 12-21 months.
Financial Aid/Scholarships: There are 11 scholarships available including Tsinghua MBA Distinguished Student Scholarship that offers up to a full waiver, a female leader award of up to 99,000rmb, and more.
Application deadlines: Five rounds beginning in November and ending in May.

Thanks to its collaboration with MIT, Tsinghua University School of Economics and Management is well-known for its strengths in engineering and STEM – ideal for those looking to take a dual degree program. The Tsinghua Global MBA Program provides graduates with two alumni networks, via its own and MIT Sloan, and offers six dual degree programs in collaboration with Columbia, HEC Paris, and MIT. Tsinghua’s curriculum is technology-driven and takes a scientific approach (modules include AI, innovation, etc.). It is located in the Zhongguancun area (aka “China’s Silicon Valley”) and at Tsinghua Science Park.

Renmin University of China, Renmin Business School

Tuition: 178,000rmb
Course length: Full-time, 24 months.
Financial Aid/Scholarships: Merit-based scholarships up to a full waiver, GMAT awards up to 30,000rmb, and more.
Application deadlines: Three rounds, from October till March.

Ranked #38 globally by the FT, Renmin Business School offered the first business administration programs in China, established in 1950, and prides itself on being an expert in Chinese management. It has over 50 MBA exchange partnerships with global business schools, giving international students the chance to study overseas as well. The school’s English-taught International MBA (IMBA) offers two specialization careers: Financial Management and Leadership & Corporate Social Responsibility. Roughly 85% of international students are offered some type of financial aid or scholarship.


Sun Yat-Sen University Business School

Course length: Full-time, 24 months.
Financial Aid/Scholarships: Contact the university directly.
Application deadlines: There are five rounds of applications staggered from August till November. Applicants can start applying from late July.

Sun Yat-Sen Business School began its MBA program in 1996. It was #68 globally on the Economist's fulltime MBA ranking in 2019 and has been in the top 100 for four consecutive years. Its most attractive qualities are how relatively affordable its IMBA is and the school’s smaller class sizes. It was the second school in China to achieve triple accreditation from AACSB, EQUIS, and AMBA. For those looking for a more immersive experience in Chinese culture, this school is a good option as only 3% of the student body is international.

Hong Kong

The Chinese University of Hong Kong Business School

Tuition: HK$560,000
Course length: Full-time, 12-16 months. Part-time, 24-48 months.
Financial Aid/Scholarships: There are seven scholarships available, including one for Women in Global Business, Finance Professionals, Young Global Professionals, the CUHK MBA Excellence Scholarship, and more. Grant financial details unavailable without application. Loans available via Prodigy Finance.
Application deadlines: There are three rounds from November to March.

Ranked #50 globally and #2 in Hong Kong by FT, CUHK Business School offers both part-time and full-time MBA courses taught in English. For those who are in a rush and want that certificate yesterday, the full-time course requires as little as 12 months, and, for budding entrepreneurs, CUHK programs feature a practical training course taught by current business owners called the Applied Entrepreneurship.

The University of Hong Kong Business School

Tuition: HK$588,000
Course length: Full-time, 12 months. Part-time, 24 months.
Financial Aid/Scholarships: Merit-based up to HK$350,000. Loan available via Prodigy Finance.
Application deadlines: Applications must be in by March and generally open in September.

The University of Hong Kong’s one-year MBA program is unique in that a student’s first nine months take place in Hong Kong, with the remaining four months taking place in either London (London Business School), New York (Columbia University), or Hong Kong/China, depending on the MBA course track you choose. It is ranked #56 globally and #3 in Hong Kong by FT, and 95% of the student body is international.

The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology Business School

Tuition: HK$585,000
Course length: Full-time, 12-16 months.
Financial Aid/Scholarships: Several available including an HKUST MBA Merit Scholarship, HKUST Professional Awards, plus individual scholarships exclusively for Spanish nationals and one for Chinese residents. International students can apply for a loan via Prodigy Finance.
Application deadlines: There are usually two rounds in March and April. New applications begin in September/October.

Ranked #19 globally and #1 in Hong Kong by FT, HKUST is a good option if your future career interests lie in technology-based industries. This one-year/16-month MBA program allows you to choose classes within the program’s flexible core and optional electives. Of the school’s 140+ faculty, many are previous leaders from Fortune 500 companies and the student body is 96% international. There are options to study abroad in one of 60 schools across 18 countries, plus chances to undergo a summer internship before completing your program.


Looking for more education options? Check out the full list of Master and MBA Programs in our Education Directory.



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