5 reasons to consider an APAC business school for your MBA

SOURCE: Roslan Rahman / AFP
Thriving cities like Tokyo, Beijing, Seoul, Kuala Lumpur, and Singapore are ready to be explored by those who choose an APAC business school for their MBA experience.

By Shekinah Kannan 

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Business schools and their MBA programmes in the APAC (Asia Pacific) region are giving their western counterparts a run for their money. A total of 17 business schools in Asia have muscled their way to the top in this year’s Financial Times Global MBA charts, with China Europe International Business School (CEIBS)’s MBA programme nabbing the seventh spot among the world’s top 100.

APAC business schools have come a long way — a far cry from 1999 when the Financial Times first launched its top 50 top programme ranking, with not a single Asian school making the list.

There are many reasons for this shift. The world is beginning to realise what those in Asia have known all along — that the continent is filled with opportunities for aspiring business leaders.

APAC is home to several financial hubs that make it ideal for business leaders to launch a startup or grow their business alongside established organisations. Cities such as Tokyo, Beijing, Seoul, Kuala Lumpur, and Singapore can offer plenty of business opportunities, bolstering the appeal of an APAC business school.

There are many others reasons why business professionals should consider an APAC business school for a stellar MBA experience. We’ve rounded up five reasons that will help you make up your mind:

A thriving economy

In 2020, the global economy fell by 3.5% — the figure in Asia was 1.1%. In fact, China’s economy even grew. McKinsey predicts that Asia will account for more than half of the world’s economy in years to come. 

Asia’s strength in tech also shined through during the pandemic, as a top exporter of computers, laptops, phones and other high-tech devices — all of which have become critical in the era of work from home.

McKinsey further predicts that Asia’s strong post-pandemic recovery, built on its technological prowess, will allow it to further extend its reach and amass 52% of the world’s GDP by 2040. 


Hong Kong and Tokyo may be among the more expensive picks, but the cost of living and tuition fees are generally lower in Asia compared to destinations such as the US and the UK. 

To put into perspective, tuition fees for the Asia School of Business will set you back some US$91,000 for its 20-month MBA programme. International students will also enjoy opportunities in the US and China, as well as a four-week MIT Sloan immersion programme in Massachusetts. 

Meanwhile, an MBA from MIT Sloan itself carries the price tag of US$241,984. At London Business School, the total cost of an MBA is US$126,738.


The demand for full-time MBA degrees is clearly growing in the Asia-Pacific region. This is partly due to data proving that a good sum of graduates succeed in securing salary increases.

According to the data used by FT to compile the MBA ranking in 2020, the six schools whose alumni received the biggest salary increases are based in Asia-Pacific. Shanghai University of Finance and Economics graduates reported the highest uplift at 216% three years after completing their MBA.

This year, the appeal remains. Average alumni salaries for CEIBS graduates came up to US$178,558, an increase of 156% from pre-MBA employment. National University of Singapore Business School’s figure came up to US$160,729 with a 138% salary increase. HKUST Business School graduates enjoy an average salary of US$151,758, an increase of 109%.

Cultural perspective

Studying in Asia can be a good exposure for those in the West, and help aspiring business leaders shape their own identity, how they perceive people, and grow personally and professional simultaneously. 

Asia is one of the most vibrant and culturally diverse regions in the world. It is home to various cultures and ethnicities, and this includes countries such as India and Singapore. An APAC MBA will encourage executives to live, work and understand diverse groups of people. 

Scenic surroundings 

Once in Asia, it can be relatively affordable to travel to neighbouring countries for work and pleasureThe continent covers a huge area of our Earth, boasting some of the highest mountains and most pristine beaches the world has to offer. 

From the Living Root Bridges in Cherrapunji, India; the staggering mountainous surroundings of Gokyo Cho Lake, Nepal; the tri-coloured lakes of Mount Kelimutu in Indonesia; to Mount Everest in the Himalayas; and the Nijo-Jo Castle in Kyoto — regardless of where they end up, outdoorsy MBAs will have plenty of ground to cover in the APAC region.