Schools With The Most Study-Abroad Options

The Carlson Entrepreneurship in Cuba class, March 2016. Courtesy photo

Is being away from college the best part of college? Maybe, if you’re studying abroad. More and more these days, international experience can help you get a job. And top business schools in America are bending over backward to make sure their students have lots of study-abroad options.

For students who don’t want to lose an entire semester, many schools offer business-specific study-abroad programs, where student can get class credit or even complete business internships. Other schools have classes that are taught on campus, but include an international trip at some point in the semester. And still others offer year-long programs that allow students to complete a large portion of their degree abroad. Northeastern, for example, has hundreds of business-specific study-abroad programs, ranging from five weeks to two years.

“I spent two years living, studying, and working abroad in Spain,” says one student from the Northeastern Class of 2014. “It was an incredible experience that taught me first-hand how business is conducted abroad, the cultural nuances to be truly culturally agile, and (offered) complete immersion to achieve fluency in Spanish.”

In a survey conducted by Poets&Quants, we asked top business schools to tell us about their global classes and programs. Below are some of the schools with the highest number of opportunities.


Before they graduate, 100% of undergraduates at the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management have a global experience – two or more weeks of international study.

In 2008, the Carlson School became one of the first U.S. business schools to require that all students have an international experience. Anne D’Angelo, assistant dean of global initiatives, says firms in the Twin Cities and beyond are demanding that the graduates they hire be adept in thinking internationally. “Successful entrepreneurs must consider their place in the global economy from day one,” D’Angelo says. “The most effective government and nonprofit leaders are at the forefront of global and cross-cultural engagement. The capabilities to be effective in this new order are honed through experiential opportunities, through courses and programs that take students out of the classroom and out of their comfort zones. Education abroad does exactly that.”

In fact, D’Angelo says that research conducted by the Carlson School has shown that students who participate in education abroad are better able to deal with uncertainty, interact with people from unfamiliar cultures, navigate ambiguity, accept cultural norms and values different from their own, and understand U.S. business and economics in a broad context. On average, she says, between 35% and 40% of Carlson students spend a semester abroad; the remaining 60% to 65% participate in a shorter summer program abroad, or a domestic course that goes overseas for two or more weeks.

To help students afford the required travel, Kim Turner-Rush, assistant dean of the undergraduate program, says the Carlson Global Institute offers need-based and merit-based scholarships. Some are awarded to incoming freshmen, so they can use it at any time once they choose a study-abroad program. Others are awarded as students apply to the programs.


The school with the highest number of classes with a significant global component is Fordham’s Gabelli School of Business in New York, with 42 classes where at least one third of the coursework concerns global business.

“I am surprised and also not surprised,” says Hanaa Fawzy, assistant dean of global partnerships and initiatives at the Gabelli School. “One of the four best practices of the school is globalization. Our dean has been very committed to globalization, and it is evident in the expertise of the faculty and the integration of curriculum with global content. There is a focus on international study at all levels: in our degree programs as well as the delivery of individual courses to our students.”

Gabelli’s global business courses range from classes taken during semester-long study-abroad trips, to classes taught at the Fordham Center in London, to those taught on campus that include trips abroad over spring break.

Just this year, the Gabelli School introduced a new course in Singapore. “The professor is originally from Singapore, and he’ll teach an upper-level management course about innovation and entrepreneurship, and how to convert an innovative idea into a successful and profitable business,” Fawzy says. “The students will meet here for lectures, then travel to Singapore during spring break.”

Some of the most popular global business courses are Global Marketing and International Business Ethics, Fawzy says. The Gabelli School also has special programs for students who are particularly interested in global business: the Global Business Honors Program, which offers the top 20-25 students in each class higher-level coursework and three international trips. Students can also major in Global Business, and can live in the Integrated Learning Community for Global Business — a live-and-learn program for sophomores in O’Hare Hall, a dorm on campus.

“It really opens up their eyes to be more successful business people who are more compassionate, understand cultural differences, and gain the soft skills that are crucial to succeed in multinational forms,”Fawzy says. “At the end of the day, in order to be a successful businessperson, you have to understand different cultures and the effect of global economy. You can’t say that business is not global.”


Fordham has a high number of business-specific study-abroad courses — 72 to be exact, which doesn’t set the Gabelli School too far apart from its peers: Many B-schools have similarly high numbers of study-abroad programs, where students take pre-approved classes for credit toward their majors. In fact, Gabelli is nowhere near the top for most offerings: The Isenberg School of Management at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst has a whopping 232 business classes abroad.

Linda Shea, associate dean of the Isenberg School, says the classes range from Spanish immersion and classes about international stock exchanges to core courses and higher level seminars. Isenberg students also participate in internship programs abroad and exchange programs with other universities.

Isenberg faculty also have developed and led specialized study-abroad experiences, like Conflict Resolution in Ireland, Ubuntu Business in South Africa (after the philosophy of human kindness that came to international popularity during the presidency of Nelson Mandela), and Human Resource Management and Labor Relations in China. A new program, also in South Africa, allows students to establish computer labs by providing used laptops and training in leadership, technology, and math at the Timbavati Foundation in Kruger National Park. This March, Shea says, students will bring enough laptops to establish three additional computer labs in three high schools.

Each year, Shea says, between 10% and 20% of Isenberg students participate in international exchanges, internships, or study-abroad programs around the globe. International programming like this is one of the most exciting and rewarding co-curricular options students have, she adds.