Financial TimesHow to choose a business course in Asia-Pacific

October 28, 20200

Faced with a growing number of schools and programmes, how do would-be business students make their choice?

Beyond personal factors, all potential applicants will weigh up much the same considerations: the quality of the teaching; the composition of the student cohort; feedback from previous course graduates; how those alumni chose their courses; and how their careers progressed subsequently.

The FT business education rankings team has drawn on the survey responses gathered for the 2020 MBA, EMBA and Masters in Management (MiM) rankings to create a picture — in six charts — of the Asia-Pacific business school experience.

Meet the 2020 Apac alumni

The data show that Apac programmes, like those elsewhere in the world, have a high proportion of male students. In the case of MBAs and EMBAs, the gender disparity is in line with other regions; Apac’s MiM courses, however, have a smaller proportion of female students than those elsewhere. 

The Financial Times is inviting readers to put questions to a panel of experts on studying in the Asia-Pacific region. Andrew Jack, global education editor, will co-ordinate questions with business school faculty guests on November 4.

If you are an FT subscriber, please post your questions in the comment field below a separate story in this report — ‘Q&A: Should I study business in Asia?’ — where our panel will respond for an hour at 9am GMT. Non-subscribers can ask in advance by emailing

MBA and MiM students tend to be younger — especially on MiM courses — and to work in the finance and banking, IT and telecoms, or consultancy sectors. EMBA students are older, and most likely to work in the IT and telecoms or industrial sectors.

Schools that offer MBA and EMBA courses are more concentrated in China, where students have access to local and global companies across all industries, as well as opportunities for networking. India has more schools offering MiM degrees, five of which appeared in the FT global MiM ranking for 2020. 

Charts showing Apac alumni gender and age split
Chart showing Apac alumni top five sectors and school location

Where alumni came from and where they went 

International classes are valued by students because of the global nature of the jobs they aspire to take up on graduation. They also welcome hearing different perspectives on solving problems, as well as opportunities to network with peers from different countries.

Nevertheless, students in Asia-Pacific schools tend to be overwhelmingly from the region. MiM programmes overall drew the highest percentage of people enrolling from outside the region, at 9 per cent. After graduation, MBA courses have the highest proportion of alumni based overseas, at 13 per cent. 

Chart showing where Apac alumni are based

How alumni rate their courses

In 2020, Asia-Pacific business schools were more highly rated by alumni for economics, statistics and quantitative methods, and marketing when compared with schools in other regions. EMBA programmes in Asia-Pacific had top scores for more topics than the other two programme types.

Chart showing where Apac schools were rated highly by alumni

How students chose their course 

Improving their career prospects and salaries were the main reasons Asia-Pacific alumni gave for starting an MBA or MiM programme.

Alumni of EMBA programmes, however, were more interested than those from MBA or MiM courses in both networking opportunities and starting their own business.

Chart showing motivations for choosing a particular programme

What happened next? 

More than half of MBA and MiM alumni in Asia-Pacific schools moved into more senior positions after completing their course. This figure is higher than for graduates of schools elsewhere.

Chart showing per cent of alumni to have changed their level of seniority since graduation

However, that is not the case for EMBA alumni: 45 per cent achieved a more senior job, a slightly lower figure than for such courses in other regions. 

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