6 Points you must know about Business School (MBA) in China

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Compared with business schools in Europe or the US, the number of b-schools in China are very few. However, each b-school has its unique characteristics, so here I have summarized these characteristics from the Japanese students’ point of view.

*Note: This article is written by a Japanese student at Tsinghua MBA, so it might contain many subjective views. Please consult other web pages, alumni, etc. for the latest information.

Point 1: English vs. Chinese

First, of course, you need to choose the main language during your MBA. You might expect to find a Mandarin-based MBA in China, but this article is only for an English-based MBA.

As non-Chinese international students, if you don’t have specific needs, probably there will be 10 possible choices of b-schools in China (this excludes exchange students.)

* The numbers inside “[ ]” denote the Financial Times MBA Ranking 2015.

Mainland China National Beijing Tsinghua University, Peking University
Shanghai Fudan University [55], Shanghai Jiao Tong University [55]
Guangzhou Sun Yat-sen University
Private Beijing CKGSB
Shanghai CEIBS [11]
Hong Kong HKUST [14], The University of Hong Kong [28], CUHK [30]

If you want to take classes given in Chinese, it’s better to choose a national university in mainland China. For example, the MBA program at Tsinghua Univeristy allows you to choose classed instructed in Chinese not only for your elective courses but also for your core curriculum such as marketing and corporate finance. There also might be more local Chinese students, so you would have greater opportunities to speak Chinese.

Point 2: Hong Kong MBA vs. Mainland China MBA


B-schools in Hong Kong are more diversified than in mainland China regarding the nationality of classmates. However, you need to be aware that Hong Kong and mainland China do not share common business customs. If you want to learn Chinese way of business, you should choose a MBA program in mainland China.


The term of the MBA programs  in Hong Kong is usually 1 or 1.5 years while one in mainland China it is 2 years. The shorter period for the MBA programs in Hong Kong would allow you to enter the workforce faster. However, on the other hand, you could use your time to focus on, different pursuits, such as learning Mandarin, joining an exchange program or internship, or even starting your own business, etc., because usually MBAs in mainland China offer a lot of free time during the second year.


The MBA program in mainland China does NOT require a TOEFL score for application; you just need to take the GMAT, which would save you time. Tsinghua University and CEIBS also offer an admission examination that would substitute for the GMAT, so you also do NOT need to take the GMAT as well in some cases.

Chinese (Mandarin)

If you want to learn Mandarin during your MBA, I think it’s better to study in mainland China. In Hong Kong, you can use English, Cantonese, and Mandarin, but not everyone can speak Mandarin there, and also Hong Kong society is using the traditional Chinese characters, which is different from (and also much more difficult than) simplified Chinese characters in mainland China except in Guangzhou where the traditional Chinese characters are used as in Hong Kong.

Quality of Life

I would say the quality of life in Hong Kong is much better than in mainland China for foreigners. These are the following reasons:

  1. You can use English in your daily life in Hong Kong.
  2. The speed of the internet in mainland China is slow
  3. Mainland Chinese government restricts some websites such as Facebook, Youtube, Twitter, etc. You need to register your VPN account (about $10/month) to access those blocked websites.
  4. The level of air pollution in Hong Kong is a lot lower than in mainland China, and the weather in Hong Kong is warmer, which might be more comfortable for you to live in.

Point 3: Beijing vs. Shanghai vs. Other Cities

How cities function in mainland China

Beijing is the center of politics, Shanghai of business, and recently Guangzhou (and Shenzhen) is emerging as the center of entrepreneurs. If you have your solid career plan after MBA, it’s wise to pick the city suitable for your career choice, but in my opinion, you need not worry so much about cities. Although Shanghai and Hong Kong might be better for foreigners to find jobs in China, you can always move to those cities through your internship during your second-year.

Quality of Life

In my opinion, Shanghai offers a better quality of life than Beijing. More people (even Taxi drivers) can basically speak English in Shanghai. Air pollution in the south part of China is also much lower than the north part of China.

(More Information: XXX)

Point 4: National University vs. Private University

Name Value

National universities have much higher name value than private universities in China. There’s not a single Chinese person that doesn’t know Tsinghua University and Peking University, but many of the private schools are unfamiliar to Chinese people. Since human networking is an important factor in China, it might be a little bit easier to build the relationship with local Chinese if you graduate from the best university in China, which also has many alumni.


AS I mentioned above, the duration of national universities’ term of study is 2 years and private universities’ term is 1 or 1.5 years.


It depends on which course and duration you choose, but of corse private schools are much more expensive than national universities (Possibly ranging from 10,000USD to 50,000USD). You might get some good scholarships such as Bai Xian which is mainly for Asian students. (Sorry, I’m not sure about scholarships for private schools)

Point 5: MBA Ranking

Higher-ranking schools (ex. Financial Times MBA Ranking 2015) have statistical advantages for salaries after receiving your MBA. However, just be aware that there are a lot of controversies over the issue of MBA ranking, so this is only for your information.

As a side note, the ranking for the MBA program at Peking University and Tsinghua University are in competition.

Point 6: Each university’s characteristic

Having oriented yourself on the basis of the information thus far, you are advised to check on the characteristics of each university. Different schools feature different unique characteristics, so you must be aware of them. For instance, some of the features of Tsinghua University’s MBA program would be:

  • Affiliation with MIT Sloan MBA
  • Strong connection with famous people like Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook, etc.
  • Several dual degree offered
  • Many short-term oversea modules offered
  • Science background and focus on entrepreneurship program

For more details, please see the following article.

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