Want an MBA from an entrepreneurial hot spot? Look to Israel.
An Israeli MBA doesn't have the prestige of better-known programs, but it offers American-style academic rigor, a dynamic entrepreneurial atmosphere, and a lower price tag.
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Into that environment step Israel's budding MBA offerings, where going east doesn't mean giving up the academic rigor of the West. At Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Beersheba, for example, the MBA program is built around Columbia University's academic regimen, with several professors actively lecturing at both universities. From Tel Aviv University's Sofaer International program to Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya's Global Entrepreneurship MBA, professors have claimed their PhDs from business heavyweights Stanford, Northwestern, and Harvard.Skip to next paragraph
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What makes the entrepreneurial spirit of the courses so powerful, their organizers say, is the fusion of the country's dynamic, global ecosystem and a diverse student body.
Israelis "are world businessmen and women. There are places in the world, and arguably some places in the US are the worst at this, where they don’t look beyond the edges of their state or county," Mr. Cox says. "Whereas these guys travel extensively. They do have a pretty firm of view of the important places in the world."
Tel Aviv University's inaugural Sofaer MBA class in 2009 comprised 55 students from 20 countries, including an Indian military general and a former Israeli basketball pro. Bar-Ilan University in Ramat Gan, with annual classes under three dozen students, counts alumni from Australia to China to Ecuador.
International students are "biting into much more than they would have gotten in the United States," says Gil Glaser, spokesman for the Guilford Glazer School of Business and Management at Ben-Gurion University. "They’re getting totally different people with different cultural backgrounds and different life experience. These are people who have done things. These can people who served as pilots in the Israeli air force or they’ve undertaken junior managerial positions and then taken off to pursue their studies."
Then there is the cost. Israeli programs run between 12 and 15 months. Total cost of attendance – including tuition, food, rent, and books – rings in at around $40,000 a year. That's compared with Harvard Business School's estimated $76,600.
As with all MBA programs, there are trade-offs. By not attending a top-flight US or European school, students will miss out on recruiting by many if not all of the world's most exclusive firms. Israel's contentious political relationship with its neighbors makes life a bit more stressful than two years in, say, Cambridge or Chicago. And the relative youth of the English-language programs means that alumni aren't in the high-powered positions that make for grand honor rolls on a school's website.
But in Israel's dynamic environment, MBA administrators forecast that won't be the case forever.
"Most of our alumni they are kind of halfway up the totem pole in terms of seniority," Mr. Glaser says. "They’re not CEOs – yet."
In a global economic slowdown, entrepreneurial activity is at a premium. And few countries do innovation better than Israel, whose MBA programs focus on the subject and could be a great boost to students wanting to hone their business acumen. Let us know what you think by finding us on Twitter.