Deciding where to study your master’s degree shouldn’t be a quick decision. Your choice of location will be your home for at least one year and, should you decide to base your career there, maybe even longer.
Your decision should take into account a number of factors, including reputation of master's programs on offer, quality and cost of living, career opportunities, and ease of entry.
Here are five cities, home to some of the world's leading business schools, which offer a dream setting for your master’s degree.
5 Top Cities To Study A Master's Degree
Average monthly rent: $1382*
Average graduate salary range: $58k - $149k**
Main attractions: The Louvre, The Eiffel Tower, La Defense business district, Stade de France
The city of love, a global center for arts, fashion, and business, and one of the best cities in the world to study a master’s.
The quality of the programs on offer in Paris speak for themselves. HEC Paris, nestled in a south-western suburb of the city, hosts the world’s best Master in Finance program and the second best Master’s in Management, according to the Financial Times (FT). ESSEC Business School and ESCP Business School, both with main campuses in Paris, regularly rank highly for their master’s offerings.
Paris’ situation at the physical, cultural, and economic heart of Europe undoubtedly situates it well for master’s candidates with high ambitions during and after their studies. During your master’s, you can take advantage of the rich cultural history and diversity which Paris boasts, from world famous art galleries to bustling street markets to centuries-old churches.
Career opportunities are abundant, too. Paris is a European center of finance, home to companies like BNP Paribas and Societe Generale. But with huge development in manufacturing, energy, IT, and luxury retail, there really is something for everyone in Paris.
Living in Paris doesn’t come cheap, but salaries are rewarding. Graduates from HEC Paris can expect to earn on average $107k after their MiM, and $149k after a MiF within three years of graduating, so you’ll be well-positioned to live comfortably.
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Average monthly rent: $2251
Average graduate salary range: $72k - $111k
Main attractions: The West End theater district, the National Gallery, the British Museum, Canary Wharf
When you tire of London, you tire of life, the old saying goes. London deserves its reputation for business, culture, and quality of life, making it a perfect destination for a master’s.
Thousands of graduates are drawn to London for their post-graduate degrees for several reasons. Primarily, London is one of the most dynamic cities in the world, with theaters, galleries, green space, and nightlife in all four corners of the city. Cost of living may be high, but healthcare is free, while travel and amenities are often cheaper than many other cities.
If you choose London, you can take your pick of a number of top business schools. London Business School, one of the world’s best b-schools, offers masters in management, finance, analytics, and financial analysis. Imperial College and City University Business School both have renowned MiM programs, while Warwick Business School has recently opened a campus in the Shard.
With companies across a number of industries—from finance to technology to a thriving startup ecosystem—candidates are likely to want to stay on in London to work.
The UK tightened its visa requirements in 2020, introducing a points-based system. But master’s graduates need not worry: they can stay on to work for up to two years after they graduate, while their degree will contribute greatly towards their qualification for longer term residence.
Average monthly rent: $1146
Average graduate salary range: $84k - $139k
Main attractions: Lujiazui Skyline, Shanghai Stock Exchange, the City God Temple, Chinese Grand Prix
While top master’s programs have tended to be concentrated in European cities, Asian schools are earning more of a reputation now for their post-graduate degrees. Chief among these destinations is Shanghai.
While it’s not the Chinese capital, Shanghai is China’s biggest city, and the second largest metropolitan area in the world. This is fed by the city’s powerful economy, dubbed the ‘showpiece’ of Chinese recent economic boom.
The city’s strong financial connection, as the home of China’s largest stock exchange, has made it a popular location for master in finance degrees. Shanghai Jiao Tong University (SJTU) hosts the highest ranked Asian MiF, as well as a popular MiM program. Tongji University School of Economics and Management also offers a high-ranking MiM program.
Salaries in China are often the big draw. MiF graduates from SJTU can expect to earn around $139k within three years of graduating, making them some of the best compensated master’s students out there. This, combined with Shanghai’s much lower cost of living compared to European cities, means that you’ll get far more bang for your buck.
Average monthly rent: $1979
Average graduate salary range: $50k - $79k
Main attractions: Samuel Beckett Bridge, Temple Bar, Croke Park
As the UK finalized its departure from the European Union in January 2020, Dublin suddenly became the largest English-speaking city in the EU, making it quite the proposition for international students looking to resettle in Europe.
Master’s graduates would be wise to consider Dublin, which has a great deal to offer by way of business, quality of life, and educational institutions.
In recent years, Dublin’s tech ecosystem has grown significantly, drawing in companies like Amazon, Google, Microsoft, and Twitter, now dubbed ‘Silicon Docks’ by many. There are estimated to be 7000 tech professionals working in the city.
Dublin houses two of Europe’s oldest and most prestigious universities, in University College Dublin and Trinity College Dublin: both have stellar business schools with high ranking master’s programs. Candidates can also opt for Dublin City University (DCU) Business School, which entered the FT’s MiM rankings in 2020.
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Average monthly rent: $1143k
Average graduate salary range: $55k - $93k
Main attractions: Prado Museum, Reina Sofia Museum, Royal Palace of Madrid, Estadio Santiago Bernabeu
“Hala Madrid” [“Come on Madrid”] are the words chanted by thousands of Real Madrid soccer fans every week. And given the popularity of the Spanish capital among business school students, it’s a fitting motif.
While it may not have the beaches of Barcelona, Madrid has an established business infrastructure that makes it an exciting choice for students looking to deepen their business understanding with a master’s.
In IE Business School, Madrid houses Spain’s highest ranking master in finance program, and a top ranked master’s in management, according to the FT. You’ll also find Universidad Carlos III, as well as one of ESCP Business School’s campuses.
MiF graduates from IE can earn on average $93k within three years of graduating. Cost of living in Madrid is notably lower than many other Spanish and European cities. That’s not a reflection on what the city has to offer, however. With some of the world’s most celebrated art galleries and Spain’s royal palaces, Madrid is truly fit for a king.
*Average monthly rent of a one-bedroom apartment in a central location
**Range of average salaries for programs included in the Financial Times' 2020 Masters in Management and Masters in Finance Rankings