MBA in Asia: Choosing Between Hong Kong and Singapore

Valuable insights to aid your decision-making process and help you understand the significance of factors like regional focus, language skills, and program caliber in choosing the right MBA program.

The 21st century has often been called the “Asian century.” The continent is home to half of the world’s population and three of the 10 largest economies. In recent years, more students and executives have opted to pursue business education in Asia. The region’s top Master of Business Administration programs have seen foreign enrollment steadily increase as Asia has played a more dominant role in the world economy. These MBA programs not only open doors to career opportunities in Asia but can also serve as a jumping-off point to jobs in other parts of the world.

Students who choose to pursue an MBA in Asia often debate between Hong Kong and Singapore. The two cities are considered Asia’s financial centers. Fortune 500 companies, banks, and consulting firms have their Asia headquarters in either city and often offices in both. Singapore is the regional hub for tech companies such as Google, Facebook, and Microsoft, while Hong Kong is home to the Asia offices of more than 70 of the world’s top banks.

In terms of career opportunities, many MBA students graduate with ambitions to work in finance, tech, or consulting. When it comes to choosing which city to pursue an MBA, these career considerations should be factored into the decision. Singapore has a particular focus on tech, while Hong Kong is a titan of finance. Aspiring product and marketing managers may find more opportunities in Singapore, as international tech companies house many of their developers there, while the Hong Kong offices are often devoted to sales. Hong Kong has start-ups, and there are opportunities in tech, but the city is still dominated by finance and banking. Students wishing to pursue financial services will find plenty of opportunities in Hong Kong, though Singapore also has its fair share.

The cities also serve different consumer markets. Many companies in Singapore are focused on the Southeast Asian market, while Hong Kong is focused on trade with China. Students with a specific regional interest and language skills might consider one city over the other based on where they want to work after graduating.

In terms of the programs available in the region, there is no shortage of excellent schools. Singapore has five business schools in the top 100 MBA programs ranked by the Financial Times, the only publication that judges MBA programs globally. They are: Insead (No. 2), National University of Singapore (No. 25), Nanyang Technological University (No. 38), Singapore Management University (No. 61),and Essec Business School (No. 70). Hong Kong has three: University of Hong Kong (No. 41), Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (No. 42), and Chinese University of Hong Kong (No. 64).

Among these schools, Insead and Essec are notable for being European business schools that have set up an Asian campus. The Singapore location means students can have the opportunity to attend one of the most prestigious business schools in the world in Asia. The National University of Singapore and Nanyang Technological University are also highly feted, often topping QS Asia rankings. In Hong Kong, HKU, HKUST, and CUHK are considered the top three universities in the city and all have standing in the QS 100. Most of these schools also have partnerships with institutions in the United States and Europe, such as Columbia University, Yale University, and London Business School, so there are opportunities to expand beyond Asia.

Deciding to pursue an MBA is a big step. Choosing where to study is an even bigger decision. Factors such as career path, preferred geographical location, and caliber of program should all be considered. If you’re interested in honing your application and deciding on the right program, Crimson can help. Don’t hesitate to reach out to one of Crimson’s expert advisors. We can’t wait to meet you!

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