MBA Study in the Czech Republic

by Mark Bennett

Why study for an MBA in the Czech Republic?

The unique nature of an MBA degree means that your region of study can play a significant a role in the value of your qualification. Local and international business partnerships and the composition of your student cohort may impact the way in which future employers in different regions evaluate your degree. With this in mind, MBA courses and business programmes in the Czech Republic offer uniquely attractive opportunities for study abroad, drawing upon a prestigious tradition of university study and the business opportunities afforded by a buoyant economy at the heart of Europe.

A big part of the Czech Republic's appeal to MBA candidates is the fact that the country is already well-established as a great place to do business. Foreign investment in the Czech Republic continues to increase year on year and its own GDP and gross income figures are also rising, despite a challenging financial climate in Europe as a whole. This is reflected in the success of domestic businesses such as Skoda as well as major international companies with Czech bases, including Foxconn and Hyundai.

Internationalisation accordingly plays a key role in the MBA courses offered by Czech business schools. The majority of domestic institutions have set up accreditation and teaching partnerships with schools in the UK, USA and elsewhere and international campuses have also been established in cities such as Prague. This means that an MBA in the Czech Republic may offer flexible opportunities to suit various career objectives. You may use your time in the country to prepare yourself for a career in Europe or take advantage of overseas partnerships and an international student cohort to place yourself globally.

Business schools and accreditation in the Czech Republic

Domestic and international business schools

MBA courses at dedicated business schools are an emerging feature of Czech university education, but are already performing well within European and Central European regional assessments. The University of Economics, Prague is placed within the top 75 European business schools in the Financial Times rankings and is regarded as the second-best business school in Eastern Europe by Eduniversal, which also judges it to be of 'Universal' (top-tier) quality. Its affiliated Prague International Business School also performs well in regional rankings as do MBA programmes at the Brno University of Technology, the Brno International Business School and the CMC Graduate School of Business.

International institutions have also begun to establish themselves in the Czech Republic, with the University of Pittsburgh's Joseph Katz Graduate School of Business offering programmes at its Prague campuses and the University of New York also operating in Prague as an independent institution. Other Czech business schools offer programmes in partnership with international universities including the City University of Seattle (operating with the University of Finance and Administration) and Chapman University (operating with the Anglo-American University).

Accreditation

The Czech Republic possesses its own accreditation body, The Czech Association of MBA Schools (CAMBAS), established in 1998. CAMBAS accreditation evaluates employment prospects as well as facilities and staffing.

Few business schools in the Czech Republic are accredited by the three main international accreditors (the AASCB, the AMBA and EQUIS). Exceptions include Prague International Business School (AMBA accredited) and the Jozeph Katz Executive MBA Programme in Prague (AASCB accredited). The absence of high-profile international accreditation is far from being an indictment of the quality of Czech MBA programmes though. Depending on your career goals the value of a Czech MBA qualification may derive from the opportunity to network with student cohorts, alumni associations and businesses on a regional level. It is also worth bearing in mind that many CAMBAS accredited schools are also further accredited by business schools in the UK and USA.

Admissions to Czech MBA programmes

Most Czech MBA programmes will expect candidates to enter at postgraduate level, holding a Bachelors degree or equivalent. However, due to the unique nature of the MBA degree, business schools will also assess candidates more specifically in order to determine their aptitude and the applicability of a course to their training needs and employment goals.

A GMAT score is not usually required (though there are exceptions). Instead assessment of your abilities will usually take place through interview and examination of your existing cv and work experience. Most Czech MBA programmes are targeted at professional candidates seeking to enhance their skillsets and employment opportunities whilst continuing to work. As such you may be required to demonstrate a specified amount of existing experience (usually two to three years or more).

Language requirements

Many Czech MBA degrees are taught in English, meaning knowledge of Czech will not be required (though a satisfactory TOEFL or similar score may be if English is not your first language). Requirements at some schools may be more specific, with some MBA programmes being taught wholly or partly in German, French or Czech depending on their target audience and industry connections. Even if your course is taught wholly in English, you should consider taking advantage of the opportunity to acquire some proficiency in Czech whilst resident there. After all, regional experience and expertise is part of the value added to your MBA by studying abroad. Czech language skills will also enhance your ability to network with local businesses and alumni during your MBA.

Fees and funding for an MBA in the Czech Republic

Though most programmes at public universities in the Czech Republic are tuition-free, this is not usually the case for MBA programmes which are often offered by private institutions and count as foreign language courses for the purposes of fee calculation.

Courses in the Czech Republic are still affordable, however and may cost significantly less than programmes in other western business schools. Figures provided by CAMBAS indicate that the total cost for most Czech MBA programmes is between Kč200,000 and Kč300,000 CZK ($10,000-15,000). Programmes offered through overseas partnerships or at international campuses may be more expensive.

A list of scholarship programmes applicable to foreign postgraduates is available from the Czech government but not all of these will be applicable to MBA programmes.

MBA scholarships are available at some business schools and are usually awarded on merit. You may also be able to acquire additional financial support through your employer or a company partnering with your course. You should inquire at your business school or with present or prospective employers in order to ascertain the availability of funding in your individual case.

Visas and immigration

Because most Czech MBA programmes are designed for candidates who are also working in the country, they may entail specific entry requirements beyond those satisfied by a conventional student visa. This will not usually be an issue for citizens of EU member states (or of Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein or Switzerland) but candidates from other countries should seek advice depending on their employment circumstances and objectives within the Czech Republic.

The Czech Ministry of the Interior offers visa information and application facilities at its website; other useful sources of information on immigration may include the Czech embassy in your normal country of residence as well as any recruitment and international offices at your prospective business school.

Structure and content of a Czech MBA

Course structure

The Czech academic year consists of two teaching blocks commencing in October and February. However, many Czech MBAs are delivered flexibly, with timetabled teaching and meetings taking place in evenings or at weekends and entry points varying accordingly.

The length of an MBA programme may also vary as individual business schools offer more or less intensive timetabling and allow different periods of time for internships, practical and research projects or other activity. In general you should expect a Czech MBA to take you at least 18 months, but could be enrolled for as long as three years or more on some programmes. You will usually be able to work alongside your MBA (some programmes may expect this to be the case and tailor their training and assessment to your professional circumstances). You will need to investigate individual schools and assess their course structures in relation to your career aims and circumstances.

Course content

Individual Czech business schools, together with CAMBAS, are highly alert to the standards and expectations set for MBA study in other regions. This means that most programmes in the Czech Republic employ conventional teaching methods involving a core of theoretical and methodological lectures expanded upon in seminars and workshops.

These will be supplemented with other learning and development activities according to the opportunities available within different schools. Some Czech MBA courses may offer the chance to complete internships or undertake consultations with partner companies or offer other opportunities through their alumni network. Those with international links to schools and businesses in other regions may also be able to draw upon these to provide targeted training by high profile industry veterans and professionals. The value of these different opportunities to you will depend upon the personal goals driving your choice of MBA.

Assessment

As an MBA student in the Czech Republic you will usually be assessed according to performance on individual course components as well as the outcomes of project-work or in-company placements and training depending on the structure of your programme. Some schools may also require you to produce and defend a thesis at the conclusion of your course.

Employment and career opportunities with a Czech MBA

Though limited data is available, career prospects for Czech business schools appear strong and some schools are able to claim up to 50% increases in starting salaries for their graduates. Employment statistics for MBA holders in Europe as a whole are also attractive. According to The Graduate Management Admission Council (responsible for administering the GMAT test) European businesses expect to maintain hiring levels for MBA graduates despite recession and 25% expect to increase starting salaries above inflation for these employees. If you plan to pursue a career in the Czech Republic itself (and with the excellent opportunities to work for major international employers in beautiful cities like Prague, why wouldn't you?) you might be encouraged to learn that prospects for international MBA holders in Czech businesses are also excellent, with a third of company directors being foreign nationals.

As with all MBA programmes, your specific career goals will determine the benefits different business schools can offer you. If your aim is to work in the UK or USA - perhaps for a company with a presence in Central Europe or doing business in the European Economic Area - you will want to target programmes partnered with or accredited through schools in these regions. If you plan to live and work in the Czech Republic (or in nearby regions of Central and Eastern Europe) you may wish to look for a programme taught wholly or partly in Czech and / or partnered with Czech companies.

MBA courses and business programmes in the Czech Republic

To find out what programmes are available in the Czech Republic, check the FindAnMBA database.

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