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MBA Programs Flourish in Emerging Markets

Traditionally, students would travel to the U.S. and Western Europe to pursue MBA programs. Nowadays, however, an increasing number of students are enrolling in MBA programs in emerging countries. MBA programs are not only gaining popularity in Brazil, China, India and Russia, they're also cropping up in countries like Cuba, Kazakhstan and the United Arab Emirates.

While foreign students find out how to operate successfully in different environments with these MBA programs, local students learn international business and cultural practices that enable them to help grow their economies.

"Expanding economic regions and markets can stall without innovation in business," said Valerie Hausman, assistant dean for Global Business Development at The Fuqua School of Business of Duke University. "MBA programs equip business leaders with a comprehensive knowledge of the world's commercial and cultural practices, a knowledge base that makes innovation possible. As businesses grow, so does the work force, providing a strong consumer base to support further economic expansion."

Many existing business schools are pairing up with schools in other countries to help offer new business programs important to the area or to just expand existing programs. Other schools are simply broadening their base or discovering new ways to help students achieve a better business education. Read about some of these programs below.

Duke advises Kazakhstan on the opening of a business school

Fuqua is working with Nazarbayev University, or NU, to help it start a business school in the Central Asian nation of Kazakhstan. The plan is to launch an executive MBA program in the fall of 2012 and an MBA program in 2013. An oil and resource rich nation, Kazakhstan is in the process of diversifying its economy into other sectors as well.

"Companies in Kazakhstan realize that in order to compete, their managers need grounding in business fundamentals," Hausman said. "MBA programs provide access to top-tier practitioners and researchers and offer students the chance to debate and anticipate Kazakhstan's future challenges."

The more sophisticated organizations have been sending their executives to MBA programs abroad, Hausman said, adding that Fuqua is working with NU to provide Kazakhstan-based global business education on par with the world's most respected schools.

Spain's UCAM pairs up with Universidad de La Habana to offer MBA programs in Cuba

Another Spanish university -- Universidad Católica San Antonio de Murcia, or UCAM -- has also ventured into emerging markets to offer MBA programs. Together with Universidad de La Habana, or UH, UCAM is offering an MBA program in Cuba.

"It's an important experience for UCAM, as well as for the Cuban city, and it has set an unprecedented historical milestone for all of us," UCAM Assistant Dean Antonio Alcaraz said in a press release.

The first 45 business school students enrolled in the program hail from all around Cuba and include top executives; these initial students were selected among more than 300 applicants. Sixteen professors -- eight from Cuba and eight from UCAM -- will teach in the MBA program.

Manchester Business School thrives in the United Arab Emirates

The Middle East International executive Centre in Dubai of the UK's Manchester Business School, or MBS, has enrolled more than 1,000 part time executive MBA students in less than five years of operation in the region. Students come from the United Arab Emirates and surrounding countries, as well as from many other nations.

"We were always confident that the economic conditions in the region would help make the centre a success," MBS Middle East Director Randa Bessiso said in a press release. "We are continuing to see strong demand for our executive MBA programs in the Middle East."

Traveling from San Francisco to Moscow to attend business school

Now a business development manager at a technology company in Silicon Valley, in 2009, Julia Davis traveled from the U.S. to Russia to pursue an MBA in Management in Emerging Markets at the Moscow School of Management Skolkovo.

"The definition of what "business" means is changing," Davis said. "I wanted to get an MBA and gain work experience in markets where this new meaning of business is being developed. Skolkovo offered this opportunity."

Skolkovo is one of only a few MBA programs teaching students how to work in rapidly-developing emerging markets and allowing them to gain work experience in them as part of their business school education, Davis said. Besides attending school and working in business consulting projects, Davis also had the opportunity to learn from her classmates, who hailed from Moscow, St. Petersburg, other areas of Russia and the Caucasus, and foreign countries.

Tying it all up

While you don't have to travel abroad to receive an MBA education, the demand for business school education in emerging economies further demonstrates the value of MBA programs. The more you know about international business practices and diverse cultures the easier it could be to grow your company in a global marketplace.