MBA Studies in Korea: A Look at KAIST Business School

 | March 14,2011 11:13 am IST

In an unrelentingly globalizing market, the right business school can make the difference between a success story and the terminally unemployed. Choosing to study at a reputable school can exponentially strengthen one’s career potential, and South Korea’s KAIST Business School has proven itself as an invaluable asset in the increasingly competitive job market.


With a 100% success rate of its students finding employment within three months after graduation, KAIST received a higher rating in the Financial Times annual survey than both Harvard Business School and London Business School. Its entry into the Financial Times top 100 global MBA ranking shows that KAIST has proven itself as a globally competitive and prestigious business school. Now KAIST is changing gears and implementing new strategic plans to break into the top 50 ranking as soon as possible.


The strategic curriculum of KAIST’s MBA program includes courses and issues most applicable in the 21st century. These include Climate Change, Carbon Finance and Green Finance. With very few exceptions, all the professors have earned their PhDs from top universities in the US and other western countries, and are leaders in their fields both domestically and internationally. Classes are interactive and practical with a strong emphasis on real case analyses, team projects, and open discussion.


Besides a world-class education, KAIST students cite the human network as one of the school’s strongest advantages. As the first and largest MBA School in South Korea, the alumni network is extensive with its 15 years of history and tightly-knit structure. Students meet people from an eclectic background of work experiences, which feeds into a unique environment of diversity and creativity.


Research labs are designated to provide each student with his or her own personal space within a smaller group of peers. Each semester, labs are rearranged in consideration of students’ nationalities, work experience, age, and gender. The lab spaces enhance a sense of community among students, and provide each with a zone to share creative ideas and hone communication skills as part of a team.


KAIST also runs a variety of programs for international students to facilitate a smooth transition into Korea. A Korean Business and Culture course exposes students to crucial cultural knowledge firsthand, taking them out of the classroom on exciting and educational field trips. Past trips have included the demilitarized zone between North and South Korea, and an RFID Center that aims to become Asia’s logistics hub. Students are also given the opportunity to study Korean films, as well as present personal tips to their peers on how to make the best out of their Korean experiences.


Only seven other Asian MBA programs made the prestigious Financial Times Top 100 list, which heavily weighs alumni responses regarding salary increases and post-grad careers. The average salary within three years of graduation from KAIST Business School is estimated to be at US$90,000 (on purchasing power parity basis). KAIST’s success is spurred in part by Korea’s great respect for education and its relationships with top Korean multinationals.

Korean companies, such as Samsung, LG, and Hyundai, are generally understood to provide great products and services at a good value, as well as being technologically sophisticated. These companies also invest in production facilities in many countries, including India, and provide employment to Indian locals to manage and produce Korean products and services under a global perspective.


So what does the future relationship of India and Korea look like? Korean President Lee Myung-bak and his administration envision Korea to double its per capita income to around $37,000 by 2020. This requires a growth rate of more than six percent every year. Korea is now a developed economy, and historically, the natural rate of growth decreases to around three percent in a mature economy. One way Korea could achieve this extra growth is to strengthen its economic ties to India’s large economy, which is projected to grow at an astonishing rate of as high as ten percent in the foreseeable future.


With increasing trade partnerships between India and Korea, investments and employment opportunities for both countries will flourish. Korean firms will need to educate their trade partners in India to fine-tune the win-win dynamic between the two countries. Ongoing training to develop the skills of factory workers will be as necessary as sponsoring local employees to attend top MBA programs, such as KAIST.


This should be followed by opportunities to obtain jobs that were historically reserved for Korean managers. The Korean business group, Hyosung Corporation, leads one such initiative via the Hyosung-KAIST Global Scholarship program, which is specifically geared for Indian students. The Hyosung scholarship funds the full cost of education, plus a monthly stipend for Indian students in the KAIST Techno-MBA program.


The scholarship program includes a summer internship opportunity and a two-year job contract upon completion of one’s MBA studies. Armed with these initiatives and the unique strengths of KAIST Business School, Korea and India can both make large strides toward their respective goals. Together, attracting top talent from India and other countries will propel KAIST Business School higher in its international rankings, as well as present vast opportunities for the bright, young minds of India’s future global players.






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