How to Choose a Business Graduate Program That’s Right for You

How to Choose a Business Graduate Program That’s Right for You

Craig OCallaghan

Updated January 16, 2020 Updated January 16

Sponsored by Duke Kunshan University

When it’s time to choose a postgraduate business degree, you could be forgiven for feeling paralyzed by the range of options available to you. From traditional MBA degrees to business master’s programs and business-adjacent courses, there is a multitude of paths you could choose to follow, each of which will have an impact on your career options after you graduate.

Fortunately, there are some key elements which can help you make this decision, as we learned by speaking to graduates from the Master of Management Studies: Duke Kunshan University (MMS: Duke Kunshan) program, an international program jointly offered at Duke University's Fuqua School of Business in the US and Duke Kunshan University in China. Here’s how they were able to find the perfect graduate program for them.

Do you want the opportunity to study in multiple countries?

One of the fastest ways to whittle down your shortlist of postgraduate programs is to look at whether the programs provide global learning opportunities. Given how international the world’s businesses have become, the opportunity to experience a different culture and broaden your horizons is too good to pass up. The Master of Management Studies: Duke Kunshan University, for example, allows students to study in both North Carolina in the US and Kunshan in China, offering you the chance to immerse yourself in the culture of these two countries.

Designed to provide students from any academic background with an education in business fundamentals, the Master of Management Studies program’s ability to encompass both the East and West is ideal preparation for the global business world. One of the program’s alumni, Tina Lin ‘16, from Canada, says: “To me, learning on both campuses felt like getting the best of both worlds. I wanted to take advantage of the opportunity to learn in a different environment and to challenge myself in these settings.”

This ability to start your studies in one country and then transition to another offers a different experience to your typical semester abroad program, not least because it means you get to study in China in particular. Given its status as one of the world’s fastest growing economies and an increasingly important business center, experience of working and living in China can be a real competitive advantage when starting out in your career. That’s not without mentioning the experience of getting to study in Durham, North Carolina at Duke’s Fuqua School of Business, one of the top business schools in the US.

You might think moving to study in such a different culture from what you’re used to will be daunting, but Fuqua and Duke Kunshan do everything possible to make your surroundings feel like home, both in the US and China. Faculty are flown out from Duke’s Fuqua School of Business to China to ensure continuity with the rest of your studies, while a whole host of fun extra-curricular activities - from wine tasting to cultural explorations - ensure you bond with your classmates. There’s even the opportunity to learn Mandarin while you’re in China!

Ryan Safian, MMS ‘15, from the US, found the dual experience of studying in Durham, US and Kunshan, China extremely rewarding, saying: “Durham and Kunshan, although very different from each other, are both great places to study. In Kunshan, you get to observe what modern development is like in China, and appreciate the balance between living outside the downtown area of Kunshan and being able to travel to Shanghai, one of the busiest cities in the world, just a short train ride away.”

Do you want a degree which can offer you a clear advantage in terms of employability?

When considering a postgraduate degree, career opportunities and employability are a significant factor in decision making. That’s why programs with a proven track record of producing employable graduates should be top of your list.

The Master of Management Studies: Duke Kunshan University has seen 90 percent of the students from its last three graduating classes find a job within six months of graduating. Typical employers include McKinney, Bain, J.P. Morgan, Deloitte, SoftBank China Capital, Microsoft, IBM and Citi, among many others.

Why is the program so successful? Well, career development is an important part of the program, with staff in the career management center working closely with students to identify their strengths and weaknesses There are abundant resources available to you including resume workshops, mock interviews, one-on-one coaching, industry panels, and networking events. In addition, the business knowledge and professional skills you have learned during the program ensure you’re well prepared when entering the workplace.

Your experience of living and studying in two countries and the intercultural skills learned as a result will also set you apart in the job market. Plus, your membership in the Duke’s and Fuqua’s global alumni networks and Duke Kunshan’s growing network in China provide you a strong support in your career development.  

Lucia Garcia from Argentina graduated from the program in 2015. She says: “The MMS: Duke Kunshan program prepared me for a career in international business, allowing me to experience first-hand both the American and Chinese business cultures. With a global point of view and exceptional academic training, I felt qualified to take my place in the world of international business.”

It should also be noted that China has recently relaxed restrictions on international students’ ability to be eligible for work visas after graduation. So, a degree from Duke University in the US plus an in-depth immersion experience in China could put you a step closer towards working in one of the fastest-growing business centers in the world.

Do you want a program which offers a fulfilling student experience?

If those last two questions have helped you narrow down your postgraduate options, the next step is to start comparing what the actual student experience will be like.

Sarah Adams graduated from MMS: Duke Kunshan this year, and was effusive when asked what students should expect from studying a Master of Management Studies there like she did. She says: “You will take classes taught by professors who are leaders in their field of study and who will be instrumental in helping you achieve success not only in the classroom, but outside of it as well.”

Life with MMS: Duke Kunshan doesn’t begin and end in the classroom, though. In both countries, you embed yourself within the campus environments, local communities and networks. When in the US, you get to experience what “Team Fuqua” is like, and also experience the Duke culture by participating in the basketball camp-out (Duke Blue Devils men’s basketball team is one of the most successful teams in the US) and other renowned traditions.

While you are in China, you will soon find yourself exploring the culture and businesses there through traveling and networking with local people and alumni in the region. You will also participate in corporate visits and mini-consulting projects, putting what you’ve learned in the classroom into action.

Sound like something you’d be interested in?

Find out more about the Master of Management Studies: Duke Kunshan University by visiting the program’s website. Students on the program start their studies at Duke University's Fuqua School of Business in Durham, NC, US, and complete the rest of the program at Duke Kunshan University’s campus in Kunshan, China, which is located just outside of Shanghai. A degree in Master of Management Studies from Duke University is awarded upon graduation. Scholarships are available.

This article was originally published in October 2018 . It was last updated in January 2020

Written by

As editor of, Craig oversees the site's editorial content and network of student contributors. He also plays a key editorial role in the publication of several guides and reports, including the QS Top Grad School Guide.

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