MBAs Should Know a Second Language, According to MIT Sloan Expert

Jackie Wilber, the Executive Director for Undergraduate and Master’s Programs at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Sloan School of Management, suggests that MBAs learn a second language.  She says in a recent blog post for Stern’s The Experts Blog that recruiters are increasingly looking for MBAs with cultural awareness, language skills, and the geographic mobility that those skills bring.

US companies are increasingly exploring markets outside the US, believing that foreign countries offer the companies the best growth opportunities. Even though global business is primarily conducted in English, proficiency in local language is extremely valuable for MBAs. It allows them more flexibility to conduct business in a different country, and makes it easier to become comfortable in a foreign culture. Also, if an MBA moves to a foreign country, it is essential for them to be able to perform day to day activities in their new country that require some language proficiency, like talking to a doctor, interacting with neighbors, and buying groceries.

If you only speak one language and would like to learn another in business school, it’s important to choose to learn a language that you are interested in. Mandarin and Spanish are particularly useful in a global context. However, many recruiters are mainly interested in whether an MBA has learned any language as a demonstration of their cultural adaptability and competence. If you are not sure which language to choose, Wilber suggests really thinking about where you would like to live in the future, and what type of business you would like to explore. Which region of the world would you like to live in? Would you like to be in a small city or a large city? A developing country or a developed country?

Many business schools now offer electives in a language. You can also start learning a new language now through online courses or open enrollment courses at a local college.


About the Author

Let us find your Program match!!

  • Please only indicate the regions you are interested in pursuing your degree. If you select, "all regions" you do not need to select individual regions.
  • Looking for help? Check the box(es) below!
  • Hidden
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Your compare list