This is the first part of two about MBA and business school programs in Canada. Part two will appear here on Feb 26th 2010.
As one of the eight most industrialized nations in the world, Canada is a leader in business and industry. Supporting a disperse population of over 33 million, Canada's diversified economy thrives with such major industries as oil and gas, mining, manufacturing, agriculture and forestry. Outside of the economic benefits, citizens enjoy universal healthcare, a high quality of life, a low crime rate and a unique cultural diversity.  With its industrial status, it follows that Canada is also a leader in business education, maintaining an international reputation for quality and relevance.  Home to many of the world's largest and most influential companies, Canada is a top destination for both domestic and international MBA students alike. 

The names of American Ivy League schools are among some of the most recognizable in the world, enjoying an unparalleled reputation that far exceeds the institutions of Canada or anywhere else in the world.  While reputation isn't always synonymous with quality, the brand recognition doesn't hurt.  For too long Canadian business schools have set the bar too low. Their efforts have seemed concentrated on becoming the best in Canada instead of competing with the American programs to become the best in the world. With the likes of The Rotman School of Business, The Richard Ivey School of Business and The Schulich School of Business within its borders, Canada is well on its way to becoming a global contender. Undoubtedly, there is still a long way to go. Canada is the host to only two schools in the top 50 full time MBA programs ranked by the QS Top 200 Business School: The Recruiters' Choice and the Financial Times of London. U.S. schools crowd the list with more than 20 schools in the top 50.

In order to compete on such a high level, Canadian schools must strive for the same caliber of faculty, staff, students and curricula as their southern counterparts. MBA programs in Canada are considerably more affordable than in the U.S. The average cost of tuition and residence fees for top tier schools in the U.S. is $78,150 compared to an average of $59,341 in Canada. Prospective students equate the higher cost to a higher level of quality and often this is a deciding factor in their choice of potential schools. In order to remain competitive Canadian schools must raise tuition. The infusion of capital will allow schools to hire top notch faculty and staff, invest in career services, experimental learning opportunities, student aid and over time physical infrastructure.

In Canada the majority of the business schools, and to a larger extent the universities and colleges receive government support. The same legislation that provides them with support also dictates the tuition ceilings they must adhere to. These provincial restrictions can prove detrimental. However, some previously state funded schools have decided to shun the help and have migrated to a privatized model allowing them to raise tuition to market value and compete head on with top tier international programs. Some Canadian schools that have successfully privatized are York University's Schulich School of Business, Queen's School of Business and UBC's Sauder School of Business.

MBA programs in Canada have leveraged one of Canada's inherent advantages; its multiculturalism. Unlike the melting pot in the U.S., Canada enjoys a heterogeneous salad bowl society where different cultures mix but remain distinct. A diversity of nationalities in the student body results in a diversity of professional and personal experience which enriches the curriculum for all, says Kim Killingsworth, Associate Director, International Admissions At Cornell's John Graduate School of Management.

Half of Rotman's students are not Canadian while Schulich boasts as Canada's global business school. Only 35% of the students enrolled in the top 10 U.S. schools are international students compared to 43% in Canada. It is important to get a mix of international management styles from both the faculty and students. With such a high level of international and national talent students learn as much from their peers as they do their professors. It is the exposure not just to business disciplines such as accounting and marketing but also the various management styles from around the world that make the difference in a rounded education.