Is an MBA in Japan worth it?

Posted by Byline ICS on Nov 23, 2021 7:04:00 PM


An important question to ask yourself before pursuing any degree, let alone a degree abroad, is if it’s worth doing. This guide will show you a breakdown of the different areas where you can make the most out of your efforts towards an MBA in Japan.  

How hard is it to pursue it?

A question that potential MBA students may have is about the value of the degree itself. When you put the work into it, you can benefit from what works out of it. If you are considering applying to an MBA program in general, you don’t have to navigate the content on your own. As long as you prepare before entering the program, you can approach it head-on with full awareness of what you are aiming for.

Perhaps in the country where you reside, various preparatory programs and even mentorship programs are offered. These programs can help you create a solid community and a support system before you start your degree. They are also a great opportunity to discover what element of business administration interests you the most. For example, you can focus on marketing, strategy, entrepreneurship, and other concentrations and thoroughly explore these topics.

Here are some questions that you should ask yourself before pursuing an MBA in Japan:

  • Can I handle living abroad?
  • Am I open to potential challenges (e.g., culture shock)?
  • Do I understand the differences between earning an MBA in Japan vs. other countries?
  • Why am I interested in getting an MBA?



Cost and return

Before looking at monetary gains or cost benefits, it is important to consider that you might need work experience before pursuing an MBA in different countries. In Japan, this depends on the MBA program, and in some cases, you can earn this work experience as you pursue the degree. However, considering the potentially lower cost of pursuing an MBA in Japan and the higher income bracket of MBA graduates, the MBA in Japan is worth it. Even if you had to take out loans to pay your way through your education, you would be able to recover those costs quicker in the job you pursue after your MBA. 

On top of a good income and a stable career, investing your time in an MBA in Japan program can give you skills that you can apply to other aspects of your life. For example, MBA classes particularly focus on communicating effectively across cultures and resolving conflicts, which can happen in or outside the workplace. 

The great thing about the MBA is that no matter your educational background or career goals, you can customize your experience to suit your needs. You can either come into the program as someone who has always been interested in business; or use your MBA as a springboard for starting a new chapter. With an MBA program, you get more than academic education. You also receive an opportunity to network and learn from your professors and peers, which sets you apart from MBA students in domestic programs. 


Do you need a Japanese MBA to work or start a business in Japan?

To be honest, you don’t necessarily need an MBA in Japan, in particular, to work for a Japanese company, work with Japanese businesses, or start your own. 

However, the work naturally involved with pursuing an MBA in Japan gives you the credibility and practical experience necessary to make yourself marketable in the international business world. 

Earning an MBA in Japan can:

  • Ensure employers that you are accustomed to working with different cultures, communication styles, and traveling
  • Push you to learn the Japanese language and culture. Even the most basic proficiency can show how much effort you are putting in when you are living in another country
  • Motivate you to put theories into practice with intercultural communication and international business customs

If you want to work in Japan

Pursuing an MBA within the country will open up more job opportunities to you because of the hiring practices of most Japanese companies across different industries. Japanese companies mostly hire within the country. It is significantly harder to find companies that hire and sponsor visas for applicants to immigrate to Japan. 

Another question might be, “is it worth working in Japan?” Here are the benefits that come along with this option.

  1. Japan runs on a highly developed free-market economy. This nation is the 3rd largest GDP and 4th most significant PPP globally.
  2. Japan is experiencing a growing labor deficit, with a lower youth population and a high aging population. As the country is expanding its industries and imports/exports to other countries, it is in high demand for labor, especially for international companies.
  3. The cost of living in Japan is much lower than in other G7 countries. For example, the average rent for apartments in the New York metropolitan area is upwards of $2,000 per month, while the average rent for apartments in Tokyo is approximately $600-$1,200 per month. 

If you plan to stay in Japan for the long term, working at a company can help you apply for a Permanent Residency visa, which requires applicants to live in the country for many years in a row. This visa enables you to own property/housing and run businesses independently in Japan. 


If you want to work internationally/domestically

Earning an MBA in Japan is also beneficial for anyone who wants to work in other parts of the world. You can apply the “Blue Ocean Strategy” to showcase the value of your degree. The Blue Ocean Strategy is a term that is often used in corporate spaces. To put this simply, it’s the idea of creating your own market instead of merely competing within existing demands. 

For example, in Japan, Meiji and Glico are competing brands that sell chocolate and other popular snacks. A third company might come along and offer to create snacks that are exclusive to certain cities with local flavors, or new kinds of chocolate such as Ruby chocolate, a pink variety that was introduced by Barry Callebaut, a Belgian-Swiss cocoa company in 2017. 

Like the competition and the ongoing hunt for the best chocolate, you should also use your specialization to show how niche and valuable your kind of degree is for these employers. Japan is not as widely known for its academics as it is for its technology, entertainment, and cuisine. Still, it is particularly renowned and coveted by people outside of the country. Of course, studying an MBA in Japan will not automatically transform you into an ideal candidate that employers are desperate to hire. 

Does an MBA in Japan make you ineligible for certain jobs compared to an MBA from your home country? Not at all. In an interview, you can say the name of your school when you are asked about what you had been doing before applying for the position. For international businesses, their priority is figuring out what you are good at, and showing what your program has taught you. While education and brand-name schools are undoubtedly important to a degree (pun unintended), it is also essential to show how extraordinary your potential really is. 


Not every Ivy League MBA graduate can be capable of everything, just as not every MBA graduate can achieve anything by default. It is crucial to understand that while you will be compared with other candidates, your international MBA will not stop you from the potential of expanding your knowledge after graduation. When you prepare for international job positions, it is good to list out all of the selling points the Japanese MBA program has for you, and apply these qualities to the role you aspire to have in the workforce.                 

Topics: MBA in Japan

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