Stand out, Go North

Choosing a Business School: What should you consider?

What does a russian student and a vietnamese student have in common? They both chose BI.

Written by: Maria Zhdanova & Ha Nguyen


Hello everyone, my name is Maria Zhdanova and I am a new person in Norway. Originally I come from Russia but after receiving a presidential scholarship I moved to Oslo to study Master in Strategic Management (faculty of business) at BI Norwegian business school. I am curious. This trait always drives me to explore the unknown and it actually brought me to this magnificent country. Why BI and why Norway?

First of all, I do love nature and am kind of passionate about hiking that was one of the reasons to choose Norway: it has so much to offer in terms of outdoor activities in the picturesque landscape. Secondly, Scandinavian countries and Norway in particular are the example to follow in sustainability issues. Being here means observing the differences in the approaches of striving for sustainable development.


My name is Ha Nguyen and I just arrived Oslo 2 months ago from Vietnam to start my MSc in Finance at BI. I chose to study at BI because I believe that with the program will provide me not only the theoretical knowledge but also opportunities to work with real cases and business challenges.

However, choosing a Business School is so much more than just choosing a country you want to visit. The process of search is an essential part which should be taken seriously and we invested a lot of time and efforts to find a school which will meet the established standards and in reality will even exceed expectations.

Let us share the list of priorities which we have set for choosing criteria. The schema represents key elements which are divided into 3 groups (academic, financial, personal preference criteria)

Academic Factors

  • Academic program and its courses (as well as ability to choose the courses). For me (Maria) it was important to see which courses are included into the program and how I feel about them. From the very beginning I was inspired to gain knowledge in ethics and sustainability as well as to go in depth of strategic management.
  • Accreditation, position of the university in the top rankings (check QS University ranking, Financial Times business school ranking as they represent a school’s acknowledgment within business society).
  • The format of classes. I am a firm believer in interactive way of learning: discussion with classmates and professors is a fruitful way to get new knowledge, practicing in arguing and critical assessment of the articles is required in strategic courses.
  • Opportunities. BI offers an incredible variety of opportunities: students can go on exchange and spent a semester in almost every country in the world (have you ever dreamt about living in Australia, Canada or maybe Kazakhstan? BI will help you with bringing this dream to reality).
  • Double degree option. At BI you can spend an incredible year in Portugal or other countries and get 2 diplomas after graduation.
  • Internship. Students can also do an internship in the company and use the gained knowledge in a real business environment.
  • Career. Are you curious about your future? What will it be after graduation? BI alumni are appreciated and welcomed in international corporations, banks, innovative start-ups and absolutely everywhere. BI diploma serves as a guarantee of competences and makes you stand out of crowd.
  • Student union. Everyone will find some association which will reflect his/her interests and hobbies. Do you like sailing, dancing, solving cases? Or you are a big fan of traveling? Then BI will be glad to see you as a new member of one of the associations. For example, I have joint BI case club and there we solve business cases, listen to professionals from consulting firms and having dinner together.


Financial Factors

When choosing a place to continue higher education, we, especially international students also need to consider about our own financial situation and overall cost for our study period.

  • Tuition fee: The cost of higher education is increasing every year, and it varies for different programs and fields. It can take up to half of the overall cost of attending business school.
  • Scholarships: Once you have decided on the specific program and favorite business school, it is vital to find more financial supports from the scholarships, grants or student loans that you might be eligible for, which could help reduce the costs of your degree. BI offers several generous scholarships for bachelor, master and PhD programs such as Bachelor International Scholarship, BI Presidential Scholarship and Master of Science International Scholarship.
  • Cost of living: Living and studying in Norway can be expensive. According to Norwegian Immigration Directorate (UDI), an estimated of a student’s cost of living is NOK 11000 a month to cover your monthly expenses including housing, food, study materials, transport and activities. I use NUMBEO’s calculations of Cost of Living in Oslo for detailed expenses, and it is also important to consider the exchange rate between your country currency and Norwegian Krone.
  • Housing: When moving to new country, housing is always a big problem for international students. Luckily, BI offer a housing guarantee for international students, and students will be assigned their own rooms based on their individual priorities in terms of housing provider and availability. In Oslo, we can choose houses from BSN (which provides housing exclusively for BI students and really close to BI Oslo Campus), SIO or Anker.
  • Part-time work: In Norway, students can work on a part-time basis up to 20 hours per week for international student from outside the EU/EEA. During holiday, students are eligible to work full-time.


Person-specific and Unique Factors

  • Location and climate. Every student has his own wishes where to go and which locations consider the most attractive. Distance from the home country might also matter or if some of your friends/relatives already live there.
  • Culture. Students want to challenge in a different culture, which help them to step out of their comfort zone. Norway has been ranked as ‘the best country to live in’ by the United Nations Human Development Report in 2018, and moving to Norway is definitely an unforgettable experience.
  • Food. For food-lovers it might be important to have restaurants with their favorite cuisine or the stores where they can find the products from a home country. It will take you just 5 minutes’ walk from BI to reach an International Food Store which can offer food and beverages from all over the globe.


Finally, we wanted to say that the process of choosing a business school is exciting. It is time-consuming on the one hand but on the other, very inspirational. Many schools have their social media accounts and even YouTube channels where you can find interviews with both students and professors, fascinating articles and photos of the campus. Make this time of your life creative and listen to your heart while making a decision. Good luck with your choice and probably see you on campus next year!