Guanghua School of ManagementIn this fast-paced world, multicultural experience and knowledge have become key ingredients to success in business. As business becomes more globally focused, so does Mays Business School. This past spring, the Center for International Business Studies (CIBS) added an additional reciprocal exchange program with Guanghua School of Management at Peking University in Beijing, China.

Mays Business School now offers 23 reciprocal exchange programs in 17 different countries, ranging from Asia to Europe. Mays program administrators send undergraduate and graduate students abroad for one full semester to learn about business in an international setting, and Mays also welcomes international students in return to study at A&M.

The cultural opportunities through exchange programs have skyrocketed. In 1992, Mays only offered four programs, compared to 23 in 2007. “There’s no such thing as just domestic business. Our students need to know and understand how even developments abroad can impact American business,” says Julian Gaspar, director of CIBS and clinical professor.

In a reciprocal exchange program, Mays students spend a full semester abroad with a partner university. They take classes offered by the university’s own faculty and live in the city of the university’s home. “The objective for the exchange program is to expose our students to global business, culture and geopolitics,” Gaspar says.

Students drinking teaMays MBA student Lindsey Galloway (center) enjoys some tea with University of Indiana students Michael Conran and Abby Schneider in the Hutong district of Beijing.MBA student Lindsey Galloway didn’t have the opportunity to spend this summer in a complete reciprocal exchange program because of an internship in Dallas with Guaranty Bank. But she journeyed to Beijing for a two-week mini-mester at Peking University. “The most valuable part was getting to interact with people from different cultures—with people who don’t speak English as a first language or even at all,” Galloway says.

Mays students pay the same tuition for an exchange program that they would pay if they were spending a typical semester at A&M, even though tuition is often higher at international universities. Students are responsible for their own living expenses and airfare, but can apply for scholarships.

After a full semester with an exchange program, students will have earned 12 credit hours from the courses they take at the partner university that directly applies to their degree plan. Ninety percent of the international classes offered are in English, so A&M students are easily able to communicate with professors and participate in class. Each year, approximately 75 students choose to earn a certificate in international, European Union or Latin American business, which all require a study abroad or exchange experience.

CIBS administrators hope to extend the reciprocal exchange program even further, but that relies on increased interest from Mays students. “It’s largely demand driven. If we have more students wanting to study abroad, CIBS can negotiate additional exchange programs with other countries,” Gaspar says.

Galloway emphasizes the value of learning from other cultures. “It seems really intimidating because it’s China and there are so many differences. But I can’t stress enough the importance of international experience and China in particular,” she says. “It was stressful. But I learned a lot from it.”

— Lindsay Newcomer