NYU is bringing its top business school to the Middle East. Here’s what you need to know about the university’s new one-year MBA program

BY Preston ForeSeptember 19, 2023, 7:29 PM
Photo of 6 people involved with the NYU Stern Abu Dhabi One year MBA.
Front Row Left to Right: John Tate, CEO, Tamkeen; Raghu Sundaram, Dean, NYU Stern School of Business; Mariët Westermann, Vice Chancellor, NYU Abu Dhabi; Arlie Petters, Provost, NYU Abu Dhabi
Back Row Left to Right: Rima Al Mokarrab, Trustee, NYU, and Chair, Tamkeen; Linda Mills, President, NYU
Photo courtesy of NYU

The United Arab Emirates has been one of the U.S.’s largest economic partners in the Middle East for over a decade, according to the Department of Commerce. In fact, the nation is a global hub for over 1,500 American companies with business dealings in the eastern hemisphere.  

And with World Bank data showing an annual GDP growth of 7%, the UAE is poised to continue to be an integral part of the global economy—especially with its close ties to Africa, South Asia, and the rest of the Middle East.

In recognizing these growth opportunities, NYU’s Stern School of Business is seeking to train the next generation of global business leaders with the launch of a new one-year, full-time MBA program in the Abu Dhabi.

For the school’s dean, Raghu Sundaram, creating the program was a “no-brainer,” in part because of the existence of NYU Abu Dhabi—which launched in 2010. He says NYU Stern will be the only top U.S. business school that will offer a full-time MBA program in the Middle East.

The school ranks No. 9 on Fortune’s 2023 list of best MBA programs.

“This is an incredibly exciting part of the world,” Sundaram tells Fortune. “It is going to be a gateway to the most important parts of where economic growth is going to come from over the next 20, 30, 40 years. Building a career here is a fantastic opportunity.”

Students in the new Stern at NYU Abu Dhabi MBA program will take classes for two semesters in Abu Dhabi in addition one summer semester in New York City. Applications open in October 2023 for a January 2025 program launch.

‘A different flavor of an MBA’

Sundaram says while there is no one size fits all MBA program, the students at Stern at NYU Abu Dhabi will be able to experience two different business cultures and have hands-on interactions. This intersection could be perfect for students who want to build an international career, especially in the Middle East and Northern African regions.

“We prepare students for the global market,” Sundaram adds. “They should go wherever their hearts take them. But the idea of this Middle East-North Africa focus program is to at least launch careers in this area.”

Many top U.S. corporations such as Microsoft, Boeing, and FedEx have ventures in the UAE, and even Cold Stone Creamery has a presence.

NYU is also establishing links with many major UAE-based employers such as Mubadala and the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority to help connect students with the region’s top leaders. Sundaram says no matter if you’re interested in consulting, banking, or even tech—there will be pathways to innovation and entrepreneurship.

He hopes to see applicants from across the world, including both Emiratis and Americans.

“This is a global program; we are producing talent for the global market,” Sundaram says. “People who begin their careers in New York often wind up in places like Hong Kong, London, or elsewhere, and we want this program to be no different.”

‘Almost nothing to match it’

As a one-year program, the new MBA will be what Sundaram calls “compressed.” Thus, as a substitute for the internship typical two-year MBAs candidates would have, students will be provided real-world experience through live experiential learning. Projects will be sourced from companies for which students work for credit in solving real-world problems.

The program expects about 40-50 students to be accepted in the first cohort but that will likely expand in the future.

Tuition and fees for the Stern at NYU Abu Dhabi full-time MBA program will be $115,638 per student for the year, but competitive merit-based scholarships for qualified candidates will be awarded at the time of admission.

“There will be very generous financial aid packages. We want to attract the very best students, and we don’t want costs to be an inhibiting factor,” Sundaram says.

Overall, Sundaram notes the program will be a unique opportunity for students to study at two major business centers of the world—Abu Dhabi and New York City.

“There will be almost nothing to match it,” he says.