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HSE University-St Petersburg Opens Master's Programme in International Business in APR Countries

2023 will see the first intake for the Master's programme 'International Business in the Asia-Pacific Region'. We talked to Liudmila Veselova, Academic Supervisor of the programme, about the opportunities available to students of the programme, as well as the reasons why the English language and a mathematical mindset are important for success in studies.

HSE University-St Petersburg Opens Master's Programme in International Business in APR Countries

HSE University-St Petersburg

How did the new programme appear? What is unique about it?

— Modern realities require us to change and find something new. That is why we decided to combine two successful Master's programmes: 'International Business' and 'Business and Politics in Modern Asia'. The result is the Master's programme 'International Business in the Asia-Pacific Region', which combines courses in Management and Asian and African Studies. 

Russia has long been orientated towards Asian countries, and in the next 5–10 years, the importance of the APR region for our country will only increase. We will need experts with a good understanding of how to run and build a business with Asian partners, as well as of the specifics of the social, economic and political processes in the region. There are few such people at the moment, which is why our programme will help students get a qualification that will be very sought-after in the nearest future.

The university has started paying more attention to the region and expanding its partnerships in Asia. For example, at the end of 2022, HSE University opened a representative office in India, and there were also several important meetings with representatives of universities in Thailand and Malaysia. Our programme is a logical continuation of this trend.

What academic tracks does the programme offer?

— As with all master's programmes at HSE University, our programme has several tracks. We offer our students a choice between two applied tracks: 'International Business Operations in Asia-Pacific' or 'Business Innovations in Asia-Pacific Markets'.

The first is aimed at those who are interested in international business in general with a focus on the management of international operations efficiency. The second track is for those who engage with innovations, digital transformations, e-commerce and new business models in eastern countries. All students will have courses on project management and intercultural communication; to work with Asian countries, it is important to understand their traditions and customs.

Students can adjust the focus of their studies with the help of MAGOLEGO elective courses. However, this part of the programme is limited to two or three courses a year.

Who can study on the programme?

— Our Master's programme accepts both graduates of management programmes and those from various other fields. In the first module, all students have introductory courses to gradually guide them through the educational process.

What foreign languages are required?

— A good level of English proficiency (at least B2) is a must. The English language is international. It is widely used in business in Europe and the USA as well as the Asia-Pacific region. That is why it is important for our programme that our students speak the language at a sufficient level. Besides, master's programmes at HSE University traditionally attract a great number of international applicants, so studies on the new programme will be fully in English. 

It is not necessary to know one an eastern language for the programme; in the majority of APR countries, business communication is done in English. At the same time, the programme will offer courses in Chinese for both beginners and advanced learners. 

Will students be able to study abroad?

— Yes, HSE University's international academic mobility programme is very active. To participate in it, one has to study well and pass the selection process. Going by the experience of the Master's programme 'Business and Politics in Modern Asia', I can say that there is no problem with the trips. Even during the pandemic, some of our students were on mobility programmes at foreign universities.

HSE University has partnerships with universities in many APR countries: Malaysia, India, and Singapore. In January 2023, China's borders reopened—this is good news, because students had not been able to go there since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. For everyone who studies international business, mobility will be useful. So we recommend that all students follow the announcements on the HSE University website carefully.

What will the project activity be like?

— We would like to allow students of the School of Economics and Management to choose projects created specifically for them with partners of the programme. Otherwise, education and real life seen to exist separately from each other, which is wrong. Master's studies last for only two years, and the earlier a student starts getting in touch with business, the better it is for their career.

This year, major companies such as Geropharm, Lenta, and others were among the active partners of HSE University who offered internships to students of the School of Economics and Management.

Where should one start if they want to enrol in the programme?

— I recommend that all applicants study our official website carefully. There, we publish additional information about the programme that gives a better impression of its content.

Applicants can follow our VK group, where we host live streams with experts on a variety of interesting subjects. Last year we held an online lecture about Chinese social networks for the programme 'Business and Politics in Modern Asia', and it was met with a great response. So if you take an interest in a certain topic, you can suggest it to us!

I would also recommend following events in which the School of Economics and Management participates. The Winter School will be held soon, where we will hold lectures and workshops for prospective students. We will present our new programme there too, so everyone should register to take part. Moreover, those with certificates from the school earn extra points during the admissions process.

In summer, we will organise webinars about the programme. This is especially important for those who live in other cities. I recommend attending the first one—usually, that is when the most questions are, which means that the information will be the most detailed. But if you already have questions, you can ask them using the button on the programme's website. The most important thing is not to be shy. My colleagues and I will try to answer as soon as possible.

What entrance exams will applicants have to take?

— First, they should submit a strong portfolio, a set of achievements and documents demonstrating their skills and motivation. From my experience, the hardest thing for applicants is a motivation letter. Before writing it, you should scrutinise the content of our programme. There have been cases when applicants had the wrong expectations, so we sent them to the programmes of our colleagues.

If we talk about additional achievements, it is important to show something really worthy: participation in conferences, publications in journals, etc. One international applicant won a TV lottery and included a photo in his portfolio showing that he had won several thousand dollars. I am jealous of his luck, but it does not apply to science and education, which is why you should consider carefully what documents are worth including.

As the programme is in English, there will be an entrance exam in English. If an applicant has a valid IELTS, TOEFL or GMAT certificate, they do not have to take our exam.

The most difficult part for many prospective students is the interview. Usually, it is held offline, but if the applicant cannot come to St Peterburg, we will have an online meeting. I recommend preparing yourself and thinking about the answer to the question of why you want to enrol in the programme. Some applicants apply for a Master's degree automatically, but they do not know why. During the interview, they cannot answer such questions as what they would like to research, where they want to work after graduation, or how they are going to implement their knowledge. I would recommend thinking such things through in advance—this way, the studies on the Master's programme will be really useful. Besides, it is much more pleasant to work with motivated students.

Do you have any parting words for prospective students?

— Read more, develop yourself, and think about what you would like to do in the future. The most important thing is to understand what your ultimate goal is and to strive to achieve it. Willingness and motivation will help you get what you want and learn lots of new and interesting things!