The SBS Student Blog

Life as a student at Stockholm Business School

SBS vs. American Universities

Hello guys,

I am at the airport of Olso waiting for my plane to take me back to Stockholm. I had a great weekend get-away visiting some friends attending BI Norwegian Business School (Partner of SBS – great school, where you should go on exchange!)



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I wanted to give a big shout out to my colleague bloggers who did a great job at giving you some tips on saving money! It is really exciting to know that the stereotypes on Stockholm being very expensive are not true.

I have started my business journey in the USA. SBS doesn’t accept transfer students so I am technically doing my 1st year again. However, it is so worth it because the classes I took last year are different from the one I am taking currently. I took: Accounting (US Gaap), Micro/Macro economics etc…

I have noticed such a big difference between American business schools and SBS (The European way).

1*) Length of studies

The first big difference you will notice is the fact that a Bachelor of business takes 4 years in the USA vs 3 years in Europe. The difference comes from the fact that most of the time the 1st year in the USA (freshman year) is the equivalent of your last year in High School and you also the get the chance to explore other areas before deciding on your major (in our case: business).

2*) Subjects/Study pace 

This bullet is definitely linked to the first one (length of studies). At SBS, you go full speed with your classes since you only have 3 years to graduate. One class such as Principles of Accounting holds 3 different subjects. Principle of accounting prepares you for Financial accounting, Management accounting and Auditing. At my former business school in the USA, those three subjects were studied during three different classes. It means that you get to study the same content at SBS in a “fast track”. I really like the fact that you can go faster because you can graduate early on. It is a perks but also a cons. You definitely need to be more rigorous on your studies.

3*) Flexibility

The American system is known to be really flexible. In the USA, even though you have some requirements toward your degree, you have a lot of ways to graduate. You can do an internship whenever you want, decide the classes you want to take each semester or decide to go abroad at any time. It’s one of the perks of the American system. However, this flexibility means sometimes you are not sure to graduate on time (not enough space in a class) or you could take the wrong class. At SBS you don’t need to worry about those problems. You follow a strict curriculum and you still get some flexibility with the electives.

4*) Practical vs. Theorical

It is definitely the biggest difference. Studying business in the USA tends to be more practical oriented while it is more theorical focused at SBS. It is still taking me some time to adjust to this fact. I will explain this point by taking a concrete example. In my accounting class in the USA, each week we would have to read the chapter before hand and get ready to discuss it in class. During class we would take about 30min to talk about the chapter. Afterwards, the teacher would give a “case” and we would have to practice our knowledge on this case (most of the time with the people at your table). We would also have every week an online assignment (a bit like the case you get in class). Even though we would have a lot of readings to do, I would argue that we used to spend most of our time to practice our knowledge. I spent so much time doing financial statements in my US accounting class.

I am someone who really enjoy learning with examples because it is more concrete. However, I love trying a new way of learning.

I would summarize this point by explaining our degree. In the USA you get a B.B.A (Bachelor of Business Administration) while in Europe you get a B.Sc (A bachelor of science IN business administration).

a B.B.A is a profesional degree, to get you ready to work once you get your degree. A BSc or a B.A. (bachelor of arts) teaches you theories so you can go on and do a master.

They teach the same subject but have two different goals: one get you ready to work while the other is taking you to the next level!

In the USA, it is very rare to go on and do a MBA right after you graduate. Most of the BBA programs requires you have to have some professional experience for at least 2/3 years. in Europe, you most likely go on and do a master after your bachelor.

I am so glad that I got a chance to write this article. I have been thinking a lot about it and I hope it would help you deciding between an European education and an American education. It was very hard for me to decide between staying in the USA or transferring at SBS.

If you have any questions or comments, feel free to put a comment under this article 🙂

We are landing in a couple of minutes at Stockholm Arlanda airport. Thank you for reading my article and I’ll talk to you next week!



Author: Alex Barnier

Student at Stockholm Business School.

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