MS in Commerce Blog

M.S. in Commerce International Student Experience

Emily (Mei Yi) Lin chats with her fellow international students about their experiences at McIntire and their advice for studying abroad in the U.S.

Emily (Mei Yi) Lin and her peers describe the international student experience at McIntire.

It takes a lot of courage and determination to study abroad, not to mention committing to a top-ranked school like the University of Virginia. The M.S. in Commerce Program at McIntire is known for its well-structured curriculum that is tailored to help each student be successful. Students are challenged and supported, working hard to reach their goals. For prospective international students, there may be more questions or challenges studying far from home, but the M.S. in Commerce Program values the diverse perspectives that international students bring to the classroom.

I grew up in Taiwan and had my past education mostly there. I will share from my perspective and the perspectives of three other international students: Rishabh Rana from India, James Williams from England, and Ester Tang from China.

What do you like most about this program?

Rana: I like that the program is highly discussion-oriented and involves integrated group work that helps you apply what you have learned into practice.

Williams: How friendly everyone is, and the way the program sets up for teamwork means you get to know lots of people very quickly.

Tang: I think the program allows us to be more involved in American culture and meet people from diverse backgrounds.

Lin: Three of our international students find value from teamwork and the level of high engagement in class. We learn from peers from different backgrounds and the outstanding faculty at McIntire. From my perspective, the program is designed in a way to quickly improve our business intuitions and provide us with opportunities to integrate our studies into the real business world. The education style requires strong engagement and teamwork, valuing students’ ideas and interpersonal skills. Professors often say, “There is no stupid question” and encourage all kinds of opinions in the classroom to improve the quality of discussions. Therefore, the environment values international students’ different opinions and paves our way to success in the workplace.

Compared with the studies you had in your home country, what is the difference you had to adapt to?

Rana: In India, we read materials in class or afterward, but a lot of courses in the program require topic-related readings before class. As you progress further, you will realize that the readings are helpful, and they prepare you for more holistic discussions.

Williams: A big difference is how your participation is graded, and it requires you to actively engage in class, which is very different in the UK.

Tang: Since this is an accelerated program, I feel that the pace is very different from my past studies. There is a lot of work to do, but each assignment makes sense as you accomplish it.

Lin: The M.S. in Commerce Program is a fast-paced program that helps you reach your goal, so each assignment is carefully organized to ensure you integrate your learning. There are readings before class to improve our business intuition and develop good reading habits. There are also tons of group projects and simulations across domains to polish our teamwork skills. Besides, McIntire’s culture emphasizes a high level of engagement in class that will help you improve public speaking and critical thinking. Compared with past education, our studies in the program may seem overwhelming at first, but you will realize how rewarding and how much you have grown as time goes by.

Any suggestions for future international students?

Rana: Start early with your application, and be prepared to come with an open mind. Don’t be disheartened. Initially, you might not fit in straight away, but eventually, it will be easier as you become familiar with your surroundings.

Williams: Just do it, and don’t be put off by participation and how different things seem, because everyone helps you get used to it.

Tang: Be bold and connect with people from the U.S. and from other countries. Networking is key.

Lin: Being active is the top priority. It is also recommended to start building up your network from now on because networking allows you to have access to more opportunities. Studying abroad might be a big challenge, but never be disheartened in the process because international students have such amazing ideas to contribute and there are always people and resources to assist you. Believe in yourself, and let the system guide you to success.

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