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HEC Paris Dethrones LBS at Top of Financial Times Ranking of European Business Schools

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What is the best business school in Europe? The Financial Times just released its 2019 rankings and determined that HEC Paris claims the spot this year.  London Business School has long been at the top, but slipped one spot to second place.  Beyond assessing business schools overall, Financial Times also ranked full-time MBA programs.  This year, INSEAD took the title of best full-time MBA, but landed fifth overall in business schools.  LBS again occupied second place in this section of the rankings.

At a glance:

  • Top Business School: HEC Paris earned the slot for top business school for high alumni salaries and impressive pay increases for masters in management and EMBA students.
  • Top MBA Program: INSEAD received the accolade of the top full-time MBA program in Europe. In addition, the school ranked third in the Global MBA ranking and second in Europe for executive education.
  • Top Masters in Management: St. Gallen University received the top ranking for MiM for the ninth year running. Overall, the business school was ranked fourth in Europe for the third year in a row.

Application Volume up at Most European Schools

Compared to US-based business schools, full-time MBA applications were up in Europe, landing at 63 percent of application volume according to GMAC.

This growth in demand is considered to be driven by more international applications and the decrease of interest in US programs. That said, international students, who may have been discouraged to apply to U.S. institutions due to recent U.S. immigration policies, still have to worry about visas in European program.  As GMAC chief executive president Sangeet Chowlfla told Financial Times, “If we are to maintain a healthy climate for aspiring candidates, we need to make it possible for people from different regions and backgrounds to study and work in the location they desire.”

Despite related challenges, a degree from a European business school is also seen as one of the best options for an international career. Best yet, it doesn’t come with the high price tag of US programs.

Top European Schools Invest in New Programs

As for what the top European business schools are doing to stay at the top, they’re investing in masters degree programs and short courses. These new offerings strengthen the school’s alumni base and draw in more top-level faculty and students who are interested in quality education without the commitment of an MBA.  Top-tier schools are also dedicated to career services and networking opportunities, to enable high-level success of their alumni.

“It is not enough to get big numbers of students,” said Alfons Sauquet, the director of quality services at the European Foundation for Management Development. “You need a high quality of applicant, rather than quantity.”  Securing quality candidates is part of the cycle that helps programs to flourish–if graduates can progress to the highest professional level, they may then be in a position to donate to their alma maters, which can then build out facilities and attract a new set of quality candidates.

Top 10 European Business Schools

INSEAD Donation
INSEAD earns the accolade of top MBA program in Europe and #5 overall business school.
  1. HEC Paris
  2. London Business School
  3. SDA Bocconi
  4. University of St Gallen
  6. IESE Business School
  7. Essec Business School
  8. IE Business School
  9. ESMT Berlin
  10. University of Oxford Saïd Business School
Kelly Vo
Kelly Vo is a writer who specializes in covering MBA programs, digital marketing, and topics related to personal development. She has been working in the MBA space for the past four years in research, interview, and writing roles.