Whether you aspire to work in a multinational corporation or launch your own startup, France offers a huge number of opportunities to enterprising MBA grads.
Not only is France home to La Défense, the largest purpose-built business district in Europe, and shares borders with six countries, it also places among the most popular countries for MBA candidates.
The question is less why you should consider an MBA in France; and more which business school can help you best leverage the opportunities there.
Financial Times ranking: 89
QS Ranking: 55
MBA length: 11 or 16 months
Cost: €38,500 (US$41K)
Lyon is France’s second-largest student city and third-largest city overall. It’s well known as an established business hub for the banking, chemical, pharmaceutical, and biotech industries, as well as for its burgeoning video games development scene.
MBAs at EMLyon Business School tap into these varied career opportunities through the school’s rigorous careers program. One day of each academic week throughout the year is dedicated to career development through workshops and events with employers and alumni, career fairs, meetups, and discussion panels.
The program doesn’t just help students boost their careers locally. EMLyon MBAs also participate in global learning trips, with past destinations including Brussels, Istanbul, Milan, Helsinki, and Berlin.
The effect on MBA outcomes is noticeable. 54% of the 2020 MBA class accepted a job offer before even graduating from the program, with 100% having accepted one within six months. The companies employing EMLyon grads include Apple, ExxonMobil, EY, AXA, PwC, P&G, and Sony.
Financial Times ranking: 73
QS Ranking: 43
MBA length: 8, 10 or 16 months
Cost: €46,000 (US$49K)
Nice is best known for the blue skies and beautiful landscapes that inspired the likes of Matisse and Chagall, but it’s also a bustling business center.
The Côte d’Azur Economic Development Agency makes the city an attractive spot for investors and startups alike, with the French Tech Côte d’Azur movement working to promote entrepreneurial growth in the region.
To capitalize on this entrepreneurial atmosphere, the MBA at E Business School offers an Entrepreneurship specialization, as well as other study tracks including International Finance, Global Leadership, and Digital Innovation.
Whatever you choose for your specialism, EDHEC MBAs can expect to get hands-on experience through a two-month global consulting project during their degree. This could be developing a new product for an international market, helping a startup reposition itself, or developing a mobile offering for an existing business. Past sponsors have included huge companies like Airbus and Johnson & Johnson.
Financial Times ranking: 64
QS Ranking: 27
MBA length: 12 months
Cost: $49,500 (approx. US$53K)
ESSEC Business School’s campus can be found in Cergy, a small commune in the north-western suburbs of Paris, with easy access to the city center via train.
ESSEC’s MBA program is unusual among top MBA programs for its high proportion of women students. In the 2022 Financial Times MBA rankings it places 8th in the world for the number of women on the program, and in the 2017-2019 classes the proportion of women was up to 60%.
Two specialization tracks are offered at ESSEC: one in Strategy and Digital Leadership, and one in Luxury Brand Management.
For students with career goals in these areas, the outlook is good. 78% of ESSEC students had job offers within four months of graduating, while 85% of grads secured a promotion at their post-MBA roles within a year.
The program is particularly good for career changers. 58% of students changed sector, 89% changed function, and 55% changed country after the ESSEC MBA. The average salary for an ESSEC MBA grad is around $117K according to the FT.
Financial Times ranking: 52
QS Ranking: 49
MBA length: 10 months
Cost: €47,000 (US$50K)
For students hoping to take advantage of France’s connections to other countries during their MBA, ESCP Business School is a great choice. It boasts campuses in Paris, Berlin, London, Madrid, Turin, and Warsaw, and MBA students can study on any two of their choice during the program.
The Paris campus is situated on Avenue de la République, a short Métro ride from the Louvre and many of the attractions of central Paris. It’s also less than an hour from famed business district La Défense.
The curriculum on the ESCP MBA in International Management stresses the importance of experiential learning, with all students completing company consultancy projects with two different companies, in two different countries. Students can also select an alum from the school’s network to be their mentor throughout the program.
The result is that ESCP MBA grads have some of the strongest career outcomes of the business schools on this list. 96% were employed within three months of graduating, with 89% of grads securing roles in international environments.
As well as big multinationals like Accenture, McKinsey, Estée Lauder and Google recruiting ESCP MBAs, 7% go on to work in startups.
The average salary is €118K according to the FT – that’s around US$126K.
2. HEC Paris
Financial Times ranking: 11
QS Ranking: 4
MBA length: 16 months
Cost: €78,000 (US$83.5K)
Situated in Jouy-en-Josas in Paris’s southwestern suburbs, HEC Paris’s campus is only four kilometers from Versailles, the historic site of Louis XIV’s court. But it’s not just keen historians who should consider studying at this famous grande école.
Students who enroll on the MBA program at HEC Paris join a 300-strong class – very large by European standards, offering ample opportunities for networking. At 16 months, the program also straddles the border between the traditional two-year MBA favored by North American schools, and the accelerated one-year programs popular throughout Europe.
HEC’s MBA is particularly enticing to aspiring startup leaders. According to the 2017 Times Higher Education Alma Mater Index, more CEOs of Fortune Global 500 companies have graduated from HEC Paris than any other university in Europe.
HEC also reports that nearly 4000 of its graduates are current CEOs, CFOs, or founders, and faculty estimate that around a quarter of students go on to found their own ventures.
The school supports entrepreneurial activity both through classroom teaching and extracurricular activities. For instance, the HEC Incubator is located at Station F, the world’s biggest startup campus, and this is also where the school’s annual pitch competition, HEC Seed, takes place every year.
Entrepreneurs and aspiring corporate leaders alike benefit from this fast-paced environment. 92% of MBAs accepted job offers within three months of graduating, with top recruiters including Amazon, Bain & Company, BCG, Deloitte, L’Oréal, and the Renault Nissan Mitsubishi Alliance.
Like many of the schools on this list, HEC is a safe bet for international students looking to move their careers abroad: 66% of grads found jobs outside of their home countries after the MBA, and the average salary was a whopping $128K.
Financial Times ranking: 3
QS Ranking: 7
MBA length: 10 months
Cost: €92,500 for 2023 intake (approx. US$99K)
For MBAs looking to explore even further afield than Europe, INSEAD is another strong option. INSEAD, like ESCP, has campuses around the world, including in Singapore and Abu Dhabi, however its France campus is something special.
Situated in Fontainebleau, just southeast of Paris, the school sits on the edge of the Forest of Fontainebleau. As well as being a UNESCO Nature Reserve, the forest is a popular area for rock-climbers and is also only a short distance from the famous Fontainebleau Palace.
For those who choose to study their MBA on the Fontainebleau campus, they will join an MBA class that is 38% women with an average age range of 23 to 36.
On the program, students can choose from a wide variety of electives, including on specialist topics like decision sciences and entrepreneurship and family enterprise.
The MBA Capstone that is required on the INSEAD MBA sees teams work together to solve a general management problem and present their solution to INSEAD alumni for feedback.
INSEAD frequently places in the top 10 MBA programs worldwide and offers access to over 260 on-campus recruiters, so it is no surprise that its grads go onto great success after the program. 89% of MBAs are employed within three months of graduation, with three-quarters succeeding in changing their careers.
According to the Financial Times, the average salary for an INSEAD MBA graduate is close to $187K.
List ordered based on the Financial Times MBA Ranking 2022. Images sourced from business school Facebook pages and stats from school websites.