The school has a strong reputation for academic excellence and is renowned as a hub of entrepreneurship, 25% of students go on to start their own businesses after graduating.
Located in Paris—home to some of the world's most recognizable brands including the likes of Louis Vuitton and Chanel—HEC Paris also has strong ties to France’s luxury sector.
Unsurprising given its top ranking. The HEC Paris MBA attracts thousands of applications each year, while accepting just 20% of candidates. Successful applicants have an average GMAT score of 690, a reminder of its rigorous academic environment.
So, how you can you improve your chances of application success at HEC Paris? BusinessBecause spoke to Benoit Banchereau (pictured) executive director of communications, marketing and admissions, to find out how you can ace your MBA application.
What do you look for in your MBA applicants?
We seek candidates with overall excellence. We want our candidates to have at least two years of professional experience and to have shown career progression and leadership potential.
Our candidates are well-rounded, high-achieving individuals, whose past experience can add value to their classmates. International exposure and experience is a plus as we want to be sure that candidates fit into our diverse and global program.
Our MBA students have very varied and diverse professional backgrounds and we like to ensure that our class is made up of people from various industries and functions so that they can learn a lot from each other.
What are the main things candidates can do to write a better MBA application?
1. Be genuine
Be clear in your CV and with your career goals. Be genuine; please don’t tell us what you think we want to hear! Don’t forget to include the languages you speak and any interests or hobbies that are important to you—they make you memorable.
2. Have an open-mind
Demonstrate your open-mindedness. Let us know if you have lived, studied, or worked outside of your home country and what this experience has meant to you. Or tell us about your personal travels, or work experiences in which you dealt with other cultures.
3. Make the most of your essays
Use your essays to show us the real you. This is a place to share your experiences and ideas with us.
4. Choose your reference wisely
Choose the right references. When possible, you should select professional references, rather than friends or professors.
Study for the GMAT or GRE. We accept both and have no preference between the two tests. Take several practice tests, keeping in mind that taking the actual test is always a little more stressful, so your scores might be lower than in your practice tests.
6. Impress our alumni
Candidates chosen for the pre-selection round will meet two HEC Paris MBA alumni. This is your opportunity to gain more insight into the HEC Community and be inspired by our graduates. It’s their opportunity to determine if they would want you as a classmate.
HEC Paris 2021 MBA Essay Questions
1. Why are you applying to the HEC Paris MBA Program now? What is the professional objective that will guide your career choice after your MBA, and how will the HEC MBA contribute to the achievement of this objective? (500 words max.)
2. What do you consider your most significant life achievement? (250 words max.)
3. Leadership and ethics are inevitably intertwined in the business world. Describe a situation in which you have dealt with these issues and how they have influenced you. (250 words max.)
4. Imagine a life entirely different from the one you now lead, what would it be? (250 words max.)
What’s the strangest thing you’ve seen in an application?
We love to see applicants who know and specify ‘why HEC Paris’ in their application. From time to time, we see those who have copied and pasted, and left another school’s name. This is unfortunate as it doesn’t show us why HEC Paris is the right fit for you.
Some of our candidates have sent us videos for their optional essay section. These are always fun and interesting and have ranged from musical talents, to a tour of their hometown, to ‘why HEC’, to a magic trick!
What questions should candidates expect in their admission interview?
Our admissions interviews work in two ways—we get to know the candidate better but the candidate also gets to know the program better and this helps us all decide if the candidate is a right fit for the program. Prospective candidates should use all of the resources available to find out more about our school and our program prior to their interviews.
Candidates can connect with current students from their region or industry in order to gain a better understanding of the university’s culture and to decide if the program is the right fit for them. They can expect to be asked questions about their experience, why they want to attend our program and what they know about the program so far.
What’s one thing about the HEC Paris MBA application process that most people wouldn’t know?
Our rolling admissions process guarantees candidates a quick response to their application. Candidates know if they have been admitted to the program within 5 weeks of submitting their application.
What’s your top tip for HEC Paris MBA applicants?
Be yourself—show us the real you!
I have met the most competent and diverse batch in this school. These people not only thrive on their own but also makes sure that you are doing it with them. The professors will take your had and walk you through all milestones and make sure you are not left behind. I have found their extracurriculars extremely engaging. There was always a room to have social life after academic life. The only hindrance is the location of the school, it is slightly outside city and living in city is expensive.
Internationality and diversity of opportunities
About my programme I would say it is very international and flexible: we have the opportunity to choose exactly the courses we want. But at the same time, the frame of the campus is crucial in students' life and enable us to create friendships.
Great selection of people
While HEC's MBA is highly selective, I really enjoy the type of people HEC's selects to make sure everybody gets the best out of their MBA experience and networking opportunities. Not only it's an incredibly diverse pool of people (~60 nationalities) but most importantly they make sure to let in friendly empathic and curious people.
Best in France for Grande ecole
A prestigious business school. Languages are important. It is better to have a scientific baccalaureate with excellent grades in high school and good assessments. The courses are well designed as per the latest trends and practicality of learning in stressed upon. Overall, a very good experience.
Diversity and quality of fellow students
Very international and interesting place to be and opens a lot of opportunities, however the administration is very french and facilities are subpar (gym, classrooms) meaning the academic affairs is pretty much useless and lastly we are graded on a curve which can create a toxic environment because of the competition. With that being said the pros outweighs the cons by far.
The quality of the teachers, the campus, the clubs
The school is very international indeed, we have courses with international students and share things with them within the extra academic life (in the social clubs especially). We have great career prospects if we prepare ourselves well - however, the global curriculum is still very finance-oriented, which is a pity for other interesting domains of the company world, which does not rely on finance only. The social clubs are good practice for the management and for now, are quite independent.
HEC Paris awaits you
HEC Paris is really a nice place to do a master's in business. Many classes are useful and interesting (corporate finance, financial accounting, contract law…), some are less - but the curriculum is to be reviewed in the year to come. Regarding the student life, it is incredible, with about 130 clubs, lots of great parties with even greater people. The Jouy campus offers a lot of opportunities to do sports, and you can breathe fresh air every day. HEC also helps a great deal to find an internship or a job.
A dream institute
Enrolling in the HEC MBA was by far the best decision I made for myself. The people and faculty are great, with lots of opportunities to meet people and expand your horizons. Very nice campus where I have had some good running sessions. The alumni network is superb and very helpful. It also has a good support system for entrepreneurs. Would definitely recommend it!