MBA in Paris | TopMBA

Paris has long been known as one of the world’s most romantic destinations, but with top business schools like HEC Paris, INSEAD, and ESSEC located in or near the city, an MBA in Paris has also become an attractive destination for prospective business students.

This guide introduces the city’s options for MBA study and looks at career options for those looking to stay on in Paris thereafter, but for a fuller look at the whole of France, please refer to QS’s country guide.  

For those choosing to study in Paris who then wish to stay on and work in Paris afterwards, the city offers many fulfilling career opportunities at some of the best companies in the world.

Studying in Paris

Not only has did Paris rank third in a 2014 listing of the world’s most influential cities carried out by Forbes, but France as a whole has long been noted for its generous policy towards annual leave.

While it’s a bit misleading to say that employees can often benefit from more than nine weeks of leave each year, (the statutory allowance is five weeks as it is in many other European nations) this is a possibility for those who are in an organization and role where they can extract the maximum allowance from what is known as RTT (Réduction du Temps de Travail) – an initiative which compensates those who work for more than 35 hours each week.  Even so, the provisions for annual leave in France are undeniably better than what’s on offer from the vast majority of employers in the US.

Couple this with Paris’ central location within Europe and its subsequent proximity to markets elsewhere in the region, and an MBA in Paris looks to have all the makings of a promising gateway to a vibrant, international career.


Located in Fontainebleau, just an hour outside of Paris, INSEAD is the highest ranked of France’s business schools and comes in at number two 2 in 2014/15’s regional MBA rankings for Europe. Featuring a full-time MBA a year in length, along with campuses in Abu Dhabi and Singapore, INSEAD also boasts a hugely diverse student body composed of students who regularly hail from more than 80 different countries.

For those taking the INSEAD MBA in Paris, a global approach in preparing students for international careers is therefore assured and there’s an alumni network of almost 50,000 to look forward to on graduation. INSEAD also came out strongly in QS’s recent analysis into the ROI (return on investment) of a full-time MBA taken in Europe, in which the difference in income generated by graduates 10 years after completing their MBA in Paris was rivaled only by Swiss schools, IMD and St. Gallen.

HEC Paris

HEC Paris

Hot on the heels of INSEAD in the battle for the most reputable MBA in Paris is the program available at HEC Paris, which ranks fourth for Europe in the QS Global 200 Business Schools Report 2014/15. HEC Paris lays claim to having more alumni who have gone on to become CEOs at European firms than any other school in continental Europe. Companies like Best Buy, AXA, Kering, L'Oréal, and Lafarge are all headed by graduates of HEC Paris, for instance.

As with INSEAD, HEC Paris has a very international student body in its MBA program, which runs on a two-phase curriculum of fundamentals and customized courses that was developed with the help of Bain and Company to ensure it measures up to employers’ current demands. 

ESSEC Business School

Placing inside Europe’s top 20 in 2014/15’s QS Global 200, ESSEC Business School is another strong option for the globally minded student who wants to study in Paris. In addition to its principal residence at Cergy-Pontoise, located within an hour of Paris, ESSEC also has a campus in Singapore.

ESSEC offers a number of other MBA program options, including a global program and one in luxury brand management. The school is also one of the few schools to offer a specialized MBA in hospitality management. ESSEC boasts an alumni network of around 44,000 graduates and a highly diverse student body. Again, its position in Europe and presence overseas allows its students to benefit from options with regards to international travel and experience.

IAE de Paris (Sorbonne Graduate Business School)

The Institut d'administration des entreprises de Paris (IAE de Paris) ranks just inside Europe's top 30 in this year’s regional MBA rankings. The school is also known as the Sorbonne Graduate Business School because of its attachment to the Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne which became one of 13 independent divisions of the Sorbonne – one of Europe’s oldest universities - in 1970.   

The school’s full-time MBA offered in the English language can be taken in the form of a global 14-month program that sees students study in Paris for only a portion of its duration, with the remainder spent at partner institutions - Atlanta’s Robinson College of Business at Georgia State University and COPPEAD Graduate School of Business in Rio de Janeiro - as well as incorporating a study trip to China.

However, if you are a French speaker, a full-time program is offered in its entirety from the Paris campus and is co-run by the Universities of Paris Dauphine and Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne. In addition, there are part-time programs in both French and English that can be taken either in Paris or from a number of other from Francophone cities around the world for those opting for the French language version.

If you are planning not only to study in Paris, but also to work there after you graduate, then you may already know that some of Europe’s biggest companies have their headquarters in the city or located very nearby.

For example, the Fortune Global 500 of 2014 has a number of Paris-based companies in its top 50 from petroleum giant, Total (#11) to financial services firm, BNP Paribas (#40) and retail multinational, Carrefour (#65).

Working in Paris

Of course, if working in Paris is your aim, you’re certainly not limited to companies headquartered in the city, for the French capital is also home to the offices of a large number of multinational corporations – many of whom are renowned employers of MBA graduates. Some examples of which are listed, by industry, below:


  • Accenture
  • Bain and Co.
  • Boston Consulting Group
  • McKinsey
  • Deloitte


  • BNP Paribas
  • Crédit Agricole
  • Citibank International
  • US Bank
  • Goldman Sachs
  • Crédit Lyonnais


  • Google
  • Mozilla
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Apple
  • HP
  • Microsoft
  • Dailymotion (headquartered in Paris)

The diversity that is representative of Paris’ top business schools is reflected in the array of businesses that call Paris home. It is not intrinsically linked to a specific industry like London and New York are to finance or Boston to consulting, and as such, there are many different companies from around the world that have offices and headquarters in Paris. Many companies will require fluency in French from anyone who wishes to work in Paris as much of their business inside of France will be conducted in French. But, after an intense year of studying in Paris, the language barrier should prove to be much less daunting.