Best MBA in France

MBA in France

Everyone’s dream honeymoon destination, with Paris being the world’s capital of love and romance, France is by all standards the most popular attraction in Western Europe. Anyone from a history buff, foodie, to a fashionista, has good reason to make it a must-do on her bucket list, if she can afford to. But France doesn’t just thrive on tourists with cameras and freshly exchanged Euros getting to be all French in a foreign land.

It is among the top ten largest economies in the world and the third in the European Union. With nearly 30 of the world’s biggest companies there, it is one of the top countries in the Fortune Global 500.

Economic advancements aside, it is also lauded for higher education, in the EU as well as globally. Three out of the top one hundred universities in the world are from France, without getting into subject specifics. And in business education, there are five schools that feature among the world’s top 100 b-schools, with names like INSEAD and HEC competing for even higher thrones.

A combination of those attractions makes France a target for MBA applicants from outside the country.

In this article, we dedicate the discussion to why, how and where in France you can choose to fix your radar if you were to consider an international MBA degree.

Benefits of MBA in France

We already began with praises for France as a study destination. But let’s get into the particulars of the “whys.”

Economy of France

Though one of the largest in the world and among the top in the EU, the French economy is being plagued by a few issues lately. Namely, unemployment (9.1% and one of the highest in EU) and economic growth (dropped from 2.3 to 1.7% in 2018). Rising oil prices, political uncertainties, global trade crisis, and the state of Euro has been slowing the country’s growth. But what are the upsides?

– France also has one of the most resilient economies that recovered the fastest from the recent recession. Though the production of economic goods and services has been sluggish, its real GDP has been rising in recent years, growing by almost 2%. Tax reforms and more consumer spending are positive factors that can help improve its economic situation.

– France has also been a target for direct foreign investments. In 2017, it saw the highest in a decade with over 40 billion Euros in foreign capital invested in foreign firms in the country. Thus, there is a more business friendly outlook taking over.

– Currently, the French economy is looking at reforms that are going to not only take the present economic stagnation towards growth, but also take the necessary steps to fill the skill gaps that is one of the major concerns behind unemployment.

Business graduates, coming with their wealth of skills, are at an advantage of being present in this business friendly, forward and reform based outlook of the French economy.

Quality of Business Schools in France

The French higher education system, divided between its Universities and Grandes Ecoles, is one of the finest systems in Europe and the world. The country has close to half a million international students with the government actively setting aside funds to support the intake of even more, about $12 million, in the next decade and a half.

The universities and ecoles are also investing in post graduate level degrees that are taught almost entirely in English. Currently there are a little over a thousand of those.

As far as business degrees are concerned, France has quite a few respectable names in the circle. INSEAD and HEC have been showing up in the top 20 in almost every respectable ranking body including Financial Times, QS, The Economist, and others, in the past years. Some of the other b-schools in France manage to make it among the topper’s lists in Europe as well as outside.

Here is a list of some of the elite ones in reference to global MBA standards.

EMLyon Business School Essec Business School
Grenoble Ecole de Management EDHEC Business School


MBA Cost and Duration

As is true for a lot of European MBA programs, French MBA options are shorter, some even less than a year. Plus the tuition amounts to about $50,000 which is much less compared to its North American substitutes. This really helps up its ROI, if the opportunity cost of an additional one year of work is taken into consideration.

Life in France

Clearly France doesn’t need an introduction on how desirable it is as a tourism hotspot. If globe-trotting is on your mind then this is probably somewhere top on your list of countries to visit. The museums, even the ones that are not Louvre, the Eiffel, Versailles, the beaches, French food and wine, cheese, and whatever goodness your mind can grasp is also within your hand’s.
But if you want to stay and study or work in the country there are certain aspects that can help you along then and even after.

French is a valuable foreign language to learn. It is spoken in all continents and is the sixth most spoken language in the world. How does this help your cause? It can help you land jobs within the country as well as in sectors where knowledge of a foreign language is a skillful asset.

Also, if you want to get a leg ahead in jobs in the United Nations, where French is an official language, UNESCO, NATO, and all those internationally famous bodies about, learning to say beyond je m appelle Bond, James Bond can be a huge bonus.

Living on a budget is relatively easy. Medical care is taken care of by the state as long as you are a resident. International students are usually covered by their institutions. Also, internationals, who live and work in France and have been there for more than three years, are eligible to be covered under their government funding for medical care.

Here’s a break up of typical costs of daily needs in a couple of the popular cities in France.

City Cost of living per month Food expense per month Rent per month
Paris $1,000 $400 $900 – $1,300
Nice $900 $360 $670-$900

Read International student life in France

Jobs in France after MBA

The Fortune Global 500 list in France includes automotive, insurance, aerospace, pharmaceuticals, retail, technology, and banking, sectors among others. Christian Dior, Schneider Electric, Michelin, Saint-Gobain, L’Oreal, are just some of the famed ones among them. Besides being a stepping stone to employment in France, the top b-schools also help their graduates to secure gainful jobs within Europe.

For instance, nearly 80% of EDHEC’s international graduates, in the Global MBA class of 2018, managed to secure positions outside their home country. Nearly two-thirds got into positions across EU.

And this trend is not just isolated to a few b-schools. According to GMAC’s Corporate Recruiter Survey, international hiring among European and Asian companies is higher as compared to US companies. American companies are generally apprehensive about uncertainties about future policies with regards to internationals working in the US.

Hence only 48% of US employers, as compared to 71% of European ones, are willing to show any interest in hiring internationals. Thus, an MBA in France can be quite a bonus for those looking to obtain work there or elsewhere in the EU.

Here’s a list of typical employers recruiting MBA graduates in France.

3M Tata Deloitte
Facebook Amazon American Express
PWC Schneider Electric BNP Paribas
Capgemini L’Oreal Microsoft

And here’s a list of salaries made by graduates from some of France’s top b-schools.

Business School Average Salary (Approx.)
INSEAD $110,000
HEC Paris $121,000
EDHEC Business School $100,000
Essec Business School $100,000
EMLyon Business School $94,000
Grenoble Ecole de Management >$60,000 for 70% graduates


Work Permit for international students in France

As an international student with a long-term student visa, you can be allowed to work for 20 hours a week as long as your academic schedule is not being tampered with. The next steps towards residentship can take the following road.

  • Graduating Master’s or higher degree students should apply for an Autorisation Provisiore de Sejour or APS. In English, it translates as a Temporary Resident Permit which is valid for 1 year. It is essentially a “job-search” condition on your student visa status that allows you to work part-time while looking for full-time employment.
  • If you are from India, you can extend this APS for an additional 1 year. Thus, you can have a total of 24 months to look for a job in France.
  • If you manage to find a full-time employment contract in this period, you can be assigned one of two kinds of work permits.
    • CDD or Contrat a duree determine which means there is a determined period of time for you to legally work with a company
    • CDI or Contrat a duree indetermine allows you to work for a company indefinitely

    Both CDD and CDI require you to apply for a change of status from a student visa to the work permit and are attached with a probation period. This is usually for a period of 2 months in which time the company may decide your fate on whether they will commit to you or not.

  • With a CDD, you should either start looking for another job or work with your current employer to convert your CDD to a CDI.
  • With a CDI, you should apply for a resident’s permit which is valid for one year and renew it each year to stay and work in France legally.
  • Generally, after five years of renewing the resident’s permit, the Perfecture, or the body that issues these permits, issues a tenure resident’s permit which can be valid for much longer and essentially works as a Permanent Residentship in France.


Eligibility for MBA in France

To make it into one of France’s elite business schools, you will need all or some of the following.

Bachelor’s qualification

Almost all schools will need some form of basic undergraduate training. There are some, like HEC Paris, who can waive the requirement of a degree if you have sufficient supplementary work experience or an outstanding quality that sets you apart.

Work Experience

Most b-schools require a minimum of 2 to 3 years of work experience. On an average class profiles from previous years seem to indicate an experience of 6 or more years. It is often essential to demonstrate qualities of leadership, initiative, team work, and management through the accomplishments at work.

Test Score

A competitive GMAT or GRE score helps business schools to assess the basic readiness of the applicant through their quant, analytical, and verbal skills. Typical GMAT scores, for the top schools, are over 690. Also read MBA in Canada Europe with low GMAT scores and without GMAT

English Proficiency Test Score

You can prove your mettle for communicating in English through one of TOEFL, TOEIC, IELTS, PTE or Cambridge English Exams. Schools may have their preference of tests and minimum scores.
Applicants are expected to furnish reference letters, an updated resume, motivation essays, and transcripts to complete their application. Successful applicants are usually called for interviews before a final decision is made.

Top Full-Time MBA Programs in France

This brings us to the question of where should you get your MBA in France.
As we mentioned before, there are some globally popular b-schools that you should consider in your search. So, we will list their full-time programs in the table below.

Business School Duration Tuition (Approx.)
INSEAD MBA 10 months $97,000 – $99,000
HEC Paris MBA 16 months $81,000
EDHEC Business School Global MBA 10 months $49,000
Essec Business School Global MBA 12 months $56,000
EMLyon Business School International MBA 12 months $43,000
Grenoble Ecole de Management MBA 12 months $35,000


Top Executive MBA Programs in France

And here are some of the top Executive MBA programs in France.

Business School Duration Tuition (Approx.)

– Global Executive MBA

– Tsinghua INSEAD Executive MBA

– 14 to 17 months

– 13 weeks

– $139,000

– $125,000

HEC Paris


– 15 to 18 months


EDHEC Business School Executive MBA 16 months $48,000
Essec Business School Executive MBA 68 days over 18 months $58,000

We strongly recommend you to explore the options we have mentioned here and others we didn’t, as well. France is an exceptionally attractive country for education, living, traveling, and especially as a gateway to a sea of career options in the rest of Europe.

So, research your schools and get in touch with us if you need any professional assistance to help you experience the bon-ness of studying, living, and eventually working in France.

Bon Luck!
For more reading, we refer you to the following.

Why do an MBA in Europe?
Workplace Diversity:An interview with HEC faculty
HEC Paris success story with low GMAT
EDHEC MBA despite low GMAT
Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4