Lying among Europe’s myriad cultural treasures are world-class business institutions. From Barcelona to Lausanne to London, Europe offers an array of business schools that fit a diverse crop of students.
Whether students are hoping to learn from prominent professors at Oxford’s Saïd Business School or expand their networking circles at the INSEAD Business School, business schools across Europe provide a wealth of opportunities for each type of student.
Each school in this list is ranked according to where it appears in the Bloomberg list of European B-school rankings. In Bloomberg’s table, each of the following listed business schools have been ranked with four criteria in mind: compensation, learning, networking, and entrepreneurship.
As such, each school has performed outstandingly in these categories, making them the best fit for aspiring MBA students. IMD Business School in Lausanne, Switzerland, tops the list, with many graduates citing the school’s strong leadership opportunities, small class sizes, inclusive environment, and unparalleled reputation.
Last, but certainly not least, on the list is Esade Barcelona, which boasts stellar post-graduate job placements and strong cultural diversity.
Keep reading this article to learn more about the vast offerings of Europe’s top business schools and why these schools outpace Europe’s nearly 100 other business schools.
10. Esade Barcelona Pedralbes Campus (Barcelona, ES)
Located in the idyllic residential outskirts of Barcelona, Esade Pedralbes offers a host of business programs to students, including an Executive MBA, an MSC in Digital Business or Business Analytics, and Executive Master in Management-Technology.
With a motto of “Do Good, Do Better,” Esade Pedralbes encourages its students to use their business acumen to be agents of change within the world. In fact, the Esade Business School was recognized by the Business School Impact System (BSIS) for its ability to enact social impact and innovation within the business sector.
Recently, the Esade Pedralbes Business School was named #1 MBA program in Europe and #3 in the world for entrepreneurs by the Poets & Quants magazine. This accolade is fitting for the school, since it has helped more than 2,000 students jumpstart their start-ups.
9. Oxford University Saïd Business School (London, EN)
When reflecting on the strengths of the Saïd Business School, many graduates praise the school’s extensive alumni network. With prominent alumni sprinkled across the fields of politics, media, entertainment, academia, and more, it seems as if each industry is guaranteed to have a Saïd graduate at its forefront.
Aside from a sprawling alumni network, Saïd Business School also grants students access to some of the world’s most cutting-edge professors, many of whom are ranked on Poets and Quants’ annual “Best 40 Under 40 Professors” list.
Saïd is also known for its remarkable “Economics and Management” and “Financial Economics” programs, both of which are ranked #1 in the world.
Though oozing with prestige and opportunity, current students report that their favorite aspects of the school include its diversity and fun social events.
8. University of Cambridge Judge Business School (Cambridge, EN)
University of Cambridge’s Judge Business School touts the following motto: “In the business of transformation — of individuals, of organisations and society.” As such, many Judge Business School alumni report how transformative their time was at the school.
Though a fairly new institution (it’s only been around for about 30 years!), Judge Business School has rapidly climbed the ranks and now offers a spate of masters programmes, all of which reside in the global top 20.
In 2021, 73% percent of Judge Business school programs were named “world-leading,” while a further 21% percent were considered “internationally excellent,” according to the institution’s website.
A research-oriented institution, the Judge Business School has a smattering of research opportunities available to students and encourages student-faculty collaboration.
Furthermore, with a student body that hails from around the world, Judge students are competent in navigating both cultural and intellectual diversity.
All these aspects of Judge are what makes the student experience there so “transformative.”
7. Mannheim Business School (Mannheim, DE)
Standing out from the rest of the list, the Mannheim Business School prides itself on its strong embrace of corporate practice.
Because of this, the Mannheim Business School has forged connections with some of the world’s top companies and corporate firms, such as Accenture, Bain & Company, Bank of America, LVMH Moët Hennessy, Samsung, and others.
Students at Mannheim have the unique opportunity to attend lectures, workshops, and networking events dedicated to helping them build rapport with their future employers.
Additionally, Mannheim directly connects students with leading figures in the corporate world to further solidify their understanding of real-world business operations.
In 2021, Mannheim was rated the #1 Business School in Germany for “Accounting and Finance,” “Business and Management,” and “Economics and Econometrics.”
Globally, Mannheim has an impressive reputation as well, ranking #2 for quality of learning by Bloomberg.
6. University of St. Gallen (St. Gallen, CH)
The University of St. Gallen’s is not your typical business school.
For starters, hands-on business experience is integrated into the curriculum at the University of St. Gallen’s Business School.
Operating under a unique structure, University of St. Gallen contains 29 research institutes that are each run as businesses.
Because of this, business students have the invaluable opportunity to work within these research institutes to learn the minutiae of real-world business operations.
Secondly, the University of St. Gallen prioritizes an interdisciplinary education. Students here aren’t just learning about supply and demand and gross domestic product—they’re expected to take classes in sociology, history, psychology, business ethics, and more.
Given their expansive academic experience, many alumni leave University of St. Gallen prepared to take on the social, economic, and cultural challenges of the business world.
5. SDA Bocconi School of Management (Milan, IT)
SDA Bocconi School of Management is both a crown jewel of Italy and of the world’s business schools.
The SDA Bocconi School offers uniquely flexible programs, fitting nicely with its motto of being “designed for your world.” Unlike many other business schools, the SDA Bocconi School allows students—if they so wish—to design their own curriculum. This curricular malleability aligns with the school’s values of “independence,” “imagination,” “critical thinking,” and so forth.
Housed in one of the fashion capitals of the world, Milan, the SDA Bocconi School offers a specialized track in Luxury Business Management. This gives students the opportunity to work with lofty brands under the lux-LVMH conglomerate, such as Louis Vuitton, Dior, Tiffany & Co., and more.
4. London Business School (London, EN)
Posh and cosmopolitan, the London Business School draws nearly 93% of its students from abroad. Moreover, each student is expected to show proficiency in a language other than English by graduation.
With this in mind, London Business School truly cultivates future businessmen and women that can thrive in any cultural circumstance. Additionally, current students cite the school’s diversity as one of its greatest strengths.
Boasting some of the world’s most “employable” graduates, the London Business School reported in 2023 that 94% of alumni begin work within three months of graduation. London Business School alumni also report having substantial careers post-graduation, which comes at no surprise considering the school boasts H&M heir Karl-Johan Persson and former Vodafone chairman Kumar Birla as alumni.
Overall, at the London Business School, students get to learn and engage with business principles while being conveniently close to London, one of the world’s largest business capitals.
3. IESE Business School (Barcelona, ES)
The IESE Business School has an impressive résumé: it has consistently been ranked as the #1 MBA program in Europe and #10 MBA in the world (The Economist).
This approbation is well deserved, given the top-notch education and opportunity offered at the school.
Each student at IESE can tailor their MBA curriculum to their liking, choosing from one of the following four tracks: international business, finance, data analytics and digital business, or entrepreneurship and innovation.
As first-year students, MBA candidates also are expected to complete a corporate, entrepreneurial, or social internship to gain hands-on experience.
Deviating from other business schools, IESE places a strong emphasis on ethics and bilingual immersion, distinguishing it from its peer institutions.
Furthermore, IESE stands out from other European business schools, given its unique ties to Harvard University. IESE was formed in alliance with Harvard Business School in 1963, making it the first two-year MBA program in Europe.
2. INSEAD (Fontainebleau, FR)
Known as the “Business School of the World,” INSEAD lives up to the moniker.
With campuses in France, the Middle East, San Francisco, and Singapore, INSEAD is truly a world-renowned institution.
Nestled in the Fontainebleau forest, the French outpost of INSEAD follows suit of being the “Business School of the World” by welcoming students from every continent and representing roughly 94 different nationalities.
INSEAD has a strong relationship with premier American business schools, such as the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business, Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Business, and Johns Hopkins’ Carey Business School.
Post-graduate prospects are bright for INSEAD students. The company sends more alumni than any other European business school to prestigious companies, including McKinsey & Company, Bain & Company, Amazon, and Boston Consulting Group.
1. IMD Business School (Lausanne, CH)
If students are applying to IMD Business School, they’ll need more than just a GMAT score and a personal essay.
Widely regarded as the best business school in Europe, IMD requires applicants to have at least three years of work experience and be able to demonstrate proficiency in a language other than English.
Referenced as “the experts in executive education” by the Financial Times, IMD Business School trains students to be trenchant problem solvers, adaptable leaders, and highly impactful changemakers. As such, IMD Business School is the only European business school ranked in the top ten global rankings.
Prominent alumni of IMD Business School include former Nestle CEO Paul Bulcke, Prime Minister of The Netherlands Mark Rutte, McKinsey & Co chairman Michael Patsalos-Fox, former T-Mobile USA CEO Philipp Humm, among many others.