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European Business Education: The Complete Guide

by College Life
Updated on February 5, 2024

You’re a recent high school graduate. Or you’re someone who wants to start a career in business. You’re looking to enter a new chapter of your life at a university and you want to study in Europe.  

What are the best business schools in Europe? What defines a good business school? What works best for you based on my situation and own preferences? 

This guide will provide you with answers to these questions. And much, much more. 

The Fundamentals to Business Education

Do you want to start a career in business? Your best option is to start by enrolling into a business school. 

What they are

Business schools are university-level institutions. They are colloquially referred to as ‘b-schools’ or ‘biz schools’. They provide education in subjects that relate to business and commerce, such as Economics, Finance, and Management. Such schools usually grant students with degrees in Business Administration and Management. 

What they Offer

Business schools offer knowledge and education from experts on the field. Students study theoretical business matters that they can put to use in practical projects through continuous guidance and a hands-on approach. Some of the best business schools in Europe in particular also offer a sense of community. 

Defining a Good Business School

At a basic level, all business schools can give you the right knowledge. However, not all business schools do it well. A good business school can be defined by the standards that some of the best business schools in Europe hold.

Top Criteria

By European standards, a good business school that can grant students with the necessary tools to succeed in the field, should meet most of the following criteria:

  1. Internationality: The best business schools in Europe have international academic accreditations. Due to their global reach, European business schools are trusted at a multinational level. As a result, they attract a more diverse audience. For instance, the student body of EU Business School comprises more than 100 nationalities, with 98% of students speaking two or more languages.
  2. Small class sizes: Learning is more practical, fruitful and enjoyable in small class sizes. Not all business schools are committed to that. However, greater interaction between students and faculty increases the students’ academic achievement.
  3. English-taught: Internationality goes hand-in-hand with the inclusivity of the programmes. Thus, assignments, lectures, exams, and the final dissertation should ideally be taught in English.
  4. Experiential learning: Practical learning is absolutely necessary for business schools. More specifically, the case study method and a pragmatic approach are two of our most effective tools to learning.
  5. Outstanding faculty: The staff must ideally be composed of highly qualified academics, entrepreneurs, consultants and business leaders. There needs to be a necessary balance between professors and experts in the field for students to get both theoretical and practical insights.
  6. Ranking: Prestige does not go overlooked. The best business schools in Europe and the rest of the world are determined by their programmes’ rankings.
  7. Building a business personality: Business schools must be committed to encouraging students to build themselves as the most valuable brand they can market.

Personal Factors to Consider

Other factors that define the best business schools in Europe are solely determined by you as someone who chooses these schools. There are plenty of personal reasons for someone to choose a specific business school. This chapter highlights some of the most common that apply to most students. 

Common Personal Factors

  1. Cost: Your financial situation could be your most determining factor. This is especially true for students that are fresh out of high school and still dependent on their parents or their low to non-existent income. Make sure that what you are paying for is not only something that you can afford but something that is worth your money. 
  2. Quality of education: As mentioned previously, the best business schools in Europe measure their quality of education by experiential learning and expert guidance. Do your research and make sure the business school of your choice meets the standards of the kind of education you want to obtain. Start by looking at rankings by QS Top Universities
  3. Resources: A good business school leverages its resources for its students. Student needs are met when there are good support systems that cater to the student’s academic endeavours. Does the school equip you with enough tools, programmes, projects and workshops? 
  4. Employability: Check if your desired business school connects its students to future employers after graduation. Does it conduct periodic job fairs? Does it offer practical and informed opinions through events such as EU Business School’s Learning From Leaders sessions?  
  5. Location & Climate: Decide how far you wish to be from home. If you cannot be separated from your family consider alternative options such as remote classes and online education. If you are willing to take the next step and move abroad, there are a few more questions to ask yourself about the location. Europe has a mixture of landlocked and coastal countries. What do you prefer the most? Do you like big cities or do you prefer small towns? What type of climate do you see yourself adapting to?
    • Marine West Coast (Northwestern and Central Europe): mild temperatures, long growing seasons, and a lot of rain i.e. Munich, Geneva.  
    • Humid Continental (East and North Europe): cool winds, cool summers and cold winters i.e. Amsterdam. 
    • Subarctic and Tundra in Norway, Sweden, and Finland: extremely cold.
    • Mediterranean (South Europe). hot and dry summers, mild and wet winters, no snow, little rain i.e. Barcelona
  6. Lifestyle: If you are moving to another city, country, or continent, do some research on the lifestyle of the place you are moving to. What’s the food like? What’s the most common means of transport? Is there a nightlife? What outdoor activities are there?  

As previously mentioned, there could be other factors that apply to you at an even more personal level. When making your decision on which business school to apply to, consider your own personal factors as well. 

Hopefully, if there’s one thing you’ve taken away from this guide is that deciding to work part-time is not something to be done on a whim. It should be inscribed in your general reflection of what you want your student experience to be like, regardless of financial incentives and requirements. Last and certainly not least, once you’ve got your salary, learn how to budget. Part-time jobs help you discover and create the professional toolkit you’ll be needing tomorrow. Kickstart those decisions by adopting them early!

Private vs Public Business Schools

There are two types of business schools: private and public. The differences between the two depend solely on what you, the student, expect from the business school of your choice. 

Funding & Tuition

A public business school is funded by government funds. Tuition fees typically vary depending on the students’ nationality, with EU/EEA students paying much lower costs than non-EU/EEA students. 

A private business school depends on personal endowment funds. As a result of this, private business schools rely on student tuition fees, so the cost of attendance is higher. However, there is usually no cost difference in tuition fees for EU/EEA students and international students. 

Financial aid

Public business schools offer their students scholarships and financial aid provided by the government. 

Private business schools like EU Business School do not offer either. However, you can apply for public or private third-party scholarships in Europe. The business school can provide you with the supporting documents you need to get the scholarship. 


Public business schools typically have large class sizes with very little interaction between students and professors. Classrooms can accommodate around 200 people at a time. Thus, professors don’t always get to learn their students’ names by heart. 

On the other hand, private business schools compensate for the high tuition fees with the quality of their class sizes. They have relatively smaller classrooms where one-on-one interactions between students and professors is feasible. Such small classes create a more intimate environment for an improved learning experience.

On-site vs Remote Classes

Business schools can be extremely flexible with the class format. A lot of schools offer regular as well as online degrees with both on-site and remote classes. This chapter highlights the benefits of each environment to emphasise their best qualities. Whether one is more suitable for you than the other is a decision that you must make in the end. Hopefully, this can help you choose more easily.  

On-site Class Benefits:

Ease of communication

On-site or physical classes are typically the standard format for educational institutions. 

The primary reason for this is the fact that on-site classes make communication between the participants a lot easier. If it’s a private business school class, chances are students and professors have better and more frequent interactions with each other.

Did you know? In a 2020 global study published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, researchers determined that the physical space of the university classroom influences the motivation and well-being of university students. 

Supervision and support

Physical classes allow for better supervision and support from professors toward their students. Professors can read their students better in a classroom where they are physically present. They can tell if something is bothering them or if there is something they don’t understand through their reactions. It is also a lot more practical for them to assess and evaluate students’ projects through in-person appointments or by sparing a few minutes after class to talk to some of them about their progress. 

Living abroad

The greatest advantage of physically attending classes is the fact that you are living abroad. You become familiar with a new culture. You communicate your ideas with both locals and students all over the world. You are more easily available to build meaningful relationships with them. More than that, you broaden your horizons by learning a new lifestyle or a new language when surrounded by a different culture. You get to improve your communication skills, adaptability and empathy — all tools that are essential in business. You also learn how to take care of yourself, become more independent and build a network. Such experiences are extremely valuable to future employers too; living abroad boosts your CV and helps you stand out. 

Remote Class Benefits:


Accessibility may be a single advantage, but it carries a lot of weight. On a surface level, remote classes make it easier for you to attend even when you are ill. You can make a request to turn your camera off and simply listen without the fear of missing out on important course material. 

More than that, online classes allow students to afford to study abroad. Students who face financial problems do not have to worry about paying rent or other living expenses that they would have to think about if they decided to leave their family homes. 

Further, in a 2014 study, it was found that students with disabilities continuously choose online environments for their education for three key reasons: the ease of access, the self-paced nature, and control they have over the environment. Online courses enable students with disabilities to stand on equal ground with other students, without drawing attention to their disabilities, or being held back by them.

COVID-19 has made a lot of people understand that remote learning is not only a necessary mode of learning but also an ideal one for many students. As long as you have a dedicated space for your work, a good internet connection and a computer, remote classes could be most suitable for you.

Top European Business Schools

This chapter offers six of the best business schools in Europe based on various rankings and other factors. The list of choices for you could be a lot longer. However, you can always start from here. 

EU Business School 

Established in 1973, EU Business School is an international, highly-ranked business school. Available english-taught programmes for foundation, bachelor’s, master’s include but are not limited to: 

  • Business Administration
  • Communication & Public Relations
  • International Business
  • Digital Business
  • Sports Management
  • Marketing
  • Finance & Enterprise

With its global network, EU Business School encourages students to participate in exchange programmes with partner universities from all around the world. These partnerships offer students the opportunity to study in diverse environments.

EU has 5 campuses:

  • Barcelona, Spain
  • Geneva, Switzerland
  • Montreux, Switzerland
  • Munich, Germany
  • Online

Notably, 93% of students get an offer for entry-level jobs within six months of graduation. 

HEC Paris

Founded in Paris, France in 1881, HEC Paris follows three core values: academic excellence, strong community and a commitment to diversity. The school is top ranked as one of the world’s best business schools. It offers degrees for Masters, PHDs, MBAs, as well as summer school and online programmes. It holds the 5th position worldwide in QS World University Rankings: Global MBA 2021

50% of HEC Paris students find jobs through the career services at the school.

IE Business School

Since the 1970s, IE Business School, based in Madrid, Spain, has been committed to driving innovation and disrupting the market. The school offers a hybrid class model in which students experience transformational learning through cognitive and emotional approaches and active and reflective learning. 

IE Business school ranks consistently among the top academic institutions in global rankings. Most recently, the school holds the 1st position in the world in QS World University Rankings: Online MBA 2021


Known as “the business school of the world”, INSEAD is a non-profit, private university founded in 1957. It’s got 4 locations worldwide:

  • Europe (France)
  • Asia (Singapore) 
  • Middle East (United Arab Emirates)
  • North America (California)

One of the school’s founding values is diversity and inclusion, with more than 58,000 alumni in 176 countries.  

London Business School

Founded in 1964, London Business School, with the motto “we are minds alive”, empowers students to change the way the world does business. The school grants postgraduate degrees such as MBA, MFA (Master in Financial Analysis), and MiM (Master in Management) and PhD. It’s got two campuses: London (United Kingdom) and Dubai (United Arab Emirates). 

ESMT Berlin

Ranked as the #1 business school in Germany, ESMT Berlin was founded in 2002 by 25 global companies including Bosch, Siemens and T-Mobile. It is a private, non-profit school based in Berlin with a branch office in Shanghai, China. 

ESMT offers three-degree programmes:

  • Master's in Management
  • Full-time MBA
  • Executive MBA (EMBA) and executive education

Most business schools in Europe cater to the needs of all students from both Europe and the rest of the world. They are committed to diversity, inclusivity, and academic excellence.

High rankings aside, your top business school is decided for you by you. Make smart choices that benefit you!

Are you ready to kickstart your international student life? Watch the video below and learn 10 things international students wish they knew while living abroad:

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