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Last update on October 22, 2020

Business and executive education in Europe is of the highest quality, with some of the world’s most elite schools offering a range of postgraduate and executive programs.

Europe is home to some of the world’s most elite business schools at the top of the global rankings.  Institutions across the continent have the courses and the networks to attract the finest talent. At the more senior levels, executive education in Europe such as executive MBAs and short tailored programs offer the brightest business minds the chance to hone their skill set and progress their careers to the next stage. IESE Business School, a long-term world leader in business and executive education, offers an insight into what’s on offer on the continent.

IESE Business School

IESE Business School caters to top executives who want to grow and improve their leadership. Their Munich campus serves as a leadership hub in Germany with Executive Education programs, conferences and Alumni activities. Since 2005 the school has offered an Advanced Management Program (AMP) and developed other executive education and custom programs for many of Germany’s multinationals including Allianz, BASF, Bertelsmann, BMW, Deutsche Bank, EADS, Haniel Group, Henkel, MAN, Opel, Phoenix and Volkswagen.

Business education in Europe – what’s on offer?

Getting a business education in Europe has long been a fast-track to the top for business leaders and groundbreaking entrepreneurs across the globe. With schools based in the heart of some of the world’s most thriving financial districts, the continent has been perfectly placed to deliver learning aimed to meet the challenges of the market and link the best talent to leading global companies. European business schools consistently score highly in the global rankings for both general business education and executive education.

“The best business schools in Europe are very well linked into not just the local but the global business environment,” says Toni Solanilla, Director of the Executive MBA at IESE Munich. “They can develop students’ knowledge and skills as well as open doors to many new opportunities.”

Executive education in Europe

There are three main levels of business education in Europe:

  • undergraduate education, including degrees such as the Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA).
  • postgraduate education, including degrees such as the Master of Business Administration (MBA) and doctoral programs.
  • executive education, including the executive MBA and Advanced Management Programs (AMP).

Many of the specialist business schools in Europe offer only postgraduate and executive education studies.

Executive education in Europe – how does it differ from general business education?

“Executive education programs are generally targeted at those who have already reached a certain level of seniority within the business world, such as executives, senior managerial staff and business professionals,” explains Toni. “They are more specialist than degree programs and can last from a few days to over a year, aimed at improving specific skills such as leadership and strategic management.”

Most schools offering executive education in Europe will have an Executive MBA program that lasts around 12-18 months. Many also offer AMP or management development programs that focus on more specific areas, as well as custom programs that are tailored towards the needs of specific businesses or organizations. Study often takes place in multiple locations, is usually part-time and – apart from the Executive MBA – leads to professional certification rather than a degree qualification.

Executive education in Europe is notable for engaging with elite leaders, academics and executives from the global business community and thus offering unique networking and career development opportunities for participants. Topics studied can include areas such as business analytics, corporate governance and negotiation.

Advantages of business and executive education in Europe

Best quality education

European business schools are globally renowned for the quality of their educational standards and program content, which is reflected in their consistent high performance in global rankings. Courses are designed and taught by some of the most respected academic figures in the business world.

Elite networking and career opportunities

Schools have great links to big multinational companies and elite business institutions, meaning that students can gain access to some of the most respected global forums, conferences, events and employment schemes.

Diverse environment

Business education in Europe offers the chance to learn with international students from all over the world in some of the most diverse and multicultural global cities.

Executive education in Europe

More specialized programs

European business schools have a wider range of course options in general than American schools, allowing for more specialization at both degree and executive level.

“Our Executive MBA gives students the chance to learn from innovative methods taught by some of the world’s most respected business professors, as well as the chance to participate in an Executive Management Simulation Program in either New York, Shanghai or Sao Paulo” says Toni.

Where to enrol in business education in Europe

Here are some of the best-rated European business schools for business and executive education:

Business schools in France

HEC Paris

Consistently ranked the best business school in France and among the best in Europe. Runs an MBA as well as several MSc and Executive Education programs.



Global institution with a European campus in Fontainebleau, France. Consistently ranked among the world’s best for MBA studies, also offers Executive Education including an Executive MBA.


Business schools in Germany

ESMT Berlin

Founded in 2002, this is a private non-profit business school offering MBA and both open and custom Executive Education programs.


IESE Business School

A world-leader that is consistently top-ranked in Executive Education, IESE has a campus in Munich and offers a range of MBA and Executive Education programs.


Business schools in Spain

IESE Business School

A world-leader that is consistently top-ranked in Executive Education, IESE has European campuses in Barcelona and Madrid offering a range of MBA and Executive Education programs.


Business schools in Switzerland

IMD Business School

Based in Lausanne, Switzerland, this is another top-ranked school for Executive Education. Offers only MBA and Executive MBA programs.


University of St Gallen

Swiss university specializing in business administration and economics. Its prospectus includes Bachelors, Masters and Doctoral programs.


Business schools in the UK

London Business School

Ranked as the number one overall business school by the Financial Times in 2018. Offers a range of postgraduate and Executive Education programs.


Said Business School

The business faculty of the University of Oxford in the UK. Runs both undergraduate and postgraduate business programs including an Executive MBA.


How to apply for business or executive education in Europe

The process for applying for business or executive education in Europe depends on factors such as the country you are applying in, the school you’re applying to, and the level of study you want to enrol in. In general, the higher up and more specialist the program, the higher the requirements threshold. Most schools require demonstration of suitability for the program (e.g. qualifications/experience, passing an entrance exam) plus payment of course fees, with exact requirements detailed on their website. Students from outside the EU will need to make sure they have the relevant study visa. Study costs also vary across countries and institutions. You can search for scholarships to study at European institutions at this portal, as well as by enquiring with your place of study.

In addition, you can apply for an Executive MBA at IESE Munich by attending an open day or meeting with a program advisor. You then need to complete a course application form, take an entrance test and attend an interview. The Admissions Committee will then assess your suitability for the course. Full course fees are 72,700. Limited scholarships are available.

For general advice on applying and preparing for business education, see our guide on MBA programs.