What do European Business Schools look for in a candidate?

European MBA and Masters program requirements

European Business School Requirements




Many European Business schools have been consistently ranked among the best in the world. Although the US business schools dominate the top 50, European b-schools have a pretty big stronghold next to the US ones. These business schools provide candidates with a different set of opportunities, job-seeking tactics, and a new world of multicultural experience.

European business schools have some unique requirements that are evident from their application process and the interview questions. In this article, we look beyond the general requirements like the GMAT/GRE, GPA, and letters of recommendation.

Background of European Business Schools

Europe is a multicultural hub with each country having its own language and culture. Diversity is not just a catchword that schools strive to achieve, it is seen in every corner on these beautiful global campuses. For instance, Oxford University’s Saïd Business School in Oxford, England boasts a record international student population of 95% of its latest MBA class of 329 students coming from 64 different nationalities.

Oxford Campus from above
Oxford University Campus

Countries such as France and Germany that are immigration friendly see the most number of international applicants. During the visit of the Indian Prime minister to France in 2015, an agreement was signed that allows Indian students in France to stay for 24 months post-graduation: a 12-month visa extension on top of the initial 12-month temporary job-seeking visa to gain work experience or to seek jobs in the French job market.

On the other hand, Germany is very famous for other masters programs, and PhDs as Germany offers work permits very easily for internationals. This European economic beast is abundant with opportunities in almost all the industries. The work culture is very friendly. To add to that, Germany offers jobs that don’t have a prerequisite of fluency in the local language. Internationals thus flock to these jobs that are located mostly in big metropolitan cities such as Berlin, Munich, etc. It is a welcome opportunity for internationals who might have not been acquainted with the German language beforehand. And students whose course is of shorter duration can benefit from such opportunities as German can be a quite difficult language to learn in just a year. However, students face challenges seeking jobs in industries that employ business school students — e.g. Consulting, Marketing, or customer-focused jobs as those require a dexterous grasp of the local language.

Requirements of European Business Schools

1. They are very particular about how many languages you know

In my interview with ESADE Business school, the admission committee asked me about the number of languages I knew. European business schools tend to have bilingual or even multilingual candidates in their classes. Having been exposed to multiple languages or cultures would help you in making an easy transition to such a diverse community. It is observed that cultural shocks are grave among students who have not been exposed to any other languages or cultures. They stress that this question doesn’t influence their admission decision in any way, but I think it does. As for my personal account, my interviewer said that one of the reasons I wasn’t admitted to CEMS MIM was that some of the other applicants were savvy in many more languages than I was. So I believe it really informs their decision-making to some extent. Understandably, they are looking for candidates who would fit into their diverse classes. They are looking whether he/she would be someone who would rejoice in a group during lunch or someone who would sit in a corner and surreptitiously grab his/her food without making any contact. Trust me, nobody wants the second person. They are looking for candidates who can not only handle but also integrate well into the school culture and who have had experience dealing with a cultural shift to some extent

2.  They look for students with international professional or personal experience

Paris City image

Paris, France

International exposure is the cherry on top of your business school application. Business schools love students who come with some sort of international exposure and they would outright ask this question in their application, if not, in their interviews. Having an international experience – be it a client project abroad, or an immersive personal trip in a different country, where you got the real taste of a culture very different from yours and you have got compelling personal stories to share – would definitely put you in a positive light in terms of your application. Business schools expect you to be in a diverse cultural setting and, later on, work and thrive in an international workforce. Thus, having prior international exposure comes in handy.


3.  They look for the English Proficiency test or if waived, the certificate for English mode of instruction of undergraduate degree

European Business schools ask for English Proficiency tests such as IELTSTOEFL, etc. in their application. But you can get a waiver if the mode of instruction of your undergraduate or recent university degree of 3 years or more was English. But you need to provide them with a certificate in your application stating the same. US business schools are much more considerate in terms of the waiver of English proficiency test, E.g. Duke University’s Fuqua school of business doesn’t need an English Proficiency test altogether — they can assess your level of English from your Essays, interview, etc; Olin Business school at Washington University in St Louis offers an exemption and doesn’t need a certificate to prove the same. Another criterion for ESADE business school was that after admission they require a certificate from your undergraduate university that proves that you are qualified to attend a graduate program. Basically, European schools will have you remember your undergraduate university more than you would like to.


4.  They seek candidates who are intellectually curious and have leadership qualities 

This requirement is similar across the board in business school admission. European business schools look for candidates who have demonstrated the urge to learn or are intellectually curious and who have the potential to lead in the future. Leadership doesn’t necessarily mean to be in a managerial position and to have people reporting to you. If you can win people over without having any authority in the group – this is much more valued. This is called leading without authority’.

Source -https://www.bizlibrary.com

5.  They look for professionals with comparably more work experience
Since most of the European MBA programs are of shorter length compared to the American ones, they look for candidates who have more work experience and business acumen. Those seasoned professionals can contribute more to the class discussion thus forming a rich peer-peer learning environment. European MBA programs are mostly 1 year in length whereas US ones are generally 2 years. Thus US MBA programs are more conducive to admitting younger candidates, even students fresh out of undergraduate, whereas most European Business schools have application criteria of 2 years of minimum work experience.

Conclusively, business schools in Europe offer a different set of challenges and perks- learning the local language, navigating a job market that is not as much open to foreigners, integrating with the local community, exploring beautiful Europe, awesome work culture, and nice vacation perks; and so these business schools have some unique requirements, or I would say preferences that if illustrated correctly can increase your chances of admission.

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