Tips for Applying to European B-Schools

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Do you know what you need to do to get admitted to a European MBA program?

Applying to a European MBA program isn’t quite the same as applying to an American program. The programs themselves often have a different focus than U.S. schools, and adcoms therefore look out for different skills and qualifications. I’d like to direct you to the following resources on our website – blog posts that focus specifically on how to answer specific questions on specific European b-school applications. Please check them out and be in touch if you have any questions!

Tip Posts for European B-Schools:

• ESADE 2015 MBA Essay Tips

HEC Paris 2015 MBA Essay Tips

HKUST 2015 MBA Essay Tips

IMD 2016 Essay Tips

INSEAD 2015 MBA Essay Tips

London Business School 2015 MBA Essay Tips

London Business School 2015 MiM Essay Questions and Tips

NUS MBA 2015 Essay Tips

Oxford Said 2015 MBA Essay Tips

For more advice, I recommend you check out these podcasts that feature interviews with adcom members from top European b-schools – it’s always good to get advice from the source itself!

• The Scoop on the London Business School Masters in Management Program

• Interview with Philippe Oster of HEC Paris

• An Inside Look at INSEAD

Linda AbrahamBy Linda Abraham, president and founder of and co-author of the definitive book on MBA admissions, MBA Admission for Smarties: The No-Nonsense Guide to Acceptance at Top Business Schools.

ESADE MBA 2015 Essay Tips

Esade PicThe ESADE (pronounced eh-SAH-day) MBA program in Barcelona, Spain, is a great option for applicants looking for a program that requires fewer than 2 years out of the job market but also provides an internship and even an international exchange option. ESADE offers a 12-month MBA, a 15-month option that includes an internship or exchange program, and an 18-month option that includes both an internship and an international exchange opportunity. Graduates do well: 91% secure a position within 3 months of graduating, increasing their salaries by an average of 67% over their pre-MBA earnings. This really is an international student body: the 170 students in the class of 2013 hailed from 43 countries, and 60% of them choose to work outside of Spain upon graduation.

Attach your CV or Resume: The ESADE application form does not prompt the applicant to describe his/her accomplishments in each position, but allows space for a job description for each role. Savvy applicants will make sure that their resume/CV highlights the initiatives they led and the impact they made in each role.

Personal essays (Each question is limited to 2000 characters including spaces, 30 lines approximately.) Frankly, in my experience, 2000 characters is only approximately 20 lines, around 300 words for each essay. My tips are below in blue.

1.  Which aspects have you improved on during your academic and professional career so far? Which tools or values have helped you achieve this?
ESADE provides a “transformative” experience, but to benefit from it fully, students must be open to transforming. This essay provides an opportunity for you to demonstrate that you recognize areas in which you can improve, and then take action to do so. Among the most important aspects to ESADE are leadership, teamwork, and organizational skills. The second part of the question is asking for applicants to analyze what enabled them to make these improvements: personality traits, introspection, trusted mentors, and even a comprehensive professional evaluation system may be among the tools that applicants have found most useful. Sharing a story or two in this essay that show both the improvement and the tools/values at work will engage the reader and set a tone of interest for your entire application.

2.  How will your background, values and non work-related activities enhance the experience of other ESADE MBA students and add to the diverse culture we strive for at ESADE? (Note: The goal of this essay is to get a sense of who you are, rather than what you have accomplished)

ESADE has only 170 students in each class, so each of them must be active to create a lively campus. This essay offers applicants an opportunity to demonstrate how they have helped create community in the past – on campus, in professional and social organizations, in their neighborhood, even in their family life. If an example from a professional environment is the one that best illustrates a personal quality, then, yes, feel free to use it.

3.  What are your motivations in pursuing a full-time MBA at this point in your life? Describe your mid-term and long-term visions for your post-MBA career path. What is it about ESADE you think will help you reach your goals?
This is a standard goals question. Applicants need to demonstrate that their goals are ambitious but fully realizable. Anyone whose goals are not seen as reasonable cannot be accepted because they will graduate unhappy at the discovery of that reality – after losing 12-18 months of their lives and €60,000 of their hard-earned (or borrowed!) money.

4.  Complete two of the following four questions or statements (1000 characters per response)

a.  I am most proud of…
b.  People may be surprised to learn that I…
c.  What has your biggest challenge been and what did it help you learn about yourself?
d.  Which historical figure do you most identify with and why?
All of these essay prompts aim to discover any interesting aspects of your background, both professional and personal. These provide applicants a chance to round out the admissions committee’s understanding of who they are, what obstacles they have faced in their lives, and what they’ve accomplished. These are very brief essays of approximately 150 words each.

5.  Please provide any additional information that you would like to bring to the attention of the Admissions Committee. This may include gaps in employment, your undergraduate record, plans to retake the GMAT or any other relevant information.
If you need to explain any of the standard issues – your direct manager doesn’t know you’re applying so you couldn’t ask him to write a recommendation, you completed your coursework in December but did not receive your diploma until the following May, etc. – then this is the place to make those clarifications. If you do not need to use this space for any of those mundane topics, then feel free to fill it with an example of your leadership, maturity, or innovation to provide further evidence of your fit with ESADE.

If you would like professional guidance with your ESADE MBA application, please consider Accepted’s MBA essay editing and consulting or our MBA Application Packages, which include advising, editing, and interview coaching for the ESADE application.  


In order to secure a place on the Full Time MBA and an ESADE Scholarship, we strongly recommend applying early. Taking the visa application process into consideration, we recommend that non-EU citizens submit their completed application no later than (15 June 2015).
Have our MBA admissions experts critique your ESADE application!

Applications should be submitted by 11:59 p.m. CET (Central European Time) on the date in question. Applications are considered complete once the Online Application and all supporting documents have been received.

Jennifer Bloom By Jennifer Bloom has been helping applicants to the top MBA programs with their resumes, application forms, letters of recommendation, and essays for 16 years. She is happy to serve as your personal coach and hand-holder throughout the entire process. There’s no time like the present to begin!

Related Resources:

Why ESADE: An Interview with An Admitted Student
Top MBA Program Essay Questions: How to Answer Them Right
Leadership in Admissions

Why ESADE? Interview with an Admitted Student

Check out our free copy of Best MBA Programs: A Guide to Selecting the Right OneThis interview is the latest in an blog series featuring interviews with current and future MBA students, offering readers a behind-the-scenes look at top MBA programs. And now, introducing Manuel Alvarado Amado……

Accepted: We’d like to get to know you! Where are you from? Where and what did you study as an undergrad? What is your current job?

Manuel: Thank you for having me, it’s a great opportunity to share my admissions experience. I’m from Maracaibo, Venezuela. I studied Civil Engineering as my undergraduate major at a local university called Universidad Rafael Urdaneta, one of the few universities in Venezuela that teaches Civil Engineering.

As a civil engineer and deputy project manager for four years at the Puente Nigale project, I have helped the company successfully plan and initiate operations of a three-billion USD fixed link spanning over 51 kilometers of highways and bridges, coordinating teams of workers and consultants from different areas around the world.

Accepted: Congrats on your acceptance to ESADE! Why did you choose ESADE — what were some of the things that drew you to the program?

Manuel: Thank you! ESADE was one of my top choices based on the criteria I followed for deciding where to apply: Location, international recognition, teaching method and networking opportunities. I felt ESADE embodied all of the characteristics I was looking for as one of my top three choices and decided to apply first, then stopped all other applications once I got in.

One of the most appealing features was ESADE’s focus on leadership within a teamwork frame, which I believe is a characteristic that can set ESADE MBA candidates apart from others when entering the corporate field.

Finally, while applying I noticed the admissions committee’s attitude towards applicants was really warm and forthcoming in every step of the application, striving to help and prepare those who were interested in knowing anything about the school, something I must say was a huge advantage over their closest competition.

Accepted: Do you plan on staying in your current industry after you receive your MBA or heading into a new field? What’s your post-MBA plan?

Manuel: My long-term career vision is to found and lead a geoenvironmental consultancy firm to operate on a global level providing services for international construction players like Odebrecht or ACS.

In the short-to-mid-term, I plan to support my long-term goal by obtaining a business development position on one of the top established global geotechnical-environmental firms, bringing forward the name of ESADE as a highly reputed business school to the biggest players in the geoenvironmental business such as Fugro or GEO, establishing contacts and increasing management skills and responsibilities, to grab a firm hold on the nuances of the industry worldwide, while fine-tuning the business plan that will enable me to start my own firm.

Accepted: What do you most look forward to in living in Barcelona?

Manuel: Barcelona is an amazing, vibrant environment to study, work and live. It’s a diverse, multicultural wonder full of great places to enjoy and people to meet. I believe being in one of Europe’s main cultural hubs will enrich my international view and experiences. Oh, and I’m a huge FC Barcelona fan, so that’s always a plus. :)

Accepted: Did you only consider European b-schools? Which other programs did you consider?

Manuel: I did, for a number of reasons. Having intermittently lived in the US while I was a child and having visited Europe since, I felt more identified with the European culture and way of life. Another reason was the lengthy visa requirements and admissions procedures top business schools in the US apply.

Because of work obligations, I felt more at ease with the rolling admissions or multiple-stage process most European schools apply, I also considered London Business School, IESE and SDA Bocconi, though having a stronger background and interest in entrepreneurship finally drove me to choose ESADE.

Accepted: What do you believe are the advantages of attending a one-year program like ESADE compared to the two-year programs that you find in the States?

Manuel: I believe one-year programs are better for professionals who are interested in quickly rejoining the job market without sacrificing an education of the highest quality. The great thing about ESADE is that it allows you to study a 12, 15 or 18 month program and get the most out of each, including a student exchange with many top universities around the world, including some of the best from the US, and an internship for the 15 and 18 month programs.

Accepted: Can you share your top three admissions tips with our readers?

Manuel: Definitely! I think the most important piece of advice someone can give you is to prepare your story through. Write down ten accomplishments or experiences that make you unique, in order of importance. Those will be the foundation with which you’ll work to impress the AdCom. Remember, we all have a great story to tell, just find yours.

Another suggestion would be, if you’re having a tough time, to get in touch with admissions consultants who can and will help you shape up your profile. Linda at Accepted, among others, has been amazing in helping me pinpoint the details for preparing a successful application.

Finally, INVESTIGATE. Besides the fact that there is a lot of amazing information that’s free on the Internet for you to prepare, you must always know exactly where you’re applying and why. Identify with your future Alma Mater. As someone once told me, you must not apply to the best school. You must apply to the school that’s best for you.

For one-on-one guidance on your b-school application, please see our MBA Application Packages. For specific advice on how to create the best application for ESADE see: 2013 Virtual Panel: Exploring European B-Schools with IMD, HEC Paris and ESADE.

Thank you Manuel for sharing your story with us! You can stay current with Manuel’s MBA adventure by following him on Twitter – @manualvarado.

Download our report that will help you navigate the MBA Maze

Top 10 International 1-Year & 2-Year MBA Programs in 2013

We recently posted the Forbes’ top 20 American MBA programs – now it’s time to turn our attention to the global b-school scene. Below are Forbes’ top 10 international MBA programs for 1-year and 2-year programs in 2013.

1-Year MBA Programs:

1. IMD – Switzerland $196,300 $84,000 $211,000
2. INSEAD – France/Singapore $168,700 $71,000 $175,000
3. SDA Bocconi – Italy $155,800 $57,000 $165,000
4. IE Business School – Spain $114,700 $53,000 $144,000
5. Oxford Said – UK $102,500 $58,000 $135,000
6. Warwick – UK $102,800 $43,000 $124,000
7. Cambridge Judge – UK $99,000 $62,000 $146,000
8. Cranfield – UK $94,500 $59,000 $127,000
9. Lancaster – UK $86,700 $41,000 $159,000
10. City U. Cass – UK $76,800 $60,000 $116,000

2-Year MBA Programs:

1. London Business School – UK $120,700 $77,000 $214,000
2. NUS Business School – Singapore $95,900 $14,000 $92,000
3. Hong Kong UST – China $91,000 $31,000  $131,000
 4. Manchester – UK $84,500 $48,000 $141,000
 5. IESE – Spain $80,300 $56,000 $146,000
6. Ipade – Mexico $78,100 $20,000 $75,000
7. CEIBS – China $73,100 $27,000 $121,000
8. Esade – Spain $65,500 $55,000 $127,000
9. HEC-Paris – France $61,700 $54,000 $140,000
10. York Schulich – Canada $54,400 $39,000 $115,000

Financial Times’ 2013 Global MBA Rankings

B-School Rankings

Harvard Business School

Drum roll please…The Financial Times ranks the top 25 global b-schools as follows…

1. Harvard Business School
2. Stanford Graduate School of Business
3. University of Pennsylvania – Wharton
4. London Business School
5. Columbia Business School
7. IESE Business School
8. Hong Kong UST Business School
9. MIT Sloan
10. Chicago Booth
11. IE Business School
12. UC Berkeley Haas
13. Northwestern Kellogg
14. Yale School of Management
15. CEIBS – China
16. Dartmouth Tuck (tied)
16. Cambridge Judge (tied)
18. Duke Fuqua
19. Switzerland (tied)
19. NYU Stern (tied)
21. HEC Paris
22. ESADE Business School – Spain
23. UCLA Anderson
24. Oxford Saïd (tied)
24. Cornell Johnson (tied)

(You can read about the FT’s ranking methodology here.)

A few points of interest (from the FT’s lead article)

  • 51 of the top 100 schools are located in the U.S. including 6 schools in the top 10.
  • 26 of the top 100 schools are located in Europe. London Business School is the top school in that region.
  • 14 of the top 100 schools are located in Asia (up from 12 last year). Hong Kong University of Science and Technology is the top b-school in that region.
  • Since 1999 when the FT began publishing MBA rankings, only four schools have ranked in first place: HBS, Stanford GSB, Wharton, and London Business School.
  • The male-female salary gap this year has narrowed for the first time. Instead of the traditional $20,000 pay gap (three years post-graduation), the gap is down to $10,000 at $126,000 average salary for women and $136,000 average salary for men.

FYI: Poets & Quants published a critique of the 2013 FT ranking in “Stanford Alums Make the Most Dough.” In this article, John Byrne, rankings savant and designer of the original BW rankings, points out anomalies and weaknesses in the FT results.

MBA50 provides additional analysis in “The FT Full-Time MBA Ranking 2013 – Winners and Losers.” Its final line sums up all the hub-bub about rankings – any rankings – beautifully: “Only you can work out the best business school in the world…for you.” ~ Helping You Write Your Best