HEC Paris or école des Hautes Etudes Commerciales de Paris is a European business school located in the southern suburbs of Paris, France. HEC is the business school of ParisTech and is considered as one of the most prominent business schools in the world. It was ranked as the best business school in Europe seven times in the eight-year period between 2006 and 2013 in the Financial Times ranking, and ranked 2nd in Europe in 2014 Among the most selective French grandes écoles, and traditionally seen as the most prestigious French business school, HEC offers its flagship Master in Management â€" Grande école program, MBA and EMBA programs, eleven specialized MSc programs, a PhD program, and many executive education offerings. It holds the Triple accreditation : AMBA, EQUIS, and AACSB.


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HEC Paris was created in 1881 by the Paris Chamber of Commerce and Industry on the model of French grandes écoles and has progressively become one of the most selective graduate schools in Europe. On average, it has been ranked as the best business school in Europe by the Financial Times since the ranking's inception.

The school grants a Grande Ecole degree (MSc in Management), pre-experience master’s degrees, an MBA, two EMBA and offers a PhD program. It has several double degree agreements (Public Policy, Management and Technology, International Business, Sustainable Development, Environmental Development, Management Studies, Business Administration, Law and Diplomacy) with foreign business schools and universities as well as other French institutions.

As is also the case for other top French grandes écoles, HEC’s reputation relies on its highly competitive entrance exam, a concours jointly organized with other French business schools. Among the 9,500 students seating the concours after 2 years of preparatory classes, HEC has an admission rate of 4% and a yield of 99.7%.

HEC is among the few grandes écoles and is known to educate Europe's top executives and political elite, and has many notable alumni in business and politics. In 2011, 12 of the 40 largest French publicly traded companies have an alumnus of HEC Paris as CEO (or equivalent). With regards to the number of CEOs of Fortune Global 500 companies, HEC ranks as the 4th higher education institution in the world, and the 1st in Europe.


In 1819, the École supérieure de commerce de Paris became the first business school created in the world. Yet, many of the most prestigious French Grandes Écoles already existed. For example, the Arts et Métiers ParisTech, the École Polytechnique, the ENSTA and the École Normale Supérieure were created before or during the French Revolution.

Most business schools were created decades later, at the end of the 19th century, and were less attractive than universities. Established in 1881 by the Paris Chamber of Commerce (CCIP), the École des Hautes Études Commerciales (HEC) wanted to be in the fields of management and trade what Centrale Paris was in the field of engineering. In order to gain recognition from the academic world, the school offered lessons similar to what was taught in secondary education and few classes in management.

In 1921, the school introduced the case-based method of the Harvard Business School, but most of lectures remained theoretical. In 1938, HEC program was lengthened to 3 years.

Due to French corporations demand for North American style management education, at the end of the 1950s the case-based method was generalized and a one-year classe preparatoire was created to prepare the entrance examination which had become difficult. An evidence of the recognition of the diploma is that only 9% of HEC students also attended university in 1959, whereas 47% had done so in 1929.

In 1964, French President Charles de Gaulle inaugurated a new 250-acre (1.0 km2) wooded campus in Jouy-en-Josas. In 1967, HEC launched its executive education programs. At that time, the CCIP wanted HEC to become an MBA school like Harvard. Since the alumni opposed this project, the CCIP established a new school in 1969, the Institut Supérieur des Affaires (ISA). Yet HEC and ISA joined forces in the "Centre d'enseignement supérieur des affaires" the following year. This group changed its named to "Groupe HEC" in 1989.

Women have been accepted at HEC only since 1973. Only 27 girls were accepted that year and "HEC jeunes filles" (HECJF), another school dedicated to women, disappeared. Its alumni are officially considered as graduated from HEC. HECJF alumni include, for example, Édith Cresson, the first and to date the only woman to have held the office of Prime Minister of France.

During the 1970s, HEC began to become global. It signed a partnership with the New York University and the London School of Economics in 1973, and has recruited foreign students since 1975. In 1988, HEC founded the CEMS network with ESADE, the Bocconi University and the Cologne University.

In 2015, the school will adopt a new legal status to allow private investors to join the Board.


HEC ranked as the top business school in Europe 7 times in the 9-year period between 2006 and 2014 in the Financial Times ranking. Additionally, HEC is ranked 5th worldwide (and 1st in Europe followed by Oxford University) for the number of alumni holding a CEO position for Fortune 500 Global companies.

In 2011, The New York Times ranked HEC Paris among the ten best universities in the World according to a survey of chief executives and chairmen of leading companies, and the first outside the Anglo-Saxon world.

In 2013, Challenges Magazine ranked HEC Paris as the best business school in France.

Grande Ecole â€" MSc in Management

French magazines and newspapers rank HEC 1st in France almost every time. The choices made by French students clearly rank HEC 1st: in 2010, ESSEC lost 285 of its admitted students to HEC, ESCP Europe lost 331 of them to HEC, while only 1 student admitted at HEC chose another business school.

The Financial Times publishes a ranking of Masters in Management, and constantly ranks the Grande Ecole degree among the top 3 programmes worldwide (second in 2014). The school was ranked 1st three times in the last five years. The CEMS MiM, a European programme offered to the students of the Grande Ecole is also ranked in the top 3.

Master in Business Administration (MBA)

The Master in Business Administration is generally ranked among the top 20 programmes worldwide (fourth in 2014 according to The Economist).

Executive MBA

HEC offers a joint EMBA with the London School of Economics and the NYU Stern School of Business which is constantly ranked among the top 2 programmes worldwide by the Financial Times.

Executive Education

HEC Paris has been ranked #1 in the world in the latest Executive Education 2013 ranking of the Financial Times.

Grande Ecole (MSc in Management)

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The Master of Science in Management is HEC's leading program. It was ranked number one in the world by the Financial Times from 2005 to 2008. In 2010, HEC was ranked second to its "sister school" ESCP Europe. Yet, in the 2007â€"2012 period, 1,961 students from preparatory classes enrolled at HEC while admitted at ESCP, whereas only 4 did the opposite.

As of 2011, graduates of the Grande Ecole programme include 15 CEOs (or equivalent) of Fortune Global 500 companies.


French students, unless they have studied abroad, must succeed at a competitive entrance examination, known as the concours. There are two concours, depending on undergraduate studies:

  • 380 places are offered to students enrolled in Classes préparatoires aux grandes écoles
  • 40 places are offered to students holding a Bachelor's degree of a French institution

Holders of a non-French Bachelor's degree are required to submit a GMAT and a transcript of their grades before being interviewed.

Classes préparatoires

The classes préparatoires aux grandes écoles are a two-year curriculum extensible to three-years, acting as a prep course with the main goal of training undergraduate students for enrolment in one of the grandes écoles. They are considered as a voie royale in the French higher education system, except for law and medical studies, and less than 5% of a generation is admitted.

Each year, more than 9,000 students enroll in prep courses for entrance exams into business schools (known as "prépa HEC" while their real names are "ECS" or "ECE"). For a minimum of two years, préparationnaires study an average of 58 hours per week. Their curriculum includes Mathematics, either Economic History or Economics, Philosophy, Literature, and two foreign languages. They have written and oral examinations every week.

The concours includes at least an examination in each subject studied and both written and oral examinations. Depending on how many schools students apply to, written examinations spread over two of three weeks. HEC requires 26 hours of written exams, all of them being shared with other schools such as ESSEC and ESCP Europe. Oral examinations take place on the campus for three or four days. They are public and attended by hundreds of visitors, mainly future candidates and professors.

In 2013, 9,992 students from preparatory classes were candidates to business schools. Among them, 5,169 were candidates to HEC. Among those 5,169 candidates, only 700 were invited to oral examinations, and 380 were offered admission. In 2012, the Grande Ecole's yield, or the percent of students who matriculate after being accepted, was 99.7% (379 out of 380). The hierarchy among grandes écoles is very rigid and students enrolling at ESSEC - commonly seen at its strongest rival in France - while admitted at HEC are rare. HEC has no waiting list.

Holders of a Bachelor's degree

French graduates with a licence (Bachelor's degree) can also apply for admission to the Grande Ecole programme through another dedicated concours. In 2010, 40 candidates out of 899 were offered admission (<4.5%). In practice, most of the 40 admitted candidates already hold a Master's degree. There is no waiting list.

The International Admissions Service manages the recruitment tests and interviews on behalf of HEC and three other Grandes Ecoles in France. Admission to this programme requires a degree gained upon successful completion of at least three years of university education outside France in any field.

French is not a requirement and the median GMAT of admitted students is 710.

French and foreign admitted students enroll directly in the second year of the programme.


French students who attended a classe préparatoire are taught fundamental managerial sciences during their first year at HEC. Courses include economics, accounting, finance, law, psychology, sociology and mathematics (models, operations research, and statistics). During this first year, students can spend a semester in a foreign university (e.g. Wharton, Bocconi University, Trinity College, University of British Columbia...) . They can also enroll in a specific one-year program to get a Bachelor's degree from a French university (see below).

Direct admits, including international students, enter directly into the second year where they begin a business intensive program. Courses include corporate and market finance, accounting, marketing, law, mathematics, management, human resources, and supply chain. Second-year students are also given the opportunity to spend one semester in a foreign university. At the end of their second year, students choose specific majors, and must pass through a by far less competitive application process.

In order to graduate, students are required to have 8 months of internships. Since this is usually difficult during the summer, many students take a semester or year off for their internship, generally between the second and third year.

The final year of study covers intensive courses in the chosen major.

Dual degrees and joint programmes

HEC Paris has numerous double degree agreements with French and foreign institutions. Some of them only make degrees of the partner institution available to HEC students while others also enable selected students of the partner institution to graduate from HEC (in italics).

Among French partner institutions, Ecole Polytechnique, Mines Paris, AgroParisTech ENSAE and Télécom Paris are other colleges of ParisTech.

Bachelor's degrees

During their first year at HEC, students from preparatory classes can get a Licence (BA) from a Parisian university.

  • Paris-Sorbonne: History, Geography, Sociology, History of Arts or Philosophy
  • Paris-Dauphine: Economics
  • Paris Panthéon-Sorbonne: Applied Mathematics
  • University of Versailles Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines: Law
  • Institut Catholique de Paris: Theology and Philosophy

Masters in Engineering and Technology

If they accept to study four years instead of three, students from preparatory classes can receive the degree of a ParisTech engineering school (Grande Ecole degree).

  • ENSAE ParisTech : Economics and statistics (GE degree)
  • Mines ParisTech : Engineering (GE degree)
  • AgroParisTech : Life Sciences (GE degree)
  • Technical University of Madrid
  • Technical University of Munich : Management and Technology

Masters in Law and Public Affairs

  • Sciences Po Paris: Public Affairs (GE degree)
  • Freie Universität Berlin: Public Affairs
  • Paris Panthéon-Sorbonne: Law

Research Masters

  • Ecole Normale Supérieure of Paris: any master's degree of the social sciences departments
  • Paris Nanterre: Institutional Economics
  • Paris Panthéon-Sorbonne: Organisational Sciences
  • Ecole Polytechnique: "Quantitative Economics and Finance", "Project, Innovation and Conception"

Masters in Management/Economics from foreign Universities

  • CEMS Master
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Bocconi University
  • IIM Ahmedabad
  • Erasmus University
  • University of St. Gallen
  • St. Petersburg State University
  • Fundação Getúlio Vargas


Among the top recent employers were McKinsey & Company, The Boston Consulting Group, Roland Berger Strategy Consultants, Bain & Company, Barclays, Goldman Sachs, J.P. Morgan, Morgan Stanley, Deutsche Bank. Finance and consulting sectors have recruited c. 60% the class of 2006. Among the employed of the class of 2013, 98% found a job within 3 months, the average annual salary just after graduation is 52K€ (average annual salary outside France: €57,591). According to Financial Times, the weighted salary of HEC MiM students three years after graduation is among the highest of all MiM graduates in the world.

Masters of Science

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HEC offers other Masters of Science for holders of non-French bachelors.

  • MSc in Finance
  • MSc in Strategic Management
  • MSc in Financial Economics
  • MSc in International Business (which can be combined with the CEMS Master)
  • MSc in Marketing
  • MSc in Entrepeneurship
  • MSc in Sustainable Development
  • HEC Paris/Freie Universität Berlin Double Degree in Public Policy and Management

The school also offers a joint master programme in Quantitative Economics and Finance with the École Polytechnique.

Master in Business Administration (MBA)

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In 1969, HEC Paris launched the HEC MBA Program, becoming one of Europe's first MBA Schools. It aims to differentiate its program from other top MBAs through its diversity, its class size, its full-time 16-month curriculum structure (or 24-month part-time option), and the MBA Tournament organized by its students.

The Institut supérieur des affaires is the department of the school that manages its MBA program. This program attracts students from around the world with more than 55 nationalities represented in the 2008 graduating class. The selection process seeks a balance between academic achievement, professional experience, international exposure, and personal motivation. Knowledge of French is not an entry requirement, but participants are highly encouraged to have a basic knowledge of French by the start of the MBA Program, while mandatory (during the first two core terms) and optional language courses are offered throughout the duration of the program.


The Economist, ranked the HEC Paris MBA as 1st in Europe and 4th worldwide in 2014. In 2013, the HEC Paris MBA was ranked by The Financial Times as 7th among European business schools, and 21st amongst business schools worldwide.


Located at the Jouy-en-Josas campus, a new 9500m2 purpose built building became available in 2012 to the MBA program. The building is composed of 109 offices, 25 break-out rooms, 4 meeting rooms, 10 classrooms (offering up to 32 seats), 2 lecture theatres with 50 seats, 4 lecture theatres with 70 seats, 1 auditorium with 250 seats and a cafeteria.

The auditorium, a lecture theatre, 9 classrooms, including an e-lab, and the hall were all named after generous patrons from the HEC Foundation.


Starting in September 2012, along with HEC's new purpose-built building, a revamped MBA curriculum was introduced. The new curriculum was developed in consultation with Bain & Company.

Based on the new curriculum, new MBA students will be focusing on leadership skills, through activities like the Sustainable Business Conference and the MBA Tournament both of which are organised and run by the MBA students, also through the off-campus leadership seminar at the Ecole Spéciale Militaire de Saint-Cyr and through various club activities. Experiential learning will be playing a major role in complementing classroom activities. Finally, special attention is being given to Ethics through a dedicated cross-disciplinary approach.

Exchange and Double Degrees

The MBA Program has exchange and double degree partnerships with numerous universities and business schools around the world.

MBAT (MBA Tournament)

Every year, HEC MBA students organize and run, as part of their curriculum, the MBAT (MBA Tournament). Since 1991, MBA students from the top MBA programs throughout Europe gather at the HEC campus every May to network and compete in numerous sports.

Executive Education

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HEC offers a number of Executive MBAs.

Executive MBA

The HEC Executive MBA is a program for top executives with a minimum of 8 years' corporate experience which prepares for general management positions (the average background experience of students is about 14 years). The Executive MBA is a multi-site program offered in Paris (France), Beijing (China), St Petersburg (Russia) and Doha (Qatar). The courses are split between theory, case studies, strategic project, leadership training, EU community campus and foreign exchanges in the US and Asia. Program partnering universities are NYU, UCLA, Babson College in the USA, Tsinghua University in China and Nihon University in Japan. Several training formats are available to allow executives to participate in this 16-month training.

Global Executive MBA

HEC also offers the TRIUM Global Executive MBA programme jointly with Stern School of Business of NYU and the London School of Economics. It is divided into six modules held in five international business locations over a 16-month period. Whitefield Consulting Worldwide, a global MBA consultancy, has ranked the TRIUM Executive MBA programme as second worldwide. The Financial Times' most recent rankings (2014) of executive MBA programmes also placed TRIUM as first worldwide

Executive Masters

HEC also offers two executive masters jointly with the University of Oxford (Saïd Business School) including the Consulting and Coaching for Change.

Alumni association

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The school alumni association, Association des diplômés HEC Paris was founded in 1883 and gathers alumni of the different institutions of HEC Group: École HEC Paris, MBA HEC Paris, HEC Paris Executive MBA, Mastères HEC Paris and Doctorat HEC Paris. Each degree is associated with a letter and the year of graduation.

Its action focuses on enhancing the career of its alumnies by organising events, networking events, promoting the school in France and abroad. It is divided into sectorial, geographical (regions in France or countries abroad) branches or by class. Worth mentionning is its branch HEC au féminin gathering 10.000+ alumnae and catering to the specificities of women in business.

Notable HEC Paris faculty and staff

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  • Alberto Alemanno, Jean Monnet Professor of EU Law and New York University School of Law Global professor
  • Laurent E. Calvet, financial economist
  • Patrick Legland, Head of Global Research Société Générale
  • Philippe Gaud, Former Head of Human Resources Apple Europe
  • Itzhak Gilboa, economist
  • David Thesmar
  • Romain Laufer

Notable HEC Paris alumni

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HEC Paris alumni include:

  • Businessmen
    • Current CEOs of a Fortune Global 500 company
      • Henri de Castries (H76), Chairman of the management board and CEO of Axa
      • Baudouin Prot (H72), CEO of BNP Paribas
      • Louis Gallois (H66), CEO of EADS
      • Henri Proglio (H71), Chairman and CEO of Électricité de France
      • Stéphane Richard (H83), CEO of France Télécom
      • Pierre Feraud (H61), CEO of Foncière Euris (Groupe Casino)
      • François-Henri Pinault, Billionaire, Chairman and CEO of PPR
      • Bruno Lafont (H77), Chairman and CEO of Lafarge
      • Jean-Paul Agon (H78), CEO of L'Oréal
      • Sidney Taurel (H69), Chairman of Eli Lilly and Company
      • Henri Lachmann (H61), Chairman of Schneider Electric
      • Hubert Joly (H81), President and CEO of Best Buy and former CEO of Carlson Companies
      • François Pérol (H85), President Groupe BPCE
      • Laurent Mignon (H86), CEO Groupe BPCE
      • Guillaume Poitrinal (H89), CEO Unibail-Rodamco
    • Other preeminent businessmen
      • Philippe Foriel-Destezet, Billionaire and founder and CEO of Adecco
      • Olivier Bohuon, Chief Executive of Smith & Nephew
      • Serge Dassault (E63), CEO of Dassault Group
      • Didier Pineau-Valencienne (H54), CEO of Schneider Electric (1980â€"1999)
      • Pierre Kosciusko-Morizet (H99), Founder of Priceminister
      • Francis Bouygues (H51), Founder of Bouygues
      • Jean-Marie Eveillard (H62), value investor
      • Daniel Bernard (H69), Chairman of Kingfisher plc, former CEO of Carrefour
  • Academics
    • Pierre Rosanvallon (H69), Historian and political scientist
      Professor at the Collège de France
    • Michel Crozier (H43), Sociologist
    • Loïc Wacquant (H82), Sociologist
  • Political figures
    • Heads of State and Government
      • François Hollande (H75), President of the French Republic (2012-...)
      • Paul Reynaud (H1898), President of the Council (1940)
      • Édith Cresson, Prime Minister of France (1991â€"1992)
      • Francisco I. Madero (H1892), President of Mexico (1911â€"1913)
      • Abdoul Mbaye, Prime Minister of Senegal (2012-)
    • Other preeminent political figures
      • Dominique Strauss-Kahn (H71), Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (2007â€"2011), French Minister of Finance (1997â€"1999)
      • Pascal Lamy (H69), Director-General of the World Trade Organization (2005â€"...)
      • Eric Woerth (H81), Minister of Labor, Solidarity and Civil Service (2010â€"2010), Minister of Budget (2007â€"2010)
      • Jean-Louis Borloo (MBA76), Minister of Ecology, Energy, Sustainable Development, Territorial (2007â€"2010)
      • Valérie Pecresse (H88), Minister of Budget (2011â€"2012), Minister of Higher Education and Research (2007â€"2011)
      • Božidar Đelić, Vice-president of the Government of Serbia (2007â€"...)
      • François d'Aubert (H66), French Minister of Research and Budget (1995â€"1997 ; 2004â€"2005)
      • Hervé de Charette (H60), French Minister of Foreign Affaires (1995â€"1997), Minister of Civil service (1986â€"1988)
      • Serge Lepeltier (H76), French Minister of Environment (2004â€"2005)
  • Other alumni
    • Roland Garros, aviator
    • Maurice Herzog, mountaineer, and first person to climb a peak over 8000m
    • Claire Chazal, journalist
    • Laurel Zuckerman, author
    • Philippe Kieffer, officer
    • Pierre Brochand, Director of the DGSE (France's foreign intelligence agency)
    • Henri Proglio (H.71), Veolia Environnement
    • Baudouin Prot (H.72), BNP Paribas
    • Mercedes Erra (H.81)
    • Louis Gallois (H.66)
    • Denis Kessler (H.76), Scor
    • Serge Dassault (E.63), Dassault
    • Didier Pineau-Valencienne (H.54), Schneider Electric
    • Alain Weill (MBA 84)
    • Jean-Dominique Senard, Michelin

Student life

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HEC is located on a 110-hectare woodland campus in Jouy-en-Josas, 16 km. (10 miles) southwest of central Paris, close to Versailles. Jouy-en-Josas is served by the RER Parisian suburban train. The campus is built around a 19th-century Chateau, which is currently used for Executive Education classes.

Lodging is provided in one of ten dormitories (Bâtiments) providing basic but furnished rooms. Everyone eats together at the University Restaurant, which serves three meals a day in a soup kitchen setting. Grande école and Specialized Master students have classes in the Bâtiment des études (Batzet), while MBA students study in a specially designated building. There are two on-campus bars: Zinc, which is located on the second floor of the Cafeteria (or Kfet), and the Piano Bar, which is adjacent to the MBA residence hall. The campus also boasts several sports fields and two lakes.


There are around 130 clubs or "associations" on campus.

Among the most recognized clubs are:

  • Sports clubs such as Rugby Club HEC, Filles HEC Rugby (Girls Rugby), Ski Club HEC, and Club Football
  • HEC débats, which organizes debates and conferences on campus, every year many prestigious personalities are invited, such as former president Valéry Giscard d'Estaing in 2014.
  • HEC Grand Cru, one of the most famous wineclubs amongst grandes écoles' (external site [6])
  • HEC Monde Arabe, which organized great and diversified events, inviting world-class guest-speakers (Prince Moulay Hicham of Morocco, Tariq Ramadan, Palestinian Ambassador) and organizing exclusive events (The Religious Dialogue or The Arab Ambassadors Meeting)' (external site [7])
  • HEC International Students; with one-fifth of all undergraduates coming from international backgrounds, is one of the largest groups on campus
  • the Junior Entreprise (JE) acts as a junior consulting firm for local businesses. Competition for acceptance in the JE is intense, with campus-wide elections in November
  • Les Mercuriales HEC is an association which organises an international university sports tournament on HEC Campus each year, with teams participating from prestigious European business schools; its members work in collaboration with other renowned tournaments, notably EuroMilano, EuroEsade and USJ Beirut.
  • JUMP HEC organizes a yearly jumping event that is ranked among the top national events.
  • Voiles X-HEC is a sailing event organized jointly with École Polytechnique.
  • Duo-Conseil is a joint venture with students from École Polytechnique to provide consulting with a dual approach, engineering and technological expertise from École Polytechnique, and managerial expertise as well as business acumen from HEC. Only 5 students are admitted each year, thus it is a tough selection by one's peers.

The HEC Student Council (Bureau des Élèves in French or BDE) is in charge of the social entertainment on campus. It is also in charge of coordinating all club activities and representing the students in front of the campus administration. The BDE organizes weekly events such as POWs (Parties Of the Week), lunches and dinners, speakers, and sport events. HEC parties which usually are organised every Thursday are some of the most recognized ones among all French schools and universities. The BDE is composed of a 40-student team that is elected each year in April and for which the competition among students creates the well-known Student Office Campaign.

The HEC MBA Council is in charge of all social activities related to the MBA student body. It manages the MBA's Piano Bar in Expansiel Building (Building A), coordinates and sometimes funds all MBA club activities (speaker events, sports events, dinners etc.), works to expand the HEC MBA brand, develops campus and alumni relations, sets up the new MBAs' integration week, and generally relays student concerns and needs to the administration. Elections for MBA Council are bi-annual so as to accommodate both January and September MBA intakes.

See also

  • Education in France
  • Grandes écoles

Notes and references

External links

  • HEC Paris website
  • HEC Executive Education website
  • HEC Full-time MBA Program
  • HEC Alumni Association
  • HEC Paris Annual Report 2011

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