Ask the experts: European MSc

Listen to this article


The Master of Science degree in Management is increasingly seen as the degree of choice for European corporate recruiters, with the top French business schools dominating this market. Will other European business schools be able to catch their French counterparts into this lucrative Europe-wide market? And what does the continent-wide appeal of these programmes mean for the MBA degree?

A panel of international experts - François Collin, executive director of CEMS European Office, Pascal Morand, Dean of ESCP-EAP European Business School, Della Bradshaw, the FT’s business education editor, and Alex Snelling, recruitment director at L’Oréal UK and Ireland - answer your questions in an online debate.

Why study the Master of Science degree in Management as opposed to the MBA? Is there a downside to pursuing an MS in Management vs an MBA in terms of ability to move within the business world outside of Europe? And will implementation of the Bologna Accord strengthen the trend favouring a MS in Management vs an MBA?

Bonnie Becker Ramsey, Baltimore, MD, USA

François Collin: The MSc in Management is not just a European degree standard: it is actually delivered by top business schools around the world * Latin America, China, India, Australia,*- and very much valued by recruiters in those regions as well. Even in North America where the MSc in Management usually does not exist, our alumni are doing very well on the labour market with multinational companies. The main difference between MBAs and MSc’s is in terms of students profile: MBAs are meant for students with significant work experience (4 to 5 years), while MSc’s are designed for students entering the programme directly after a Bachelor degree - which is a strong tradition outside of the US. Students in MBAs in Europe also often have a first degree in a different field than management & business. And yes, I am convinced that the Bologna Accord is strengthening the MSc segment, for the simple reason that it is now existing as an homogeneous degree category across borders, with the same terminology, similar entry requirements at Bachelor level and enhanced visibility on the employment market.

Pascal Morand: This question offers an excellent opportunity to highlight a big difference business education in Europe and the USA. In Europe, the MBA degree is now virtually always post-experience; the Master of Science in Management in contrast is the preserve of pre-experience students. This is a reflection of differences in educational histories and traditions. The member states of the EU are working hard and fast to knit together their diverse traditions and to create a new academic standard: the pre-experience MSc degree. It has taken hold quickly under the impetus of the Bologna process. Its success is spreading rapidly in Europe and beyond. For example, the Association of MBAs, which specialises in MBA accreditation, recently started accrediting Pre-experience Masters in Management programmes (PEMM) in Europe. ESCP-EAP has several double degree arrangements with partners in the Ukraine, Russia, India and China where students are very keen to earn our European Master?s degree alongside their home degree.

Alex Snelling: The MBA adds tremendous value for experienced individuals in terms of strategic thinking, updating business knowledge and widening a skill set to give potential for general management. From my point of view an MS in Management gives a mini version of this, but in terms of the peer group and level at which the qualification works the MBA still has significant added value. I think you should make this decision based on the time and money you have available to invest and your experience - an MS would be a great option for Uni leavers or Early Career Professionals, whereas an MBA can be really valuable up to 10 years into a career. There's no downside to the MS...its taking the right qualification at the right time.

As regards the Bologna accord, I am sure it will strengthen the trend and I think that’s great given the importance L’Oréal places on international careers and mobility.

Della Bradshaw: The Master of Science degree is obviously a pre-experience degree compared to an MBA which largely requires participants to have some work experience. This, of course, is changing in the US where an increasing number of top MBA programmes are admitting those with no work experience on to their programmes.

However, the biggest difference between the two types of degree is historical and cultural. Personally I think it will be a long time, if ever, before US companies recognise the MSc programmes.

As to the Bologna accord....I find it very difficult to predict whether this will strengthen the MSc or the MBA.

In countries such as Germany, where those graduating from an undergraduate degree are usually 25 years old, it has been difficult for the MBA to become established as managers do not want to go back to school just a couple of years later. If Bologna encourages German universities to graduate younger students, then the MBA becomes more feasible.

On the other hand, because the university intake at undergraduate level is increasing in the UK, more students are considering masters degrees. Many UK business schools are introducing Masters in Management degrees to deal with this demand.

Does the Master of Science Degree prepare students with more analytical/ mathematical skills? If yes with which focus?

Thomas Weitzendorf, Vienna, Austria

Pascal Morand: Certainly a Master of Science in Management builds on knowledge of maths: managerial economics, statistics and quantitative analysis in marketing, financial mathematics, to name only a few, rely on a sound application of mathematics. But mathematics is not the sole focus of the MSc course. At ESCP-EAP we attach great value to the contribution of the human sciences in the process of developing a well-rounded individual. In an open environment like Europe where the challenge of working with huge diversity is a daily challenge, we believe that the human sciences have an even greater role to play in leadership development. If you have a solid background in maths and sciences, a degree in management will only increase your value in the job market. ESCP-EAP has agreements with several engineering schools in France and in Italy to help aspiring engineers to also earn a MSc in management. As you can well imagine the demand for these graduates in the job market is strong.

François Collin: Yes, it is generally a feature of European MSc’s to have a stronger focus on analytical and mathematical skills than MBAs. Conceptual and quantitative topics are often an important part of an MSc’s curriculum, with the objective to develop graduates with high intellectual competencies, strong abilities in theoretical understanding and problem-solving. For MBA students, those skills have been developed in an earlier stage, the programme is more applied and takes advantage of the students’ professional experience. Yet, pedagogy in MSc can be applied as well, with the use of case studies, business projects, internships * like in the CEMS MIM programme.

Della Bradshaw: I recently spoke to a student who was studying on the third and final year of an MSc (Grande Ecole) programme at Audencia in Nantes and SIMULTANEOUSLY studying on a one-year MBA programmes in the US at the University of Cincinnatti. He commented that the French masters programme was much more analytical than the MBA, but that the MBA focused more on teamwork and on the softer skills of management.

That said, if you really want to study on a technical degree with a view to, say, working in the finance sector, there are specialist masters degrees which you may want to look at. In particular you may want to consider a Masters in Finance or Masters in Financial Engineering degree.

Alex Snelling: I’m sure your analytical skills will be well used in the MSc programme - what it will add is a great level of business awareness and business thinking which will help to broaden your skill set. One of the key skills L’Oréal looks for in the individuals we recruit is leadership and I would look for a programme which allows you to focus on this to combine with your existing strong analytical skills.

Is there yet sufficient experience with the MSc to indicate how it is regarded by universities for those wishing to continue to a PhD in management? Does the MSc include a thesis?

Bruno, Haifa, Israel

Della Bradshaw: The MSc degree in continental Europe (not the UK) has been around for decades so there is ample evidence of where the graduates go. In the UK this is a relatively new market. Indeed a lot of UK business schools - Birmingham or Cambridge for example - have started programmes in the last few years and therefore are not yet eligible for the Financial Times rankings.

Pascal Morand: The Master of Science in Management degree is well over 10 years old in Europe. ESCP-EAP has delivered a Masters for nearly 20 and we have a large pool of graduates who have gone on to take a PhD. Many pursue a career in management education. In fact, ESCP-EAP now offers a PhD programme from its campuses in Paris, Berlin and Turin. ESCP-EAP is a university in Germany, so we are able to deliver our own Dr. rer. pol. Of course we require the MSc degree, or equivalent, from applicants to the programme.

And yes, the ESCP-EAP Master in Management requires a thesis for the final degree. In our view it provides you with the opportunity to produce an original piece of applied research. We find that it also supports the graduate’s job search.

François Collin: Just a side comment to start with: MSc’s are not new degrees in Europe. Even if the terminology is now changing with the Bologna agreement (Bachelor & Master’s for all countries), and if reforms may be involved to adjust length of studies, those degrees have a very long tradition in Europe. But you should be careful that an MSc in Management is not necessarily the best path to a PhD or a doctoral programme in all countries. Some schools (in France, the Netherlands,*) are making the distinction between a Research MSc, meant for continuation towards a PhD, and a MSc in Management, meant for entry in corporate careers. But in other countries, like Germany, Austria or Central Europe, a doctoral programme can be a logical continuation to a Master university degree, including for corporate positions.

And yes, An MSc nearly always include a thesis in Europe.

Does a MSc Management (at a top European institution) done straight after an unrelated bachelor’s degree (e.g. political science) add to a job applicant’s attractiveness considerably? Further, will the applicant be judged on his bachelors or his masters results?


Alex Snelling: YES! is the answer and I think this is a great way to boost your career prospects and also take the first step in an international career. After three years studying something you’re passionate about and interested in, I think a management MSc in a foreign country will really challenge you and also give valuable business skills. Careers at L’Oréal involve a lot of international mobility and fast track progress and an international MSc is an ideal preparation for this.

Pascal Morand: Our graduate employment statistics show that our Master?s graduates start at much higher salaries than BSc graduates (between 50% and 100% higher depending on the sector). They also have greater responsibilities at the outset, and they progress much more rapidly. Why? Because they have developed specialist and professional knowledge and skills during the programme. And they have acquired up to 15 months of applied experience on company internships before graduating. This means that when they are ready to enter the job market, they have much more to offer. Obviously a bachelor’s degree in an unrelated field is a strength in the job search and becomes even more valuable when supported by the MSc in Management.

Employers tend to like “double profiles”. For information 96% of ESCP-EAP graduates start working within 3 months of graduating; 78% already have an employment contract on the day they are awarded their degrees.

François Collin: In this example, an MSc in Management is certainly a very good complement in order to be attractive on the job market in the private sector. But there are strong differences between countries in terms of recruitment practices: in UK, a Bachelor degree is often perfectly adequate for being recruited as young high potential graduate, while in many continental European countries, a Master degree is seen as a pre-requisite. Furthermore, not all MSc’s in Management accept students without a Bachelor degree in the same field. A number of mandatory courses in economics, management, statistics are often required at part of the Bachelor transcript.

Della Bradshaw: I always like to think of the MSc degree as a sort of finishing school in management. So if you have an undergraduate degree in literature, music or physics, say, but want to move into business, this will help open the door.

I have a master in economics. There is not much management in master of economics. But should I take a MBA or a Master of Science degree in Management to become a consultant?

Lise Andersen, Stockholm, Sweden

Della Bradshaw: I would suggest talking to some of the companies that you would like to work for and ask them what sort of qualifications they prefer.

Alex Snelling: I’d say that if you already have a masters in Economics its worth trying the job market - you can always round out your business education with an MBA later.

Pascal Morand: You are fortunate to have a real choice. Of course you can go to work now and consider taking a MBA course in 5 years or so. Or you can embark on a Master in Management now and invest in your future, gaining work experience along the way by means of the required company internships. If you decide to continue your studies immediately, you will want to choose a course that strengthens your future recruitment profile. You need to enquire about specialisation options and international study opportunities. As far as careers in consulting are concerned, our Careers service informs me that about 20% of our graduates are hired by consulting firms. McKinsey, Accenture and Bain are examples of consulting firms which recruit our graduates regularly year on year.

François Collin: A Master’s in Economics may be very well regarded by employers, especially in the field of finance or consulting, where quantitative skills and ability for conceptual thinking are praised. Many CEMS member schools in the FT ranking are Schools of Economics. I think that employers are open for diversity, and the reputation of the university matters a lot as well. Instead of going for a second MSc degree, it might be a better plan in your case to have a first work experience, and then develop your management skills with an MBA.

I have just graduated in BA. Hons Economics From The University Of Leicester. I personally don’t think a postgraduate degree necessarily gives an upper hand in job hunting. Now a days its very important to have practical work experience than piles of certificates. Why does the panel think that Msc or an MBA is an essential part to get the desired job?

Alam, Leicester, UK

Alex Snelling: I don’t think it’s essential, but I think it can be advantageous and enjoyable. You’re right to say that work experience is important but a well chosen MSc or MBA should give you a rich experience too - networking with a really diverse, interesting peer group and being exposed to some exciting, cutting edge ideas about leadership and business. I’d say to everyone that its never worth doing a qualification just to get another certificate for your pile - only do it if its genuinely interesting for you and you’re committed to the hard work it will involve !!! Companies such as L’Oréal have training schemes which are designed to help you start your career without any business education if you decide not to opt for a further degree. Congratulations on your graduation and good luck!

François Collin: This is highly dependant on the country. In UK or Ireland, a Bachelor degree is often a good path to be hired for very good jobs by international recruiters. In most continental European countries, however, the Master is a must. My guess is that the recruitment practices in Europe will more and more converge with the Bologna implementation process, and that the MSc will increasingly become a standard for career-entry. But the corporate representatives on the panel must know better!

Pascal Morand: Today the challenges facing business organisations are highly complex. And they are not getting any easier. Employers are demanding more and more of their employees. If you aspire to succeed professionally you really have to offer something special to your future employer: expert knowledge, special skills, applied experience, international exposure. Especially important today is the diversity of experiences you have to offer your employer on day one. At ESCP-EAP we find that the Master in Management is a strong vehicle for acquiring a great amount of valuable experience which will stand you in good stead professionally.

Della Bradshaw: I think you need both - certificates and experience. One of the intrinsic parts of the two-year MBA or MSc qualification is a company internship and that will be particularly useful for those who are not sure about the type of company they want to work for.

Esade, Hec and Bocconi are considered in Europe’s top business schools. Even though these schools boast about their results, by the use of statistics, the information given on the internet is somewhat unclear. So, could someone be sure that his/her decision to attend a master in management (international or strategic) in one of these schools will get him a job, let’s say, in a consultant firm?

Papas Mimis, Thessaloniki, Greece

Pascal Morand: You greatly improve your chances of attaining your career goals by pursuing a Master in Management degree, especially from a top-ranked school that attracts the leading recruiters. Throughout the year ESCP-EAP organizes corporate recruiting events for its students and corporate partners in Paris, London and Berlin. About 200 companies participate talking to some 1,000 ESCP-EAP students and young graduates.

Obviously, as a business school, we aim to graduate students who can move into the job market quickly and find employment in the area of choice. This means that, in terms of knowledge and skills, they are matched with the needs of the recruiting company.

François Collin: Reputation of schools is indeed a good indicator, together with accreditations, rankings* Look at the data in the FT ranking! A lot of information is now available internationally from external sources. You can also visit the schools during one of their “open days”. No doubt that a Master from one of the top schools is a very good preparation for a business or consultancy career. But in the end, recruiters are hiring individual talents, not brands, so the future remains in your hands!

Alex Snelling: I’m afraid its not that simple. Top business schools are targeted by firms like L’Oréal but at the end of the day selection is based on merit. You can still definitely start your career without an MSc by focusing on a firm like L’Oréal which offers a comprehensive training plan from day one. Good luck!

In a brief FT overview I have read that the main difference between a MBA program and a master in management lies in the missing work experience. Is this the only difference? What do you suggest a person, who already accumulated 2-3 years of work experience and is looking for degree beneficially in the US and Europe?

Christian P

Alex Snelling: I would say that two to three years experience is probably too little to benefit fully from an MBA. Remember, it’s not just about the experience you’ve gained, it’s also about the peer group you’ll be studying with and the level of experience and expertise they have. I would say the MSc would be a better option for you right now. Good luck whatever you decide!

François Collin: In terms of students’ profile, the work experience makes the major difference between MSc and MBA graduates. MSc’s are career-start programmes, MBAs are career-change programmes.

There are also differences in pedagogy and teaching styles: MBAs can build on the students’ professional experience, and thus may be more applied, and more oriented towards management practices. MSc’s usually have a stronger foundation in theoretical and analytical skills.

A person with 2-3 years work experience is already a candidate for an MBA, not anymore for an MSc.

Della Bradshaw: I think another big difference between an MSc and an MBA is the teaching method. Because those starting a MSc are likely to be 21 or 22 years old, the programme is likely to be based more on the traditional lecture style of teaching. MBA teaching assumes participants have some working knowledge and therefore is more likely to rely more on teamwork and joint projects.

Although an MBA is a recognised qualification globally, I would be doubtful whether an MSc from a European business school is well-recognised in the US.

Pascal Morand: The Master in Management is a generalist programme. At ESCP-EAP we take a multi-disciplinary approach and include various courses in humanities to deliver a well-rounded graduate. Our Master?s programme also includes a specialisation in the final year. It short we prepare generalist managers with a specialist focus in a business function. We offer 120 elective courses and 16 specialisations.

If you have 2-3 years of work experience already, you have a choice of programmes. Either you start thinking about the MBA degree and begin preparing an application in a year or two (most MBA programmes in Europe require 3 to 5 years of prior experience). Or you apply for a shorter Master’s programme. There are many on the market accepting applicants with 1 or 2 years of work experience. For example, ESCP-EAP offers a Master in European Business (MEB) which lasts one year and involves study in 2 countries and 2 languages. It also includes a 3 month internship anywhere in Europe.

Looking at the course length on the Financial Times ranking, it seems that these MSc programmes can last anything from 10 months to several years. Given the obvious cost disadvantages of studying for a long period, are there any advantages in studying for a programme that lasts for two years or even longer?

Felix Robinson, San Francisco, US

Della Bradshaw: The reason for the difference in length is the way individual governments in Europe have interpreted the Bologna agreement. In France and Italy, for example, the MSc is required to be a two-year programme, in Germany it is 18 months in length and in Spanish programmes ( and programmes in the UK) would tend to be one year in length.

The longer programmes will all have the advantage of including an internship and many will include residencies in several countries as well as foreign language requirements.

Alex Snelling: I think this is about reviewing the course content in detail and ensuring you balance the length of the programme with the key themes that you want to cover. I don’t think anyone in industry would regard a shorter programme at a good school as a disadvantage.

François Collin: In the new Bologna system, the course length for an MSc will vary between 1 year and 2 years. Which is very similar to differences in length for MBAs around the world as well. It is then a trade-off for students, but length is not the only variable to consider: look at differences in prices, positioning, teaching cultures, international student diversity, career services as well... I would say that 2-year Master’s are usually general management programmes, without a broader basis in all functional areas, and the possibility to specialise in one field as a “major”. One-year MSc are often meant as specialised programmes in one functional area.

Pascal Morand: If you have a 4 year undergraduate degree and no prior work experience, a two year Master of Science in Management is an excellent investment for your future. At ESCP-EAP the 2 year Master?s programme includes 2 periods of 3/5 months during which participants work in companies on an internship. Many students even take a year out between the two years in order to take a longer in-company assignment. This valuable work experience opens doors upon graduation. You are at the beginning of your professional life. It is worthwhile to explore your interests and discover the direction you want to take later on.

According to the FT rankings some MSc programmes are free of charge while others, such as LSE, are expensive. Is this likely to continue, or within the next few years will all schools begin to introduce commercial fees for their programmes? If so, how will this affect the schools in the FT rankings?

Rupert Mackintosh, Cirencester, UK

Della Bradshaw: Traditionally in countries such as Denmark and Sweden education has been free. One reason for introducing the bachelor/master split in these degrees was to enable universities to charge fees for the masters portion of the programme. Generally I think you will see this happen across Europe over the next few years.

As to the rankings, course fees feed into the calculation for the “value for money” criterion. As you can see from the table:

The four schools that score highest on this criterion are those with no fees. As fees are introduced you might expect this to affect the ranking position.

François Collin: Many countries in Europe have university degrees free of charge by law for domestic students and European students as well (also non-European students in some cases). This applies to Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Central European countries, Nordic countries... Even if the issue is debated in those countries, it is not likely to change in the short term. In other countries, universities (you names the LSE) or private business schools may charge high fees. This will remain as an element of differentiation (and competition) between European programmes. But just like programme duration, price is not everything!

Pascal Morand: You probably noticed that Value for Money already is a criteria on the FT ranking. We see a trend developing in Europe. There are more and more Master’s programmes charging tuition fees. And programmes already charging fees have increased them substantially over the past 3 to 5 years. I think it is fair to say that Europe?s higher education landscape is increasingly looking like the USA. This means that postgraduate students need to plan to invest in their future. It also means that business schools and universities offering postgraduate education need to develop scholarships and other forms of financing so that no one is excluded from an education simply because he or she cannot afford it. We believe very strongly about this at ESCP-EAP and do everything possible to assist our students in facing their educational financial needs.

I have difficulty understanding the concept of the Cems programme. Is the Cems degree always given in addition to another degree? Is the course always 12 months in length?

Helen Maughan, Ponteland, UK

François Collin: The CEMS Master´s in International Management (MIM) is a joint degree that is always given in combination with one of the seventeen member schools´ MSc degrees. Thus, you will have to be enrolled in one of those programmes and fulfil the requirements for both degrees. However, many elements can be counted towards both degrees.

And yes, the MIM is 12 months in length, with a very precise CEMS-specific curriculum to develop skills for an international career. Students study at two different locations in Europe, do an internship outside of their home country, and attend some workshops and seminars in any of the 17 countries.

Are there any statistics available for the number of MSc students who get their first job from the company internship they follow as part of their degree?

Jo Wilkinson, Bath, UK

Alex Snelling: I don’t have any statistics on the MSc in particular but I can tell you that over 50% of our interns are successful in securing full time roles with L’Oréal and I imagine this is the same for many of our competitors. Securing a good internship can be a brilliant first step in a career and you should make sure that the school you choose has expertise in placing you effectively with companies.

François Collin: I will give you the stats for the CEMS MIM Graduates:

From our graduate survey 2005, 25% of alumni who had graduated 3 months before stated that they had found their job through cems resources, of which the cems career forum and company internship were the most useful (career forum = 57%; internship = 40%). Response rate of survey was 30% of total graduates that year. 40% of cems alumni have worked or are working for a cems corporate partner (past or present).

Pascal Morand: Our Careers Service informs me that 78% of our Master’s graduates have an employment contract upon receiving their degree from ESCP-EAP. In response to an in-house survey, approximately half of them replied that they had already worked for their employer on one or more occasions. This is a good indicator that the company internship provides the student and the employer with the opportunity to observe each other and decide mutually if they wish to prolong the professional experience.

If I want to work in the City of London, should I study for an MSc in management or a Masters in Finance programme?

Jack McGeorge, London, UK

Alex Snelling: I think this depends on exactly what career path you want to follow. I know for many of the banks or finance houses, the Masters in Finance might be more appropriate as it would give you great technical skills. However, if you want to leave your options broader - and I’d encourage you to think outside the City as well in terms of a challenging career - then the Masters in Management might leave you with a broader range of options. Hope this helps and remember to think outside the square mile box!!!

Della Bradshaw: I think both are well-respected in the City of London. One point, Masters of Finance degrees are often post-experience degrees, like an MBA.

François Collin: I would say this also depends from which institution you are graduating! And in the end, you will be the one making the difference... But to be specific, I will say that the top MSc’s in Management are heavy providers of young graduates for the City of London, provided students have done an internship in the sector and taken the finance courses, or finance options. Recruitment is not restricted to graduates from MSc’s in Finance, very far from that.

Pascal Morand: I mentioned earlier that the Master in Management programme is a generalist programme, but that it offers an opportunity to specialize. At ESCP-EAP, for example, we have 3 specialisations in finance. Moreover, the student has the choice of specialising in London or in Paris, depending on his or her career intentions. When our graduates apply for jobs in finance (about 25% of all our Master’s graduates), they are well received by the big banks and insurance firms across Europe (especially Paris, London and Frankfurt).

What are the entry requirements for a MSc in management programme? I presume a good undergraduate degree is required, but do applicants need to take the GMAT or TOEFL tests?

Anna Ryan, Bristol UK

François Collin: Entry requirements will differ greatly not only between countries, but eventually also between different MSc´s offered. There is still a number of MSc programmes offered in the local languages, not English.

For those offered in English, I assume that most will ask for a TOEFL, “IELTS”, GMAT or equivalent, though.

Other than that, many MSc´s will require applicants to have an undergraduate degree in a field related to the MSc (like a Bachelor´s in Business Administration or Economics when applying to an MSc in International Management), and definitely all will require an undergraduate degree of at least three years duration.

Pascal Morand: Yes, a good undergraduate degree is a basic requirement. At ESCP-EAP we also have a demanding battery of Admissions tests and interviews. We also accept the GMAT (and the French equivalent TAGE-MAGE). The Class of 2008 shows a minimum GMAT of 640 and an average of 697. Of course we require fluency in the languages of the countries in which the students will be studying (since our programmes are cross-border, all students must be proficient in two, three or more languages). This proficiency is tested by appropriate means.

I notice that some top European schools such as Insead, London Business School or Bocconi are not included in the rankings. Why is this?

Gwen Rogers, Amsterdam

Della Bradshaw: Many of the top European graduate business schools - London Business School, Insead in France, IMD in Switzerland or Iese in Barcelona - do not run pre-experience masters in management degrees.

For a school such as Bocconi, or St Gallen in Switzerland, it is a different situation........For a school to participate in the FT rankings, the programme must have been in existence for at least four/five years. Although Bocconi and St Gallen did run masters equivalent programmes before the implementation of the Bologna reforms, these programmes were substantially different to the masters programmes they run today. For this reason we have not been able to include these two very good schools in this ranking yet.

François Collin: Insead, London Business School, also IESE or IMD are all offering MBA´s, which traditionally attract a very different group of students than the MSc programmes ranked in the current FT ranking. MSc programmes are mainly “pre-experience”, with students continuing their education directly after having received their Bachelor´s degree.

Bocconi is a different case, as is the Universitaet St.Gallen - they have currently changed their programme structures and were thus not eligible, the FT ranking being based on the answers of alumni having graduated three years ago.

Pascal Morand: In fact there are 2 major segments to the business degree market : undergraduate and postgraduate. In addition the postgraduate segment can be subdivided into post- experience (MBA) and pre-experience (MSc) programmes. Not all business schools are present in both segments. ESCP-EAP offers a full range of postgraduate degree programmes, including 20 pre-experience and 6 post-experience Masters, as well as an Executive MBA. Our faculty appreciates the opportunity to work with both types of students.

Does the panel think the Bologna agreement will really mean student mobility, with students choosing a second university in which to study for a masters degree (different than their bachelor university)?

Brian Barber, Washington DC, US

Alex Snelling: Yes, I absolutely think it will and I think this is excellent. Companies such as L’Oréal which value international careers will find this kind of “dual education” across two subjects and two countries very attractive in candidates. Equally, the experience of studying overseas and in a different culture is really enriching and takes advantage of the many excellent schools we have across Europe. Bologna should be the start of a positive new chapter in European business education.

Della Bradshaw: I hope so.

François Collin: A definite yes. First and foremost, Bologna means transparence, which is a clear progress for Europe, traditionally a place of highly different national ways. Second, Bologna means mutual recognition of examinations, thus allowing to easily transfer credits and exams between universities, and countries. And last but not least, Bologna means equal standards, as by a common transfer system, workload and grades will be standardised.

Together with European Union financial aid for student mobility via diverse programs, and of course liberalisation in the transport sector leading to low transportation costs in Europe, we will have a highly favourable environment for picking and choosing the best individual way in higher education.

Pascal Morand: This is certainly the intention of the creators of the process. All the signs are pointing in this direction as well. A recent White Paper published by the EFMD refers to 2.4 million BA/BSc graduates in 2010. It is difficult to predict how many will study for a Master’s degree, but the trend is towards more education rather than less. How many will study outside their home country is also difficult to predict. For the time being it is still a relatively small number. But I expect numbers to increase strongly after 2010, once the Bologna Agreement is fully operational. Our world is characterized by increasing mobility. Today over 115 million people around the world live in another country than the one they were born in. Some specialists predict that by 2050 this number will rise to over 1 billion! I believe we are in for a very long period of cross-border mobility and education will play a very important role in this context.

I would like to add that ESCP-EAP has been involved in cross-border education since 1973. We have been witnesses to many changes and trends in educational patterns during this time. Student mobility has emerged as one of the major educational trends during this period.

I am planning to do a MS in Finance but should I do it from US, UK or Europe? I know it depends on what university I join in these countries, but in general which county’s education will be an advantage on my resume/ CV and will provide me better job options?

Anish Patel, Boston, US

Della Bradshaw: I think the answer to your question is probably another question - where do you want to work when you graduate?

François Collin: I would say this is very much depending whether you would like to start working in Europe (including UK!) or in the US. A European degree is of course a better passport for a career in Europe.

Alex Snelling: I think that you should refine your search by looking at individual schools rather than countries. It is fair to say that continental Europe has much more experience in offering some MSc programmes however some United Kingdom schools such as Oxford Said business school are offering some very exciting and well respected Masters programmes.

I am a part qualified ACCA with no work experience and would like to progress my career in management, what do you think is the best option, to do MSC in management or an MBA?

Phani Kumar, UK

Alex Snelling: I would opt for the MSc, I think its too early to do the MBA and that you’ll benefit much more from gaining some work experience before undertaking one.

François Collin: I would recommend an MSc! An MBA is not appropriate without work experience.

Della Bradshaw: At this point your best option would be an MSc as you are unlikely to get a place on an accredited MBA programme. If you want to finish your ACCA qualifications first and work while you are doing it, then an MBA would be an option in future.

With 4 years’ post-MSc experience (in environment consulting) I am considering an MBA to widen my business/finance career options. To what extent would an MSc in Management compete with an MBA in terms of both credibility and learning?

Jack Cunningham

Alex Snelling: I think you need to establish exactly what career option you want to pursue and work backwards from there. An MBA could give much more business focus to your profile and if you’ve been involved in environment consulting then it will certainly add in a strong financial and entrepreneurial element. I think you would get a lot of this from the MSc as well however at a less advanced level. Both are credible - with four years experience I think the MSc is probably the more relevant option and you will certainly attract attention from recruiters if you opt for one of the leading schools.

François Collin: An MSc is not a good fit after 4 years’ professional experience. You seem typically in the MBA profile.

Pascal Morand: With 4 years of work experience you have a classical MBA profile. Unless you were to undertake a Master of Science in Urban or Environmental Planning or some such programme, I would question the wisdom of opting for a MSc in Management at this stage of your career. I hasten to add, considering that for the first time in history humanity is living increasingly in an urban environment (and the urbanisation trend will certainly continue throughout the 21st century), I imagine that career opportunities in environmental consulting must be excellent.

Since most french business schools are delivering an MSc or MiM is there any use and/or learning value for a french student from the grande ecole system to pursue an MBA?

Rudy, Paris

Della Bradshaw: Most MBA programmes are designed for participants who have had little or no formal management education and are therefore popular in countries such as the US or the UK where fewer students study business at an undergraduate/MSc level. However the teaching method would be very different on an MBA. taking into the account the business experience of alumni. There is also the alumni network......

François Collin: My personal views is that it would not make a lot of sense to do an MBA after a French grande école degree in business - whether you want to work in France or internationally. Both degrees are at post-graduate level, and it would be redundant.

Pascal Morand: Your question is very important. The Master in Management degree in France is excellent preparation for a career in business. I would recommend working for a few years before embarking on an update or upgrade of your business knowledge and skills. Most employers take good care of their high potentials and provide for, indeed carefully plan, their personal development. However, if in 5 to 10 years time you feel that the MBA experience can add something useful and worthwhile to your profile, I would suggest you bear two points in mind: (1) Choose the MBA programme that gives you access to the type of network that will help you pursue your career goals; (2) Choose a programme that will provide you international exposure and experience. Living in a different environment can completely change your way of seeing the world. Knowing how to see, think and act, in a new light is vitally important for leaders.

I have a masters degree in management (from not a very well known business school in India). I have 4+ years of post qualification working experience in consulting and corporate finance in big four firms in India and now in the Middle East. I want to be in consulting/corporate finance type work - and looking for another MBA or MSC program - to move up the value chain in terms of working with the big four in western countries or strategic consulting firms. Based on my profile what’s best for me?

Nitin Premchandani

Alex Snelling: Honestly Nitin I would grow within your current job or change employer and develop more work experience. You say you have 4+ years of employment and you can afford to take an MBA after a few more years of developing. You already have a Masters in Management and I would not suggest adding another Masters degree on top of this. I’m afraid sometimes the best school is actually the school of life and I think seeking development opportunities in your current role or switching firm might prove more rewarding than going straight into another qualification.

Della Bradshaw: With your age and experience I would suggest either an MBA or a specialised masters programme - a masters degree in finance or consulting, for example.

François Collin: Go for a (post-experience) MBA in general management! There are many good ones in Europe at the CEMS schools.

Pascal Morand: Your profile appears to me to be classical MBA. At ESCP-EAP we see a trend in the full-time MBA market. More and more students from emerging market countries are keen to earn their MBA in the West, and increasingly in Europe. Such students develop valuable knowledge and skills which can be usefully leveraged in their home countries to make a real contribution to personal and economic development. Some may wish to remain in Europe but this is not always easy. The experience is rewarding nonetheless.

I am enrolling a MSc in Management at Cass Business School - London City University. Despite the school’s presence in Top 10 European Business School Rank 2004 and 2005, this Master is not classified in the survey for the 2nd year. Is it a competitive programme? Is it worth the considerable tuition fee of 24,500 euros? Is there any data available about occupation, salary perspective, etc.?

Davide Fiori, Milan, Italy

Alex Snelling: I have worked with the Cass Business School and found them very professional with some interesting student profiles. I think the Masters market in the UK is probably developing too fast and currently too young to place enormous reliance on rankings - if you’re impressed with the school, you like the curriculum and the individuals teaching courses suit you then I would encourage you to pursue this. There’s no better place than London to study as well!

Della Bradshaw: To include a school in the Financial Times ranking, the programme has had to be in existence for the past four/five years. In the case of Cass, the programme was launched more recently that that. Therefore, the school’s non-inclusion is the ranking has nothing to do with the quality of the programme.

What made Stockholm business school improve so much compared to last year? And what do you think of Scandinavian business schools?


Della Bradshaw: Stockholm was one of the schools (Audencia was another) that improved its position in almost all the categories included in the ranking. Hence the move.

François Collin: It is the salary of those alumni answering the questionnaire, which has risen from roughly 39.000 Euros in 2005 to more than 46.000 in 2006.

Generally, Scandinavian business schools have a very high reputation in Europe, especially for their academic rigour. Amongst the 35 universities ranked, you will find five Scandinavian universities, including Finland, which may represent the high standard of higher education in this region.

Besides this, they have a very good offer of English-taught MSc programmes which is probably second to no other non-English speaking region in the world.

What is the most obvious difference and similarity between the MSc and MBA degrees? Would you recommend having both?


François Collin: As we debated before, I would not recommend both an MSc in Management and an MBA, it is very redundant, but meant for different points in time in a business career: MSc’s are career-entry degrees, MBAs are career-change degrees. An obvious difference is students’ professional experience. But it is very confusing when schools hire students with no work experience for an MBA programme, or when pre-experience programmes are labelled MBAs.

Hello, I have 5+ years of experience and work for a Telecom giant. Now, I would like to do an MBA and move to the financial sector. Would a Master of Science in Management help me or should I do an MBA ? Also please advise me if I have to do a full time MBA to achieve my goal.

Arvind Ramachandran, Cambridge

François Collin: You are a typical candidate for an MBA degree - not an MSc. I would recommend a full-time MBA to develop very solid foundations, invest in team work with your peers. Full time programmes also often have a better recognition on the employment market. Part-Time format is very appropriate at more senior level (Executive MBAs).

I’ve got an MSc in Economics, Finance & Management, does that count? I’m only 24, starting out in a small IFA/investments company. With a bit of experience under my belt will European Corp recruiters be after me?? It would be nice.

Peter, Bristol

Pascal Morand: At ESCP-EAP we have many years of experience working with corporate recruiters in Europe. We have learned that when it comes to recruiting people for top positions two things matter a lot: (1) how good are the potential recruit?s communication skills? (2) how much international exposure and experience does the recruit have? Of course your education is important, and certainly your track record will play a vital role in future employment opportunities. But in today’s world of interlocking economies you also have to be able to work in highly complex business environments and have real personal skills of flexibility and adaptation.


European Masters in Management Rankings 2006

Euromasters report 2006

Della Bradshaw - Single market, single degree?

Ask the experts: MBAs

Post a comment in’s MBA discussion forum

More business education news, features and reports

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2017. All rights reserved. You may share using our article tools. Please don't copy articles from and redistribute by email or post to the web.