HEC Paris vs. Bocconi vs. ESADE vs. Others (Studying Abroad in Europe)

I'm looking to study abroad in Europe and I've narrowed down my choices to these schools:
Bocconi University
HEC Paris School of Management
Rotterdam School of Management
IE Business School (Madrid)

I would really appreciate any advice or comments, particularly from those who have attended any of these schools. From my understanding, all of the aforementioned schools have prestigious reputations, but I'm more interested in a good overall international experience. In my opinion, studying abroad is for having fun and getting out of your comfort zone rather than academics. I'm looking for some insights on campus life, nightlife, nearby attractions, people, etc. A CollegeProwler for European universities would be ideal, but unfortunately, nothing of the sort exists

And before I get a bunch of posts telling me to do my own research... I have done my research, I would just like to hear what you WSO members have to say about these schools. Thanks

WSO Elite Modeling Package

  • 6 courses to mastery: Excel, Financial Statement, LBO, M&A, Valuation and DCF
  • Elite instructors from top BB investment banks and private equity megafunds
  • Includes Company DB + Video Library Access (1 year)

Comments (6)

Best Response
Aug 14, 2015 - 2:51am

I have friends in ESADE, HEC, Rotterdam and Bocconi and I have been to Milan, Barcelona and lived in Paris.

I would definitely take HEC off of your list simply because Paris is not a nice place to live; other than the sights and being able to say you lived in Paris there´s not much there, don´t get me wrong, the monuments etc. are excellent but just go as a tourist, not as a student.

Madrid is not all that either, if you want to go to Spain definitely opt for ESADE, for one thing it is a better school in my opinion but Barcelona is a far nicer city with a better vibe and more friendly people. However, the ESADE campus is not in Barcelona itself, you can either live in the city and commute (about 30min if I recall correctly) or live near the campus, most people choose to commute since it is more enjoyable to live in the city.

Bocconi is supposedly a great school, I don´t know much about it though although I think it might be fairly small, not sure about that though. Milan I reckon it´s a love-it or hate-it city, I really did not like it but a lot of people absolutely love it, on the other hand you wouldn´t be too far from nicer cities such as Florence or even Verona.

Rotterdam is also a top quality school (well, all of your choices are), Dutch people are generally very kind and fun, the cities are nice and, well, you´d be close to Amsterdam aha.

If it were my choice I would say ESADE > Rotterdam > Bocconi > IE > HEC. In terms of the school and extra-curricular experience, which is an extremely important factor when choosing where to go for a semester or year abroad.
There are other great places to go in Europe though, Copenhagen, Vienna, Stockholm, Mannheim, Manchester (rather than London, yes, you´d have more fun in Manchester than in London I think), etc.

Basically, go anywhere other than Paris

Aug 14, 2015 - 2:11pm

Thanks for the detailed response:
I originally narrowed down my list to schools that have some name brand recognition, but the general consensus seems that the prestige of the school you study abroad at is completely irrelevant. In light of that, I've added a couple more schools and was wondering if you had any input on these schools?

University of Manchester
ESCP Europe (Paris campus) Maybe this area of Paris is better than that of HEC?
Vienna University
Nova School (Lisbon, Portugal)
Corvinus University (Budapest, Hungary)

Aug 14, 2015 - 6:27am

HEC Paris is not actually in Paris but in some village near Paris. Their campus is terrible cause its in the middle of nowhere. They do throw big parties where everybody gets absolutely smashed but thats mostly because everybody is drinking to escape the depression of the HEC campus. The school is really top-notch though, probably the most prestigious on your list.

Bocconi really depends on whether you like Milan. Some people like it, others find it boring. Milan is no Paris or London but its definitely not a shithole either. It's also pretty close to other cities such as Venice so thats a plus. Bocconi is a great school btw.

ESADE and IE, I wouldn't really know. I have been to Barcelona but I didn't find it that exciting, although many people love it so regard my opinion here as somewhat of an outlier. Madrid I never went. Both schools are supposed to be good though.

Rotterdam, not a beautiful/special/vibrant city like the others on your list but its pretty cheap and close to Amsterdam, which is amazing. Rotterdam is also very close to London (40 minute flight), Paris (2,5 hours on the train) and relatively close to Berlin so for travelling it would be a good choice.

Aug 14, 2015 - 7:46am

I know you said you're set on those 4, but for reasons others have mentioned, it might be good to at least consider other schools in other cities. Prestige matters zero for study abroad schools, so you should go somewhere where you can have a great international experience and worry about the academic party second.

Aug 14, 2015 - 2:22pm

Well, I study at the University of Manchester and love it, ok the university is not as prestigious as HEC, Bocconi etc. But remains a very well regarded university, it is in the Russell Group after all.
However, Manchester has possibly the best student life in the UK (Leeds is very good as well).

Of the others, Vienna is equally good, however I'm not sure if the student life is as good as in Manchester. Budapest is a nice city as well as Lisbon, I have no clue about the universities though.

I'll answer in more depth on Monday when I get back home, but Manchester is one of the best cities for students in Europe no doubt about it. And if that new list it has the best business school, on par with Vienna.

Aug 14, 2015 - 6:52pm

Eius ullam dolorem quidem id. Reiciendis debitis fugiat animi quaerat. Architecto officiis molestiae ut ut praesentium tenetur. At quia consequatur qui aut repudiandae. A nisi porro quam distinctio ex. Assumenda recusandae error aut quia exercitationem et alias esse.

Nihil vitae sunt dolor nihil reiciendis et. Reiciendis vero quidem accusantium ut delectus sint aut. Dolores perspiciatis accusantium aliquid sint cumque voluptatem. Id qui sit atque ea distinctio quia.

Quia in animi quis accusamus ratione. Et quaerat omnis reprehenderit voluptatem quisquam. Dolorem aspernatur mollitia voluptatem eligendi molestiae.

Totam vitae iure voluptatum. Et saepe quia facilis omnis ab perferendis enim. Optio dolor atque omnis labore.

Start Discussion

Total Avg Compensation

November 2021 Investment Banking

  • Director/MD (10) $853
  • Vice President (40) $360
  • Associates (234) $234
  • 2nd Year Analyst (144) $156
  • 3rd+ Year Analyst (34) $154
  • Intern/Summer Associate (107) $146
  • 1st Year Analyst (513) $136
  • Intern/Summer Analyst (394) $84