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HEC Paris
Hautes études commerciales de Paris
Established 1881
Type Grande école
Dean Bernard Ramanantsoa
Faculty 100
Students 3,500
Location Jouy-en-Josas, France
For other schools named Hautes Études Commerciales, see Hautes Études Commerciales.

HEC Paris or École des Hautes Études Commerciales de Paris (HEC Paris) is one of the world's foremost business schools, repeatedly ranked #1 Business School in Europe by the Financial Times[1]. The highly selective Grande École was founded in 1881 by the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Paris. It is one of the founding members of ParisTech.

The school has many notable alumni in business and politics, including three current French ministers, the director-general of the WTO and the IMF president. In 2009, 9 companies of the CAC 40 index have an alumnus of HEC Paris as CEO (or equivalent).

The Grande école programme (MSc in Management) is known for its very competitive entrance exam (concours). Less than 5% of students attending the dedicated and itself quite selective undergraduate curriculum (see preparatory classes) are admitted each year. Because of this selection, HEC is regarded as one of the most prestigious schools in France together with the Ecole Polytechnique (engineering) and the Ecole Normale Supérieure (sciences and literature) which have similar recruitment processes.





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 École Polytechnique and the École Normale Supérieure were created 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 the École centrale de 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 management teachings.

Despite its ambition and the quality of its teachers (often chosen among prestigious Parisian academics), the school was considered as a second chance for upper-class children who did not want to attend university and a way to shorten compulsory military service (one year instead of three). As a result, HEC suffered of a lack of attractiveness at least until the 1930s. Created in 1892, the entrance examination was removed between 1906 and 1913.

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.

The problem of attractiveness disappeared after world war two, due to French corporation demand for North American management education. At the end of the 1950s the case-based method is generalized and a one-year classe preparatoire is 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 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 the ISA were gathered 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.

HEC today


HEC is ranked first by French magazines for decades (sometimes ranked 2nd after ESSEC Business School[2]) but the school has also gained international recognition. It has been ranked #1 Business School in Europe by the Financial Times of London for the fourth year in a row in 2009. Its MSc Management Programme was ranked #1 by the Financial Times in 2006, 2007 and 2008 and #2 in 2009 (CEMS, a consortium of which HEC is a founding member, was ranked #1) .[3] :

In 2007, the École nationale supérieure des mines de Paris published a "Professional Ranking of World Universities". Its main criterion is the number of chief executive officers (or equivalent) among the "500 leading worldwide companies" (Fortune Global 500). Despite its small size, HEC is ranked #7 while University of Oxford, for instance, is ranked #8 with 6 times as many students.

The school does not appear in the Academic ranking of world universities compiled by Shanghai Jiao Tong University, because of its small size and its relative lack of research.

The Grande école (MSc in Management)

The Master of Science in Management is HEC's leading program.; it was ranked number one in Europe by the Financial Times from 2005 to 2008. It returned in second place in 2009, but only behind a joint European MSc itself initiated by HEC..[3]


Almost every French grande école student has attended a classe préparatoire (preparatory classes). Approximately 16,000 undergraduate students follow this intensive academic training known as prépa HEC, dedicated to preparing for French business schools' competitive entrance exams.

For a minimum of two years, préparationnaires study an average of 58 hours per week[4]. Their intensive coursework includes Mathematics, either Economic History or Economics, Philosophy and Literature (culture générale), English and another foreign language.

In 2009, 380 candidates out of 4193 were offered admission at HEC after passing a nationwide competitive exam known as the concours, which includes written and oral examinations in each subject. Almost all of them (374) actually enrolled.

French graduates with a Licence (Bachelor degree) can also apply for admission to the grande école programme. If they pass another dedicated concours, they are admitted directly in the second year. In 2009, 50 candidates out of 1079 were offered admission. In practice, most of the 50 admitted candidates already hold a Master's degree and a large part of them are alumni of Sciences Po Paris.

The International Admissions Service manages the students recruitment tests and interviews on behalf of HEC and three other grandes écoles in France. Admission to this programme requires a degree gained upon successful completion of at least three years of university education outside France (equivalent to the French Licence or Bachelor's degree). The selected students enroll directly in the second year of the grande école programme and, after two years, receive HEC's degree of Master of Science in Management.


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. They can also enroll in a specific one-year program to get the diploma of 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 job experience. 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 students can enroll in specific programs to get the diploma of another institution.

Degree University Subject
Licence Paris-Sorbonne University History, Geography, Sociology, Arts, or Philosophy
Licence Paris Dauphine University Economics
Licence Versailles Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines University Law
Licence Pierre and Marie Curie University Mathematics
Licence Institut Catholique de Paris Theology and Philosophy
Master Sciences Po Paris Master in public and corporate management
Master École Nationale de la Statistique et de l'Administration Economique Economics and Statistics.

Depending on the chosen "Majeure", students might obtain masters of other French institutions. For example :

Several "Majeures" are jointly organized with prominent French engineering schools such as the École Polytechnique or the École des Mines de Paris with grande école students of these institutions joining their curriculum.

Numerous double degrees agreements were also concluded between HEC and universities abroad:

Dual Master programs outside France
CEMS Master
Sloan School of Management (MIT)
The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy (Tufts)
Bocconi University
Erasmus University
University of St. Gallen
Freie Universität Berlin


Finance and consulting sectors have recruited more than half the class of 2006. In February 2007, two thirds of this class worked in France, with an average salary of €47,000, while the average salary outside France was €69,000. According to salary surveys its graduates are among the highest paid of all French graduates.[5]

Other Masters and MBA

Masters of Science

HEC offers other Masters of Science for holders of non-French bachelors. They correspond to the specialization year ("Majeure") of the MSc in Management curriculum.

  • MSc in Finance
  • MSc in Financial Economics
  • MSc in International Business (which can be combined with the CEMS Master)
  • MSc in Sustainable Development

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

Specialized Masters

Masters in Business Administration

In 1969, HEC Paris launched the HEC MBA Program, becoming one of Europe's first MBA Schools. It aims to differentiate from other MBAs by its diversity, its bilingual option, its 16-month curriculum structure, 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.

The MBA Program has exchange and double degree partnerships with numerous universities and business schools around the world. It also offers a Part-Time MBA program.

In 2008, HEC MBA was ranked by the Financial Times [6] as 7th among European business schools, and 18th among worldwide business schools.

Executive Education

The 19th "château" dedicated to Executive Education

HEC offers a number of Executive MBAs.

HEC 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) and Saint Petersburg (Russia). It has been inherited from the prestigious Centre de Perfectionnement aux Affaires, the leading top-executive program founded in 1930 to introduce the case methodology in France. 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 (Trium)

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 (2009) of executive MBA programmes also placed TRIUM as second worldwide[7]

Alumni include

Student life


HEC is located on a 110-hectare woodland campus in Jouy-en-Josas, 16 km. (10 miles) southwest of central Paris (as the crow flies), next to Versailles. Access to the campus is by car or the RER Parisian suburban train, which has a stop on the C line at Jouy-en-Josas.

Lodging is provided in one of ten dormitories. Everyone eats together at the University Restaurant, which serves three meals a day in a cafeteria setting. Undergraduates, or those in the grande école, have classes in the Batiment des Etudes (Batzet), while graduates study in the MBA 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 2008.
  • Grand Cru, one of the most famous wine organisations amongst grandes écoles' (external site [5])
  • 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 March
  • The Mercuriales is an association which organises every week a sport tournament during a week, and where several europeen business schools are represented.
  • 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 Ecole Polytechnique.
  • Duo-Conseil is a joint venture with students from Ecole Polytechnique to provide consulting with a dual approach, engineering and technological expertise from Ecole 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.

Above all, 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 representating 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.

Notes & references

  1. ^ [1]
  2. ^ [2]
  3. ^ a b see the ranking
  4. ^ Observatoire National de la Vie Étudiante, Enquête "Conditions de vie" 2006 [3]
  5. ^ 110_0407_470 placement report and ranking from L'Expansion
  6. ^ [4]
  7. ^ ranking

See also

External links

Coordinates: 48°45′29″N 2°10′13″E / 48.75806°N 2.17028°E / 48.75806; 2.17028


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