France ranks best in world for Master's degrees in finance

French programmes have dominated the list for the past five years, scoring top marks for graduates securing high salaries and international job opportunities

24 June 2021
Students in a lecture hall. France ranks best in world for Master’s degrees in finance

The highest-ranked French schools are all grandes écoles, which select only a few hundred students each year Pic: Matej Kastelic / Shutterstock

By Joanna York

The best Master’s degrees in finance in the world are in France, according to the 2021 ranking from the Financial Times.

Top five spots on the list all went to Master’s programs in France, out of a total of 55 of the best programmes globally.

The Master’s degrees on this list are aimed at graduates with little or no professional experience, and are ranked based on data from business schools and surveys among recent graduates.

The top ten programs are: 

1. HEC Paris (France) 

2. ESCP (France) 

3. Skema (France) 

4. Essec (France) 

5. Edhec (France)

6. University of St Gallen (Switzerland) 

7. Università Bocconi/SDA Bocconi (Italy) 

8. IE Business School (Spain) 

9. London Business School (UK) 

10. University of Oxford: Said (UK)

The highest-ranked French schools are a regular presence on the annual list, having dominated the top five spots since 2018. 

They are all grandes écoles, meaning elite higher education institutions that have competitive admissions criteria and only select a few hundred students each year. 

Anyone can take the national exams to enter a grande école but successful applicants often complete two or three years of intense preparatory classes in order to do so. 

Graduates from these schools often go on to hold high-ranking positions in public and private organisations in France.

Schools top for high salaries and employment

The top-ranking Master’s in finance at HEC Paris has come first in the rankings eight times in the past 10 years.

Alumni from HEC Paris earn $156,000 (€131,000) per year on average, just three years after graduating. It ranks highly for career progress and international mobility. 

Dean of the school, Eloïc Peyrache, told the Financial Times: “We are happy we could come top again. Our finance department is very strong and we have a global audience. The quality of students is very good.”

Along with the second-place ESCP, 100% of graduates from HEC went on to get jobs in 2020.

ESCP also got top marks for its career service and international course experience.

In 2020, 97% of graduates from third-place Skema had found jobs within three months of completing their studies.

Dean of Skema, Alice Guilhon, said in a statement that the list highlighted “French excellence”.

She added: “This is a collective accomplishment that shows how dedicated our finance professors are to providing top-level courses to students and opening up their professional networks.”

Other French programmes that made the list were Rennes school of business (25) and Neoma, based in Reims, Rouen and Paris (30).

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