The ISP is an intensive 3-month exchange programme for international MBA students from our partner universities. 

Grüezi and welcome to the University of St.Gallen (HSG). We are happy about your interest in studying at the University and spending some time living in St.Gallen. Studying at a different university in a new country will probably mean that things work differently than what you are used to. We want you to feel prepared upon your arrival for your guest stay in St.Gallen and have put together all the information you need for your ISP-MBA guest stay at HSG. Please use the tabs below to navigate between the fields concerning the ISP-MBA.


About the ISP

ISP Spring 2018 Graduation

Classes are small, teaching is interactive, and the requirements are substantial. Our well-known and respected professors will lead you towards a profound and enduring understanding of conducting business in Europe. In addition to the core curriculum, we integrate company visits and excursions into our programme. Visits provide you with the opportunity to broaden your horizons both personally and professionally, and in some instances, you will meet leaders in these dynamic institutions. Thus, the ISP provides a learning laboratory for those who aspire to a career in a volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous (VUCA) world.

We invite you to explore continental European business and economics through this
programme offered in the dynamic setting of the University of St. Gallen.

During the 3-month stay in Switzerland there is one week free of classes for individual travelling across Europe as are the weekends. The geographic position of Switzerland (and St.Gallen) in the heart of Europe allows to combine the academic experience of St.Gallen and exploring the east, west, north, and south of Europe during the free days.

The ISP courses

The ISP includes core and elective courses, giving participants a thorough understanding of business in Europe. All courses are in English and the required course material is free of charge. The ideal class size ranges from 25 to 35 students. The minimum workload is 16 ECTS whereas the maximum workload is 27 ECTS. All core courses are mandatory. You must select at least three courses of your choice of the elective courses whereas you do not have to select any of the optional courses.
Please see the detailed course description for further information on the ECTS and contact hours per course.

The ISP course planning makes it possible to attend all offered ISP courses if desired. Courses do not overlap.

  Contact Hours ECTS Credits
European Corporate Governance 18 2
European Culture and International Management 14 2
Leadership in European Companies 28 3
Team Building: Leadership and Team Competencies 8  


European Corporate Governance  Corporate governance refers to the system by which companies are directed, controlled and made accountable. Corporate governance matters to corporate executives, investors, business partners, employees, labour leaders, politicians and regulatory bodies. Within Europe, governance systems and philosophies vary across countries. Likewise, the question of what constitutes “effective” governance is a moving target, subject to alternative interpretations by different actors, as well as to changing interpretations over time. The primary responsibility of board members is to balance the interests of the company, shareholders and other stakeholders by pursuing long-term growth that is sustainable and profitable. This course will explore how and why national corporate governance contexts and board practices vary across Europe. We will discuss specific corporate governance cases and scandals, and explore their antecedents and consequences. At the end of this highly interactive course, participants will be able to appreciate the heterogeneity of European corporate governance contexts and better understand board-level strategic leadership of European companies. 
European Culture and International Management  International management practices are deeply rooted in Europe's cultural history. The course will introduce students to today's crucial challenges of management and economics from the point of view of cultural history and cultural theory. Its goal is to foster the deeper understanding and creative use of such practices. The first part of the course gives a theoretical and historical introduction to different cultural spheres. The focus of the second part is on the cultural analysis of a practical business case. The following topics will be covered: Introduction to Switzerland, “Who is Europe?”, “What is a City?”, Mythology of Brands, Cultures of Leadership, Trust and Communication. 
Leadership in European Companies  Today’s world is characterized by high volatility, uncertainty, and constant change. Organizations which strive to be successful are dependent on a new type of leader and a distinct leadership behaviour which takes place at different, yet interrelated levels. First, on the individual level, effective leaders have to deal with their direct reports and make sure that these meet both their immediate goals and understand the long term vision. On the team level, leaders have to manage groups of employees and take care of both their internal team processes and their external team productivity. Finally, on the company level, leaders have to provide direction to whole organizations. The course is structured around these different levels of analysis and strives to provide students with various concepts and techniques which help them to analyse, structure, and solve these leadership challenges and thereby develop their own leadership skills. 
Team Building: Leadership and Team Competencies  This intensive training takes place in the first week of the academic term for ISP students. It offers an opportunity for students to get to know one another better while learning some valuable team and leadership skills. It takes place on campus and in the forest not far from the University of St.Gallen. 


Strategic Management: A European Perspective  The purpose of this course is to familiarize students with the activities, challenges, and tools of strategic leaders in an increasingly complex and uncertain environment. Content will focus on the theory, concepts, and frameworks associated with strategic analysis, corporate and competitive strategy, sustainability strategies, and strategic change. The classes will typically be divided into a section to discuss theoretical tools and frameworks and their subsequent application to real-world cases (mostly from European firms). 
Europe's Business Environments: Rules, Reform, and Restructuring  Developing a deeper understanding of the environment that firms operating in Europe face, the range of choices available to savvy companies, and the critical perspective to evaluate the relative merits of those choices are the objectives of this class. This involves understanding the circumstances faced by Europe’s firms, some of which are legacies of history and some which are changing faster than many think, and the effects of numerous government and EU initiatives to bolster European corporate performance. The perspective taken is always that of firm and their market and non‑market strategies and not of any particular European political or governmental organisations. As such this course blends insights from corporate strategy, international business, business economics, and European political economy. We will work methodically through the material discussing frameworks, case studies, and applications to real world problems.
Global Managerial Communication  The course on global managerial communication introduces students to one of the most frequent tasks in management - leading effective dialogues. It provides an overview on the rich theory on managerial communication, particularly in knowledge-intensive, complex, and intercultural situations, and sensitizes students to the challenges of management communication, ranging from leading interdisciplinary teams, giving feedback, asking the right questions to spark innovation, to leading meetings in different cultures or interacting with potential clients or conducting negotiations. The main goals of the course are thus to build a solid, theoretical understanding of the key mechanisms that shape effective managerial communication in a global context and understand its potential pitfalls, as well as to learn about effective practices of leading communication on an interpersonal and group level.
International Entrepreneurship The ability to understand the link between entrepreneurship and value creation has become crucial to succeeding in today’s business world. The course is designed to provide students with insights from the latest strategy, innovation and entrepreneurship thinking to better understand how individual entrepreneurs and entrepreneurial companies create value with a special emphasis on the European perspective. Upon completion of the course, the participants should be prepared to act on this understanding, start their own ventures or support organizations in developing and implementing value-driven innovation strategies. 
Investment Banking  The lecture will provide you with first insights into Investment Banking activities and has a strong emphasis on corporate finance related topics. In detail, the lecture focuses on initial public offerings, M&A transactions, restructuring situations and Private Equity investments. By doing so, it combines technical expertise with industry insights based on various case studies and real-world examples. It is expected that students will work on different case studies and discuss their findings in class.
  Contact Hours ECTS Credits
German Language 36 3
European Company Exploration 14 2


German Language      A regular German language course will be offered concurrently with the business courses. The German course is designed to provide students who have little or no experience with the language, with an introduction to German. All four language skills, speaking, listening, reading, and writing, will be developed, but, given the unique opportunity provided by the setting, speaking and listening will receive the strongest emphasis. 
European Company Exploration      This course delivers additional methods and perspectives of how to analyse companies, understand complex situations and find solutions for challenging issues. The course blends theory and practice and deepens the students’ knowledge about the companies and industries visited during the company visits of ISP (International Study Programme). The students will work on cases that are linked to these companies and markets. They will develop systems thinking skills for visualizing complex situations, taking multiple stakeholders into account and reflecting on the trade-offs between short term performance, long term sustainability, and social responsibility. The course focuses on in class critical discussions, group work, presentations and interactive exercises.

Please find an example for your ISP schedule below.

The ISP company visits

In addition to the core curriculum, we integrate company visits and excursions into our programme. Visits provide you with the opportunity to broaden your horizon both personally and professionally, and in some instances, you will meet leaders in these dynamic institutions.

Detailed impressions on the company visits are available below the table.

Company visits during the last ISP programmes

Appenzeller Alpenbitter Appenzell                                                                                  
BMW Munich (DE)
Bühler Uzwil
CERN Geneva
IBM Zurich
Cailler Broc
International Committee of the Red Cross Geneva
IWC - Internation Watch Company Schaffhausen
Nestlé Vevey
Maestrani Flawil
Roche Basel
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Geneva
Victorinox Ibach
WEF - World Economic Forum Geneva
Siemens Zug
Swisscom Zurich

The ISP company visits in a glaze

ISP Students visiting the Gotthard Basistunnel
ISP Students visiting the Gotthard Basistunnel
ISP Students visiting the World Economics Forum and Nestlé
ISP Students visiting the World Economics Forum and Nestlé
ISP Students in Geneva visiting the United Nations
ISP Students in Geneva visiting the United Nations

My ISP experience

“The ISP is not just an exchange program. The ISP is a tight-knit group of international students from all over the world – people who have a global mindset and are seeking global careers.”
ISP Participant Spring 2018
“The program itself and how it is structured, the company visits and the way it's managed by the program manager made the ISP a great experience.”
ISP Participant Spring 2019
“The greatest strength of the ISP is the diverse cultural experience it brings along with the European perspective on business management.”
ISP Participant Autumn 2017
ISP experience Appenzell
ISP experience Appenzell
ISP experience Appenzell
ISP experience Lac Leman
ISP Spring green hats
ISP graduation

My way to the ISP

All ISP courses are in English. Non-native English speakers must have minimum TOEFL score of 89 (ITB) or IELTS score 6.5. This requirement is waived for students enrolled in an English-taught MBA at the home university. 

As an MBA student at one of our partner universities, your application for an ISP guest stay at HSG needs to be processed by the International Office of your home university. Once your application has been checked by your International Office, the preliminary registration is handled by your home unversity with an electronic nomination process.

 Nomination deadline for home university

Autumn ISP 15 April                                                           
Spring ISP 15 September       

After you have been nominated by your home university, you will receive a password and further information about the application.

Application deadline for guest students

 Autumn ISP 15 May                                                           
 Spring ISP 30 September

Application Procedure

The online application takes place in Mobility-Online. Once you login to your account, you will have a list of different tasks to complete. Of the various tasks, uploading personal documents of you is required. These documents are:

  • Application confirmation (signed)
  • Photocopy of valid passport or national identity card that you will use to enter Switzerland
  • Photo* for Student Identification card (student ID)

*Please upload a passport style photo. The photo is for identification purposes so please do not upload social media photos.

Once you have completed the tasks, they will automatically be checked off. After you have completed the tasks and the Student Mobility Office has checked your application, your Acceptance Letter will be transmitted. 



Esther Stäheli

Programme & Agreements Management North- and Latin-America, Australie & Oceania, HSG Latam Term, St.Gallen Connection

Student Mobility Services
Büro 58-316
Tellstrasse 2
9000 St. Gallen

Nicole Gsell

Programme & Agreements Management Asia, ECOL

Student Mobility Services
Büro 58-317
Tellstrasse 2
9000 St. Gallen

Andrea Häfner

Programme Management SEMP, ESKAS & Guest Transcripts/Examinations

Student Mobility Services
Tellstrasse 2

9000 St Gallen

Christian Muntwiler


Executive Director ISP

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