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The Stockholm School of Economics opened its doors to its first students 110 years ago, in 1909.

Sweden needs a business school

The decades around the turn of the nineteenth century were years of rapid industrial expansion in Sweden, which in turn led to a need for trained managers and staff. Leading figures within Swedish industry and commerce recognized that such individuals would require specialized education in business practices and theories. These industry leaders (K.A. Wallenberg, Olof A. Söderberg and Joseph Nachmanson among others) rallied the businessmen and executives of Stockholm, and in 1906 they formed the Stockholm School of Economics Association, an organization with the sole purpose of making the dream of a Swedish business school a reality.

Three years later (in 1909), thanks to the support of the City of Stockholm, government funding and donations from private endowments, the Stockholm School of Economics opened its doors for the first time. Admitting 110 students, the initial curriculum ran for two years and covered economics, commerce and a combination of political sciences and law.

Decades of growth

The Stockholm School of Economics started its journey at Brunkebergstorg in central Stockholm, situated in a commercial building known as Brunkebergs hotel. Leasing the entire third floor of the hotel, teaching continued at the premises for nearly two decades. In time however, SSE outgrew these premises and commissioned Swedish architect Ivar Tengbom with designing the new facilities. In 1926, the School inaugurated these new quarters located at Sveavägen 65, the address of our main building to this day. Generous donations over the years have given SSE the opportunity to expand on Tengbom’s design, and the original construction is flanked by newer buildings and several additional premises are located nearby.

The following decades were an exciting period of growth for SSE. In 1929, only a few years after the move to Sveavägen, the School founded its first research institute. Aptly named the Economic Research Institute, it was founded with the mission of conducting leading research within the fields of economics and commerce. Other institutes would soon follow, including IFL (Institutet för Företagsledning).  Originally only partly affiliated with SSE, IFL provided education programs in business, management and leadership. Following their success, IFL would ultimately become associated solely with the School. 

Internationalization and innovation

Following the success on a national level, there was ambition to establish SSE as a leading business school on a global scale. In 1991 the School joined CEMS, the Global Alliance in Management Education, a symbol of quality within the world of management education. Just a few years later, in 1999, SSE secured the EQUIS accreditation, further proving that all programs and research have demonstrated excellence at an international level.

2007 saw a significant change for universities across all of Europe following the Bologna Process agreement, a unified standard of quality and comparability across all of Europe. SSE’s program structure was replaced by the Bachelor and Master programs we are accustomed to today. One year following this shift, SSE expanded the program portfolio by taking over a retail-focused program from Detaljhögskolan I Norrtälje. Renamed the BSc Program in Retail Management, the program is entirely funded by the retail industry, making it unique in the Swedish academic landscape. 

While greater internationalization was (and remains) a major focus for the School, so is innovation. The SSE Business Lab, a start-up incubator linking promising student and alumni start-ups with industry experts, was launched already in 2001. Supporting an idea from conception to implementation, the SSE Business Lab has help launch a wide range of successful companies through the years.

The first century and beyond

A year of celebrating an accomplished past and a promising future, 2009 marked the 100th anniversary for SSE. With expectations set high, the following decade would continue to push the School toward new heights. In 2011, SSE engaged in a joint venture with Institute for Financial Research. The result was the Swedish House of Finance, a national research center with the goal to strengthen financial research in Sweden.

2015 was an incredibly eventful year for SSE and saw the launch of multiple exciting projects. MISUM (Mistra Center for Sustainable Markets), a cross-disciplinary research center focused on finding sustainable business solutions, was launched in order to educate and prepare students for managing some of our times most pressing challenges. One of their ventures, the Global Challenges Track, represents the School’s effort to incorporate that sustainability mindset into the traditional curriculum.

Continuing this eventful year, it also brought the launch of the SSE Art Initiative. Reflecting the School’s belief that art can help us improve critical thinking and self-reflection, the SSE Art Initiative acknowledges art as a legitimate knowledge base, with the potential to make both SSE and society at large more knowledge intensive.

These last few years have been equally lively, with some particularly exciting changes to the BSc Program in Retail Management. As of 2015, the program left their old campus in Norrtälje to join the main SSE Campus in Stockholm, finally unifying all the programs under one roof. Just three years later, the BSc Program in Retail Management took another exciting step, becoming the first program to be taught fully in English. Finally, SSE’s most recent achievement is the launch of a new research house, the House of Innovation. This inter-disciplinary research and education environment focuses on innovation, entrepreneurship and digitalization, and will strive to push the boundaries of modern research.