ESADE vs IESE Business School |

ESADE vs IESE Business School

By Niamh O

Updated January 31, 2019 Updated January 31, 2019

Europe is renowned for many things: rich culture, high fashion, great food, and some of the most distinguished universities and business schools in the world.

The continent’s top institutions aren’t limited to the likes of London, Paris, and Madrid either. Known as the industrial and innovative hub of Spain, Barcelona is home to two top business schools, ESADE and IESE Business School, both of which are well-regarded and possess their own unique ethos.

Both schools are tanked within the top 10 of the QS Global MBA Rankings: Europe 2019 – ESADE in sixth place and IESE in seventh.

Similarly, both schools landed top 20 spots in the QS World University Rankings: Global MBA Rankings 2019 – with ESADE 13th and IESE 18th.

Clearly, there’s very little in terms of rankings separating these two top business schools, so what else sets ESADE and IESE’s full-time MBA programs apart from one another? 

 ESADEIESE Business School
Length and format of program
  • 12, 15, or 18 months duration
  • Select the best fit for you in integrated project work, international exchanges, and diverse range of electives
  • Study at Campus Barcelona in Sant Cugat
  • Taught in English with learning. French, German or Spanish available too
  • Think differently with ESADE’s #BeaCreactivist
  • Core curriculum divided into: first term ‘awareness’; second term ‘create & innovate’; third term ‘transform’
  • 15 or 19 months duration
  • Study in Barcelona with overseas options available
  • General management vantage point
  • Develop your leadership
  • Bilingual experience (with Spanish classes)
  • Entrepreneurial mindset
  • The IESE MBA Spanish course methodology has been designed to maximize your confidence and active participation, both inside and outside the classroom
Fees and funding
  • Total compulsory MBA tuition fees and expenses is €68,500
  • The fees for the ESADE full-time MBA cover tuition, course materials, on-campus IT services, library services and more
  • Application fee which covers all administrative processes for the full-time MBA is €135
  • MBA Student Association Fee is €100
  • Commitment fee of €3,000 four weeks after the receipt of the admittance letter
  • €7,000 tuition installment
  • €34,975 payment MBA year 1
  • €44,975 payment MBA year 2
  • Most scholarships at IESE are merit-based, with GMAT scores playing a part in securing them
  • As an IESE student you may be eligible to apply for a number of loans, including the MBA Global Loan
  • Bachelor’s Degree or equivalent
  • Fluency in English
  • A minimum of two years’ full-time professional experience post-graduation
  • A high score in the GMAT or GRE – although there isn’t a minimum score, the current average is 660 for the GMAT and 160/162 for the GRE
  • Completed a bachelor’s degree or equivalent
  • Submit: application form, application fee, university transcripts copy, GMAT, English Test (if applicable), passport copy and two recommendation letters
  • Due to the case study method, a minimum of two years’ work experience is recommended so that students have professional experience to share in class
Class Profile
  • 187 students
  • Gender ratio 30 percent female and 70 percent male
  • 97 percent international students
  • 51 nationalities represented
  • Average age is 29
  • Average work experience of 6 years
  • 686 average GMAT score
  • 5.8 years’ experience
  • 85 percent international students
  • +55 nationalities
  • 29 is the average student age
  • +350 students
  • 32 percent women 


IESE boasts that its mission remains the same today as it was in 1958 – to educate and inspire leaders who wish to have a positive and lasting impact on people, business and society. Management education and leaderships development is very much at the forefront of the business school’s agenda. 

Similarly, ESADE promises to educate and conduct research in the fields of management and law in order to: train competent and socially responsible professionals; improve organisations and society through knowledge creation; and contribute to social debate in order to build free, prosperous and fair societies.

Setting the curriculum apart

Entrepreneurship is at the heart of the IESE MBA. From theory to practice to deep dives into the practicalities of entrepreneurship, students are able to explore business ideas, develop concepts, find business models and write their own business plan.

The second year gives students the opportunity to tailor their degree with many interesting electives. Whether you’re interested in management control, financial management, enterprise risk management, or ethics and finance, you can make your MBA fit your future career goals.

But if you really want to make your MBA studies interesting, why not take part in the Global Exchange Program during your first trimester of Year 2. You could sample life in Wharton or Yale, try a term at London Business School or HEC, Paris, or perhaps experience how business is executed in China, Australia, India and Latin America.

ESADE’s new core structure is divided into three main phases, created with one main goal in mind: educating the “creative activists” capable of making lasting change.

ESADE allows students to tailor their MBA experience to suit their lifestyle. The 12-month ‘fast-track’ program features core + electives; the 15-month program is streamlined, and offers the core, electives and a choice between an internship and exchange; while most students choose everything the ESADE 18-month MBA has to offer.

And as an international institution, ESADE also offers global outreach programs including global study tours, an exchange program and career treks which have been to the likes of Dubai and Tel Aviv.

Extracurricular activities

There’s more to an MBA than the curriculum. Of course, choosing the right business school with a stellar program goes without saying, but the real selling point is what students can do outside the classroom.

At IESE, there are many different groups available to students on the IESE MBA including their global leadership series and a family & partners club. There are also sport clubs which are a great way to meet new people and stay with. Clubs include SwimBikeRun and an adventure and outdoor club.

Social clubs available include salsa club, Happy Hour club (you’ll start noticing a theme), Random Dinner (which sounds foody and fantastic), and Bar of the Week – I mean, can you afford not to go to IESE?

ESADE’s clubs can be divided into two categories: business and social. Business clubs focus on areas such as entrepreneurship, healthcare and sports business. Social clubs include the Sea Connection Social Group – a diverse society of MBA students who are deeply passionate about the ocean and its essential place in the world.

All clubs are run by students and coordinated by the MBA student association (MBASA). The association is made up of nine students, who work as an interactive platform connecting students, faculty, program management and alumni. The association wants students to have the best year of their lives, where they build lifelong connections and grow into inspiring and successful leaders.

Both schools also place high importance on ‘Women on the MBA,’ demonstrating the MBA is for all, and that opportunities are available for women to make their voices heard at a senior level within businesses.

This article was originally published in January 2019 .

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Written by

Niamh is Deputy Head of Content at QS (;, creating and editing content for an international student audience. Having gained her journalism qualification at the Press Association, London and since written for different international publications, she's now enjoying telling the stories of students, alumni, faculty, entrepreneurs and organizations from across the globe.  

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