IE Business School v Saïd Business School |

IE Business School v Saïd Business School

By Niamh O

Updated March 14, 2021 Updated March 14, 2021

Saïd Business School and IE Business School are two of the most prestigious higher education institutions in Europe. Saïd is ranked fourth in Europe in the QS Global MBA Rankings 2018: Europe, while IE is fifth.

Founded in 1973 by three entrepreneurs, IE Business School’s goal was to foster an entrepreneurial environment in its various MBA programs, with an Asian-focused program run with Singapore Management University.

In comparison, Saïd Business School was founded some years later in 1996 after Wafic Saïd donated £20m (US$25.8m) to fund the b-school. Since then, the business school has earned a reputation for its entrepreneurship and innovative business education. 

Both institutions are ranked in the top 10 in both the European and Global QS rankings 2018 - but how do their MBA courses differ?

QS Rankings



Overall score


Entrepreneurship & alumni outcomes

Return on Investment

Thought Leadership


Saïd Business School









IE Business School











Saïd: As a community Saïd seeks to use its business acumen and global network to address long-horizon phenomena like demographic change, new technologies and natural resource scarcity.

IE: Since the 1970s, the school says it’s made it their business to disrupt. IE hopes to develop entrepreneurs and leaders and increase knowledge that makes a difference.


Saïd: Oxford, England.

The city of Oxford boasts the oldest university in the English-speaking world. As Saïd Business School is affiliated with Oxford University, the business school feels it can blend the best of new and old. The young, innovative b-school is deeply embedded in an 800-year-old world-class university.

IE: Madrid, Spain

IE Business School is centrally situated in Madrid's financial district (Barrio de Salamanca). The IE campus is based in the center of Madrid and allows students the opportunity to experience everything this great city has to offer.


Saïd: This year’s MBA class has a median GMAT score of 690, median age of 28 years, and an average of five years’ work experience. The cohort also represents 60 nationalities, with 92 percent of students coming from outside the UK. Saïd this year welcomes a record number of female participants with 41 percent of the class identifying as female.

IE: IE focuses on international business and draws students from all over the world. Only eight percent of the 2018 class came from Spain, 25 percent from Europe, 21 percent from South America, 20 percent from North America and 16 percent from Asia. There are over 130 nationalities on campus, over 101 programs and a network of more than 60,000 people. The average GMAT score was 670, and test-takers average Undergrad GPA was 3.4.


Saïd: The one-year MBA program at Oxford comprises an intensive series of stimulating lectures, energetic seminars, intensive small group work and team project work.

The MBA launch is a two-week residential program to introduce students to the community at Saïd and Oxford.

Saïd students kick off their first of four terms studying all core classes. In their second term, students complete an entrepreneurship project where they prepare a start-up business plan and present it to venture capitalists.

In the third term, students head back to the classroom to take all their chosen electives. During the final term (summer), you can choose to undertake a strategic consulting project, working with non-profits, start-ups and corporations all over the world. There are also summer electives and an internship for credit of at least six weeks.

The course ends with ‘Capstone’, a student-developed final session of lectures, workshops and celebrations during the first two weeks of September.

IE: Students at IE can choose from MBA programs including the International MBA, Global MBA+, Executive MBA+, Global Executive MBA and IE Brown Executive MBA.

Although IE’s MBAs differ according to class profile, they’re united in IE’s commitment to entrepreneurship, diversity and innovation.

IE’s pedagogy pushes traditional classroom boundaries to ensure the learning experience is effective and relevant for the student and their career in an evolving world of business.

Students can tailor 40 percent of the program to individual personal and professional goals and the program emphasizes important universal skills, such as critical thinking, communication, and collaboration.

The IE International MBA encourages students to develop entrepreneurial thinking, so they can be competitive in any industry or new venture.


Saïd: The Oxford “brand” is a huge attraction, particularly in North America. The school is closely integrated with the University of Oxford and draws on its resources, but the b-school has its own faculty. MBA students become members of one of Oxford's many colleges, which provide accommodation, meals, sports and social facilities.

Oxford has hosted the Silicon Valley Comes to Oxford program for most of the past 15 years which brings tech executives to campus to host classes, dinners and debates.

IE: IE Business School describes the experience as: “the hustle and bustle of a major European city; quiet cañas after class in scenic streets; an international hub of bubbling creativity; summer sun and winter fun; hard work and well-earned reward”.

The b-school’s values come from a belief it can use innovation and technology to break down boundaries, benefiting people the world over. IE doesn’t believe there’s just one way to do something, but there’s a one-size-fits-all approach that can incorporate the diverse range of nationalities and institutions represented.

Student Life

Saïd: There are over 200 registered clubs and societies at Oxford University focusing on entertainment, the arts, language and charity – everything from salsa to real ale, opera to Dr Who.

A few examples include: Oxford Union, the world's most prestigious debating society; Oxford Entrepreneurs, the largest student entrepreneur society in the UK; or the ’24-hour play’, an annual competition hosted by Oriel College which challenges anyone to come up with a play and perform it just a day after its title is revealed.

IE: With more than 132 countries represented, 6,000 students, 140 clubs and 500 events, IE Business School believes life is lived to the full.

Whether it’s rugby, AI Club, or the Net Impact club, students can explore interests while getting their hands dirty and building life-long friendships.

Some campus activities include the Inside Out Project, a global art movement to highlight identity, diversity and community; Winter Ball; MBAT Challenge, where the next generation of global business leaders compete in a show of athletic prowess; Global Village, where the IE community comes together to celebrate diversity and culture; and Global Alumni Weekend.

Employment outcomes

Saïd: The employment rate of Said’s MBA 2016-17 class increased from 80 percent to 91 percent.

The class average salary for the MBA 2016-17 also increased to £71,550 (US$92,891), and mean industry salaries are: Finance: £75,033 (US$97,413); Consulting: £71,174 (US$92,370); Global Industry – Tech: £74,368 (US$96,515); Global Industry – excluding Tech: £64,869 (US$84,187); Social Impact: £62,715 (US$81,491).

IE: The one-year program costs $78,000, but IE grads do get jobs after graduation. Of the 2016 class, 89 percent landed jobs three months after graduation (taking into account that half of Spaniards under 25 years old were unemployed). Firms hiring grads include Microsoft, Credit Suisse, Hilti, and McKinsey.

This article was originally published in August 2018 . It was last updated in March 2021

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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.