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MBA in Spain: IE vs ESADE vs IESE

Spain is among the best countries to pursue an MBA because of the three, highly ranked universities in Barcelona and Madrid. In Barcelona, the IESE and ESADE MBA programs are great options for international students looking to study abroad. IESE is located about 20 minutes from center-city but is extremely accessible from all areas of Barcelona. ESADE is a little further from center-city but has a much bigger campus. The city is very accessible from the IESE campus but transportation is needed. IE Business school is located in downtown Madrid, the buzzing city in the heart of Spain. Many Merchant GMAT alumni have excelled in this program and it is widely considered one of the best in Europe. 


Program Duration 15 or 19 Months 12, 15, or 18 months 11 months
Tuition (2020) €89,950 (Total 2 years) €72,000  €72,200 
Locations The MBA program takes place on the Barcelona campus, 20 minutes away from the centre of the city. Enjoy spectacular views of the city and the Mediterranean coast from its setting across 30,000m2 of hillside. IESE also has campuses in Madrid, Munich, New York, and Sao Paulo.  Located in Sant Cugat, Barcelona campus is home, in addition to classrooms and other areas for academic activities, to Esade Creapolis, an innovation park spanning 17,520 m² and where the university and business communities can come together. IE Business School is centrally situated in Madrid‘s financial district (Barrio de Salamanca) and is 28,000 m2, distributed amongst 17 buildings along and near Calle Maria de Molina.

IE is about to open its new campus in September 2021, which is advertised as a vertical campus, in the iconic Caleido skyscraper. 

Class Size  The 371-member class comes from 57 countries. 31% of the class is female, and 84.6% of students came from outside Spain. Each intake includes a maximum of 190 students divided into three sections. 98% of international students. 28% of women.  395 students in class of 2019.
Gmat average score 681 660 677
Average age 29 years old. 28.7 years old.  30 years old.
Average work experience 5 years. 6.1 years.  6 years.
Academic Information 24 Core Courses from September to March: Marketing, Operations, Leadership, Self-management. Decision making for Executives and Strategy. 

In March, students decide on 15 or 19 month-duration. 

  • The 15-Month Program students choose between more than 130 electives. 
  • The 19-Month Program students have a Summer Internship in June. 
  • 12 Months: Core + Electives
  • 15 months: Core + Electives + Internship or Exchange
  • 18 months: Core + Electives + Internship + Exchange

The first term is called Awareness, and includes compulsory core courses covering general management and strategy, economics, finance, communication, and business analytics. The second term, entitled Create & Innovate, has classes on marketing strategy, creativity, innovation, and entrepreneurship. The third and final core term is entitled Transform. During this term, students learn how to, among other things, lead change, negotiate, and deal with ethics and social responsibility.

International MBA mixes innovative core content with practical, highly customizable lab sessions. During the Core Period, you will choose between the Business Impact Lab, Start-up Lab, Tech Lab, Social Impact Lab or an internship. In the 3rd term, you will continue to customize your program during the Elective Period where we offer the possibility to choose a Concentration area.
Average Post-MBA Salary €86,282 is the average of annual base salary reported in the Employment Report 2020.  €67,666 average annual salary in Europe.  Overall mean compensation for the class of 2018 was €83,152.
Employment Rate  94% of the Class of 2019 landed jobs within three months of graduation – with 73% of those students changing industries. Within three months of graduating, 96% of our students find work.  92% of the students received a job offer within 3 months after graduation. 51% changed geographical location. 



If you need help with the GMAT or the admissions process we can help.  For more information on our different GMAT products see:

  • GMAT private classes – see the stories of Will, Teddy, Jessica and Nico and how they approached their GMAT journey with Merchant.
  • Merchant Academy – a GMAT teaching innovation that makes taking the GMAT, like an MBA. Click to find out more about the Merchant Academy format.
  • Merchant GMAT Hall of Fame – a gallery of some of our clients over the last eight years.

For admissions help see some of the client stories on our admissions page.

Take the next step in your career today.

Tim Jackson

Director of Student Success

- "Preparing for the GMAT and applying for an MBA requires a tremendous commitment, and that doesn’t take into consideration the personal challenges our students must face when deciding if they want to leave their friends, families, and native cultures behind to advance their careers abroad. An MBA is not for everyone and that’s precisely what makes this advanced degree so valuable. 

For these reasons, we at Merchant only work with students we are confident have what it takes to succeed throughout the preparation and application processes.

Given an increased demand in our services, we do not have the ability to offer free consultation services to unserious applicants. If you are interested in learning more about Merchant, please fill out this form. After reviewing your LinkedIn profile, our team will be in touch with you if we feel you are a good fit for our services."