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IESE MBA Program: An A-Z Guide

IESE Business School

IESE offers a two-year MBA program that can place its graduates in any industry: finance, consulting, entrepreneurship, tech, and more. Because the school is located in Barcelona and has a student body that (mainly) intends to seek jobs in other locations after graduating, they are not beholden to any one industry or set of employers in the same way as schools that send their graduates mainly into a narrow set of employers in their home region.

The school’s approach to admissions is refreshingly honest, with the admissions team talking about “Career Risk”, and encouraging applicants to consider the MBA not as a journey of wish fulfillment, but as a practical career decision with certain benefits and drawbacks. It goes without saying that IESE prefers to admit students who have figured out how to achieve a high likelihood of career success by using the program’s resources. They also offer introductory chats with admissions officers to help you gauge whether the program is a good fit. (Talk to us first if you want to be well-prepared for these.)

Finally, who wouldn’t want to study in Barcelona? (Or, at one of IESE’s other campuses, including New York, São Paulo, Munich, or Madrid.)

IESE MBA Class Profile

Acceptance rate26% 26%
GMATAverage: 681
Range: Does not disclose
GREDoes not disclose
GPADoes not disclose
Age/ExperienceAge: 29 
Work Experience (years): 5
DiversityWomen: 30%
International: 85%
Pre-MBA ExperienceIndustry: 61%
Finance: 20%
Consulting: 13%
Entrepreneurship: 5%
Public Services/NGO: 3%
Undergraduate MajorsSTEM: 43%
Business: 42%
Humanities: 15%

The data above is from 2019 and represents the IESE MBA class of 2021.*
See the full report: IESE MBA Class Profile

Student Experiences

IESE MBA Employment Report & Careers

Offers & Compensation Average Salary + Signing bonus: €135,274
% Offers upon Graduation:Does not disclose
% Offers at 3 months: 94%
Post-MBA Employment SectorConsulting: 33%
Techology: 26%
Industry: 21%
Financial Services: 20%
Post-MBA LocationsEurope, excl. Spain 30%
Spain 25%
Latin America 17%
Asia 13%
North America 7%
Rest of the world 8%
Post-MBA CompaniesDoes not disclose
Career Development ResourcesIESE Career Impact

The above data is from 2019 and represents the career statistics for the IESE MBA class 2019.*
See the full report: IESE MBA Employment Report

IESE MBA Academic Programs 

MBA Curriculum

IESE’s MBA curriculum spans across two years, where year one is neatly organized into three terms, and the second term is entirely customizable. You can choose the duration of the program to be either 15 or 19 months long. IESE’s core curriculum consists of 24 classes. The first term focuses on core classes in Business Essentials, Term 2 takes you into a Strategy and Operations deep-dive, and Term 3 covers 10 core courses in a range of subjects, including International Management and Corporate Finance. There are over 130 different electives in the IESE MBA. The electives are spread out over a wide-variety of subjects such as Entrepreneurship, Economics, Financial Management, and Production, Technology, and Information Management. 

See the full offering of courses: IESE Course Catalog.

Majors

Although IESE does not offer official majors or concentrations, you can choose your elective coursework according to your personal and career interests. IESE’s large number of course offerings includes classes in topics like Venture Capital, Real Estate Investments and Management, Data Science for Business, and Personality, Self-Leadership, and Happiness.

Experiential Learning Programs

The program’s focus on the case method is illustrative of the strength of IESE’s experiential learning program. Moreover, they implement “actioning learning” in the classroom, which involves solving real-world problems. Their curriculum also includes simulations or business games, that simulate real-life business situations.

Research Centers

In the MBA program, you will have access to 12 of IESE’s research centers.

  • Center for Business in Society
  • Center for Corporate Governance
  • Center for Globalization and Strategy
  • Center for Research in Healthcare Innovation Management
  • Center for Innovation Marketing and Strategy
  • Center for International Finance
  • International Center for Logistics Research
  • Center for Public Leadership and Government
  • Entrepreneurship and Innovation Center
  • International Center for Work and Family
  • Institute for Media and Entertainment
  • Public-Private Sector Research Center

MBA International Study Programs

IESE has a network association of 15 business schools. In addition, they have exchange partnerships with over 25 business schools. For those of you interested in shorter exchange programs, IESE offers two-week long study electives abroad in New York, Sau Paulo, Shanghai, and Nairobi. 

IESE’s global focus can also be witnessed through their curriculum, which includes internationally oriented coursework such as Corporate Finance in Emerging Markets and Applied International Economics.

Video Resources on IESE Academics

IESE MBA Application

The latest application requirements set by the IESE MBA admissions office are described below.

Essays

Here are the prompts for IESE’s 2019-2020 application:

  • Essay Question I: What do you want to be remembered for? (word limit 300 max)
  • Essay Question II: Describe your short and medium term post-MBA goals? (word limit 300 max)
  • Optional Essay. I wish the admissions committee had asked me… (word limit 300 max)

Letters of Recommendation 

The 2019-2020 IESE recommender questions are as follows:

  • How do the candidate’s performance, potential, or personal qualities compare to those of other well-qualified individuals in similar roles? Please provide specific examples. (300 words)
  • Please describe the most important piece of constructive feedback you have given the applicant. Please detail the circumstances and the applicant’s response. (250 words)

Video Resources on IESE Admissions

IESE MBA Admissions Interviews

Members of the IESE Admissions Committee conduct all admissions interviews. Though they may hold interviews in your region, many interviews occur at one of their three campuses: Barcelona, New York, or Sao Paolo. The interview format is conversational, and the interviewer tries to get to know you genuinely to see if you would be a good fit for the school.

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What Makes IESE Unique?

Barcelona Location. IESE’s founding campus is situated minutes from bustling downtown Barcelona. Along with its rich history and beautiful art and architecture, Barcelona is also one of the most active European business centers.

Rigorous Academics. The IESE MBA Program has a high workload, and is very academically focussed. There are three case discussions per day, even during the first year (HBS does two).

Entrepreneurship Support. IESE MBA students interested in starting their own business will have many opportunities to explore this career path. In our interview with Admissions Director Pascal Michels, he highlights three great draws to IESE for prospective entrepreneurs:

  • A comprehensive entrepreneurship curriculum available with the MBA
  • An option to do a summer entrepreneurship project
  • A lively investor community circling campus, as well as a dedicated investment fund dedicated solely to entrepreneur ventures run by IESE students and graduates

*All data retrieved from the IESE MBA Program webpages and other sources.