This post has been marked as OLD. EssaySnark's advice and strategies for winning MBA applications don't change from year to year, but some of the school-specific admissions policies, essay questions, or other information covered in this article may be outdated.
One of the most gorgeous cities in Europe is Barcelona, and one of the best places to appreciate it is high atop the hillside where IESE’s new business school building now sits. If you speak Spanish (or want to learn it) then we highly recommend you consider one of the great bschools in Spain — and if you want an educational experience comparable to what you can get at HBS, then IESE should be your first choice.
IESE is modeled largely off of Harvard: They are the only school in Europe with an American-style two-year full-time program; they use the case method as the primary teaching vehicle; they put an emphasis on leadership in admissions and throughout the curriculum; they even have a program for college kids to apply that’s just like HBS 2+2 except theirs is called the Young Talent Program. HBS and IESE are the only two schools we’ve ever heard of with a speciality in sports business.
There are other similarities too – which makes sense, because the schools actually have an alliance. The powers that be at Harvard were advisors to IESE when they were first starting out.
Some of the differences are that IESE offers an EMBA program, plus their students are a tiny bit older than you’ll find at Harvard. Average GMAT scores are also less, as you might expect. Both the older-student thing and the more-reasonable average GMAT are standard at European schools, and IESE is in the same category as the best of them. Note that GPAs at IESE are closer to Harvard than other places – 3.6 or so is average.
Another main difference is – no offense Dee – IESE is incredibly applicant-friendly. Not that HBS isn’t – certainly Harvard has been leading the charge among American bschools in making the ordeal of applying less stressful on BSers, what with their midcycle “release” process that they introduced a few years back (basically what that means is, if they know they don’t want you, you’ll find out fast – this is exceedingly kind to BSers, in our opinion).
However, check this out: IESE gives feedback on profiles. That’s before you apply.
They also have this very cool assessment process as part of their interview – it’s similar to what Wharton adopted this year (yeah IESE had it first). We think this assessment is one of the most equitable ways of assessing candidates and we expect more schools to embrace it over time. The group assessment at IESE is in addition to the interview; you still have an opportunity to
sweat through your shirt shine in a one-on-one setting with an admissions person.
IESE is on the lookout for high-performing candidates from anywhere in the world. You don’t have to speak Spanish to apply — like most European schools, the entire curriculum is in English. You probably need to know Spanish to live in Spain though if you’re good at gesturing, maybe you’ll be fine – the Spanish are very animated, you may fit right in with that approach.
We heart IESE. You probably would too. The biggest risk with a Spanish MBA is you won’t want to leave the country when you’re done (your mom won’t like that).