What Is the IESE Business School?

The term IESE Business School refers to a graduate business school of the University of Navarra in Barcelona, Spain. Founded in 1958, the school is known for its emphasis on business ethics, international collaborations, and highly diverse student body.

The IESE Business School offers graduate and doctorate degrees, as well as programs catering to professional development. IESE consistently ranks among the top business schools, especially for its Master of Business Administration (MBA) program. The school has a global footprint with five campuses in Europe and the Americas, as well as partnerships with more than a dozen schools. 

Key Takeaways

  • IESE Business School is a graduate business school based in Barcelona, Spain.
  • It is known for its international outlook and highly rated MBA programs.
  • Students can enroll in in-person and online learning opportunities in both English and Spanish at five campuses in Europe and the Americas.
  • The school has partnerships with more than a dozen international schools, as well as collaborations with top schools in the U.S., including Harvard Business School.

Understanding the IESE Business School

The school was founded in 1958 in Barcelona. The name, IESE, stands for Instituto de Estudios Superiores de la Empresa, which means Institute of Higher Business Studies in Spanish. While the school's main campus is located in Barcelona, it also has campuses in Madrid, New York, Munich, and São Paulo.

Students can sign up for in-person and online learning in either English or Spanish. With a team of about 113 full-time professors, the school offers a number of graduate programs, doctorate degrees, and professional development programs for corporate executives. Among its offerings are the:

  • MBA program
  • Executive MBA program
  • Global Executive MBA
  • Master of Research Management
  • Ph.D. in management

IESE's MBA program is rated among the top five international MBA programs. Its executive education program is also widely acclaimed and was ranked the top program of its kind in the world by the Financial Times every year from 2015 to 2020.

Graduates of IESE Business School join an alumni network of over 50,000 people. This community includes many prominent members such as:

  • Steve Shiffman, former chief executive officer (CEO) of Calvin Klein
  • Juvencio Maeztu, deputy CEO of IKEA
  • Yuko Keicho, director of strategy and operations at the World Bank

Equally impressive is IESE Business School alumni’s track record of producing startup companies. The school boasts supporting more than 250 startups.

IESE students can also enroll in exchange programs with more than 25 business schools across the globe.

Special Considerations

IESE has partnerships with 15 international business schools. According to IESE, this is the largest network in the world. The majority of these institutions are located in Africa and Latin America while others are found in Europe and Asia.

In 1963, it formed the Harvard-IESE Committee, a collaboration with Harvard Business School that was intended to guide the development and growth of IESE, particularly in relation to its two-year MBA program. This partnership still exists and plays a key role in the success of the school's executive education programs.

IESE Business School works closely with many other partner institutions across the globe. For example, it offers a global CEO program, which is jointly delivered with the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and the China Europe International Business School. IESE also has a partnership with the University of Michigan's Ross School of Business, offering students the Become a Positive Leader to Accelerate Positive Change program.

These jointly delivered programs are part of a larger strategy of embracing international partnerships, which currently involves associations with 15 different business schools around the world, as well as foreign-exchange agreements with over 25 partnering institutions.