Exterior of Esade School of Business
Photo by Esade

How to Get Into Esade School of Business: The Ultimate Guide

September 9, 2021
image of black dots
Part 1. IntroductionPart 2. About Esade School of BusinessPart 3. Level of CompetitionPart 4. Complete Requirements and How to ApplyPart 5. Top Tips and How to Get Into Esade School of BusinessPart 6. FAQsPart 7. Conclusion


Esade first sparked many prospective MBA students' interests over fifteen years ago when it was ranked as both the best international business school in the world by The Wall Street Journal and was named the 7th best business school outside of North America by BusinessWeek. Since then, its prestigious reputation has continued to grow, and it has been consistently ranked among top international business schools time and time again. 

Esade has also won multiple distinguished accreditations such as the AACSB International, EQUIS, and AMBA. But, Esade School of Business is not just praised among journals and industry professionals; it has also established a lot of loyal support from its students, who recently gave the school’s MBA program a ranking of 9.25/10 in The Financial Times

Esade has undergone many changes since its original construction in 1958, when it was developed as an independent nonprofit institution. The school has had an MBA program since 1964, and it became part of Ramon Llull University in 1995. Esade has also expanded to have campuses in Madrid and Barcelona-Pedralbes. 

However, Esade’s MBA program takes place on its state-of-the-art, 200,000 square foot Barcelona-Sant Cugat campus. Esade’s MBA program allows students an opportunity to become knowledgeable in international practices while interacting with a diverse set of peers within an intimate student body. 

Esade clearly has a fantastic reputation, but why, exactly, is it that the school is viewed by so many as a phenomenal place for undertaking an MBA? Is it a viable option for you, even if you’ve never considered doing your MBA abroad? How likely are you to get accepted into the program if you decide to apply to this business school? Read on to find out the answers to all of these questions.

About Esade School of Business

The statistics speak for themselves when it comes to Esade. The most recent cohort, for example, has had 91% of their graduates secure a top position within three months of graduating.

However, this impressive rate of success is unsurprising if you take a closer look at Esade’s method of operations as well as the mantras, which they preach on campus. There are plenty of good reasons for why this school has reached the level of status that it currently holds. 

A Center for Diversity

One of the distinctive features of the school’s MBA is its international focus. Their website states they’re “a place where students of different cultures, nationalities, genders, religions, ages, and ethnicities can realize their full potential.” 

Diversity is of utmost importance to Esade, and with respect to this, once again, the numbers talk, since 94% of students in the last MBA cohort came from 50 countries outside Spain. Interconnectedness is a large part of what Esade offers. 

The school believes that interacting with a diverse set of peers goes hand in hand with learning the best international business practices. Embracing difference is clearly at the core of what this school strives to represent.

Connect with a Team

Luis Vives, an Associate Dean of Full-Time MBA at Esade, notes that the school prides itself on having a diverse cohort because “the leader[s] of the future must be able to work with others, to foster collaboration and the creation of ecosystems.” Work groups are an essential part of the Esade MBA program. 

These work groups rotate each semester to maximize each student's exposure to the diverse backgrounds of everyone within the cohort. By mixing up their student body in this way and encouraging collaborative leadership, Esade aims to create “something new” and represent the epitome of the modern MBA. 

By doing so they also contribute to their goal of making “the whole team greater than the sum of its parts.” This sense of collaborative teamwork is of vital importance to them, and their website claims that it is an “essential part of [their] DNA”.

Personal and Professional Development Opportunities

Another major feature of Esade’s MBA is its integrative outlook on the development of professional and personal skills within its student body. They have structured their program so that each term represents a different stage of this development. 

According to their website, term 1 is about “better understanding yourself, your individual capabilities, and environment, from the inside out,” whereas term 2 is about learning “to generate opportunities where there are none, and gain[ing] the perspective to solve short-term problems without losing sight of long-term goals,” and term 3 emphasizes transformation and “go[ing] beyond simply imagining change” but rather “excecut[ing] it and manag[ing] it seamlessly.” 

The school is undoubtedly interested in educating its students in matters that stretch far beyond the classroom. Of course, Esade also offers its students a high-quality education from world-class faculty, who they describe as “global thought leaders who effortlessly straddle academic and business worlds.”

The Perfect Setting for an MBA

Esade is located in Barcelona, Spain, which is widely considered to be an ideal place for MBA students studying in Europe. Not only does this cosmopolitan city offer numerous appealing leisure opportunities, due to its location on the coast of northeastern Spain, it also is well renowned for being a major business hub, with what has been described as a “buzzing entrepreneurial ecosystem- with knowledge support, business incubators and a lively start-up culture.” 

Although some prospective MBA students haven’t thought much about going all the way to Europe to complete their degree, since many top-ranking schools may be closer to home for them, the cost of living is considerably lower in Spain than it would be in most American cities and this is an important thing to consider. 

Costs aside, the kind of exposure to a different culture, which one would get studying in a city as magnificent as Barcelona, would also be unattainable at most American business schools.

A Flexible Curriculum

Esade’s MBA program is incredibly flexible by design. Thus, the options available to prospective students are plentiful because there are numerous paths one could possibly take while pursuing their MBA at this school. One of Esade’s biggest draws is that they offer their students the potential to customize their “learning journey to precision-match…learning goals and…professional objectives.” 

A standard 18-month MBA is possible, but there are also the options for a 15-month streamlined path, or a fast-tracked 12-month program. There are also internship opportunities or exchanges for the longer options, which can be taken advantage of at any of Esade’s 23 partner schools spread between Asia and the United States. 

When starting off on this journey, students are also given the choice of taking an English or a Spanish track. However, due to the school’s location- in the heart of Spain, Spanish immersion is inevitable, and by their third term, the school faculty hopes that students can take electives in either language. 

In terms of courses offered, Esade has an impressive 40 electives to choose from, focusing on a multitude of topics, ranging from hedge funds to life philosophy, allowing students to take their MBA in whichever direction they please. 

There are also a plethora of Business Labs, which are offered for family businesses, innovation, entrepreneurship, and marketing. On top of this, Esade also offers a Career Acceleration Program in investment and private banking, consulting, and technological disruption.

An Innovative Campus

The Sant Cugat campus is quite impressive as well, as it is the site for the EsadeCreapolis, which is an “innovation park,” where companies are invited to “collaborate with Esade students and school leaders by providing an ecosystem to inspire, facilitate, and accelerate innovation.” This 200,000 square foot campus also contains an integrated gymnasium, numerous restaurants and multiple other on-site services. 

For those who are interested in expanding their networking opportunities even further, it is also possible to get involved with the MBA Student Association (MBASA). This is a group, run by students, that organizes a wide range of social, educational, professional, cultural, and recreational activities, available for anyone in the student body to join. 

There is an abundance of unique clubs that belong to this association, which discuss various topics such as sports, business, politics, and women’s interests, among others things. MBASA also encourages any MBA students interested in starting up a club of their own to do so and contribute to the further expansion and improvement of on-campus opportunities.

Level of Competition

Another defining characteristic of the Esade cohort is its size. The school believes in maintaining a sense of intimacy, and thus, only a limited number of spots are available for taking within the MBA program. Each year, approximately 500 candidates compete for 190 spots within the program, making for an approximate acceptance rate of around 37%. 

The average age of Esade’s MBA student body is 28. The gender breakdown of their cohort is 28% women and 72% men. The average student in the program has 6 years of work experience. Esade’s current cohort is approximately 98% international, with 28% of their students from Latin America, 28% from Europe, 24% from Asia, 11% from North America, 7% from the Middle East, and 2% from Africa. 

However, the student body isn’t only diverse with regards to their countries of origin, but also in terms of the sectors in which they operate. The most recent cohort closely represents this divide as well. 

The most popular professional background that students of Esade’s MBA program have is finance, which 23% of their students have experience in. This is followed by 22% in marketing and sales, 14% in operations, logistics, or production, 13% in consulting, 9% in law, 7% in management, and 12% in other fields such as information systems, communications, or human resources. 

The academic backgrounds of Esade’s students are also quite varied. The most popular background field of study is business and management, with 32% of their students having studied this prior to their MBA. However, 30% have a background in engineering, 10% in economics, 6% in social sciences, 6% in humanities, and 16% have studied in other areas such as healthcare, law, or arts.

image of level of competition in school academics


image of level of competition in school academics

Complete Requirements and How to Apply

There are some standards and requirements that anyone applying to Esade’s MBA program must meet. Before you can enter an MBA at this school, “you must have been awarded an undergraduate degree entitling you to undertake postgraduate studies in the degree-granting country.” 

Esade also requires that their students have at least two years of relevant work experience before applying. The first step in the application process is completing the online application form, which can be found on their website. 

Next, an applicant must submit copies of their bachelor transcripts, bachelor’s degree, and GRE/GMAT unofficial scores. Esade does not have specific requirements for either of these scores but the average GMAT score for admission into their MBA program is 660, and the average GRE score is 160 Verbal, 162 Quant.

A CV should be included as part of the application, containing only the most essential and relevant details pertaining to an applicant’s eligibility for a position within the MBA program. This CV should be no longer than two pages.

For non-native English speakers, or for those who have completed their bachelors degree in a language other than English, there are also some stringent requirements for certification such as proof of a TOEFL score of 100+, or an IELTS score of at least 7.0. A Certificate in Advance English, with a B+ or higher, a Certificate in Proficiency in English, with a C+ or higher, or proof of an Academic Pearson score of 68 or higher will also suffice. 

If these requirements are not met, a final evaluation of one’s English level may be made by the Admissions Committee. For international students, official translations of university or qualification transcripts are required as well, and it is possible that even further apostillation such as a Hague Convention Apostille for these documents, may be necessary. 

If candidates meet all the prerequisites, they can then submit all of the required application materials to the MBA Admissions Committee for review and they will decide if they would like to invite them for an interview. Interviews could possibly take place virtually in extreme circumstances; however, they are typically conducted at the Esade campus in Barcelona or in the candidate’s place of residence. 

After the interview stage, the full application is reviewed by the committee once again so that a final decision can be made regarding an offer for admission to the program. This entire process, from the point when a candidate submits their application, to the point of a decision of acceptance being made, usually takes between four and six weeks. 

All non-European students must also go through the necessary steps to secure a student visa. However, this must occur only once a spot has been confirmed within the program, and Esade helps to facilitate this process along the way.

Top Tips and How To Get Into Esade School of Business

There are a few key things that Esade is looking for from their applicants, and possessing these attributes, or not, could make all the difference when it comes to an acceptance to the program. 

For Esade, accepting an applicant into a future cohort is about more than just finding students with academic distinction; it is about procuring a body of students who embody their international spirit and contribute to the maintenance of their reputation as a forward-thinking school.

They think of their school as a place for “future leaders who are ready to think differently and break new ground.” Esade wants to know that their applicants have leadership potential, which can be substantiated by challenges or levels of responsibility that they’ve taken on in their career.

They also want to make sure that their students will be able to thrive in an international environment like the one that is being offered at their school. Applicants who have had experience with exposing themselves to different cultures, languages, or business environments may have the upper hand when it comes to this criteria. 

Another thing taken into consideration by Esade’s admissions committee is how well an applicant understands the MBA that they’re offering, including the kind of collaborative learning that takes place in an environment where teamwork is emphasized. If someone is interested in applying to Esade, it would be a good idea to reach out to current or former students of the school to gain some more personal insights into what the school and the program are all about.

One of the main components of Esade’s MBA program's application process is the essay pack, which must be submitted to the Admissions Committee. This pack contains five essay topics, and these topics have remained the same for the last few years. There are a few important things to keep in mind when deciding how to write an effective MBA essay

Essays should be written in such a way as to clearly and concisely show the admissions directors precisely who the applicant is. The first topic asks applicants to discuss improvements that they have made during their “academic and professional career so far,” as well as “which tools or values” have helped them achieve these improvements. 

For this topic, the best approach would be to focus on examples of personal goals that have been set up and met in the past, ensuring that these goals and accomplishments, which are mentioned, are clearly indicative of the individual strengths and qualities that are necessary to have achieved them. Speaking about the work experiences you have had in different roles or at different companies is a good place to start. 

The second essay topic asks applicants to expand on how their “background, values and non-work related activities” will “enhance the experience of other MBA students and add to the diverse culture” that Esade strives for. 

What they are looking for with this question, is how prospective students could add value to the cohort as a whole, and, thus, writing about more than just job titles and professional accomplishments is encouraged. To address this topic, showcase your interests, perspectives, abilities, or passions to best illustrate who you are at your core and why that makes you a good fit for Esade. 

The third essay topic asks you to discuss your motivation for “pursuing an MBA at this point in [your] life.” It also asks for further explanation of “mid-term and long-term visions for [your] post-MBA career path,” as well as why you think Esade will help you to reach these goals. 

To form a good response to these questions you might want to think through the specific aspects that highlight your goals such as the industry, role, and geographic location that you’re interested in working within. The key component of answering this particular topic is focusing on why an MBA at Esade specifically, and not just any MBA, is going to provide you with a vehicle for attaining your goals that are set out. 

This is an opportunity to display the online or offline background research into the school that you have already done. 

The fourth essay topic contains four writing prompts, two of which must be chosen and expanded on. You can write about something you are “most proud of,” something “people may be surprised to learn” about you, what your “biggest challenge” has been and what it helped you to learn about yourself, or “what historical figure… [you] most identify with and why?” 

Although each of these prompts inspires a variety of possibilities, the direction that you might want to take would be one in which the focus comes back on yourself. The important thing is that your own characteristics, achievements, and values shine through in your answers. 

There is also an optional fifth topic, which you can answer if you would like to “explain shortfalls in your application which [you] feel are truly detrimental to [your] candidature.” 

This could include “areas of underperformance…or events which stick out…or application issues” and if you have an explanation for any of these situations that is “intelligent, interesting and credible” then you may take this as an opportunity to spin things in the way that you would prefer they be interpreted, rather than leaving that interpretation entirely up to the Admissions Committee. 

On the other hand, if you have some incredibly positive information that you want to include in your application, but you didn’t have an opportunity to do so elsewhere, you may also use this optional essay as a vessel for doing just that.

There are also more specific strategies that can be taken during each step of the application process which can improve your chances of getting into this sought-after MBA program. 

Esade greatly values those who make an effort to meet them in person, either at an interview day being held in their region or at an on-campus session. They want to know that those who are applying to their school are serious about this opportunity, and having that face-to-face time makes a big difference. 

Esade also requires two letters of recommendation, and they strongly suggest that applicants carefully consider who to choose as their references. They would prefer to receive an authentic reference from someone who clearly knows the applicant very well rather than from someone with an impressive job title.


1. What is the difference between Esade’s 12-month, 15-month, and 18-month MBA programs?

Esade’s 12-month course program only consists of core classes and electives, whereas the 15-month program and the 18-month program offer these classes, as well as a choice between an internship and an exchange.

2. What is the average GMAT score for those who have been admitted into an MBA Program at Esade?

The average GMAT score for admission into Esade’s MBA program is 660. However, there is no minimum score required for acceptance into the program.

3. What is the average GRE score for those who have been admitted into Esade’s MBA program?

The average GRE score for admission into Esade’s MBA program is 160 Verbal, 162 Quant. However, there is no minimum score required for acceptance into the program.

4. How much work experience must an applicant have before applying to the MBA program at Esade?

To be eligible to apply to Esade’s MBA program, you must have at least two years of relevant work experience.

5. Does Esade offer scholarships for their MBA program?

Yes. Esade awards several scholarships during each admissions cycle to outstanding candidates who apply.

6. Is a background in Spanish required to apply to Esade’s MBA program?

No. Knowledge of Spanish is not required to enter the program. However, students will have the choice to study in English or Spanish during the first two terms and are expected to possibly take electives in either language by the third term.

7. Is the admissions process the same for applying to the bilingual track for Esade’s MBA program?

Candidates who apply to the bilingual track can take a separate admissions exam, offered by Esade, rather than the GMAT.

8. What is the cost of tuition for the MBA program at Esade?

The average cost of tuition for the MBA program at Esade is €72,000.

9. What is the average starting salary for graduates of Esade’s MBA program?

Depending on the industry that an Esade MBA graduate chooses, starting salaries have typically ranged from €67,704 to €74,978, although some Esade alumni have reported starting salaries as high as €211,082.


Whether Esade School of Business is the right place to undertake an MBA program or not all depends on exactly what you're looking to get out of the experience, as well as what you have to bring to the table. 

If you do decide to study an MBA at Esade, you can benefit from their “Student First” approach to education, which “interweaves debate, case-study discussion, simulations, gameplay, teamwork, role-play and tutorials.” There really is not much that is left out of the Esade MBA. 

Anyone choosing Esade for completing their MBA will also get to take full advantage of their endless opportunities for networking with a diverse student body from over 40 nationalities. Since Esade encourages intense collaboration and teamwork, intermingling amongst the cohort is essential, and opportunities for life-long global connections are inevitable. 

By studying at Esade, you’ll also have access to their experienced faculty and career advisors, where you can receive personalized attention and assistance along your path to personal and professional growth and success. If you are to take part in Esade’s MBA program, and eventually join their alumni, of which there are 60,000, spread out over 100 countries, you are expected to participate in the school’s ultimate goal of “driving lasting change.” 

If this aligns with your personal goals, or if this diverse group of young businessmen seems like the type of community you’d like to contribute to and be a part of, then Esade might be the perfect fit for your MBA. 

Esade’s business school was founded on “the belief that business – and society – is fundamentally about human potential” and pursuing an MBA at their school provides you with a wealth of opportunities to access this same potential within yourself.

About Inspira Futures

At Inspira Futures, our sole focus is to get you accepted at your dream business school. Our team of experts consists of former admission committee members and alums from Harvard Business School, Stanford GSB, and other M7 schools. Our goal is to help you write great essays, ace interviews, and win scholarships. Without any stress or hassle. Our clients have gone on to secure admits at the world's top business schools while also being winners of some of the most prestigious scholarships like Stanford Knight Hennessy, HBS Baker Scholars, and many others.
Get Free Consultation

Schedule A Free Consultation

Plan Smart. Execute Strong. Get Into Your Dream School.
image of black dots

You May Also Like