#21. Best PhD universities in Spain for management studies.

In the previous post, we have seen “how to choose a PhD university” using only 2 measures–course structure and funding. Continuing on this line, I will share the best business schools in Spain for doing a management PhD. Let us deep-dive into their funding and course structure in this post.

  1. IESE business school, University of Navarra, Barcelona, Spain

Course Structure

The PhD students in IESE business school go through the MRM phase first and then proceed to the doctoral phase. MRM is the abbreviation for “Master of Research in Management”. It is a 2-year full-time program that teaches core, advanced, and specialised courses on research methods. Post successful completion of MRM, a student will enter into the PhD phase. It consists of proposing and defending the dissertation or the PhD thesis with the guidance of a PhD advisor. Overall, the duration of the program is 5 years.


The school offers financial support that covers annual tuition fees for both the MRM and the PhD. It also offers a yearly stipend of 18,720 euros (gross) to cover living expenses. Tuition fees include medical insurance. The funding is limited to 5 years; it is given only if the student satisfies the academic expectation of the program in all years. Additionally, the PhD student should work as a research assistant for at least 10 hours a week from the second year onwards. IESE does not have on-campus accommodation.

2. ESADE, Ramon Llull University, Barcelona, Spain

Course Structure

PhD programme structure comprises 2 stages: coursework and research period. Students start with the course work or MRes (Master of Research). For a year, students will learn about management research, research design, advanced research, and master thesis. In the next 3 years, they will do the actual research. In total, the doctoral period takes 4 years. Students are transferred from MRes to PhD based on 3 criteria: academic records, research skills, and match between student’s research interest and Esade’s line of research. Some of the optional activities for the PhD students are as follows: visiting period for a minimum of 3 months, teaching/research assistant (TA/RA) job for a maximum of 60 hours, and studying MRes elective courses.

PhD Program Structure in ESADE business school, Spain


ESADE is a non-profit organisation. So, a PhD student should first understand their methods to secure funding. If you have been admitted into the PhD stream after the successful completion of MRes, then you are eligible for 3-years funding that covers tuition fees and a monthly stipend to cover living expenses. Like IESE, funding is proportional to academic performance. Students can access additional funding by doing TA/RA activities. Additionally, students can apply to other sources of funding as well–AGAUR, Spanish Ministry of Education, Culture and Sports, Private Institutions Scholarships (La Caixa).

For the one year MRes program, students can apply to the ESADE talent scholarship. Depending on the financial need, an exclusive committee will award scholarships ranging from 25% to 100% of the tuition fees. Additionally, students can apply for financial aid to cover their living and travel expenses during the MRes program.

3. IE business school, IE University, Madrid, Spain

Course Structure

The duration of the PhD program is 4 years. There are 2 stages: 2 years for coursework and 2 years for dissertation. The first two years have 3 terms: October-December, January-March, and April-June. At the end of the second year, comprehensive exams–core, minor, and methodology–will take place between July-September. In years 3 and 4, students should work on the proposal and defence of the doctoral dissertation.


Students get scholarships based on merits–CV, GRE/GMAT score, TOEFL, interview, etc. The funding will be decided by a committee that verifies all applicants. The scholarship covers tuition, maintenance or both. The exact scholarship amount is not specified.

In summary, I have shortlisted the 3 best business schools in Spain based on funding and course structure. Out of which, my first preference is IESE business school.

Thanks for reading the full article. I hope you agree with my selection. If I left out any major business schools with PhD options in Spain, please share them in the comments section.

Published by Portgas D. V

I am a self-motivated person who likes to explore different themes of lifestyle. In the process, I enjoy guiding my inner psychic energy for the betterment of self. When I am free, I would like to read and listen. My long term goal is to become a good writer.

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