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MBA Spotlight Series: INSEAD

In today’s article of the MBA Spotlight Series, we take a trip across the seas over to Europe, as we look at INSEAD: The Business School for the World.

The Basics


Founded in 1957, INSEAD has grown in stature and reputation over the past 60 years and is widely regarded today as one of the best business schools on the planet.


The MBA program is 10 months long, which is targeted towards more experiences candidates as compared to typical 2 year MBA programs in the US. This is reflected in the fact that the average full time work experience of the current batch is 5.6 years, and the average age is 29. INSEAD also attracts an incredibly diverse and global cohort, with 88 nationalities being represented in its current batch.


The MBA program has two separate intakes, in September (Class on July) and in January (Class of December) and each intake has four separate application rounds. Details for the latest application deadlines can be found here.


The program was ranked 3rd and 4th in the FT Global MBA rankings for 2019 and 2020 respectively.


Key Program Details


  • Multiple Campuses: In line with its global outlook, INSEAD offers its students the choice of two campuses, in Fontainebleau, France (near Paris) and in Singapore. The location of these campuses in the business hubs of Europe and Asia provides students with the world of professional opportunities.

  • Catalyst for Change: The career outcomes for INSEAD students are a reflection of the program’s ability to offer students the best opportunity to change their career trajectory. 79% of graduates change their sector, function, or country and they are employed in 61 countries worldwide post-graduation.

  • Academic Experience: Despite being less than one year in duration, INSEAD does not compromise of the quality and variety of academic experiences in offers its students. The MBA program consists of 14 core courses, the choice of over 75 electives, a Capstone course, and the opportunity for campus exchanges with Wharton, Kellogg, and CEIBS.


Admission Criteria


The MBA application for INSEAD is one of the most comprehensive and exhaustive amongst top global programs. It consists of academic performance, test scores, professional experiences, recommendations, and seven mandatory written essays, along with 4 video essays.


INSEAD also clearly defines the four qualities it looks for in successful applicants,

  • Ability to Contribute: The school wants students who can share insights and knowledge that they have gathered from their past experiences. It emphasizes that a large part of the MBA experience is the peer-to-peer learning and they look for candidates who can contribute to it.

  • Academic Capacity: With such a rigorous program, Insead requires its students to have the highest caliber of academic potential, which is assessed through their undergraduate performance and GMAT/GRE scores.

  • International Motivation: The school looks for candidates with a strong international focus, and as such most students have studied or worked outside their home country for some duration of time. They may also show their international motivation in other ways, such as speaking foreign languages, working with multinational teams etc.

  • Leadership Potential: As with any top MBA program, Insead looks for leaders. They identify a candidate’s potential and proof of leadership through their past experiences and professional achievements.


Essay Questions


As mention earlier, the INSEAD MBA application includes seven essay questions, making it a very challenging process. The essays cover a range of topics, from personal to professional, and seek to understand the candidate in complete detail. The essay topics are subdivided into 2 parts - Job Description essays and Motivation Essays.


Job Description Essays