INSEAD has been consistently recognized as one of the top graduate business schools on the planet. Labeled itself as “The School of The World”, INSEAD prides itself in a world class faculty members, business students hailing from all corners of the world, and global campuses in key financial districts of Europe, Asia, Middle East and USA. From pioneering the one-year MBA program, today, INSEAD offers a truly groundbreaking experience in business education, with two unique options of pursuing an MBA. In this article, we will provide the full overview of INSEAD and what you need to know before applying to INSEAD.

1. Overview of INSEAD:

1.1. INSEAD:

INSEAD is truly the most international of all business schools in the world, with permanent campuses in Asia (Singapore), the Middle East (Abu Dhabi), Europe (Fontainebleau, just outside Paris), and now, as of 2021, North America (San Francisco). Founded in 1957, INSEAD is an acronym for “Institut Européen d’Administration des Affaires.”

The school has the largest MBA program globally. More than 1,000 students annually participate in their suite of master programmes: MBA, Executive MBA, Specialised Master’s degrees (Executive Master in Finance, Executive Master in Change, and the dual-degree Tsinghua-INSEAD Executive MBA). The school has more than 165 faculty members from 41 countries. In addition, more than 11,000 executives participate in INSEAD’s executive education programs each year.

This footprint of campuses across four continents is matched by the international nature of the student body. Students come from 90 countries, which is not exceptional in itself, but at INSEAD, unlike at US and UK schools, the school truly has no dominant culture. To support this international outlook, INSEAD requires applicants to speak two languages upon admission, and three languages before graduation.

True to its mission “to promote a non-dogmatic learning environment that brings together people, cultures and ideas from around the world, changing lives, and helping transform organizations through management education”, while English is the primary language of the institution, multilingualism is a valued skill, and many languages are taught on campus to prepare students to work in a number of cultures. More than half of all students have already worked outside of their native country. 

1.2. INSEAD’s Campuses:

INSEAD has three major campus sites at the moment:

  • The original campus: Fontainebleau, France (just outside of Paris), 
  • The Asian campus: Singapore
  • The Middle East campus: Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

It also has a San Francisco-based hub and alliances with the Wharton School of Business in Pennsylvania and Tsinghua in Beijing. Additionally, a research center in Israel is also affiliated with INSEAD.

Students have a variety of houses, studios, and flats to choose from, and search assistance from rental agencies is available. The Asia campus is situated in Singapore’s Knowledge Hub district, 30 minutes from Changi airport.

Apartments and houses can be rented with help from real-estate agents. The Middle East campus in Abu Dhabi does not offer onsite accommodation but the university has negotiated special rates for students in hotels nearby.

As an applicant, you will have the chance to select which is of your preference to be your home campus, the campus you will spend the majority of time studying and working. INSEAD, however, allows you to travel to other global campuses to take part in exchange programs and semesters away from home campus, depending on the available opportunities and your professional area of interest. 70% of the student body participate in exchange programs because of the variety of business opportunities in each and every campus.

 INSEAD allows you to travel to other global campuses.

The end goal of these exchanges is an INSEAD experience that sets you up for a global career post MBA. Those who are focused on a career in the States might participate in an exchange with Wharton or Kellogg, or simply stay-put on their choice of campus.

2. MBA Programs in INSEAD

Oxford Said Business School offers three options for MBA: INSEAD MBA, INSEAD Global Executive MBA, and Tsinghua-INSEAD Executive MBA.


INSEAD MBA program is INSEAD’s flagship and pioneering accelerated MBA program. It is consistently ranked amongst the top MBA programmes in the world by The Financial Times. With a duration of 10 intensive months, students are required to take core subjects including Finance, Economics, Accounting, Business Ethics, and Marketing, as well as electives from a pool of 75 different course offerings. We will further explore this programme in the next section.

2.2. INSEAD Global Executive MBA (GEMBA)

This program is offered at the school’s three campuses for experienced executives. An intensive 14- to 17-month modular program, it includes group coaching, team activities, and 360-degree assessments. The 2020 class had 235 students, each with an average of 14 years of work experience.

Each class in the program has an unparalleled diversity of nationalities and business backgrounds, enabling participants to learn from each other and build a close-knit yet globally distributed network. Another unique feature is the Leadership Development Programme which includes a programme-long schedule of group coaching, well-rounded assessments and team activities, designed to develop a leadership style that is authentic to you, thus accelerating your career progress even further. 

2.3. Tsinghua-INSEAD Executive MBA (TIEMBA)

This program comes as a result of a partnership between INSEAD and Tsinghua, one of China’s most prestigious universities. Students can pursue this degree at the three INSEAD campuses or at Tsinghua.

The TIEMBA combines INSEAD’s global presence and Tsinghua’s in-depth expertise of business in China, with lessons that can also be applied to other emerging markets. Graduates from this programme will become members of two of the most powerful alumni networks of the world.

3. INSEAD MBA Curriculum and Program Structure

3.1 Program Structure

The INSEAD MBA Program comprises 5 terms each of 8-week duration. The initial period covers the 14 core courses and during the latter period, students can choose 12 electives from a pool of over 75 choices available, depending upon their career goals and area of interest. The 5th, and last, period has a Capstone project for direct application of learnings received over the previous terms.

MBA students can enjoy the depth of business fundamentals in core courses such as Finance, Organizational Behaviour, Strategy, Accounting, Operations. Leadership, Macroeconomics, Business Ethics, and more. The 75+ electives cast a much wider net in the various disciplines such as Accounting and Control, Decision Sciences, Economics, Entrepreneurship, Marketing, and more.

3.2. Learning Methodology

INSEAD follows a free-form teaching method, based on the basic premise of classroom interaction, whereby faculties can choose the method most suited to the content of the session. 

Among the various methods, students frequently experience business simulations, case study methods, which are extensively used (many of which are designed in-house by the INSEAD faculty and which are also used by other business schools), role-plays, projects, and study tours. The students learn in study groups, interacting through the period in groups of 5 or 6. Collaboration and teamwork thus forms an integral part of the learning process.

3.3. Special Programs and Exchange

INSEAD offers an experiential learning program called Personal Leadership Development Programme (PLDP) that goes hand-in-hand as part of their academic curriculum. This experiential learning curriculum offers you the chance to take self-directed development exercises and a mini communications course in order to fuel your professional and personal development. In addition, the program also offers professional coaching.

As mentioned above, students have the opportunities to travel abroad to INSEAD’s global campuses in Asia, Europe, Middle East and the US. In addition to that, there are multiple exchange programs with top business schools such as Wharton and Kellogg in the US and China Europe International Business School in China. These exchange programs can broaden horizons and open many business opportunities to the MBA students.

4. INSEAD MBA Admission and Fees

4.1. Quick Facts and Highlights:

Application Portal

Application Fee


Mode of Payment


Acceptance rate

30 %

Median GMAT Score


Work Experience

Required for some Graduate Programs and MBA

Financial Aid

Loans and Scholarships available

4.2. Application Requirements

In order to gain admission to INSEAD’s prestigious MBA program, an applicant needs to prove their ability to contribute through her professional and personal experiences, a good academic background, GMAT score, and demonstrated leadership potential. Evidence of working in an international environment, knowledge of foreign language, professional experience in a multinational company, etc, all fall within the purview of international exposure.

The application form needs to be filled online, with details on applicant profile, job description, and essays. There are three essays and an optional essay. Word count is important so try not to exceed it though a 10% additional is permitted. The essays are critical parts of the application process and provide an opportunity to the Admissions Committee to understand the applicant. The essay questions dwell on the personal side of the candidate, their motivation, their inspirations, and so on.

The other documentation required, are the following:

  • Application Fee of $300
  • GMAT and TOEFL. Also accepts TOEIC, IELTS, PTE, and the Certificate of Proficiency in English Test.
  • Two letters of recommendation – one from current supervisor or manager and second from someone with the ability to evaluate the candidate in a professional setting.
  • Latest CV.
  • A recorded video interview upon submission of the application form. The video must contain responses to 4 questions, with a preparation time of 45 seconds for each and 60 seconds to record. 
  • Official transcripts, in English or French, from each college or university attended.

INSEAD doesn’t provide admission deferrals. However, reapplications are accepted. INSEAD also allows candidates to choose either campus, or select Both Campuses, if undecided. Those shortlisted for an interview would be informed accordingly.

4.3. Application Deadlines

INSEAD MBA deadlines vary for the two intake seasons – September & January. Applications are reviewed on a rolling basis, therefore, applying as soon as possible will be the best shot for international applicants. Although both the intakes are equally competitive and are equal in class size, applying for the January intake can be more fruitful as the summer internship period is included in the January intake. The acceptance rate for September intake is 39% and that for January intake is 23%.

The INSEAD MBA Application deadlines for each round and the decision dates for two intakes of 2021 is detailed below:

Intake 2021 


Application Deadline

Interview Invites

Admission Decision


Round 1

September 11, 2020

October 16, 2020

November 20, 2020


Round 2

November 6, 2020

December 11, 2020

January 22, 2021


Round 3

January 08, 2021

February 12, 2021

March 19, 2021


Round 4

February 26, 2021

April 02, 2021

May 07, 2021


Round 1

March 05, 2021

April 09, 2021

May 14, 2021


Round 2

April 23, 2021

May 28, 2021

July 02, 2021


Round 3

June 18, 2021

July 23, 2021

September 03, 2021


Round 4

July 30, 2021

August 27, 2021

September 24, 2021

Source: INSEAD Admission Website

4.4. Tuition, Scholarships, and Financial Aid

Successful applicants aiming to join the September 2021 or January 2022 intakes can expect to pay €89,000 for tuition alone (about $107K at the current exchange rate). In addition, housing and living expenses will add into their bills. Overall, an MBA from INSEAD will cost more than $140,000.

INSEAD scholarships are the most popular, though they are limited and competition is tough. There are two criteria for scholarship decisions: (1) a student’s financial position and need, and (2) a student’s merit, nationality, gender, professional background, etc. About one-quarter of students receive scholarships between €8,000 and €35,000 ($9,700 to $42,500).

5. INSEAD MBA Class Profile 2018-2019

The class profile showcases the diversified student body filled with unique perspectives, skills, and experiences. The INSEAD MBA Class Profile 2018-2019 has some key statistics detailed below:

  • Applications received: 2000+
  • Admits: 600
  • Average student age: 29
  • Nationalities: 94
  • Women: 33%
  • Average GMAT: 709
  • Percent with GRE: 2%
  • Average work experience: 6 years

Here is the table outlining what industries they are professionally engaging:

Industry Breakdown – INSEAD MBA Class of 2019



Salary Range ($)

Median Sign-on bonus

Median Performance Bonus



50,700 – 225,000



Investment Banking / Banking / Sales & Trading

68,500 – 225,000



Investment Management / Hedge Funds

50,700 – 131,800



Other Financial Services

67,500 – 147,600


Private Equity / Venture Capital

67,500 – 170,000





31,300 – 182,500





24,400 – 165,000



E-commerce / Internet

24,400 – 147,400




64,300 – 128,000


Information Technology / Telecommunications

42,800 – 165,000



Media, Entertainment & Advertising

67,500 – 127,900



38,400 – 190,900




90,000 – 112,500



64,100 – 120,800



54,000 – 175,800



Manufacturing / Conglomerates

50,300 – 190,900



Primary Industries

51,300 – 118,600

Retail, Consumer & Luxury Goods

38,400 – 150,000




51,600 – 90,000

Source: INSEAD Class Profile

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