How to get into INSEAD MBA Program 2020?

In 1957, INSEAD (Institut Européen d'Administration des Affaires) became the first European business school to offer an MBA program. Whether we chalk it up to the first mover’s advantage, or simply the decades-long experience in providing a quality MBA education, INSEAD is currently amongst the world’s Top 3 Business Schools and is the Top Business School in Europe.

The business school has three campuses in each, Europe, Asia, and the Middle-East. Sticking to its global figure, the school is known to have some of the most diverse classes amongst business schools with over 90 countries represented in its student body and over 60% placements outside of Northern and Western Europe.

Before getting into how to get into INSEAD, you must be familiar with what INSEAD has to offer.

Type of MBA Program at INSEAD

Before getting into how to get into INSEAD, you must be familiar with what INSEAD has to offer.


Types of MBA Programs at INSEAD

INSEAD is popular for its one-year MBA program, however, the school isn’t as one dimensional and offers a few more MBA programs to provide flexibility for prospective students.

Since the school is known for its high work experience requirements from applicants, they have also started offering MiM (Masters in Management) courses for students who have fewer years of professional work under their belt.

However, our main focus is the MBA programs that the school offers.

One-Year INSEAD MBA Program

A top-ranking global program, the INSEAD One-Year MBA Program is aimed at professionals with at least two years or more of full-time work experience in their resume.

It is a 10-month long program and highly sought after amongst applicants. It includes an accelerated full-time MBA curriculum and is administered at all three of INSEAD’s campuses, Fontainebleau, Singapore, and Dubai.

Global Executive MBA Program

The Global Executive MBA Program by INSEAD is the school’s leading executive program. It is aimed at current working professionals who expect to keep their careers active while getting an MBA degree and expanding their knowledge base.

The program only requires 51-60 days of attendance in 14 months. It is a leadership-based program and has a salient feature, that includes program long group coaching, called Leadership Development Programme (LDP).

Tsinghua-INSEAD Executive MBA

Tsinghua is one of China’s most prestigious universities. INSEAD has launched an MBA program in collaboration with Tsinghua in an attempt to create a truly global and diverse experience for INSEAD MBAs.

The program can be accessed at INSEAD’s three campuses, Fontainebleau, Singapore, and Dubai, along with Tsinghua’s Beijing campus. The program aims at integrating the teachings, methodologies, technical knowledge, and soft skills of the Eastern and Western styles of teaching.

INSEAD MBA rankings 2019

INSEAD is a highly ranked program, as mentioned before. However, the program by INSEAD that ranks #1 globally amongst Executive MBA programs is the dual degree Executive MBA Program with Tsinghua University while it’s standalone Executive MBA Program ranks at #7 in the same list.

Application deadlines for INSEAD 2020

One-Year MBA Program

September 2020 Intake Application Deadline Interview Decision Final Decision
Round 1 18 September 2019 18 October 2019 22 November 2019
Round 2 6 November 2019 6 December 2019 24 January 2020
Round 3 15 January 2020 14 February 2020 20 March 2020
Round 4 26 February 2020 27 March 2020 30 April 2020
January 2021 Intake Application Deadline Interview Decision Final Decision
Round 1 11 March 2020 10 April 2020 15 May 2020
Round 2 6 May 2020 5 June 2020 10 July 2020
Round 3 24 June 2020 24 July 2020 4 September 2020
Round 4 28 July 2020 28 August 2020 25 September 2020

Global Executive MBA Program

Round Asia Deadline Middle-East Deadlines Europe Deadlines
Round 1 17 January 2020 15 February 2020 1 March 2020
Round 2 6 March 2020 11 April 2020 10 May 2020
Round 3 24 April 2020 13 June 2020 12 July 2020
Round 4 5 June 2020 8 August 2020 6 September 2020

singhua-INSEAD Executive MBA

Round Deadline
Round 1 20 September 2019
Round 2 17 January 2020
Round 3 20 March 2020
Round 4 17 April 2020

Application process for INSEAD One-Year MBA Program 2020

If you analyze the top evaluation techniques from business schools and put them all together, you will have INSEAD’s application process in front of you. From essays, and letters of recommendations to video interviews and two alumni interviews, INSEAD goes the extra mile to make sure the evaluation of an applicant is fair and complete.

The school also provides the students with the campus choices early on in the admissions. This can be confusing territory if you haven’t done your research before-hand. So, make sure you do extensive research on the school before starting your application form.

Round Process
Application and Supporting Documents Your application is only considered if you provide all the supporting documents and official transcripts (converted into English if necessary) from your undergraduate institution before the deadline. If you miss the deadline, your application will be considered in the next deadline, if any is present. In this step, you will also be asked the preference of campus you have, Singapore, or Fontainebleau. Make this choice carefully as it will be considered the final preference while allotting you a campus post-acceptance
Video Interviews The video interviews are a crucial step in the application for INSEAD. You will have to answer four interview questions that the admissions committee uses to evaluate an applicant’s fit into INSEAD’s cultural environment.
Alumni Interviews The alumni interviews at INSEAD are done in two parts by two different alumni. If selected for the interview round, the school will reach out and inform you of the same, setting the interviews in your home country.
Admissions Committee Evaluation After receiving the feedback on your interviews with the alumni of INSEAD, the admissions committee will take a final look at your profile along with the essays and recommendation to decide on whether to accept or reject your application.

Cost of Attendance of INSEAD’s One-Year MBA Program

The cost of attendance at INSEAD varies by the campus you wish to receive your MBA education from. However, the school does mention that if you have a partner accompanying you, raising the total cost of living by 25% could give you a rough idea of your expenditure during the program.

Fontainebleau Campus

Expense Fontainebleau Cost (in Euros) Singapore Cost (in Euros)
Tuition- July Intake 85,500 85,500
Tuition- January Intake 87,000 87,000
Accommodation 10,000 12,800
Books 300 300
Car Lease 3,900 N/A
Field Trips 2,000 2,000
Local Transport 633 700
Meals 6,000 6,500
Miscellaneous 1,500 1,500
Phone 400 300
Laptop 1,000 1,000
Travel for Exchange and Job 2,000 2,000

How to Get a Scholarship for INSEAD MBA?

INSEAD currently has a scholarship fund of €5.4 Million, which is divided up into over 90 types of scholarships that the school offers. On average, each INSEAD student receives €15,000 in scholarships according to the admissions committee members.

Every applicant needs to apply for scholarships separately from their MBA application. The deadlines for the scholarship applications for the July 2021 class, the only scholarship applications open, are as below.

Round Application Deadline Decision Update
Round 1 4 November 2019 6 December 2019
Round 2 23 December 2019 6 February 2020
Round 3 2 March 2020 27 March 2020

Starting compensation after INSEAD MBA Program

The graduating class of INSEAD in 2018 saw 91% of the MBAs receiving job offers within three months of graduation. Of the remaining 9%, 4% of students of the graduating class of 2018 were entrepreneurs.

The school also saw no change in the popularity of consulting firms when 36% of the class chose to accept offers from them. The school receives over 300 recruiters every year, which surely assists it to keep its employment records consistent year after year with only a few variations for the better.

Some of the top recruiters at INSEAD are McKinsey & Company, Boston Consulting Group, Bain & Company, Amazon, Strategy&, A.T. Kearney, Accenture, L.E.K. Consulting, and Roland Berger.

Here’s a brief look at compensation that INSEAD’s MBA graduates received right after graduation.

Industry Mean Salary Median Salary Median Sign-on Bonus
Management Consulting $113,800 $113,400 $27,000
Financial Services $112,900 $108,000 $31,100
Technology, Media & Telecommunications $102,800 $104,000 $24,450
Corporate Sectors $104,700 $98,200 $20,500

What is the INSEAD admissions committee looking for?

Students at INSEAD thrive on the global community and exposure the school has to offer. But for a school of such calibre, your profile must be curated in a way that shows you as a good fit, yet, isn’t solely manufactured for the school.

This can only be achieved by knowing the various qualities the school endorses and perceptively taking steps to answer each of the questions that the school asks you.

Here are a few things that applicants wishing to get into INSEAD should focus on to get an admit to the school.

Reach out to current students

Every school has a social culture and a list of social activities that are an integral part of a student’s education. The accounts of such activities on the internet are only superficial and will give you a broad idea about what goes on.

For example, some business schools have drinking nights on Thursdays or Fridays. While blogs on the internet will tell you about such events, only current students or alumni can tell you the impact they will have on your education at the institute. Are there big events to network? Do they affect the study schedule? These questions only someone who has lived through the experience can truly answer.

Now you must be wondering how this is important to your application. When you apply to a school, you will be asked, directly or indirectly, if you will be able to endure the social culture of the school. While being an academic fit is important, if a student cannot thrive in the culture of a school, the admissions committee will have their doubts about their candidature.

Thus, finding out the social culture of a school will help you answer questions like ‘Why INSEAD?’ much better.

Choose your recommendations carefully

Recommendations are a big part of INSEAD’s applications. While most business schools require A grade recommendations and will scrutinize them word by word to evaluate your application, INSEAD reacts to them a little differently.

INSEAD is a school that, in no circumstances, accepts applicants with zero work experience. They also look for leadership as the main quality of an applicant. The admissions committee at INSEAD says that they believe recommendations to be the perfect place to look for the skills of an applicant.

While your essays tell a story, you have decided to narrate, the recommendations can quickly unravel any loopholes in your stories. In addition to this, some skills can only be best judged when coming from a third person’s perspective. Skills like emotional intelligence, listening skills, communication style, and the ability to accept and rectify mistakes can be best understood in a professional capacity when a supervisor or a colleague elaborates on them.

These are a few skills that the INSEAD admissions committee considers to be very important in an INSEAD student. So, choose your recommenders carefully, based on who you believe will be able to provide better examples for such instances in relation to your professional behaviour.

Map your work experience

Before starting on your INSEAD essays, make a small map of the various events that have happened to you over your professional career. Take a few weeks if you have to but map down every single thing that comes to your mind.

This will help you avoid any generic and unnecessary information from your essays, and also create a lasting impact with your narrative.

Once you have all the events mapped, add the qualities you portrayed through each event. Now pick out the events that have the strongest portrayal of each quality you wish to share with the admissions committee and use those in your essays.

Strength focused one-page resume

Do not make a long resume. No one wants to read a three, or four-page resume for one single profile. Also, this could show that you cannot communicate effectively in fewer words.

Keep your resume precise and don’t detail every single point, or mention every single accomplishment you ever had. When you map your work-experience, you will be able to see many of your accomplishments, that will have no place in your resume, use that mapping to know just which ones would make an impact and mention those.

Quantify your achievements

This is very important.

Don’t say ‘I increased the sales for the company in a month’. Instead, say ‘I increased the sales for my company by 20% in a month’. I hope you get the gist.

Basically, whatever achievement or accomplishment you can put down in numbers, do it. An admissions committee member can better evaluate and will be drawn to your profile if you can quantify most of your accomplishments.

After all, you don’t want to go to INSEAD because it is a top global business school, you want to get in because it is ranked 5th in the world and the highest salary received by a fresh graduate is $285,100.

How to deal with no international exposure?

Unlike the top schools in the US, European business schools have more of a global focus. INSEAD is no exception. The school has 96 nationalities represented in the class of 2018 and placed over 62% of that class outside of Northern and Western Europe.

Their focus on a global MBA requires their applicants to have a similar focus as well. While not everyone who gets in has international exposure, most do. So, if you do not have any international exposure in your profile, make sure you convey to the admissions committee that you have a global mindset, interpersonal skills, and can collaborate in a diverse environment.

What is considered international exposure

Before you start saying you have no international exposure, you must understand what international exposure means to business schools. There are two ways to look at international exposure; first is direct and the second is indirect.

Direct international exposure is pretty straightforward. It includes living or working in, having frequent business trips, or extended vacations in a country different from your birth-country. This is simple right?

The confusion comes in when the second form, indirect, of international exposure comes into play. If you have direct international exposure, squeeze that out for all its worth during your business school applications. But if you don’t you would need to pay attention to the international experience you have gained indirectly.

This includes any global projects that you have worked on, working for an international firm, or working with clients outside your home country.

Let’s try to make this clearer with an example. Let’s say you’re currently working for KPMG, a Big 4 firm. If you’re in the US/UK audit department of the firm you will directly be working with clients from either of those countries and will have indirect exposure.

However, if you’re a part of the firm’s HR, on an executive level, you will only be dealing with the employees in India. Thus, giving you no indirect international exposure even though you work at an international firm.

The indirect experience is only to be used when you have no alternative experience to share. But it should be accompanied by a lot of other things to make sure you off-set the lack of a proper international experience.

Having the first-round advantage

This is a very important thing for Indian candidates, and not just for INSEAD applications. Applying in the first round for any business school is an advantage every Indian applicant should try to use. If you aren’t able to do so, you’re not doomed but this is the better way to approach MBA applications.

That being said, nothing is more important than taking the time to complete the applications and not rushing through them.

If you do end up applying in the first round, the admissions committee is generally a lot less stingy with acceptances, and a flaw in your application that might look fatal in round four could be overlooked or compensated by other factors in your profile.

Explain the lack of international exposure

A lot of applicants, from India, do not have the opportunities to have international exposure. This could be due to their financial positions, or lack of international opportunities available in their field of work.

The INSEAD admissions committee members also know and understand such things about applicants coming from developing nations. If you lack the international exposure criteria, try to explain the reasons why you couldn’t take up such opportunities that would provide you with the same.

A valid explanation along with a global-minded outlook could help in covering for your lack of international experience in your INSEAD profile.

Demonstrate open-mindedness

This is very important. If you have no international exposure, that can be explained by various factors that lead to the same, but, if you do not show a tolerant and open-minded attitude, INSEAD admissions committee members are sure to ding your application.

INSEAD has a very diverse class and places students across the globe, quite literally with about 62% of their graduating class of 2018 being placed outside of Northern and Western Europe. Thus, to have open-mindedness is a must to thrive at the school.

If you aren’t such a person, the committee will not see you as a cultural fit and is sure to ding your application. However, if you're such an individual you can use these qualities to plead the case that although you have no international experience, you can collaborate with a diverse group.

Have a global career goal

A global career goal is more than just wanting to be the CEO of a leading MNC.

Explain to the admissions committee why you want to work globally in a certain industry, and what challenges it would bring you. Mentioning the challenges will give you a smooth segue into how your experience at INSEAD will help you fulfil this career goal of yours since INSEAD has a predominant focus on global industries.

Explain to the admissions committee why you want to work globally in a certain industry, and what challenges it would bring you. Mentioning the challenges will give you a smooth segue into how your experience at INSEAD will help you fulfil this career goal of yours since INSEAD has a predominant focus on global industries.

Be over-prepared for your INSEAD interview. Unlike most business schools, INSEAD has two interviewers. So even if your first interview went great, the second would completely tank if you assume the direction it's going to take and prepare only for that.

This is why I suggest taking any and every opportunity to take practice mock interviews if you get an interview call from the school.

Here are a few topics that the interviewers have asked in the past:

  1. About your childhood and family
  2. About your major and why you chose to do it
  3. About your campus choice
  4. About your plans for INSEAD life
  5. About your short-term goals
  6. About any things that stood out in your application
  7. About how you deal with failure
  8. About your choice of INSEAD and the other schools you have applied to
  9. About projects you have worked on
  10. . About subjects you have passion for

Let’s look at a few tips to prepare for your INSEAD interviews:

Be ready to ‘tell them about yourself’

This question can take many forms and can be asked at any point in your interview. A simple, ‘Tell me about yourself?’ is a frequent question to start off an interview. It helps the interviewer decide which approach to take when interviewing a candidate.

Your answer to this question should not be a recital of your profile. Treat this as a more personal question, after all, there is more to you than your education and work experience.

Answer precisely in details

This might sound confusing but it isn’t really. While you want to keep your answers to your interviewer’s questions short, make sure you get your whole point across.

There is nothing wrong with talking for a minute while answering a question as long as the information you are providing is relevant. If they ask you about a year gap in your profile, telling them about your home situation during that period is definitely a good answer as long as it had a role in you choosing to take the year gap. If you took that year gap to travel and find yourself, the ‘home situation’ would be pretty irrelevant even if, in the long-term, it led to you being emotionally exhausted and needing the vacation.

Learn to make such executive decisions about the details that are unnecessary to your story and leave them out.

Look at your profile as an interviewer

Before going for the interviews, take a look at your application and essays, because the interviewer will nit-pick every red flag that you can see because the interviewer can too!

Prepare an answer for every red flag you picked up through this process. Predicting your interview questions might seem useless if the interviewer takes a more casual and interactive approach to the interview. But, be sure that any significant red flags will be picked up in an interview since your performance at INSEAD is dependent on your past choices and performance and the interviewer is well aware of the fact.

Being prepared for the smallest deviations in your profile will make you feel confident to answer any question about your profile that is thrown your way.

Prepare questions to ask the interviewer

This is very important. The reason that business schools encourage pre-MBA networking with alumni and current students is so that an applicant can know for sure that the school is a good fit for their career. When the interviewer opens the floor for questions that you have about the school, asking INSEAD specific questions would show them that you are serious about your application to the school and have done your part in researching how it can help your career and personal growth.

However, make sure your questions aren’t generic or ones that you should already know the answer to.

Asking, ‘What is the class size at INSEAD?’ will be met with a response from the interviewer but will also show that you didn’t really research the school because a simple google search would reveal the answer. So, spend quality time and ask questions that you are really curious about and haven’t been able to find an answer to.

Success Stories: