How to get into INSEAD for Masters, MBA, Executive MBA, PhD programs

How to get into INSEAD

For Masters, MFin, MBA, Executive MBA, PhD programs

INSEAD is a graduate business school with campuses in Fontainebleau, France; Singapore; and Abu Dhabi, UAE. Although most students have heard about its renowned MBA program, INSEAD (acronym for the French name that means “European Institute of Business Administration”), also runs quite a few master’s, doctoral, and executive MBA programs. Here’s a quick look at the program profiles and admission requirements.


INSEAD statistics and facts

  • Established: 1957
  • Motto: The business school for the world
  • Endowment: €185 million
  • MBA students: Over 1,000 MBA students on two campuses in two intakes
  • EMBA: Over 12,000 EMBA and executive education students
  • PhD: 80 students
  • Faculty: Over 250
  • Source: Wikipedia


How to get into INSEAD for master’s and PhD


Global Executive MBA

Program profile: INSEAD’s 14- to 17-month fast-tract GEMBA program is conducted on its three campuses in France, Singapore, and Abu Dhabi. Participants need to take only 51 to 60 days off from work. The Leadership Development Programme (LDP), with its group coaching, 360-degree assessments, and team activities, runs throughout the GEMBA program.

The GEMBA has been ranked among the top ten by Financial Times (2017). Many of the faculty members were business persons before taking up teaching, and many are consultants to top companies.

What you need: For the GEMBA, INSEAD looks for experienced executives who want to challenge themselves in an academic program. They should have intellectual curiosity and a desire to learn.

The admission criteria are proven leadership, academic capacity, international outlook, and ability to contribute. Candidates are expected to express their cross-cultural understanding and international outlook.

To help INSEAD ascertain your eligibility, participants have to select the GMAT Executive Assessment (EA) or INSEAD EMBA Assessment Day. If you choose to take the INSEAD Assessment (the fee is €185), the institution will allot a campus as per your choice after an evaluation. The GMAT exam is another alternative.

The online application consists of profile information, job description and motivational essays, two professional letters of recommendation, official academic transcripts, English language certification, CV, and photograph. The application fee is €250.

The GEMBA class profile: Participants: 235; Age range of 80 percent students: 32-43; Average work experience: 13 years; Working outside home country: 61 percent; Nationalities: 59; Work countries: 49.

Tsinghua-INSEAD Executive MBA (TIEMBA)

Program profile: TIEMBA is delivered in a partnership of INSEAD and the Beijing university Tsinghua. It is a modular dual-degree program ranked third in the Financial Times Global Executive MBA rankings 2017.

The program provides an in-depth understanding of business in China from both domestic and international perspectives.

What you need: To be eligible to attend the program, you require experience and potential, academic ability (bachelor’s degree and GMAT/TIEMBA entrance test), an international outlook, and an Asia focus.

The application process consists of three steps: 1. Submission of application documents and names of referees; 2. Interview or TIEMBA admissions test; 3. Acceptance and confirmation. To prove eligibility, applicants can take the GMAT, EA, or INSEAD Assessment.

Class profile: Participants: 45; Average age: 35; Average working experience: 12 years; Nationalities: 18; Female: 44 percent; Working outside home country: 51 percent.

Executive Master in Consulting and Coaching for Chance (EMCCC)

Program profile: The EMCCC spans over 18 months and eight modules of three or four days. It helps participants study the “basic drivers of human behavior” and “hidden dynamics” of organizations.

The program integrates business education with a variety of psychological disciplines to help create more efficient organizations.

The objectives of the program are to increase self and interpersonal awareness; to help participants become an effective agent of organizational change; to study new coaching and consulting methodologies; and to learn more about organization behavior and psychological perspectives.

What you need: The admission criteria include professional experience, international outlook, academic capacity, ability to contribute to the INSEAD experience, interest in psychological approaches to management and self-development, and fluency in English.

The admission process comprises a three- to six-week process that includes online application, telephonic pre-interview conversations with admissions, face-to-face interview with a program director, and decision.

Class profile: Participants: 108 (three waves); Women: 49 percent; Average age 46; Average work experience: 20 years; Professional sectors: 29; Nationalities: 37.

Executive Master in Finance (EMFin)

Program profile: EMFin sharpens the leadership and management skills of the participants in the finance sector. The course work is divided into modules that are held three to four months apart, providing the students time to implement what they have learned back at the workplace.

EMFin teaches more leadership skills than a finance program and more about finance than an MBA course. The program is mainly taught in Singapore.

The objectives of the course are to learn more about finance and management; develop an in-depth understanding of competitive and management issues; apply skills at the workplace; and participate in a global learning experience using INSEAD’s resources. The faculty consists of 140 experts from more than 40 countries.

What you need: The admission requirements are academic capacity; GMAT, GRE, or GMAT EA; and professional experience (seven to ten years in a finance-related role, but strong applications may be considered).

Other than work experience, admissions officials looks for what kind of organizations the applicant has worked for and the roles played. Experience in a well-known finance organization will help the candidate stand out.

Good quant skills are a must. A GMAT score in the 75th percentile is the minimum requirement across the quant and verbal sections. An undergraduate degree in hard science, mathematics, or engineering with high scores will also demonstrate quant ability.

The application consists of the online application, supporting documents, and official transcripts.

Class profile: Participants: 43; Average age: 33; Average work experience: 9 years; Nationalities: 18; Women: 28 percent.

Doctoral program: PhD

Program profile: INSEAD’s PhD, which is a five-year full-time program, is a passport to prestigious academic career. It offers a life of intellectual stimulation, creativity, and freedom, points out Phanish Puranam, Academic Director of the PhD program at INSEAD. It is a dream job that combines the best of academic research and real-world business impact.

The PhD program claims to be the only two-continent PhD in Management program. Although a culturally diverse program, the students are an intimate group of researchers with only about 18 places on offer each year. Professors who are world experts collaborate with PhD students across continents, sharing perspectives.

Almost all PhD students benefit from INSEAD’s scholarships and living allowances. The graduates achieve the best positions in renowned universities worldwide.

The first two years of the five-year program are dedicated to the core and advanced courses and the last three years to research and submission of the doctoral dissertation.

What you need: The admission criteria are proven academic record; creativity and independent thought; motivation, determination, and drive; and ability to work in English.

The application consists of the online application; supporting documentation, and three recommendation letters. All documents should be sent or uploaded online.

Executive education: General management programs

INSEAD offers four general management programs: the Advanced Management Programme (four weeks, Fontainebleau); Transition to General Management (four weeks, Fontainebleau/San Francisco); the Management Acceleration Programme (Fontainebleau, three weeks); and the Asian International Executive Programme (Singapore, two weeks).

Other executive education programs

INSEAD also has executive education programs in corporate governance, top management, leadership, strategy, digital transformation and innovation, finance, marketing and sales, R&D and operations management, entrepreneurship and family business, and online and partner programs.


Program profile: We have covered INSEAD MBA in detail in earlier stories including:

Here’s a recap of the program requirements.

What you need: The main admission criteria at INSEAD is your ability to contribute to the INSEAD experience during (10 months’ duration) and after your MBA program (contributions to your organization/community); academic capacity (degree, transcript, GMAT score in 70th percentile); international motivation (flexibility in multicultural environments); and leadership potential (job descriptions of your roles).

The whole application process to INSEAD is done online (including your profile, job description questions, and motivation essays). The essays should be your personal stories, showing what motivates you. There are three compulsory motivation essays and an optional one.

The application fee is €250, which is not refundable. Supporting documents include GMAT score and English language certification if English is not your native language. INSEAD accepts TOEFL, TOEIC, IELTS, Pearson Test of English (PTE) Academic, and the Certificate of Proficiency in English Test.

You can also demonstrate fluency in English with a university degree (extending a minimum of one full-time academic year with a diploma received from the university), in which all the courses are taught in English.

INSEAD does not have a minimum score for admission but it advises candidates to aim for a score equal to or above 105 for TOEFL IBT; 260 in TOEFL CBT; 620 TOEFL PBT; TOEIC (all four parts are required): Listening and Reading – 950; TOEIC Writing – 170; TOEIC Speaking – 190; IELTS Academic: 7.5; PTE Academic: 72; and CPE: B.

INSEAD requires two recommendation letters testifying to your management and leadership potential. One of the letters could come from your current manager or supervisor. The other could be from a person who has seen you work, such as a client, a former supervisor, or a colleague from your community service or extracurriculars club.

Your CV can be on a free format or on the format of the INSEAD official CV e-book, which is a detailed format seeking your education and work experience. Scanned copies of your diploma and transcripts and any other certificates that you want the admissions officials to see can also be attached.

Video interviews, which give a deeper insight to your background, are a part of the admissions process. Soon after completing your MBA application, you will receive an email notification to complete four video interviews.

These interviews do not replace face-to-face interviews with alumni. The interviews are to be completed and sent no later than 48 hours after the deadline for submitting your application (check details on the INSEAD website).

Class profile: Average age: 29; Average work experience: 6 years; Average GMAT: 709; Nationalities: 94; Women 33 percent;

Also read:
INSEAD France vs Singapore campus: Differences and similarities
INSEAD admit with scholarship for Indian applicant
INSEAD Singapore vs MBA in India, USA and France
I got into INSEAD, twice
INSEAD MBA diversity scholarship with an average GMAT score of 700 in Round 2
Best admission consultant for INSEAD
References: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18