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INSEAD Quietly Revamps MBA Apps

INSEADpixIn the midst of an admissions season, INSEAD is quietly revamping the way candidates apply for admission into its one-year MBA program in Fontainebleu, France, and Singapore. The changes—released on the school’s website this week—were done without notice or fanfare.

The school is reducing the word counts for its essays by 400 words to 2,300, eliminating one required essay and consolidating several others. The result is a slightly more streamlined application for candidates who want to apply to the institution that bills itself “the business school for the world.”

“It’s not a revolution like some of the U.S. schools which have made dramatic changes in recent years,” said Caroline Diarte Edwards, former head of INSEAD admissions and now a director of Fortuna Admissions, an MBA consulting firm. “They wanted to make some effort to reduce the word count overall because the INSEAD application is pretty laborious and longer than any of the other top schools. But they didn’t want to do anything too drastic because at the end of the day what they care about is getting to know their candidates as well as possible.”

NEXT APPLICATION DEADLINES ARE IN MARCH

The new application goes into effect immediately, though it is likely that applicants who have already worked on the old forms can also submit them for the next deadline. INSEAD, which has two intakes annually, has a Round 3 application deadline coming up on March 5th for its incoming class in September intake and a Round 1 deadline on the 21st for incoming students in January of 2015.

Of the prestige schools, INSEAD takes in the largest single number of MBAs in any given year. The latest class numbers 1,024, roughly 100 more than the annual intake at Harvard Business School. The school’s one-year MBA program makes INSEAD a place where a lot of consulting analysts go to punch their MBA ticket before returning to their firms. The school says that nearly four out of every ten students with consulting backgrounds go back to their employers after receiving their INSEAD degrees.

It’s the major reason why INSEAD’s consulting placements are so unusually high. Some 51 of the 108 graduates who went to McKinsey & Co. in 2012 from INSEAD actually were people who returned to their company. Some 24 of the 60 who went off to Boston Consulting Group had worked for BCG. And 16 of the 52 who joined Bain & Co. did a return trip, along with 15 of the 24 who were hired by Booz & Co. Those four consulting firms were the biggest employers of the Class of 2012.

INSEAD IS ONE OF THE FEW SCHOOLS THAT FAILS TO DISCLOSE KEY ADMISSIONS DATA

INSEAD is also one of the few schools that declines to disclose how many people apply to the school’s MBA program or how many candidates it admits, largely because the school’s acceptance rate is well above peer schools. Insiders say the school accepts more than 30% of its applicants—more than European rival London Business School, and significantly higher than the most selective U.S. schools. Stanford accepts only 8% of its applicants, while Harvard accepts about 12%.

“They don’t publish admissions data and that is because they don’t want their numbers to be compared to the top U.S. schools,” says Edwards, who served as director of admissions, marketing and financial aid at INSEAD from 2005 until April 2012. “They don’t want people to look at the data and say, ‘Oh, it’s not as selective as Harvard, Stanford or Wharton.’ It’s a result of having quite a different applicant pool.” More than half the applicants at the school, she added, apply only to INSEAD. “They are very self-selecting and they don’t necessarily want to go to Harvard, Stanford or London.”

Some prospective applicants to INSEAD are put off by a requirement that they speak two languages—with English being one of them—and that graduates must learn a third language by commencement. “It means a lot of people don’t apply because they can’t meet the language requirement,” says Edwards.

  • anant

    666 is the number of the beast. 666.6666666 is just an approximation

  • mdash1

    John,
    International experience is quite the game changer in candidacy review, with one essay dedicated for it. Could you advise how someone who has international experience in terms of working with clients online for a good amount of years instead of real exposure can present his/her case here?

    Is it a big no no?

  • INSEAD=HBS

    If INSEAD Annual intake becomes 200-300 like that of Tuck, Haas, Yale or may be Stanford-100, its selectivity will be <10%. Will that make it THE BEST business school of the world?!?!?! Come on! INSEAD has vision and capacity to pump 1024 MBAs and yet remain top 5 in FT ranking. The alumni involved in selection process, so they see the leadership potential and influence rather than test scores alone. I see two of my juniors whom I recommended got into Wharton and Haas but both dinged by INSEAD post-interview though they had 750-760 GMATs. FYI I am an MBA from IIMA in India. I have a Sloan, Kellogg and Wharton MBA reporting to me! The point is INSEAD is the only school that is not LURED by HBS initiated madness of no essays but only GPA GMAT because it is not insecure of HBS like Wharton or Tuck (others who went to 0-1 essay). I see this because INSEAD has its OWN self selecting set of applicants. Period!

  • INSEADvsHBS

    John! consider this scenario! If INSEAD Annual intake becomes 200-300 like that of Tuck, Haas, Yale or may be Stanford-100, its selectivity will be <10%. Will that make it THE BEST business school of the world?!?!?! Come on! INSEAD has vision and capacity to pump 1024 MBAs and yet remain top 5 in FT ranking. The alumni involved in selection process, so they see the leadership potential and influence rather than test scores alone. I see two of my juniors whom I recommended got into Wharton and Haas but both dinged by INSEAD post-interview though they had 750-760 GMATs. FYI I am an MBA from IIMA in India. I have a Sloan, Kellogg and Wharton MBA reporting to me! The point is INSEAD is the only school that is not LURED by HBS initiated madness of no essays but only GPA GMAT because it is not insecure of HBS like Wharton or Tuck (others who went to 0-1 essay). I see this because INSEAD has its OWN self selecting set of applicants.

  • INSEADvsHBS

    If INSEAD Annual intake becomes 200-300 like that of Tuck, Haas, Yale or may be Stanford-100, its selectivity will be <10%. Will that make it THE BEST business school of the world?!?!?! Come on! INSEAD has vision and capacity to pump 1024 MBAs and yet remain top 5 in FT ranking. The alumni involved in selection process, so they see the leadership potential and influence rather than test scores alone. I see two of my juniors whom I recommended got into Wharton and Haas but both dinged by INSEAD post-interview though they had 750-760 GMATs. FYI I am an MBA from IIMA in India. I have a Sloan, Kellogg and Wharton MBA reporting to me! The point is INSEAD is the only school that is not LURED by HBS initiated madness of no essays but only GPA GMAT because it is not insecure of HBS like Wharton or Tuck (others who went to 0-1 essay). I see this because INSEAD has its OWN self selecting set of applicants. Period!

  • INSEADvsHBS

    If INSEAD Annual intake becomes 200-300 like that of Tuck, Haas, Yale or may be Stanford-100, its selectivity will be <10%. Will that make it THE BEST business school of the world?!?!?! Come one! INSEAD has vision and capacity to pump 1024 MBAs and yet remain top 5 in FT ranking. The alumni involved in selection process, so they see the leadership potential and influence rather than test scores alone. I see two of my juniors whom I recommended got into Wharton and Haas but both dinged by INSEAD post-interview though they had 750-760 GMATs. FYI I am an MBA from IIMA in India. I have a Sloan, Kellogg and Wharton MBA reporting me! The point is INSEAD is the only school that is not LURED by HBS initiated madness of no essays but only GPA GMAT because it is not insecure of HBS like Wharton or Tuck (others who went to 0-1 essay). I see this because INSEAD has its OWN self selecting set of applicants. Period!

  • Garth

    Bugger did you or are you graduating from IMD?

  • Goodbye

    Truthfully, regardless of where you go for school, whether it’s undergrad such as MIT and Yale, or graduate bschool such as HBS or INSEAD, you will find people who succeed and those who don’t. HBS, Wharton and INSEAD all pump out a lot of MBA degree holders. A good indication of their students’ quality is that none of them has suffered on their job front. And frankly, you guys shouldn’t even be worried about the top three institutions, no matter what they do, just because…you two don’t go to those three schools.

    Dartmouth is going down. The top 5 schools that matter in the eyes of applicants, professors, ranking publishers and recruiters, are as follows:

    Harvard, Stanford, London Business School, Wharton and INSEAD.

    Goodbye!

  • BB2251

    when I think Dartmouth MBA or Harvard, the first image comes to mind is bright, prestige, rich, and refreshing picture of real MBA. when I remember INSEAD or IE or the other, I get disappointed on how much the degree became valueless and how severely commoditized. Sorry..

  • JohnAByrne

    Simon,

    Here is INSEAD’s explanation which makes very good sense:

    “INSEAD submitted data (as every year) for its 2012-2013 classes which included not only its full-time MBA cohort of 1003 students, but also its Global Executive MBA class of 185 students and its Tsinghua-INSEAD Executive MBA class of 35. We reported an average GMAT for each type of programme separately, with the FT MBA being reported at 704. Apparently the AACSB added together the 3 different averages corresponding to each of our programmes, and divided by 3 which is how they got 672.

    “However, it’s important to note that for both our Executive MBA Programmes, not only are the class sizes considerably smaller than our full-time MBA, but also the number of GMAT takers is very small since the majority of applicants now opt for the INSEAD EMBA Admissions test which is an alternative entry route designed for senior level applicants (and testing a broader range of aptitudes for this particular population), or for the Tsinghua entrance exam.

    “For example, for the Tsinghua-INSEAD Executive MBA class, we reported an average based on only 6 of the 35 participants. INSEAD’s full time MBA programme GMAT average is consistently at or above 700. INSEAD is currently reporting 701 since it is a calculation from its most recent intakes (i.e. graduating classes of 2014 – one which began in September 2013 and the other in January 2014).”

  • poline

    sorry, but I’m not insisting on anything. I’m just digging deep into any available information to get the clear picture. When you say that those top schools created EMBAs, Part Time, global,…the other forms of MBA for revenue generating, this is very bad statement and give bad impression about B schools in general PLUS it directly hurt the value of the MBA itself, since it is easy to get INSEAD MBA, Kellogg MBA, Wharton MBA, or what ever, irrespective of the mood of the study! at the end, the one who got E MBA, got the MBA degree from the conferring institution and would benefit from alumni, brand, networking, and all things. How could you say that about those great schools?! I am digging deep on INSEAD because I have some suspension about their quality and the large number of MBAs they pump out to the market. It is the largest single MBA program in the world, and just in recent years (last 5 or 6 years) that it exceeded 1000 students! you expect the hurt they caused to the degree.

  • annoying

    You keep insisting your LBS and INSEAD comparison with IMD or Owen. You have to realize you should not be comparing HBS and Stanford with IMD or Owen.

    EMBAs or Master’s in Finance and other Master’s programs INSEAD created are truly revenue generators, just like other top schools’ non-MBA programs, such as Kellogg’s and Booth’s EMBA or evening programs.

  • poline

    gmat is not a requirement for the other matsers! have you realized that?! even so, do you assume that other masters avg gmat is 500!!! ? and why this discrepancy happen to INSEAD case ?! why not IMD or other school where the numbers are close or similar on all sites?!

  • Dataminer

    (500*200 + 1000*700)/1200 =?

    It’s a simple math and the answer is 666.66666666, the evil number representing your evil spirit against INSEAD. It is super easy to understand that the other masters do bring down INSEAD full-time MBA average GMAT score.

  • FocusedMBA

    Agreed! Worth investigating and making sure that we are getting the real facts…

  • poline

    1223 the total number of which 1024 ft MBA, and the other masters do not require GMAT, they accept alternative insead test! even so, is it possible that only 17% or so of those 1223 students would skewed the data that much from 703 to 672!!??

  • poline

    yeah, but the number of all masters degrees students enrolled is 1223, while the number of MBAs (full time) is 1024! and the master of finance just started last year, means it was not included, whta they have are, Full Time MBA (1024) + Master of coeach ,…plah plah..+ Global MBA! so, the full time MBA represents nearly 84% of all master degrees, PLUS global executive MBA admission does not require GMAT !!! I hope Mr John and P&Q look after this issue>>> it worth the investigation..:)

  • Dataminer

    Their masters degree average GMAT score includes EMBA GMAT scores, which skews the data..

  • FocusedMBA

    My hunch is that the 672 average for Masters Programs includes average scores for the MBA program, the Masters in Finance, and their Global Executive MBA program – since they all yield a Masters degree. Therefore, it will b hard to discern specifically what the MBA average is…

  • JohnAByrne

    Not yet–not even a reply to my email. I sent two more emails today to INSEAD, including to the new dean to ask for an interview.

  • rani

    John, is there any explanation form INSEAD for the discrepancy in average GMAT scores?!

  • not a recruiter

    Yeah, right. Let’s just take an anonymous statement from someone who claims to be a recruiter and assume that all recruiters in the real world must think the same way. The “recruiter’s” defense of INSEAD sounds more like an “endorsement” coming from a student.

  • JohnAByrne

    Gosh,

    I have no bias against the European schools at all. What happened here is that I accessed the AACSB link and the accreditation agency identified that GMAT score for the French campus. I’m not making wild assumptions, either. I am merely pointing out the facts: that an average GMAT score of 672, if true, would put the school in the company of U.S. schools that are ranked in the high 30s and low 40s. That does not mean I believe the overall quality of the school is equal to a school ranked at that level. It does mean that the GMAT scores would be comparable to those schools. I have asked INSEAD for clarification on this issue which was raised by a reader–not me.

  • synergy

    So it is your gut that doesn’t like non-US programs?!

  • gosh

    John, I am sorry but your comment just shows how biased you (and many of your readership) are against European Schools including INSEAD and for me Poets&Quants is therefore more and more losing its value as a good source of information – its just not credible when you try to badmouth EU schools everytime you have a chance with flawed, subjective arguments.

    In the second sentence you yourself admit that you have no idea where the discrepetancy of GMAT scores comes from, then a few sentences down the line you make wild assumptions about INSEAD Europe being lower than Singapore and conclude that therefore INSEAD is a top 30-40 school because its GMAT is allegedly lower than that of Georgia Tech… Does that really make any sense??

    In fact, using your own rationale, I could argue the exact opposite namely that INSEAD is the “best” school!

    Here it goes: If INSEADs average GMAT score is 703 with 50% of students starting in Fontainebleau and 50% in Singapore (in fact there are more pleople starting in France, but for the simplicity of the argument let’s just assume that this is the split) and following your logic that Fontainebleau’s GMAT score were 672, then SIngapore’s would have to be 734 – higher than any of your beloved US schools…

  • Romeo

    One of the very top MBA programs globally, not simply in Europe

  • Ridic

    I don’t think one goes to a top school, expecting donations from alumni, whether it’s for jobs, $, facility etc.

    INSEAD opened their Abu Dhabi campus as part of their expansion strategy, as always been the case.

    I don’t know where your comparison of INSEAD to IMD and top 10-15 schools makes much sense.

    It seems from the above recruiter’s comment that recruiters globally appreciate INSEAD and its students. Give them a break man. You seem to be commenting against INSEAD in every P&Q post.

  • DumbAss!

    INSEAD as an institution is accredited. You don’t need to accredit an already accredited program. Singapore campus is still under the INSEAD umbrella and Singapore is for INSEAD faculty and students to immerse themselves in a different global environment.

  • What

    I don’t think INSEAD discounts their fees any more than other US schools such as Kellogg, NYU etc. do. The discount is due to the fact that they don’t need CDO’s help.

  • CommonSense

    It is possible first of all, albeit young”er”, INSEAD has been around for over 60 years already, and CEO’s are still human and so they do die…

  • poline

    discounted prices for the sponsoring companies with large number of students. NOT for individuals! It is not published.

  • poline

    Sir, no one said INSEAD is bad school. in fact, the first sentence says in clear world that INSEAD is good school! What I am saying is that there are tens of excellent schools in US in opposite to handful good schools in Europe, and that is understandable because the whole MBA thing is NOT european thing! that is reality. INSEAD founded in 1957, where many many of US schools established in 1898, 1908, 1910s, 1920s, 1930s, …etc. The MBA culture is almost completely american product, and therefore, I strongly believe that the top 10 to 15 schools in US really has no peers in other places, due to many factors, including endowments, belonging to great universities, strong and loyal almuni base…etc.. I can not understand why INSEAD people are so sensitive when someone mention things like prestige, selectivity, and brand! Do you know that Abu Dhabi paid Harvard an open check to open remote campus in Abu Dhabi, and Harvard refused! they offers similar offer to Chicago, Wharton, and other top american schools! INSEAD accepted that with the huge risk of deteriorating the MBA quality, because of its very limited resources despite being having alumni for 55 years! where are they?! why no one donated to the school?! because this is NOT insead culture! the culture of giving back is NOT european culture! like it or not ..that is fact.. the only european school that is really a quality program irrespective of the ranking is IMD. most employers know this fact.

  • poline

    STOP POSTING UNLESS YOU HAVE evidence! SHOW ME?! go to AACSB website, you will never ever find INSEAD singapore, what you will see is INSEAD France, the original Campus.

  • poline

    The number of Master students is 1200 or so, of those >1000 are all full time MBAs! There must be something we do not know with respect to this low GMAT score published by AACSB!

  • Disgrace

    Stop embarrassing yourself…INSEAD Singapore is indeed accredited by AACSB and others.

  • JohnAByrne

    Thanks for weighing in on this subject. I have always held INSEAD in very high regard as one of the very top European MBA programs. The major employers of its MBAs are among the best companies in the world so there is no disagreement there as well.

  • hbser

    Many of the MBA’s at top schools hail from wealthy and connected families. This is true especially at HBS.

  • Huh

    Discount prices? Their one year program costs more than $80K USD! I don’t think that’s discounted at all. In fact, a whole lot more expensive than top US programs..

  • raymond

    The value add is clear for top MBA’s, including INSEAD. Most of top MBA students, at least a third, hold undergrad degrees in business/economics.

    Kellogg, for one, is copying INSEAD and launched their own 1 year program. And, there are many MBB sponsored students at other top schools as well.

    You seem actively disengaged with INSEAD.

  • OMG

    Masters include not just MBA’s..For MBA’s, it is indeed over 700.

  • raymond

    Lol. People must be mad to think that INSEAD belongs 20-40 level, unless they are from 20-40 level.

  • remond

    many times I heard people of expertise in MBAs mentioning that INSEAD is a good school but not comparable to the best 20 or 25 schools in United States. I believe the place between 30 or 40 would be suitable for insead.

  • Simon

    it worth a complete investigative article 😉

  • JohnAByrne

    Ah yes, I now see the table and the 672.3. But sure why there would be a discrepancy but I will contact the school and try to find out. One possible explanation: The AACSB data is for the European campus alone and does not include the Singapore campus. It’s very possible that the average GMAT score for entrants in Fontainebleu is lower than the one for Singapore. When INSEAD reports the highest number, it is including both campuses. The 672 is a bit of an eye opener because on a comparative basis with U.S. schools, it would put INSEAD among schools ranked in the low 30s or high 40s. Rochester’s Simon School, for example, has an average GMAT of 680 and it is ranked 37th. Georgia Tech, ranked 40th, has an average GMAT of 678.

  • poline

    traditionally, those students sponsored by MBB (and particularly by Mckinsey) at INSEAD, they already took the fast track and all they need is an MBA stamp. Mots of them hold advanced degrees in economics or management plus undergrad in business or economics. That fact leads to the question about the real value INSEAD adds?

  • Simon

    It is clear in the “degrees and programs” table!

  • Simon

    Hi John,
    Thank you for paying attention to my post. one of the tables on the bottom of the page indicates clearly the average GMAt scores for the Masters and Doctorates students: on the Masters, the average GMAT is 672.3 on the Doctorates, the average 741! the vast majority of masters degrees offered by INSEAD is MBA!
    and it says that these are the data for the years of 2012 and 2013! Which one is correct the 703 reported by INSEAD or 672.3 reported by AACSB?!
    best, simon

  • JohnAByrne

    El Chapo,

    That’s a good question and one I wish I could answer. But it would take an extraordinary amount of digging to even get at the answer and I’m not sure it would all that helpful. In looking over the bios of the eight CEOs with INSEAD MBAs, I have to tell you that many of them came from wealthy and connected families. My gut tells me that it actually less true at Harvard.

    Best,
    John

  • JohnAByrne

    Simon,

    I followed the link you provided but could not find the average GMAT number you cited reported to the AACSB. The average GMAT score noted in the article is off of INSEAD’s website.

    Best,
    John

  • El Chapo

    But how many of those 24 are from already rich families with connections?

  • poline

    Just quick info: do you know that the AACSB accredits european campus ONLY! singapore campus is not accredited!

  • JohnAByrne

    Actually, what the article you cite shows is that INSEAD is tied with Stanford for having the second largest number of CEOs among the FT500 with MBAs from their school. The actual number is 8, vs. 24 at Harvard, which is No. 1. At least three of the eight INSEAD CEOs and possibly more–most do not have full public bios that track their earlier careers–had been at McKinsey when they went to the school. In other words, INSEAD’s strength in the consulting sector due to its quality one-year MBA degree is a contributing factor.

  • poline

    INSEAD is a good school and excellent in cross culture business education. Every good school has some unique advantages. The prospective MBA applicant should choose the program that good for him or her. Ranking is important but should NOT be the major factor, the major factor is the “FIT”. Ranking, prestige, reputation, selectivity ,alumni, ..etc all soft factors that might be differentiator when the major factor is met by more than one school. Although selectivity means that it is hard to enter X program, it also means that there are more applicants of similar profile. However, and giving that INSEAD is somewhat concentrating on consulting, that puts the school is the same field play of those top 20 schools in US, and hence the one have the right to compare them together in term of selectivity. So, it is obvious that INSEAD is much less selective than the top 10 school in US. If INSEAD distant itself away from consulting and focus on its core competence (cross cultural management, global…etc) then the selectivity factor becomes minor factor and soft. I see IMD is doing pretty well in concentrating on Industry where there is few top schools on this area, despite the perception that industry is less “sexy” than financial services and consulting, when you concentrate on you core competences you win. The problem with INSEAD is that it sink itself with the consulting and to some extent financial services, but the harsh truth is that in those two sector, there are Harvard, Stanford, Kellogg, Chicago, Columbia, Wharton, MIT…So, how could INSEAD with its limited resources compete with those giants in attracting best professors, best students, and best employers..?! it is very hard, unless doing some manipulations such as partnership with Mckinsey, discount prices, languages requirements (few if any in fact benefit from the language option in real world business).
    My point is INSEAD is good but easy to get in compared to all the top 10 US schools.

  • WISH

    INSEAD is my dream school! I hear of “WISH” Wharton-INSEAD-Stanford-Harvard business schools…let me in…

  • alison

    INSEAD is a crappy school. Their students have nothing better to do than troll P&Q.

  • El Chapo

    I was also thinking the same, if you send the guys there and pay for it (even if discounted) the school is top notch. Really impressive and if you have a degree in business or econ it makes no sense a 2yrs MBA.

  • Impressed

    The article states the insiders say “30%”. That is a speculative comment, not a definitive one. 50% can’t be the case for a top school.

    Hypothetically speaking, even if they do admit 50%, if the caliber of students is much higher than the usual students that apply to top 10, it is not an issue. The 148 student number out of 1000, who were placed at McK/BCG/Bain/Booz without sponsorship, is impressive on its own, let alone other prestigious firms that go to INSEAD for recruiting.

    Also, I personally think the fact that so many of people from the prestigious firms go to INSEAD is actually a positive thing rather than negative.

  • Impressed

    The article states insiders say 30% get in. That is a speculative comment, not a definitive one. And 50% definitely is not the case.

    Hypothetically speaking, even if they do, if their caliber of students is much higher, then it just doesn’t matter. 148 out of 1000 to McK/Bain/BCG/Booz per year without sponsorship prior seems impressive on its own, let alone offers from other prestigious firms that go to INSEAD for recruiting, in my opinion.

  • Neutral

    The selectivity matters when the candidate pool across schools is more or less the same. It seems that INSEAD applicants only apply to INSEAD and many, even those interested, don’t/can’t even apply due to the language requirements.

    INSEAD will remain globally influential in the business world even if you were to say INSEAD admits 100% of applicants. It hasn’t been a joke over the years for sure, considering the # of Fortune Global 500 CEO’s, # of millionaires, the faculty recognition and the recruiters’ rankings etc.

  • Rob

    seems like you didn’t get in despite that, huh?

  • INSEAD_is_crap

    They probably admit 50% of their applicants. What a fucking joke.