INSEAD Plans MBA Program in U.S.

INSEAD, one of Europe’s top business schools, plans to offer an MBA program in the U.S., according to the school’s new dean, Dipak Jain, in an interview with PoetsandQuants.

All the details have yet to be worked out. “But we will offer some degree, either the MBA or the Executive MBA,” says Jain. “We are not sure whether we would do it alone or with someone. But definitely we want to increase our presence in the U.S.”

Until now, INSEAD’s exposure in the world’s largest single economy has been through a 10-year-old alliance with the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton school. That partnership allows for exchanges of MBA students and faculty as well as a global research center and a few joint executive education programs. But it does not make itself felt in any visible competitive way with other major business schools.

If INSEAD were to offer an MBA program in the U.S., however, it would come in direct competition with many of the top-ranked U.S. programs. That is especially true if INSEAD were to retain its European and Asian format for the full-time MBA, offering the degree to students in just ten months versus the two-year standard for most U.S. schools. Steadily increasing tuition fees combined with relatively flat starting salaries in the U.S. in recent would likely make a prestige one-year MBA program very successful.

Jain, who had been dean of Northwestern’s Kellogg School from 2001 to 2009, left open the possibility that the degree program would be the result of either a deeper alliance with Wharton or a standalone INSEAD campus in the U.S.

The issue came up during a wide-ranging interview with Jain, who succeeded Frank Brown as dean in March. Asked whether he would consider offering an MBA degree in the US, he said “Yes, definitely. There is no timeline yet, but either the MBA or the EMBA. We will offer some degree.”

Since the alliance with Wharton began in 2001, more than 1,000 MBA students have participated in the exchange. Last year, about 56 INSEAD MBA students went to Wharton, while 39 Wharton MBA candidates went to INSEAD’s Fontainebleau, France, campus, or its campus in Singapore.

Jain said the partnership has had “a very good start,” among other things allowing Wharton to assess the quality of INSEAD’s faculty and students over many years. “They have to feel that we have the same quality they have,” he said. “In that sense, it has been a very good thing. Now the next step is how do we take the relationship forward?”

This is not the first time that INSEAD has considered having its own presence in the U.S. As long ago as 2004, then Dean Gabriel Hawawini said the school’s officials were engaged in ongoing discussions about having a third campus in the Americas to complement its hubs in Europe and Asia. At the time, Hawawini mused that INSEAD would start with some executive education programming before offering an EMBA and then finally the full-time MBA program.

If Jain follows through on the plan, INSEAD also won’t be the first European school to offer a graduate degree in business on U.S. soil. Last September, Manchester Business School became the first British school to open a campus in the U.S. It chose Miami to launch a global MBA program to a debut class of some 30 students. Manchester plans to increase enrollment to about 600 within three years. Just today (July 5), SKEMA Business School, the school with the largest student enrollment in France, said it would offer a Master in Financial Markets & Investments in Raleigh, N.C., beginning in October of 2011. That’s in addition to a Master of Management program it already offers on the grounds of North Carolina State University in the Research Triangle.

Poets&Quants currently ranks INSEAD second among schools outside the U.S., behind only the London Business School.


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