These days it’s harder than ever to get into INSEAD, one of the premier European business schools. Blame coronavirus. For its September intake this year, applications to INSEAD’s MBA soared by 58% — but instead of growing its class, the school decided to slash enrollment by 38% so it could carefully manage social-distancing guidelines and have all of its MBA classes in-person.
Applicants should be thankful that the gates to INSEAD’s 10-month MBA program may open a little wider next year as the global pandemic comes under control. No matter what happens, though, an MBA degree from INSEAD will continue to be an expensive proposition.
Masks or no masks, social distancing or no social distancing, INSEAD will still be among the costliest MBA programs in Europe or, for that matter, the world. Successful applicants aiming to join the September 2021 or January 2022 intakes can expect to pay €89,000 (about $107K at the current exchange rate) for tuition alone. And tuition is not alone on the list of payouts INSEAD’s MBA candidates must anticipate, whether they attend the school’s campus in Fontainebleau, France or Singapore. All told, by the school’s own estimates on cost-of-living and other expenses, an MBA from INSEAD will cost more than $140,000.
COMPARE & CONTRAST
Tuition may not be the only bill you have to pay in the INSEAD MBA program, but it is the single biggest ticket item. So how does INSEAD’s tuition compare to its peer schools? Full tuition for London Business School’s 15- to 21-month MBA is £87,900, or $117,287. At HEC Paris, the cost of the 16-month MBA program is €74,000, which converts to $89,042. Perhaps a more apples-to-apples comparison is the one-year program at Oxford’s Saïd Business School; course fees for that program are £63,000, or just over $84,000. At another one-year program, the MBA at the University of Cambridge Judge Business School, fees for next year’s intakes are £59,000, or $78,725.
Comparing to U.S. schools is more difficult, if only because most premier U.S. programs are two years in length. Yearly tuition at the elite schools runs from around $74K at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School to $77K at Dartmouth College Tuck School of Business. At Harvard Business School, tuition is $73,440 annually; but at HBS and other top schools, tuition is only half the story. All told, fees and cost of living bring the cost of a Harvard MBA to more than $110,000 per year and about $223K for two years — and much more for married students and those with children. The premier one-year MBA program in the U.S., the 1Y MBA at Northwestern University Kellogg School of Management, tuition was $103,316 in 2020, and total estimated expenses eclipsed $140K — very similar in cost to INSEAD’s total.
To arrive at its total cost of $143,140 for those in Fontainebleau (and $140,421 in Singapore), INSEAD offers a series of estimates on additional expenses for those living on either its campuses. Since 2017, when Poets&Quants last examined these expenses, the school has not increased most of them, and only increased some by a little. The largest expense, housing, is an estimated €10,000 in France or €12,800 in Singapore; the French cost is identical to three years ago and the Singapore amount is only slightly higher. See table below for more details.
MORE ABOUT EXPENSES — AND ROI
Coronavirus has temporarily whittled INSEAD’s MBA population down to a fraction of its former size. During a typical September entry, one of two intakes annually (the other is in January), INSEAD enrolls 300 MBA candidates on its Fontainebleau campus and another 200 at its Singapore campus. This fall, however, the school slashed its quota dramatically, instead welcoming a total of 232 students at its European campus and only 76 in Asia. That means the total September MBA intake equalled fewer than 310 students.
Whether those restrictions last into next year — not guaranteed, since a vaccine for Covid-19 seems to be just around the corner — won’t affect basic costs, as seen in the table above. But they do indicate that students are likely to have far fewer opportunities for extracurricular spending — no small matter at a school well-known for its party culture, not to mention its proximity to all the best pastimes Europe can offer (hello, ski weekends in Switzerland). The question then is, are the school’s cost-of-living estimates accurate? As far as rent is concerned, they appear to be: According to rental website Morning Croissant, centrally located duplexes and apartments in Fontainebleau cost between €680 and €980 per month. In Singapore, costs are slightly higher but well in line with INSEAD’s estimate.
The school, meanwhile, has more than 100 scholarship types and yearly doles out about €5.7 million in grants. About 30% of students accept some form of aid, at an average of €18.7K. And then there’s ROI. When they graduate, according to the most recently published data, INSEAD MBAs make a median salary of $104,500, with a median sign-on bonus of $25,000. At that rate it shouldn’t take more than a few years to pay off the expense of 10 months at one of Europe’s premier B-schools.