Rumour has it – INSEAD’s MBA programme is difficult to get in, as it requires a mighty GMAT score. Or you might have heard that if you do not have a business background, your chances of getting admitted into INSEAD are low.

Nothing clears the air better than hearing directly from INSEAD’s admissions office, so here are some misconceptions that we have so often heard – debunked!

1. INSEAD is a school for consultants / you need to have a business background

The diverse culture at INSEAD goes beyond nationalities and includes a myriad of professional backgrounds. Our list of alumni and students include medical doctors, soldiers, lawyers, architects, athletes, musicians, artists and entrepreneurs; many of whom had not studied business before.

This article further dispels this myth and provides useful insights for prospects coming from “non-traditional” backgrounds.



2. You need an above-700 GMAT to be admitted

Academic capacity, including standardised tests such as GMAT and GRE, is just one out of four admissions criteria that we look at, of which, all criteria hold equal weightage.

A high GMAT/GRE score does not guarantee admission, and a below average score does not eliminate a candidate.

Here are some insider tips to understand more about the admissions criteria at INSEAD.

3. You need to have five years of work experience and be 29 years old to be a good fit

While the above figures correctly indicate the average class profile, there is a much bigger range of work experience and ages to be found in the actual class. We do accept applicants who have only two years’ work experience and are 24-25 years old, as well as those who have up to 10 years work experience and are in their mid-thirties.


4. 10 months is too short to change careers

Despite being half the length of many other MBA programmes out there, the INSEAD MBA is a full-fledged MBA. Completing a two-year programme in 10 months means that students go through an intense and dynamic experience, which equips them with the ability to multitask, respond to changes quickly and approach complex situations well.

A shorter MBA is also ideal for those who want to minimise the duration out of the job market and lower their opportunity cost.

As a one-year programme, INSEAD is consistently ranked as one of the highest returns on investment amongst all MBA programmes in the world. What's more, the learning experience does not end after 10 months, as you will become part of a vibrant community and will have access to a constantly expanding suite of lifelong learning offerings and resources.

The outstanding support offered by our world-class Career Development Centre throughout the INSEAD experience enables students to advance their careers in a shorter space of time.

You can explore our latest Employment Statistics report here. 

5. It is harder to be admitted after Round 1 and 2

Each round is equally competitive, as the ratio of acceptance is the same for all rounds. When choosing which round to apply in (we have four application rounds for the MBA programme), the most important consideration is to dedicate enough time and thought to your application so that it accurately represents your strengths and talents, instead of rushing to meet the next available application deadline. 

However, if you are considering a scholarship, applying in Round 1, 2 and 3 is advisable as most scholarships are awarded during these rounds.


6. The January intake is more competitive than the September intake (or vice versa)

The September and January intakes are similar in size and class composition, and they are equally competitive.

7. You need a reference from a CEO

The quality of the references provided as part of the application is always the most important factor to consider, rather than the seniority of the person writing it. The two recommendations should provide us with information about your demonstrated leadership and management potential.

If you are unable to ask for a reference from your current employer, you are still welcome to apply and could instead provide references from a client, a former supervisor, or a colleague from your community service or extracurricular activities. 

If you would like to discuss the programme in more detail, please get in touch with us. 

AY 22-23 MBA Brochure

Download MBA Brochure

Download now