INSEAD vs. London Business School: Which is Right for YOU?

So, you want to get your MBA in Europe? In that case, the INSEAD and London Business School MBA programs are probably on your mind. But here’s something that many applicants don’t know. Although it is common to apply to both programs, chances are that you’re only a good fit at one of the two schools. And the admissions committees know this.

INSEAD and LBS are both top-ranked MBA programs in Europe, but that’s about the only thing they have in common.

At either business school, you’ll come out with an impressive graduate degree. But the question really is, which program is a better fit? In this article, we’ll tell you everything there is to know about both INSEAD and LBS to help you choose between them.

INSEAD’s One-year MBA program

The biggest difference between INSEAD and LBS is the fact that INSEAD is a one-year program, whereas the LBS MBA program is a minimum of 15 months, and most applicants have reasons to prefer either a shorter or a longer program.

A longer program will give you more time to dive into coursework and gain the tools needed in order to take the next step in your career. Especially if you’re a career-switcher, you will need more time to do things like complete the required courses, network, and use other business school resources to get to know the field you would like to switch into. LBS’s program is designed with this idea in mind, allowing you to spend anywhere between 15 to 21 months in the program. The program’s flexible length lets you decide how long you need to get the most out of your MBA. Moreover, a longer program allows for the possibility for you to complete more internships, including ones that happen during the school year.

INSEAD’s program, on the other hand, is for those looking to return to work as quickly as possible. This group might include sponsored consultants who plan on returning to their companies after the MBA. They are looking for a program to give them the additional training they need in a short amount of time. To that end, INSEAD has a September intake date which offers a 10-month long program option without an internship.

There is also an option to apply for January intake at INSEAD, which is 12 months long and does include an internship. If you’re a career-switcher who may be further along in your transition, this option might be a better fit as the internship gives you the opportunity to gain the experience you need to make the shift in your career.

When applying to INSEAD, you must make the decision of whether you would like to complete an internship before you begin the program. You will indicate your decision implicitly by choosing between INSEAD’s January or September intake dates.

London Business School Overview

A Chat with INSEAD Admissions Director

Location and Culture

Did you know that INSEAD has a language requirement? In order to be considered for their MBA program, you need to be fluent in English AND have an intermediate proficiency level in a second language. And that’s not all. If admitted, you will be required to have basic proficiency in a third language before you graduate. 

If language learning is not your forte, this is something you need to keep in mind before applying. LBS has no language requirement.

Another big difference between what to expect from the two programs stems from their distinct locations. INSEAD’s campus in Europe is located in Fontainebleau, France. Although the town of Fontainebleau may seem close to Paris to some, we can assure you that it isn’t.

On the other hand, London Business School is located in the heart of London in Regent’s Park. LBS’s location in the middle of the city makes the MBA program there a truly unique learning experience. If you’re looking to make ties with companies in London, LBS is set up for you to do exactly that. 

What do LBS and INSEAD look for in MBA Applicants?

On a different note, those who have visited the INSEAD and LBS campuses in Europe will tell you that there is a noticeable difference in the culture of the two schools.

At INSEAD, you are more likely to get to know your classmates really well. The fact that the business school is located in Fontainebleau means that your classmates will be on campus often. They are not likely to commute from a big city and be present at the university just for the classes.

We’re not saying that you won’t get to know your classmates at LBS, but one thing to consider is that the easy access to the city of London means that many students may have other connections outside of business school. This might allow you to broaden your network, but it doesn’t necessarily ensure that you will form deeper connections.

Career Opportunities

The good news when it comes to career opportunities is that both schools have a lot to offer. There aren’t any top companies that are recruiting at one business school and not the other. However, that doesn’t mean that the programs don’t have their own distinct strengths.

INSEAD Intakes and Employment Outcomes

While both LBS and INSEAD are extremely international in terms of their class make-up, the post-MBA employment locations of these two business school programs are vastly different. 

INSEAD’s graduates are truly placed all over the world when it comes to their post-MBA employment. 

LBS also boasts an international job placement record. However, if you’re truly looking for global recognition, INSEAD is your best bet. 37% of INSEAD’s graduating class find employment in Northern and Western Europe. A reported 27% of graduates are located in Asia post-MBA, and another 11% work in Africa and the Middle East.

Average Compensation: Salary and BonusMedian Salary + Signing bonus: $136,800
% Offers upon Graduation: Does not disclose
% Offers at 3 months: 91%
Average Salary + Signing bonus: $117,469
% Offers upon Graduation: Does not disclose
% Offers at 3 months: 95%
Post-MBA IndustriesManagement Consulting: 51%
Corporate Services: 19%
Technology, Media &
Telecommunications: 18%
Financial Services: 12%
Consulting: 37%
Finance: 23%
Technology: 23%
Diversified: 17%
Post-MBA LocationsNorthern/Western Europe: 37%
Eastern Europe: 2%
Asia Pacific: 27%
Africa/Middle East: 11%
North America: 7%
South America: 6%
Europe: 14%
United Kingdom: 53%
Asia: 11%
Africa / Middle East: 5%
USA/Canada: 7%
Latin America: 7%
Oceania: 3%

On the other hand, if you’re looking to work in the UK after your MBA degree, you cannot go wrong with LBS. A little over half of LBS’s MBA graduates—53% to be exact—find employment within the UK. An additional 14% of graduates are located elsewhere in Europe.

Whether LBS or INSEAD is a better fit for your career goals may also depend on which industry you’re targeting post-MBA. Although both programs have strong job placement records, there are some differences to consider between the two business schools.

INSEAD’s strength appears to lie in the consulting sector. You can see this from the jump in consulting in their pre-MBA class profile report and their post-MBA employment report. About 28% of their incoming class has a background working in consulting. After the MBA, that number is at 51% of the total graduating class.

When compared to INSEAD, LBS’s post-MBA employment report shows a more even distribution of the sectors that their graduates are placed into. Two areas of strength that stand out for LBS is their placement into the financial services and tech. Post-MBA, LBS places 23% of its graduates in both of these sectors— that’s about a quarter of the class going into the financial services sector, and another quarter placed in the tech industry!

All in all, both schools provide excellent career opportunities post-MBA. INSEAD’s employment report shows that they especially stand out for a career in consulting, while LBS’s employment report demonstrates the program’s strength in the financial services sector and the tech industry.