INSEAD’s Campuses and the One Year MBA

At Menlo Coaching, we’re fans of INSEAD, one of the top European MBA programs. In this article, we focus on the student experience for those enrolled in INSEAD’s one year MBA program across their global campuses in Fontainebleau, Singapore, or Abu Dhabi. 

We sat down with Virginie Fougea, INSEAD’s global director of admissions and financial aid to talk about what you might expect as an INSEAD student: what is expected of you as a student in the program, their continent-hopping exchange program, the Capstone seminar, and who she thinks is the best fit for INSEAD’s one-year MBA program.

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What is Expected of an INSEAD one year MBA Student?

First and foremost, Ms. Fougea says that applicants, whether they intend to get an INSEAD Singapore MBA, study at Fontainebleau, or attend the INSEAD MBA Abu Dhabi campus, should be looking for a life or a career where they are asked to be flexible and adaptable. The one year MBA format (actually 10 months) is much faster paced than traditional two year programs and students need to be able to quickly change gears in their short time in the program. As a result, it may not be an ideal fit for those who require time to reflect or who prefer to work in an environment where they can have multiple projects simultaneously—the INSEAD experience simply does not offer students the luxury of that time.

The INSEAD Campuses and Exchanges

INSEAD has three major campus sites at the moment:

It also has a San Francisco-based hub and alliances with the Wharton School of Business in Pennsylvania and Tsinghua in Beijing.

As an applicant, you will be asked which campus you prefer as your home campus—the one in which you will be doing the majority of your work. From there, it is possible to take part in the INSEAD exchange program where you can spend some time at another campus (or, possibly, at multiple other campuses) depending on the opportunities that arise and your area of business. Different campuses have different business partnerships leading to about 70% of the student body to participate in an exchange. 

These exchanges happen at the start of INSEAD’s academic terms, known as periods, and you can participate in an exchange in two month intervals over the program. Though applicants are asked to spend the first two periods on their home campus, they are free to participate in the exchange program after that. For example, there are a number of students who participate in the INSEAD Abu Dhabi exchange for a single period—January and February for one intake, July for the other. Those students have the chance, not only to gain valuable business experience in Africa and the Middle East, but also to participate in INSEAD’s talent management forum in Dubai. So, in planning various exchanges, it is possible for an INSEAD MBA student to live on three continents over the course of a year.

The end goal of these exchanges is an INSEAD experience that sets you up for a global career post MBA. Those who are focused on a career in the States might participate in an exchange with Wharton or Kellogg, or simply stay-put on their choice of campus.

INSEAD’s Capstone Project

In addition to taking a number of elective courses, the final period is generally reserved for the Capstone project. This course was designed by INSEAD professors and alumni and occurs during three days of intense activity at your home campus. During that time, you engage in entrepreneurship and private equity—for instance, by using the case method to roleplay buying a Chinese company; your time is then spent discussing strategy, business plan, and marketing with alumni who are back on campus to play the part of bankers and government authorities to whom you must make your case.

Who is Fits Best for the INSEAD One Year MBA?

According to Virginie Fougea, the best fit for an INSEAD one year MBA is someone who thrives in a fast-paced environment and has a multicultural background. At the very least, if you are considering applying to INSEAD, you should be thinking about wanting a global career five or ten years after graduation. Alternatively, someone who wants to work for a multinational corporation that has the desire and ability to be flexible and adaptable is important. When looking into INSEAD’s class profile and making your decision, you should consider your own multicultural history and multinational aspirations.

Also from this interview: INSEAD’s Application and Admissions Process, How INSEAD Builds a Class + Application Tips and Career Opportunities with an INSEAD MBA