2012 INSEAD MBA Admissions Q&A with Kara Keenan & Melissa Johnson
Audio for Q&A (Click to listen now, or right click and choose “Save As” to download and listen later.)
Linda Abraham: Hello. My name is Linda Abraham. I am the founder of Accepted.com and the moderator of today’s Q&A. First I want to welcome all applicants to the Q&A today, and I want to congratulate you for taking the time to learn more about INSEAD’s MBA program. It is critical to your decision making process and your admission chances that you know as much as you can about the schools you are applying to. Being here today allows you to ask experts about this top business school.
I also want to give a special welcome to Melissa Jones and Kara Keenan, both Assistant Directors of Marketing at INSEAD. Thanks to everyone for joining.
I want to take advantage of my position as moderator and ask the first question. What is new at INSEAD?
Kara Keenan: There are two quick things I’d like to highlight that INSEAD has recently partnered with. The first is our dual MBA and MA program, which is our first dual-degree program, and that is with the Johns Hopkins University in Washington D.C. This dual-degree program will enable students from both schools to work towards earning an MA from Johns Hopkins and an MBA from INSEAD. The great advantage of this is that it will enable students to earn these degrees in two and a half years rather than the three years it would take to earn the degrees separately. And this is great for students who are really looking for an international career being that they will earn an MA in International Affairs from Johns Hopkins and an MBA from INSEAD, which is a really international MBA program.
Secondly, I’d also like to highlight our partnership with Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy which is part of the National University of Singapore. This partnership will enable students to take courses at both institutions, and it will really allow INSEAD students to branch into public administration and students from the Lee Kuan Yew School to work on business administration courses. For more information on either of these two new partnerships, applicants are welcome to go to our website at mba.insead.edu and click on “Academics”.
Melissa Jones: One of the things that are new at INSEAD is a new exchange program that we are offering with Kellogg in Chicago. We actually offer two exchange programs while you do your MBA at INSEAD. The first is with Wharton in Pennsylvania; that is not so new. But the new one is with Kellogg in Chicago. Our academic year is divided into five semesters or periods, and you can do an exchange during one of those semesters or periods.
Linda Abraham: Angie asks, “Is INSEAD a good school for career changers? With the one year program, does it not allow for an internship?”
Melissa Jones: In terms of career change, we actually do offer internships in just the ten-month program, but it is only for those students who start in our January intake.
Linda Abraham: Your next deadline would be for your January intake, right?
Melissa Jones: Yes. We offer two intakes a year -- one in January and one in September. So for those that start in January, you can do an internship in July and August, but if you start in September, there are no internship opportunities. INSEAD is a great place for a career change. In fact, around 83% of our students either change sector, function, or geography. And approximately 25% of our students change all three. So it’s a really great place for a career change, and not just career change but acceleration as well. So a lot of people do go back to previous employers, etc.
Linda Abraham: Mahashweta asks, “I want to career in consulting or telecom in the future. How can INSEAD help me in that?”
Kara Keenan: For anyone who is looking into a particular field or maybe a career change, I think one of the first things to do is to go onto our website and take a look at some of the elective courses that are listed. That will give you an idea, whether you are looking at telecom courses or whatever your interest might be. You’ll see all the electives that are listed there, which is a great general guideline. For example, if you see that there seem to be a lot of electives in finance and you are really passionate about finance and you’d like to move into that direction, then certainly taking a majority of your electives in finance would be a good thing to do. So that is the foundation. Certainly every student in the program has a career counselor that works with you which will help guide you through the application process. So they will provide you with a lot of guidance and instruction on how to either make a career change or to go back to your industry in a different role.
There are also a lot of student clubs that students can be a part of, whether it is the Private Equity Club or the Green Energy Club. A lot of students will pursue their professional interests outside of the academic classroom experience as well.
Linda Abraham: How do you move on an application where the applicant says they are interested in consulting or X, or that they are interested in a career in A or B, and A and B are not obviously connected? I mean, you could connect them, but consulting in telecom is one thing, and consulting or telecom somehow to me sounds very different. How do you react to them?
Kara Keenan: I would just say initially one of the first things every student does at INSEAD is they start the Career Services counseling process. So the Career Services team will really help students drill down on -- okay, maybe this is what you want to do, but after a series of interviews and tests, maybe this is what you should be looking at. Maybe there is a way to pair these two interests; maybe you can consult in telecom versus one or the other. So I think working closely with our Career Services team is very helpful. It’s okay to come in with a whole bunch of things that the student would like to do, but the Career Services team really can provide students with some guidance as to what is maybe the right career track for that student in particular.
Melissa Jones: I just want to add to that as well. Linda, you have a very good point. Not all companies and industries and sectors are going to come and recruit on campus. Some are more represented than others for sure. For the industries that may not be as common, that student would be advised to tap into our huge alumni network. Because we are such an international school, we have alumni all over the world working in all different sectors. So even if companies don’t come through Career Services, you can’t forget your own network and also the alumni network and of course the peers that you have at INSEAD. There could be someone in your group or someone in your class who works in that type of industry, so you could in fact want their job.
Linda Abraham: I have a question for the audience. How many of you have already submitted your application to INSEAD? It is 6%. So a fairly small percentage of participants have already submitted their applications. How many of you are planning to apply to INSEAD’s next deadline which is June 15th? That is the second round deadline for the January intake. We show 14%. How many of you are planning to apply for a later deadline for the January intake? About 28%. And how many of you are planning to apply for the following September intake or are just doing research on INSEAD? That is 46%.
Here is the next question. Sudhir asks, “How important is international experience for INSEAD? I have worked in 24 countries in the last seven years for due diligence, M&A valuations. Can my international experience offset a low GMAT (670-680)? I am currently leading the M&A of a strategy department in an oil joined company in the Persian Gulf. I am a 28-year old Indian male, CPA and CIMA.” The variation on this question that I got was, “Will not having international work experience automatically disqualify or significantly reduce my chances of admission?” We had some other questions also on the importance of international work experience.
Kara Keenan: For INSEAD we look at four things in particular in the admissions process. We evaluate four criteria in your application: The strength of your academics, your professional experience, your personal profile or what we call your ability to contribute, and then the fourth piece is your international profile or exposure. So it is one of the admissions criteria that we look at. It is really important to INSEAD because we have such an international community of students. It is really what we feel sets our program apart from some of the other programs which are more domestically focused. So definitely having had substantive international work experience is a really great thing to bring to your application, but having said that, it is not a prerequisite. Perhaps you have worked in your home country, but maybe you’ve worked for an international organization or maybe you managed an international team – a remote team—from your home base.
So any and all international experience that you’ve had is relevant, whether it was a two week trip to Spain, or maybe you’ve studied abroad first semester in college. Or if you’ve been lucky enough to really work abroad and bring that substantive experience to your application, that is great. But we definitely look for international exposure, passion, and interest. We really want to bring globally-minded people to the program. So that is what I would really encourage applicants to focus on. So again, if you haven’t worked abroad that is okay, but any other international experience that you’ve had in your professional or personal life, you definitely want to bring to the application.
Linda Abraham: Clayton asks, “As an American with no visa for working in Europe, what are the realistic prospects if I finish my degree at INSEAD and wanted to remain working in Europe, especially with today’s layoffs across Europe?”
Melissa Jones: It definitely would help for you to work in Europe if you have a European Union passport. And if that is not the case, it can be a challenge to work in Europe, to be honest. But it’s up to a lot of the companies that come to recruit at INSEAD. They often provide working visas for you so you wouldn’t have to worry about that. So it really depends on the company that is hiring you.
Kara Keenan: The only thing I would to add to that is that if someone is looking to strengthen their chances as an American to work in Europe, it is definitely a prerequisite that our students speak another language in addition to English. So speaking a European language is good. If you have your heart set on working in France, then you definitely want to learn some French. That will help your job applications in France, for example. And then if you start in January, you will have the opportunity to do an internship. So for Americans that are interested in working in Europe, I would definitely encourage them to do an internship in Europe for an organization that would perhaps sponsor their work visa and hire them.
An alternative also for American students is that it is much easier to get a working visa in Singapore, which is where our other campus is located. So you can get a job opportunity in Singapore with the caveat that perhaps within a year’s time, you may get transferred to Europe. I think a lot of our students do go in through Asia to work in Europe, and then they may get lucky enough to transfer to Europe. So it’s definitely a possibility, but it certainly can be a challenge for anyone looking to get a work visa; not impossible, but it can be challenging.
Melissa Jones: There is one last thing I just remembered. With the Sarkozy government in France, you can actually legally be allowed to work in France for 2-6 months after you’ve completed your degree. So if the company that hires you needs some time to work at your visa then you will have that extra time because you will be allowed to be working there.
Linda Abraham: Maud asks, “I am sponsored by my company. Does sponsorship have an impact on my application?”
Kara Keenan: No. That’s a simple answer!
Linda Abraham: Ying Mei asks, “How much overlap is there between the January intake students and the September intake students?” By “overlap”, I’m going to guess that he means the interaction between the two groups, and is the curriculum basically the same?
Kara Keenan: Yes, they absolutely do have interaction. It is a very close-knit community in Singapore, especially in Fontainebleau because Fontainebleau is a fairly small town so the students definitely interact with one another. I think there is one period that they overlap in elective courses. The overlap is the last period for the students who start in September and the third period for the students who start in January, so there is an opportunity that they can take a few elective courses together. They absolutely have interaction, and the curriculum is identical for the students who start in September and the students who start in January. There are no differences there.
They also come together in some of the clubs and something that we call a National Week. Both intakes join the clubs. You get to meet students in other promotions that way. And also through our National Weeks which is that every two-three weeks on campus, a different group of students from a different country or region gets together and then they showcase that country and culture. So let’s say for Latin America Week, all the Argentinians, Brazilians, Chileans, etc. will organize that national week from both intakes. You will get to work and interact with the other promotions.
Linda Abraham: Visalakshi asks, “I’m a lawyer looking to become a consultant. I’ve heard that INSEAD is the best school in terms of consulting opportunities. Can I request you to elaborate on INSEAD’s advantages in this respect?”
Kara Keenan: A lot of people refer to INSEAD as an MBA consulting program, and it is true. About 39% of our students in the last class in 2009 did move into consulting. Some of them had already worked in consulting previously. But it certainly is a great school to get your MBA at if you are looking to move into consulting because we have really had strong ties with the top consulting firms. McKinsey hires more graduates from INSEAD than from any other MBA program. The opportunities to interview for those positions are competitive, but again, we really do have strong relationships with the top consulting firms and they really do look to INSEAD to hire a lot of their new employees. Of course you have to position your application the right way and do all of the hard work and due diligence, but certainly a lot of our students successfully move into consulting upon graduation.
Linda Abraham: Anshul asks, “Are wait-listed candidates encouraged to re-apply? If yes, how does that impact the candidate’s chances in the application?”
Melissa Jones: It depends also on when you have applied. We get three different rounds, so if you applied in round 1, you can be wait-listed and be pushed to round 2 or maybe even to round 3. So you might not hear from us for a while, but actually you can be taken off the wait-list by round 3. It really depends. In terms of re-applications, we encourage you not to re-apply for the next promotion. You can reapply after a year or two years, once you can actually prove to us what has changed, what is new and what is different, and why we should accept you now.
Linda Abraham: Is that true for wait-listed candidates as well as candidates who are just rejected outright?
Melissa Jones: That is right. For the wait-list, if you are applying for a January intake and you don’t make it through that wait-list for the three rounds, then obviously you are rejected so you wouldn’t be able to reapply for the following intake. But perhaps the question is -- if you are still on the wait-list, would you still re-apply for the next intake?
Linda Abraham: Yes.
Melissa Jones: So I would definitely not encourage that; I would definitely wait to get your results first.
Linda Abraham: Jameela asks, “I’m interested in an entrepreneurship track. Does INSEAD have one that can compare with other MBAs?”
Kara Keenan: That is a great question. Because this is a ten-month MBA, students don’t have a major or a concentration the way they might at some other two-year MBA programs. But having said that, actually entrepreneurship is a great example of one of our strongest areas. We have the most electives offered in the area of entrepreneurship. We have a great Center for Entrepreneurship. A lot of people who are looking to move into starting their own business or growing a business idea come to INSEAD. So I think it’s a great place to study if you are looking to start your own business or move in that direction. What I would encourage Jameela to do is to take a look at the entrepreneurship section on our website. And you also can drop an email to our Mba.firstname.lastname@example.org, and we’ll be happy to put you in touch with the center director for the Center of Entrepreneurship because she is always happy to talk to applicants to answer any questions regarding whether this track makes sense for them. So we don’t have official tracks or concentrations but we certainly have strengths across the different departments, and depending upon what your interest is, certainly you can pursue those interests at INSEAD.
Melissa Jones: There are a couple of other great programs you can get involved with too if you are really interested in entrepreneurship, such as a business competition. You can enter a product or service into the competition. There is also an entrepreneurship boot-camp and so on and so forth, so there are lots of ways to get into entrepreneurship.
Linda Abraham: Great. Jeffrey writes, “I have a question about the second language requirement for entrance to INSEAD. I am a Canadian citizen applying and was told that my high school requirement for French would not count towards a second language requirement. Where would I be able to take a test in Canada to fill this requirement?”
Melissa Jones: First of all, I’m assuming the second language could be French since it is one of the other national languages there. If you studied it only in high school, unfortunately, for the second language requirement that is not sufficient enough. If you were in a French immersion program though for your entire upbringing --for grade 1 up to high school -- then that can substitute the second language requirement.
Linda Abraham: So for the second language requirement, you are really talking about a very high level of fluency.
Melissa Jones: Right. So for those that have just taken a course in Spanish or in French in university, unfortunately, that is not sufficient. The only way that it is sufficient is if the entire degree was taught in that language. So if for example, you went to a school in France and all the courses were taught in French, that can be your second language. Or if that is not the case, then you can just go to a local language center like a French Center or a Spanish Center, and get tested in the level that we require. And as long as you pass at that level, then you can submit those reports to us and that will be your second entry language. For the specific levels that you need, take a look at our language policy document on our website and it will tell you which levels you need to retain.
Linda Abraham: Sara asks, “I want to move into general management and strategy within pharma biotech. Is a full-time MBA the best option for me?”
Melissa Jones: If you want to pursue an MBA, our MBA program is a general management program so you will cover everything from accounting to finance to marketing, etc. If you are interested in jobs post-INSEAD, there are definitely students that go into that field so there are some opportunities. I will say that it is not going to be as focused in the pharma industry for you, but there will be some electives or certain clubs that you can join that focus more on that industry.
Linda Abraham: Abhisek asks, “INSEAD invites a lot of emphasis on international experience. What counts as international experience? If someone goes to graduate schools and works outside of their home country, is that counted as international experience? Or do you have to work in many different countries?”
Melissa Jones: Any and all international experience counts. Go to the website and download your application. You’ll see that on the application there is a section there where we ask the applicant to list out all international experience. So if you’ve travelled outside of your home country for a couple of weeks for fun, with friends, or with family, put it on the application. If you took a two-week language course in Spain, you can put it on the application. Absolutely having done your graduate degree outside of your home country is great experience. Certainly immersion experience is always great to have. And international work experience is ideal but not required. As far as what counts, any and all international experience counts. We certainly have a lot of people in the program who were born in one country and were raised in another. Any part of your profile that is international, you want to include on the application.
Linda Abraham: We are getting a bunch of questions about the GMAT. Before I pose them, I want to take a poll and see where everybody is at with the GMAT. The question is -- how many of you are concerned about a low GMAT? 82% have voted; 59% of the people here today are concerned about a low GMAT and 41% are not.
Here are the questions that I am getting about the GMAT. The first one is from George. “I recently saw that INSEAD accepts the GRE. Can you please let us know if applicants who have taken the GMAT have any advantage over applicants who have taken the GRE or vice versa? Are they treated the same, or is the GMAT better suited to evaluating candidates for INSEAD?”
Melissa Jones: No, they are not looked at differently. They are treated the same. You do have to aim for a higher percentile for the GRE because they are evaluated a lit bit differently.
Linda Abraham: And what percentile do you want to see on the GRE?
Melissa Jones: For the GMAT, we are looking to range in the 70th-75th percentile for the verbal and quantitative portion to the exam. For the GRE, we are looking for the 80th-85th percentile overall.
Kara Keenan: For people who haven’t taken either the GMAT or the GRE and are thinking which one they should take, the GMAT is the only standardized test that is created by business schools for business school applicants. So if you haven’t taken either, the GMAT is the most appropriate test. But having said that, if you’ve already taken the GRE and you’ve done very well, like in the 80th percentile or above, you can definitely submit your score because they do evaluate similar content; they have a quantitative section, a verbal section, and a writing section. It’s just that the GRE is more of a general standardized test. So whether you are applying for a graduate degree in English or engineering you can take the GRE, whereas the GMAT is only for business school applicants. So that was just to clarify a little bit. But if you’ve done very well on the GRE, we certainly encourage you to submit your score, and we definitely won’t look at that as less than the GMAT score.
Linda Abraham: Olga asks, “Is there any minimum for the GMAT in order to be considered?” Based on your response, I think the answer is that there is a percentile score on each section that you really like to see.
Kara Keenan: That’s right. There is no minimum; we will never reject someone’s application based only their GMAT score, but the 70th-75th percentile on both sections is what we really like to see. The average GMAT right now is around 705 so we do like to see a strong GMAT score overall.
Linda Abraham: Gaurav asks, “The career stats on the INSEAD website suggest that the placements in North America are not as strong as maybe Europe and Asia Pacific. Is it because there are fewer students eager to work in the US, or is it that INSEAD Career Management Services focuses more on the Europe and Asia Pacific areas?”
Melissa Jones: We just had some new statistics from the last class that graduated in 2010. Around 8% of the students ended up in North America, so it really does depend. A lot of the students come to INSEAD thinking that they want to work abroad or all over the world. So our stats really are all over the world in a sense. It’s not that there aren’t the jobs there; it’s that a lot of the people do want to work and stay in Europe or in Asia Pacific due to the fact that we have the two campuses there. But there are some opportunities in the US; some US companies such as some consulting companies recruit for all of their global offices. If you are interested in North America, I would advise you to take advantage of the Wharton or Kellogg exchange because if you do go there, you will have full access to their Career Services.
Linda Abraham: Apurva asks, “What are the criteria if any candidate belongs to a high volume applicant pool, i.e. software engineer or IT engineer? Does that candidate require a higher GMAT, more work experience or any specific elements to get admitted?”
Kara Keenan: We don’t divvy up our applicants based on their professional experience. Having said that, I don’t know how familiar he is with who matriculates into the program, but we have a good number of people with an engineering profile, we have a lot of people coming from financial services and consulting, but we do have people from every industry. So there isn’t anything specific; it’s not like if you work in software, then you must have X. For us, we do have a soft cap on nationality, so we do tend to look at that a bit more closely then someone’s professional profile. We prefer not to have more than 10% of our students come from any given country. So for example, if you come from the US, we have about 9% of our students coming from the United States. We will look for international experience in particular because that will really help to strengthen your application versus another American who has never worked or studied or lived outside the US. So we don’t tend to “discriminate” based on your professional profile, but we tend to look a little bit more top level at your nationality; what nationality you are coming from and sort of how your application would weigh against someone from your country, if you are coming from one of our high volume regions. That is really France, the US, and India; those are our top three nationalities represented in the program.
Linda Abraham: Rajesh asks, “Aside for the fact that INSEAD doesn’t encourage re-applicants, what do you look for in such candidates, especially when the applicant is younger? And does INSEAD offer any application feedback for applicants interested in reapplying?” The first question to me would be -- do you agree that INSEAD doesn’t encourage re-applicants? It didn’t years ago, is that still true today?
Kara Keenan: It is true. We have a list on our website. We don’t encourage reapplications. We do encourage our applicants to really apply to the program when they feel they’ll give it their best shot. And as Melissa mentioned earlier about reapplications, we want to know really what changed. Something really dramatic in your profile should have changed, and there should be a somewhat significant amount of time from your initial application. So we really review reapplications on a case by case basis, but as a general rule we definitely discourage reapplications because we feel that the application that you have submitted to INSEAD has been your absolute best. So you want to take the time to submit your absolute best application. As far as someone who perhaps applied early on in their career, for example, they only had two years of work experience which is our minimum, maybe five or six years into their career after they’ve been declined from the program they think that now they are appropriate. So what they would want to do is reach out to their admissions coordinator and say -- Hey, I’d like to reapply. It’s been a couple of years, and significant changes have occurred in my profile; I’ve worked abroad, I’ve picked up another language, I’m managing a team, I’ve been promoted three times. Then we would tell them to go ahead and reapply. Your profile has really changed and you can really add something that a year or two into your career you couldn’t have brought to the program. So it’s really on a case by case basis, but as a general rule we do discourage reapplications. And unfortunately, we don’t offer feedback on applications; we just don’t have the bandwidth to do that. But if you have any general questions, you can always email our inbox and we will try to help you as best as possible. As far as individualized feedback on your application, we cannot provide that.
Linda Abraham: We have a couple of related questions. Richie asks, “What are the challenges in terms of future prospects for students joining in January versus September? The January intake has internship opportunities. Is that an edge?” Séverin asks, “How difficult is it for September intake students to get a job in investment banking or private equity considering that most bulge bracket things require internship?” And I would guess Séverin is talking about people who are not coming from an investment banking background. So is there an advantage to the January intake if you are a career changer, especially if you are going into investment banking because of the internship opportunity or is it the same?
Melissa Jones: If you are looking for a job in finance or investment banking, yes, you will have a slight advantage if you start in January because of the internships. A lot of the financial institutions like to hire you for an internship, and if all goes well, they can offer you a full-time position before you even graduate. Plus, it also matches with the US recruitment cycle, so if you start in January, you will start the interviews and recruiting October, November, December time, and so that matches up with the US too. So yes, if you are interested in finance, for sure I would aim for January. It doesn’t mean that if you start in September, you are not going to have any opportunities; it just means that they are a little bit tougher. You’re doing more things on your own as opposed to using the internship opportunities. In terms of other jobs in industry or consulting, there is absolutely no advantage or disadvantage if you start in January or September.
Linda Abraham: Visalakshi asks, “Does INSEAD follow the case study method, or are professors free to choose their method of instruction?” And I’ll add a follow-up question -- Is there a dominant method of instruction?
Kara Keenan: They don’t have to follow the case study method. It really is at the discretion of the professor how he/she would like to instruct the course. Having said that, there are certainly quite a few case studies, but there is also mix of lecture and group discussion, so it really varies depending on the nature of the course. I would say maybe in the core courses when you are doing more of the quantitative stuff, it would be more case studies and maybe a bit of lecture. And then when you move into electives, maybe it’s an elective on entrepreneurship or social media, then there is probably a bit more of discussion and group work and that sort of thing. So it really depends on the professor and the subject of the course.
Melissa Jones: I just want to add that there are lots of interesting ways that the teachers can teach. There are some business simulations. There is a lot of role playing that can be done and game theories. One course that I think is great, and it’s probably one of the most popular, is an entrepreneurship course called “Your First 100 Days”. You are actually managing a company with four or five other people for a total of two weeks. You are managing that company seven days a week, twenty-four hours a day. So you might be the CEO of the company, your group-mate might be the Vice President of Marketing or the next person in operations or what have you. And then it’s up to you how you manage that company. So you might get just a random phone call in the middle of the night from someone from your company that your factory is burning down asking what they should do. These real-life scenarios can take place in courses too so it makes for a really fun environment as well.
Linda Abraham: I have several questions here which are going back to the GMAT. Most of them are variations of, “I have really strong work experience, but my GMAT isn’t great.” One writes, “Can my 24 countries work experience offset my low GMAT of 670-680?” “I have a very strong international exposure, speak four languages, but I don’t think I will be able to have a quant of 70, should I even bother to apply?”
Kara Keenan: Just to clarify again, no one is rejected based solely on their GMAT. There isn’t a cut-off; it’s just something in the range that we would like to see. A 70th percentile overall in both the quantitative and verbal sections equates to about a 650. So we definitely would not consider a 680 a low GMAT Score.
Linda Abraham: Unless one element was really low, right? That would be problematic.
Kara Keenan: Yes. It is a quantitatively rigorous program. It is a ten-month MBA where you do 80% of the course hours of the two year program in ten months. So we definitely want to make sure that the applicant has the intellectual horsepower to get through a ten-month MBA, and the GMAT is a good indicator for us to know that. But it’s not the “be all end all”. It is not going to eliminate you. A 680 GMAT with 24 countries of work experience certainly sounds like a good application to me.
Linda Abraham: If they’ve also done well in the master’s.
Kara Keenan: Yes. And it’s meaningful if you’ve taken finance courses or quantitative courses as an undergraduate and you’ve done well, or if you work in a finance capacity, or if you have P&L responsibility. There are so many other ways that you can bring quantitative strength to your application. And let’s say for example, as an undergraduate you had a B average or whatever that would equate to in your home country. Maybe you have a very strong GMAT or you had other really amazing experience in your profile. We really look for strength across all the four of those admission criteria I mentioned. But for example, having a really strong GMAT can offset one part of your application where there may be slight weakness. So it definitely is good to have strength in all four, but as far as the GMAT, I would say that any score of 650 or above, we consider a decent score. So that is always a good threshold to aim for.
Linda Abraham: Alvin asks, “With China and India being the driver of the current world economy, what are the prospects of INSEAD graduates working in China? How many INSEAD alumni are working or based in China statistically?”
Kara Keenan: I would just say for anyone that is interested in a specific country or region or industry or function, you should go to our website and download our career statistics. Every year after our most recent classes have graduated, our Career Services team will poll the students to find out where they’ve gone, how much money they are making, and what industries they are working in. And it has a lot of really specific drilled-down data. So offhand I’m not sure the number of people exactly who went to work in China. 25% of our graduates are working in Asia Pacific, and we certainly have a good number of alumni and students coming to China. But that document will have more specific drilled-down data.
What’s great with INSEAD is that if you do study at our Singapore campus and perhaps you do an internship in China, you are regionally located in a great area to go and work in China upon graduation. And you will make a ton of contacts in that region in addition to studying with a third of our students who come from Asia Pacific, so of course they’ll have amazing networks. And again, 25% of our students go to work in that region. So I think it is fair to say that the career opportunities in China and in Asia in general are really outstanding.
Linda Abraham: Which campus is pictured currently on the screen?
Kara Keenan: That is Singapore.
Linda Abraham: There have been several questions posted about financial aid and scholarship opportunities. Jameela asks, “What are the funding and scholarship options available to me as an international student from Ghana?” So first please address what are international aid options in general for international applicants, and then if there are any available specific to Ghana.
Melissa Jones: For all of you out there, take a look on our website under “Scholarships and Funding” because you really have to read through all of the scholarships to see which would be applicable to you. There are some based on academics, there are some based on pure financial need, there are some based on the country you are coming from, there are some based for women, and there are some based on the industry that you work in. So read through all of them, and see which ones apply to you. You can apply to as many as five scholarships, but you can only receive up to a maximum of two scholarships. And the average amount is around 11,000 euros. Around 17% of our students receive INSEAD scholarships. So you can’t just depend on those, so look into your personal savings or other kinds of funding that might be available in your country. It’s hard for us to know what is available in all the countries, but we try our best, so take a look on our website under “Funding by Country” and there could be some options there for you as well. In terms of Ghana, I don’t believe there is one specific to Ghana, but I do believe there are some for African students so take a look there.
I wanted to mention one other option in the program called the “Prodigy Loan Program”. That was set up by some of our alumni a few years ago. You can actually receive a loan that can cover up to your entire tuition, if need be. They don’t usually cover that much because they assume you’ve got some personal savings as well or you’re applying for some scholarships. But definitely take a look at “Prodigy Loan”. It’s available for all international students. So once again, if you want any more information on financing, just take a look on our financing page.
Linda Abraham: I’m sure there is a lot of information on that on the INSEAD website.
Kara Keenan: Yes.
Linda Abraham: Olga asks, “For dual-degree, will I have to apply separately to one of your partner schools? And considering that the schools you mentioned are tough to get into, what are the chances of getting in? Does INSEAD provide any assistance in terms of applying to these dual-degree programs?” That was Olga’s question. My question is -- Could you tell us a little bit more about the Kellogg exchange program?
Kara Keenan: Just to clarify, our dual-degree program is with SAIS which is the international school of Johns Hopkins. The program with Lee Kuan Yew is really more of a partnership, so it’s not as dual-degree. Regarding our dual-degree program with Johns Hopkins, it is a great question. Applicants do have to apply separately to both institutions. It’s very possible that you could apply to INSEAD and be admitted, and perhaps apply to Johns Hopkins and not be admitted. So you do have to apply separately to both institutions, and students who are admitted to both institutions are considered as part of the dual-degree program. We don’t call up Johns Hopkins and tell them that they better admit this person! But certainly they are both competitive schools, so it really depends on the criteria that you are looking to fill at the specific school that you are applying to. So again, just to be very transparent, the admissions processes are completely separate, and you have to meet the admissions criteria of the individual schools. And if you are admitted to both, then you are considered in part of the dual-degree program.
Linda Abraham: Melissa, could you tell us a little bit about the Kellogg exchange program?
Melissa Jones: Sure. It is pretty much similar to our Wharton exchange. It’s for those interested in exploring what it’s like at a US MBA school. So you can go to Kellogg. You can only go in your fourth period. So for example, if you start at INSEAD in January, you would go for around eight weeks starting around September. If you start in September at INSEAD, then you go to Kellogg for around eight weeks in March. So it’s really up to you to take which electives they are offering during that semester there at Kellogg. As I said before, you can take advantage of their Career Services options as well. And then you would have to go back to INSEAD to either the France campus or the Singapore campus for your fifth period and that is the last period.
There are limited spots available to both Kellogg and Wharton, and this is managed though an on-line bidding process. I don’t want to go into too many details about this, but I’ll just give you a brief overview. When you are at INSEAD, at the end of period 1 you have to decide where you want to be for period 3, 4, and 5. Do you want to be in Singapore? Do you want to be in France? Do you want to go to Kellogg? And then you also need to decide which electives you want to take. So you are given 200 points to use throughout the year, and it’s up to you how you use those points. So if you really want to go to Kellogg in period 4 and you really want to take that “Your First 100 Days” course, you want to bid more points towards those two things.
Linda Abraham: Nitin asks, “What is the minimum number of years of work experience required?”
Kara Keenan: That’s an easy question. We ask that applicants have a minimum of two years of work experience, but we have a much fewer number of students in the program with two years of experience. So if you are at the minimum, you definitely want to make sure that your application is really outstanding. You sort of need to demonstrate that you had experience in those two years since you finished your university work that would really make you stand out from your peers who have also had two years of experience. We are looking for really strong applications from people who have only two years of experience. The overall average of years of experience for the entire class is five, and the range is about 2-11. So we do have a good chunk of people with 5-7 years of experience, but the minimum for all applicants is 2.
Linda Abraham: Thank you very much. Thank you again all for participating today. Special thanks to Melissa and Kara for joining us today and for their answers. If you have additional questions for Melissa or Kara, please email them to email@example.com.
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Good luck with your applications!