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INSEAD - PhD Programme - FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

Information about the PhD Programme

How long is a PhD Programme?
The INSEAD PhD in Management is a 4-5 year full-time degree.  The first two years of the programme are dedicated exclusively to courses, with the last 2-3 years devoted exclusively to research and the completion of the doctoral dissertation. Please note that our PhD Programme is not available in a part-time or distance learning format..

Since I already hold an MBA, may I be exempted from some courses?
We do not grant any exemptions prior to admittance. In some instances, however, candidates may be exempted from certain required courses in which they demonstrate advanced knowledge. These exemption requests have to be submitted to the course instructor and be approved by the PhD Programme's Academic Director. If approved, alternative work is proposed.

Can I apply even though I do not speak French?
Absolutely.  The PhD Programme is taught exclusively in English. As English is the only official communication language at INSEAD, French is not required to study the PhD from our Fontainebleau campus (or the Singapore campus).

Is it possible to apply for a PhD in Singapore?
Absolutely. In September 2008, INSEAD launched the PhD Programme in Singapore. The choice of the Singapore campus should be indicated on your online application which can be submitted through our new online platform.  Applications for the September 2014 intake will be made available in early Fall this year, with an early December deadline. 

Is it possible to apply for a PhD in Abu Dhabi?
At this time, no, there is no PhD Programme offered in Abu Dhabi.  If you are interested in pursuing this degree at INSEAD, you must relocate to either the Singapore or Fontainebleau campus for a full 4-5 years of study.  Part-time or distance learning is not possible either.

I am presently working, and I would like to know whether I could do a PhD on a part-time basis or via distance learning?
No.  INSEAD's PhD in Management is an extremely intensive and rigorous 4-5 year full-time programme. All courses are compulsory and take place on either our Fontainebleau or Singapore campus. It is not possible to combine a PhD with your work, nor do we offer the courses via distance learning.  However, please note that we offer a full tuition scholarship plus a stipend to cover living expenses during the 4-5 years of study; thus, working while studying is not necessary.

Do you offer a PhD curriculum on-line?
No, INSEAD's PhD courses are not available on-line.

Application requirements

What is the deadline for PhD application?

The application files have to be sent to the PhD Office by early December, each year for entry in September the following year.

Should I contact faculty prior to admission?
We do not recommend, nor is it necessary, to contact faculty prior to admission. INSEAD faculty receive hundreds of emails from prospective students and regret that they are unable to respond to all. Moreover, for admitted students, faculty advisors are chosen by the Academic Director, after admission. In the second year of the programme, PhD students are able to choose their own advisors. However, this is never done at the application stage.  As such, prospective applicants are encouraged to learn about faculty and their research through this link.   

Can I send my application file if I have not yet taken my GMAT or TOEFL?
You may start filling in the online application form and specify when you will be taking the tests (ideally, no later than 30 November). You will then have to upload an e-copy of your student score copy on our application platform and request from ETS to send the official scores directly to the PhD Office for the December deadline. However, it is strongly recommended that you complete your exams as soon as possible to ensure you are able to submit a complete application file by the December deadline.

Can the requirement for the GMAT or GRE exam be waived?
No, we cannot waive this requirement under any circumstances.

What are the exam codes for the INSEAD PhD Programme, when I take my tests?
The Code Centers for the PhD Programme are:  3244 (GRE/INSEAD's PhD in France), 7324 (GRE/INSEAD's PhD in Singapore); DL3-S8-08 (GMAT) and 3244 (TOEFL).

Is there a minimum TOEFL score?
No, we accept a range of scores, though you should aim to score above 105 if possible.  The average score of our accepted candidates is 108 for the most recent intake.

Can the requirement for the TOEFL exam be waived?
Applicants whose native language is not English are required to take the TOEFL test unless they have a university degree from an institution where the curriculum was taught exclusively in English. With a degree taught primarily in English, applicants are automatically exempt from the TOEFL requirement. On the application, simply select “not applicable” when asked for the TOEFL score. The degree transcripts will suffice as proof. Nothing further is needed for the exemption, it will be automatically granted with a completed application and transcripts from your degree in English.

I only have a bachelor’s degree (or undergraduate university level equivalent), may I apply to the PhD Programme?
Yes, a Master's or graduate level degree is not required for admission.  A Bachelor’s degree is sufficient and we have many successful applicants who joined INSEAD immediately following their undergraduate studies.  If you do not have a Bachelor's degree but you do have a Master's or equivalent, you may apply.

Is work experience a requirement?
No, we do not require work experience for admission.  Many successful applicants come directly from undergraduate programmes. 

How do I apply?
Our application form is fully electronic and, thus, must be completed online, which will be activated in the Fall this year for the following year's intake. For the required 3 recommendation letters, our application form will generate an automatic recommendation link which will be sent to the selected recommenders via email.  We strongly encourage you to ensure they are completed by the December deadline. 

If I have work experience, can a superior or professional advisor write a recommendation for me?
In most cases, the letters of recommendation should come from faculty, scholars or advisors who can assess your academic background and your ability to carry out research, complete a rigorous PhD Programme as well as your ability or potential to teach. However, in the event that you are unable to submit 3 letters from academic sources, we do allow for non-academic recommendations to be submitted.  However, it is always ideal if all letters can come from academic sources.

Can I submit more than 3 recommendation letters?
Your application needs to contain no more and no less than 3 recommendation letters.  

What is the minimum GMAT/GRE score?
There's no cut-off point for either exam and there is a wide range for accepted scores. Our selection of applicants is based on the applicant's general profile and overall academic background, and your test scores are only one component of the many factors considered. Perfect scores do not guarantee admission and lower than average scores will not invalidate your candidacy.  However, scores of 700 upwards for GMAT and quantitative scores of 800 for GRE are not uncommon.

Can I send GMAT/GRE or TOEFL scores which are more than five years' old?
No.  The Admissions Committee requires GMAT/GRE scores be no more than five years old.  The TOEFL score can be no more than two years old.

Can I send photocopies of my diplomas and transcripts?
As our application process is fully electronic, we require only electronic copies of the supporting documents (in PDF format) to be uploaded on the application center for the initial selection stage. If you are accepted for admission, then you will be asked to provide original certified copies to the PhD Office. The Admissions Committee does not accept plain photocopies of diplomas and transcripts. Applicants need to have paper copies certified by the awarding university or by a notary.  If these documents are translated (a requirement if not in English), you must have them certified by an authorised translator or by a Consulate.

Admissions process

When can I expect an answer for my application?
The Admissions Committee will review the files as of January. As soon as a decision has been made, the PhD Office will notify you.  Typically, the process takes approximately 3 months from the deadline for decisions to be communicated.  If you have not heard from us regarding the status of your application, it is because a final decision has not been reached.  We always communicate the final status to all applicants once the admissions committee has finalized their decision.

Can I reapply if my file has been rejected?
Yes, you may reapply one more time. In such a case, we will keep your file and you will have to reapply online, update your CV and send a new version of your Statement of Purpose as well as new transcripts and diplomas, if any. More recent letters of recommendation can be submitted through our online application platform.  If you prefer to use the same letters of recommendation from the previous attempt, you may do so.  Please contact the PhD office to include them in your new application.

I am not sure about the field to apply for. May I apply for two fields?
If unable to decide on one field of interest, we would advise you to speak to some of your professors to help you narrow your selection. However, if you are still undecided, we will accept applications for up to two areas of specialization.  In this instance, you will need to complete two separate applications and pay two separate application fees.  The Admissions Committee will review your file in both fields and decide if there is a fit in either area, and you will be notified accordingly. Your application will not be viewed unfavorable for applying to two areas as the decision regarding your fit is made independently for each area.  However, you do need to complete two application forms and pay the application fee twice.  Letters of recommendation and other supporting documents may be duplicated so that you only need to submit one set for both applications.  The PhD office is able to assist you with this and can be contacted at  

Is an interview with a candidate a compulsory step of the admissions process?
Interviews are required for admissions, conducted by the PhD Admissions Committee process for all applicants. Interviews are organised if there is any need to clarify aspects of your application and/or profile, or if a faculty member requests one. We will contact you if you are selected for an interview. Please keep in mind that many of those who receive invitations for interview are not necessarily admitted.

Should I contact faculty prior to admission?
We do not recommend, nor is it necessary, to contact faculty prior to admission. INSEAD faculty receive hundreds of emails from prospective students and regret that they are unable to respond to all. Moreover, for admitted students, faculty advisors are chosen by the Academic Director, after admission. In the second year of the programme, PhD students are able to choose their own advisors. However, this is never done at the application stage.  As such, prospective applicants are encouraged to learn about faculty and their research through this link.   

Campus Exchange

If I begin the programme in Singapore, can I transfer to Fontainebleau (and vice-versa)?
Yes, because INSEAD is truly one school with two campuses, you may pursue your PhD in both France and Singapore during your studies.  However, there should be a clear rationale for the desired exchange should you wish to move.  Moreover, any exchange is subject to the approval of the PhD Committee and the PhD Dean.

Is the quality of education different in Singapore than France?
No.  The curriculum, faculty and courses are identical in France and Singapore.  Moreover, during your first two years, many of your classes will take place together across the two campuses via video-conference.  Thus, no matter where you study, you will have access to the same education because the teaching, research and the prestige of the degree is the same no matter which campus you choose.

Due to the INSEAD-Wharton alliance, is it possible for me to spend time at Wharton?
Yes, INSEAD and the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania have formed an alliance which includes Faculty and student exchanges for their respective PhD programmes for the purpose of furthering and collaborating on research. Students registered in one of the two institutions can register and gain credit for courses taken at the other institution after they have completed their first year of studies. Some financial aid may be available. Applications should be submitted to the INSEAD-Wharton Alliance Research Director. For more details, click here to learn about this unique Alliance Exchange programme.

Is it possible for me to do research with faculty from Wharton?
Yes. The Alliance Centre for Global Research and Education has extended its reach to INSEAD and Wharton PhD's by making them eligible to join a faculty member from the partner school in order to constitute an Alliance Centre research project. For further details, visit Alliance Teaching Innovations

Campus Visits

Is it possible to visit the campus before submitting an application?
Yes. You are indeed very welcome to come to Fontainebleau and/or Singapore to visit INSEAD's campuses. Please contact the PhD Office by phone or email, and a meeting can be arranged with one of the PhD office team members who will be able to answer your questions. Yet, prior to admission, owing to their very tight schedules, a meeting with current PhD students or INSEAD's faculty cannot be facilitated by the PhD Office.  Only upon admission can we facilitate this opportunity.

Financial Information

Does INSEAD charge a fee to apply for the PhD Programme?
Yes, there is a 50 Euros application fee, payable online, while applying to INSEAD's PhD Programme.  

Could you tell me all about the scholarships INSEAD offers for the PhD studies?
A full INSEAD scholarship provides for a tuition and fees waiver plus a living allowance, based on local cost, which currently ranges between 18,780 € and 23,880 € for a full year of study in Fontainebleau and 40,000 SGD and 56,000 SGD for a full year of study in Singapore (variation according to family composition: single, married, married with children).

How long do the PhD scholarships last? Are there any special conditions linked to them?
INSEAD scholarships are available during the first four to five years of PhD study, and may be renewed annually contingent upon satisfactory progress in the programme.

What happens if I have secured external financial support as well?
Indeed, candidates are expected to seek external financial support where available, and students having obtained partial outside financing are eligible for additional complementary INSEAD scholarship funding.  Thus, while accepted candidates will automatically receive INSEAD funding; additional funding can be obtained in many cases from external sources which will increase your living allowance and financial benefit.

Contact Information

If you need any further information, please do not hesitate to contact the PhD Office:

INSEAD Europe campus
PhD Office
Boulevard de Constance, 77305 Fontainebleau
Tel: (33) (0)1 60 72 42 93 
Fax: (33) (0)1 60 74 55 93/00 

INSEAD Asia Campus 
PhD Office 
1 Ayer Rajah Avenue
Singapore 138676
Tel:(65) 6799 5139 
Fax: (65) 6799 5369 

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