INSEAD vs HEC Paris: An MBA comparison |

INSEAD vs HEC Paris: An MBA comparison

By Holly Hemmings

Updated Updated

For those looking to undertake an MBA in Europe, France is a great place to consider. The standard of education is among the highest in the world with many top-ranked institutions to choose from. INSEAD and HEC Paris are regularly recognized as the two most prestigious in the country. In fact, INSEAD was the first business school in Europe to offer the MBA course.

If you’re choosing between the two, read on as we discover how their MBA courses are similar and how they differ:

Length and format of programme


HEC Paris

  • Full-time programme with an average length of 10 months
  • Five study periods of eight weeks each (plus a number of pre-MBA elements)
  • Two intakes per year: start in January and graduate December that year or start in September and graduate the following July
  • Periods one and two are made up solely of core courses, six per period, with two more core courses in period three and the rest made up of electives.
  • 16-month full-time programme, with an eight-month fundamental phase and an eight-month customised phase.
  • Terms one and two cover core modules and terms three and four allow you to choose your own path through electives, specializations and international trips.
  • Two intakes per year: January and September.

Fees and funding


HEC Paris

  • Tuition fees for the August 2024 intake are €99,500 (around £85,150 GBP or $106,050 USD) and €103,500 (around £88,560 GBP or $110,300 USD) for the January 2025 intake.
  • The optional business foundations programme incurs an additional expense €2,000 for the August 2024 in-person programme and €1,500 for the January 2025 online programme.
  • Fees are paid in three installments.
  • INSEAD offers over 150 internal scholarships, with scholarships averaging €22,100 (around £18,900 GBP or $23,550 USD). Around 40 percent of participants have scholarships.
  • External funding is also available, with all admitted students eligible to apply for an International Loan Programme from Prodigy Finance as well as a number of other external funding sources associated with INSEAD.
  • Both intakes have a €9,000 (around £7,700 GBP or $9,600 USD) deposit, then fees are paid in two installments.
  • September 2024 intake tuition fees are €98,000 (around £83,900 GBP or $104,400 USD). Tuition fees for the January 2025 intake will be the same.
  • Accommodation costs are charged separately and are not included in the price of tuition.
  • HEC offers a number of internal scholarships (click here to see the full list), offering students over €1,000,000 annually in financial aid.



HEC Paris

  • Aspiring participants are judged on their ability to contribute, academic capacity, international motivation and leadership potential
  • The admissions process takes 10 weeks and is comprised of an online application video, first selection, interview decision, interviews with alumni, admissions committee interview and a final decision
  • You will need to provide:
    • Non-refundable application fee of €250 (approx. US$298)
    • Three compulsory application essays
    • GMAT/GRE scores (no minimum requirement)
    • English language certification (if English isn’t your native language) – TOEFL, TOEIC, IELTS, PTE and the Certificate of Proficiency in English test are all accepted
    • Entry language certification (if English is your native language), more info here
    • Two professional letters of recommendation
    • Up-to-date resume
    • Academic transcripts from each college/university you have attended – transcripts are accepted in English and French, all others must be accompanied by a certified English translation
  • The rolling admissions process means you get a quick response to your application
  • The admissions process takes five weeks, comprised of an online form, a completed application, a pre-selection jury, interviews with HEC Paris MBA alumni, and, finally, an admissions jury.
  • You must have completed an undergraduate program at an accredited university. The do not have a minimum professional work experience requirement but strongly advise that candidates have at least 2 years' experience.
  • You will need to provide:
    • Non-refundable application fee of €200.
    • Completed application form.
    • Completed application essays.
    • GMAT/GRE score
    • Copy of TOEFL, TOEIC, IELTS, PTE, Cambridge English Exam of Duolingo English Test results for non-native English speakers. 
    • Two letters of recommendation.
    • Current professional resume in English.
    • Transcripts from all university programmes completed.

Class profile


HEC Paris

  • Around 1000 students per intake
  • Average age: 29
  • Range of work experience: 3-8 years
  • GMAT range 670-750
  • 38 percent female students
  • 110 nationalities represented
  • Average number of students per intake: 243
  • Average age: 30
  • Average work experience: 6 years
  • GMAT average score: 690
  • 38 percent female students
  • 95 percent international students
  • 48 countries represented

Inside the MBA classroom


Students can engage in pre-MBA elements in ‘Period 0’, including an optional business foundations week, language classes, webinars and networking opportunities. Core courses take up the first two periods, including financial accounting, organizational behavior, introduction to strategy, corporate financial policy and processes & operations management.

From period three onwards, students can choose from around 90 electives (taking four in period three, four in period four and three in period five). Elective topics include accounting, decision sciences, economics & political science, entrepreneurship, finance, marketing, organisational behaviour, strategy and technology & operations management. You will also complete a capstone project in period five.

Many electives offer students the chance to learn outside the classroom, with field trips to locations such as China and Silicon Valley. Participants have the chance to spend at least one period at another INSEAD campus – including Fontainebleau, Singapore and Abu Dhabi.

HEC Paris

The 16-month programme is divided into two eight-month phases: fundamental and customised. The first two terms are fundamental, where you will learn core business skills. Term one modules include financial accounting & reporting, financial markets, leadership communication, managerial economics and statistics & business analytics. Modules in term two cover corporate finance, ethics & sustainability, management accounting and organisational behaviour. Both terms in the fundamental phase include business simulations.

Terms three and four are the customised phase. In term three you can choose to complete five electives; or the HEC Paris certificate; or three electives and partake in the Creative Destruction Lab; or one elective and a half term international exchange. Alongside each of these options, students will have the opportunity to take part in an optional MBA Tournament. In term four, participants can either specialise in one of the following areas: entrepreneurship, finance, advanced management, strategic marketing, strategy, data & AI for business transformation or sustainable & disruptive innovation; or do an international exchange.

For both international exchange options, HEC has over 30 partner schools which span five continents for students to choose from.

Outside the MBA classroom


Career development is integral to INSEAD’s MBA programme. As soon as, or even before you start your programme, the career development team recommends you consider your career plan. Throughout the course, the career development centre organises a series of activities including workshops, training, panel discussions and one-on-one counselling sessions.

Their employment stats - for the graduating class of 2023 - are impressive, with 88 percent of graduates landing jobs within three months of graduating. Students also noted a median salary of €113,400 (around £97,100 GBP or $120,750 USD).

INSEAD promotes a ‘work hard, play hard’ approach to MBA life on campus. They run a variety of clubs and activities for students to get involved in, including business and industry focused clubs to boost career prospects through networking events, annual forums and trips. There are sports clubs if you’d like to participate in INSEAD’s sporting traditions, plus social clubs for students to pursue personal interests and meet new people.

INSEAD has three campuses, the original near Paris, France – one of the financial hearts of Europe; one in Singapore, one of the most dynamic and business-focused locations in Asia; and one in Abu Dhabi, an entrepreneurial hub in the Middle East. The also have a hub in San Francisco in the US which offers a selection of executive education programmes. INSEAD pioneers the multi-campus approach as a method to increase students’ international experience.

HEC Paris

The HEC Paris careers center offers a number of services to help participants achieve their professional goals. This includes one-on-one career coaching, recruiting events, career workshops and access to alumni.

HEC has some seriously impressive career stats, with 92 percent of students hired within 3 months after graduation in the graduating class of 2022.

The school prides itself on having a huge variety of extracurricular activities on and off campus for MBA participants to enjoy. Cultural Weeks celebrate the diverse student body, with student-led weeks offering a five-day immersion of different cultures (such as Japanese Cultural Week).

Students play an active role in the running of the school, with MBA participants having their own student government, the MBA Council. Representatives liaise between the MBA student body and faculty and organise a variety of fun on- and off-campus social activities.

There is also a wide range of professional clubs to expand your network and build knowledge, plus social clubs to pursue outside interests.

HEC is built around a 19th-century château, on a woodland campus close to Versailles and Paris in Jouy-en-Josas. Its proximity to the heart of France, and one of Europe’s major business cities, makes it perfect for MBAs moving into the business world.

This article was originally published in . It was last updated in

Want more content like this Register for free site membership to get regular updates and your own personal content feed.

saved this article

saved this article

Related Articles Last year

Most Shared Last year

Most Read Last year