INSEAD MBA: January vs August intake – Commonalities, Differences & Insider Insights

By Arvind Kumar

The INSEAD MBA is one of the most prestigious and globally recognized programs (ranked #2 in the world by FT MBA rankings).

With campuses in Europe (France) and Asia (Singapore), INSEAD’s flagship, accelerated 10-month (J-batch) or 12-month (D-batch) curriculum immerses students in a diverse and dynamic learning environment. The program boasts a highly international cohort of 900+ students across 110 nationalities, renowned faculty, and an influential alumni network.

There are 2 intakes to the INSEAD MBA program: January (D-batch) and August (J-batch). In this article, we will discuss what is common between the two intakes and the key differences between them, both from the perspective of an applicant and MBA participant. 

We thank Harsh Gajra (Jan’23 INSEAD MBA) for his input to this article.

What is common between the two intakes

Curriculum

For both January and August intakes, the curriculum is divided into 5 periods consisting of core courses and electives.

Each period lasts eight weeks and concludes with an exam, essay and/or project. The first part of the program is built around 14 core courses, which provide a robust foundation of key management disciplines. 

In the second part, you will be able to choose from over 300 different electives in a variety of subjects.

Class size

Both the class size and composition are similar between the January and August intakes.

Out of 450 students in each intake, around 330 students start in the France campus and 120 start in the Singapore campus.

Alumni network and resources

Irrespective of which intake you attend, you will be part of the INSEAD alumni network, and the cohort as a whole.

Access to alumni and other resources of the school are exactly the same.

Exchange programs 

The exchange between Singapore and France campus and to the partner universities in the US is possible for all the candidates, irrespective of their intake. 

There is also a Middle-East trek and a course named “Business in Middle East” for 3 days that happens between the P3-P4 break. In essence, the exchanges available are: 

  • P1-P2 → Stay in assigned campus (Singapore or France) 
  • P3-P4-P5 → The following options are available: 2 campuses of INSEAD, Wharton &  Kellogg. You have to bid for exchange and clear a minimum threshold of 2.1 CGPA. 

(Px refers to “Period x”)

Key differences between the two intakes

The August and January intakes are different in certain aspects that potential candidates should consider when deciding which intake to join.

Here’s a breakdown of the key differences:

Internship Opportunity

The primary difference between the two intakes is that if you choose to begin in January (D-batch), you will have a 2-month summer break during which you can pursue an internship or other endeavors. If you begin in August (J-batch), you will complete the MBA in 10 consecutive months.

An internship is highly recommended for candidates who intend to transition to investment banking and have no prior experience at all. Most investment banking firms hire interns and promote them to a full-time role. This doesn’t mean that it’s not possible to land a job at an investment banking firm for August intake candidates: they may have to join as an intern upon graduation and look to convert to a full-time role.

Similarly, consulting firms tend to hire interns and ‘test’ the candidates for 2-3 months before offering them a full-time job. This means the January intake can also be more beneficial for candidates looking to transition into consulting. Having said that, since INSEAD is a consulting powerhouse, it should not be difficult to land a consulting job irrespective of the intake. The school does place a good number of consulting hires in the August intake as well.

Recruitment Timelines

For the January intake, recruiting for internships starts almost immediately. If you get an internship, you have a high chance of getting a full-time offer. This means full-time recruiting essentially starts within the first few months of joining. 

For the August intake though, you can take a few months to figure out what you want to do, and start full-time recruiting later in the year. For someone who isn’t sure about consulting (or other career paths) and wants to explore opportunities, or talk to other candidates/ professionals and get to know these career paths better, this could be a benefit. 

Graduation date and place

Candidates can choose whether to graduate from the Singapore or France campus. 

Generally, candidates (~85%) tend to graduate where most of their cohort is. This means that the January intake graduates in December in Singapore, and the August intake typically graduates in June in France. 

For example, the INSEAD MBA Class of July 2023 graduated on 29th June 2023 in France, and the INSEAD MBA Class of December 2023 will graduate on 15th December 2023 in Singapore.

Weather considerations

If you start in January (D-batch) in France, be prepared to face some really cold weather, which may hinder social activities. Similarly, if you start in August (J-batch) in Singapore, be prepared for really hot weather. 

Some candidates tend to make choices on where to spend the first 2 months of their program based on this parameter, so it’s something to keep in mind.

Application deadlines

Given the start dates are different, the application deadlines vary for the January and August intakes. The following are the deadlines for the Aug 2024 and Jan 2025 intakes: 

INSEAD MBA Aug 2024 intake deadlines

RoundApplication DeadlineFinal decision notification
ROUND 1Sep 12, 2023Nov 17, 2023
ROUND 2Nov 7, 2023Jan 12, 2024
ROUND 3Jan 16, 2024Mar 22, 2024
ROUND 4Mar 5, 2024May 10, 2024

INSEAD MBA Jan 2025 intake deadlines

RoundApplication DeadlineFinal decision notification
ROUND 1Mar 12, 2024May 17, 2024
ROUND 2Apr 23, 2024Jul 5, 2024
ROUND 3Jun 18, 2024Aug 23, 2024
ROUND 4Aug 6, 2024Oct 11, 2024

While we hope these pointers give you an indication of the key commonalities and differences between the intakes, consider your goals and priorities to determine which intake suits you best.

Take a look at Adhiraj’s successful INSEAD MBA admissions story where he received a €25,000 scholarship

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