INSEAD’s Language Policy: From A to Zulu

The FT ranked INSEAD’s fulltime MBA programme the best in the world. And employers can’t get enough of their globally minded MBAs. Unlike other business schools, INSEAD has a language policy. In addition to being fluent in English , students need to have at least  “Practical” level (B1 on the CEFR scale) in a second language to start the programme. Then they need to validate their chosen ‘exit’ language at “Basic” level A2 on the programme to graduate.

But while our peers around the world were learning French and Spanish some of us were learning Afrikaans, isiZulu or Swahili. So how exactly does INSEAD see these languages? I spoke to Valérie Mahé Admissions Manager for Degree Programmes to find out, and here is the gist of it:

INSEAD will not test your mother tongue language, but will test the additional language you wish to validate.

You do need proof of your language ability to start the programme. But  taking a university course is not enough (unless you studied exclusively in that language).

All official languages will meet INSEAD’s criteria for this additional language, as long as there is a proficiency test available, in all 4 sections (listening, reading, writing, speaking). See the link here: Language Policy & FAQs

Upon your admission, INSEAD will closely work with you to ensure that you can satisfy the entry and exit language requirement. It is not insurmountable, it just requires planning.

However, if there is no formal way to test your proficiency in that language, and it is your mother tongue- you can list it as such and take the proficiency test for English. (Remember INSEAD doesn’t test for proficiency in your mother tongue language.)

Just don’t try to fake it – they may find an alum to interview you in that language.

Also bear in mind that INSEAD is looking for MBAs with an international mind set. So you are going to have to demonstrate that in other ways as well.



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