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INSEAD provides a highly regarded one year program at locations in France and Singapore. A one year teaching period was initially chosen to stress the idea of a "transition" to management for promising young people rather than teach student to become pseudo-experts through two years of instruction. In addition, the term institute helped solidify the distinction between INSEAD's program and the typical university based business program of the US. INSEAD was unusual at the time in Europe (c. 1959) in that it had a fee-paying structure. Further, in constrast with the major American programs, most instructors in the early years of the school worked on a part-time basis. Tenure was not introduced until about 1981.
The "internationalism" of INSEAD was set at an early age with a target of no more than one third of students from any particular country. There was also a trilingualism requirement of French, German, and English (German was later dropped). Harvard and the prospect of European integration were strong influences on INSEAD. Like Harvard, INSEAD made considerable use of the case method. Many INSEAD graduates were educated at Harvard to return as instructors for INSEAD.
One important aspect of INSEAD has been its desire to remain independent of state control. While this independence has allowed INSEAD to limit state influence it has also meant that the school has traditionally relied heavily upon tuition revenues. On the other hand, many American schools have the security of a large endowment.
INSEAD should be given serious consideration by applicants who are interested in international business. It is especially strong with consulting firms such as McKinsey.