MBA in Asia | Top B-Schools, MBA Concentrations, Fees, and Application Essays

A graduate business degree is a serious boost to your career prospects and of course, future earning potential. However, where the qualification comes from will build all the distinction. 

With signs of a global shift in economic power towards the East, there has been a significant shift in education too. “Applications to business schools in the Asia-Pacific region have outstripped the rest of the world last year, for the second consecutive year. Also, the number of applications rose by ~9% last year” according to the Graduate Management Admissions Council (GMAC).

Top MBA Programs in Asia
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Top Business Schools in Asia

Asian countries such as Singapore, Hong Kong, India, and China continue their rise as economic superpowers. With an increasing range of programs taught in English, Asia is becoming a favorite destination for MBA seekers either planning to stay and find work or take their understanding of the Asian subcontinent back home to the West. 

13 Asian B-schools are among the top 50 in the Financial Times Global MBA Ranking of 2020. In a video by Financial Times, Business Education Correspondent Jonathan Moules shared his views on the rise of the Asian MBA. He said, “The center of gravity the MBA is moving from West to East.”

Hence, the future looks bright for Asia Pacific schools, the best of which we’ve listed below along with their key features and essay topics for admissions.


INSEAD – Asia Campus

INSEAD, the school’s Full-Time MBA is currently ranked at 4th in Global MBA Ranking from the Financial Times. Its first campus was its Fontainebleau, France, since 2000 the school has also run programs out of Singapore, the sovereign city-state in southeast Asia. It is one of top schools of Asia-bound MBA applicants. The MBA program runs in parallel on campus in France and Singapore. Students also have the opportunity to visit the campus in Abu Dhabi to take part in an elective course, as well as take advantage of INSEAD’s alliance with the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.

Essay Questions


1. Briefly summarize your current (or most recent) job, including the nature of work, major responsibilities, and where relevant, employees under your supervision, size of the budget, clients/products, and results achieved. (short answer)

2. What would be your next step in terms of position if you were to remain in the same company? (short answer)

3. Please give a full description of your career since graduating from university. Describe your career path with the rationale behind your choices. (short answer)

4. Discuss your short- and long-term career aspirations with an MBA from INSEAD. (short answer)

5. If you are currently not working or if you plan to leave your current employer more than 2 months before the programme starts, please explain your activities and occupations between leaving your job and the start of the programme. (optional)


1. Give a candid description of yourself (who are you as a person), stressing the personal characteristics you feel to be your strengths and weaknesses and the main factors which have influenced your personal development, giving examples when necessary (maximum 500 words). *

2. Describe the achievement of which you are most proud and explain why. In addition, describe a situation where you failed. How did these experiences impact your relationships with others? Comment on what you learned (maximum 400 words). *

3. Describe all types of extra-professional activities in which you have been or are still involved for a significant amount of time (clubs, sports, music, arts, etc). How are you enriched by these activities? (maximum 300 words) *

4. Is there anything else that was not covered in your application that you would like to share with the Admissions Committee? (optional) (maximum 300 words)


NUS Business School, National University of Singapore

For MBA seekers interested in studying business in Asia’s financial powerhouse, Singapore. Currently ranked at 15th in Global MBA 2020 Ranking by Financial Times, and among top 100 by The Economist and Business week, the school’s general MBA is offered alongside the Executive MBA, which has been ranked within the top 20 EMBA programs by both the Financial Times and The Economist. NUS is among the top choices and a school worth considering.


  • Analytics & Operations
  • Consulting
  • Digital Business
  • Finance
  • Healthcare Management
  • Marketing
  • Innovation & Entrepreneurship
  • Real Estate
  • Strategy & Organization

Essay Questions:

  1. The NUS MBA offers a highly transformative education experience. What kind of transformation are you working towards in your professional and personal self? (250 words) 
  1.  Describe the type of leader you are right now, and the qualities of a leader you aspire to be. How would The NUS MBA help you cultivate those qualities? (250 words)
  1. Share a situation in your personal or professional life, where your value system was put to the test. How did you react, and what did you learn from it? (250 words)
  1. Tell us about your intermediate (3years) post-MBA career goal, describing your industry, function and country of choice and a plan on how you would achieve this goal. (250 words)


HKUST Hong Kong University of Science and Technology Business School

Hong Kong’s position as a financial destination is a great choice for business students where East meets West, and HKUST Business School delivers on that promise. Ranked 19th in the Financial Times’ Global MBA Ranking 2020, HKUST’s MBA is a 12-month program, which sits alongside the school’s part-time MBA programs that meet weekly or fortnightly.

Essay Questions:

  1. The HKUST MBA mission is to inspire and transform individuals to be future business leaders for Asia and the world. We embrace diversity and are looking for ambitious and open-minded candidates with a passion to contribute. It is the first day of orientation. Please introduce yourself to your classmates, highlighting what drives you in your personal and professional life. (500 words)
  2. Tell us about your post-MBA goals and based on that, why is the HKUST MBA the ideal program for you and how do you plan to engage and enrich our community? (500 words)


Nanyang Technological University (NTU) – Nanyang Business School

Another top B-school in Asia is Singapore’s Nanyang Business School, which is currently ranked at 35 in the Global MBA Ranking 2020 by the Financial Times and among the top 100 programs by The Economist in their most recent surveys. The general MBA is offered with three tracks: Strategy & Innovation, Banking & Finance and General Management. The Nanyang Fellows MBA, designed for experienced and senior executives, begins in Singapore and continues at three universities in the United States: The Wharton School in Philadelphia, Georgetown University in Washington DC, and UC Berkeley in California.


  • Banking & Finance
  • Strategy & Innovation
  • General Management 
  • Marketing
  • Human Resource Management 

Essay Questions:

  1. Briefly assess your career progress to date. Elaborate on your near term (3 – 5 years) future career objectives and how pursuing an MBA will help you achieve them. (400 words)
  2. Tell us about two achievements (one as a leader and one as a team member) that you are most proud of, and why you feel that to be so. (400 words)
  3. Share with us a situation where you faced adversity. Describe how you resolved/managed it and what you learned from the experience. (400 words)


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ISB Indian School of Business

For students looking to study in India, one of the country’s most highly regarded B-schools, the Indian School of Business has campuses in Hyderabad and Mohali. Ranked 28th in the Financial Times’ Global MBA Ranking 2020, ISB’s Post Graduate Program in Management (PGP) includes concentrations in Entrepreneurship, Public Policy, Infrastructure and Healthcare.


  • Entrepreneurship
  • Finance
  • Information and Technology Management
  • Operations Management
  • Marketing
  • Strategy and Leadership
  • Healthcare
  • Manufacturing
  • Public Policy
  • Infrastructure

Essay Questions:

  1. Describe with examples the most important personal quality that you possess that significantly enhances your prospects of being successful as a leader? (400 words max)
  2. What are your short term and long-term career goals? How will Post Graduate Program at ISB assist you in achieving your goals? (400 words max)



CEIBS has its main campus in Shanghai but also has a presence in Beijing, Shenzhen, Zurich and Accra. Its full time MBA program is currently ranked at 5th in the Financial Times’ Global MBA ranking. Students get an option to select from concentrations in Finance, Entrepreneurship and Marketing. 

Essay Questions

Essay 1: Discuss your post – MBA career aspirations (short term and long term) and explain how you plan to achieve them (400 words)

Essay 2: Question 2(a) and 2(b), you only need to answer one of the two questions.

  1. CEIBS is situated in Shanghai – a truly global city, and the economic center of the world’s soon to be largest economy. Given its unique location, how do you anticipate that Shanghai will differentiate your MBA experience and contribute to your goals? (400 words).
  2. Discuss a situation where you have demonstrated significant leadership ability. (400 words)

Essay 3: Question 3(a) and 3(b), you only need to answer one of the two questions.

  1. Many would argue that entrepreneurship is not necessarily a state of being, but a state of mind. Describe an entrepreneurial experience where you went against the grain or conventional way of thinking, to discover and create new value. (400 words)
  2. Identify up to two trends, big or small, that you see unfolding in the next decade. Discuss how the(se) trend(s) might affect you and your career, and how you plan to address them during your MBA and/or after you graduate. (400 words)

Optional Essay: Is there any other information that you believe would be helpful to the MBA Admission Committee in evaluating your application? (200 words).


MBA in Asia – Comparison of Top B-Schools

Business schools in the Asia Pacific region have not always enjoyed the same reputation as those in the west — but that is surely changing now. 

Geopolitics could be encouraging Asian students to stay in the region. According to Sangeet Chowfla, GMAC’s president and Chief Executive “The divisive rhetoric of US President Donald Trump and hostility to people from overseas in the US is discouraging Asian students from applying to American MBA programs”.

The advantage for INSEAD students is the shorter program length – a breezy but intense 10 months. INSEAD also gives MBAs the option to do a two-month internship if they choose a January start.

Standing out in an increasingly competitive job market is key. NUS Business School, for example, offers a choice of nine specializations on their MBA program, enabling students to focus on specific vocational fields such as innovation and entrepreneurship, consulting, digital business, strategy and organization, finance and more. MBA students at NUS can specialize in innovation and entrepreneurship, taking students through modules like new venture creation, strategic foresight, and social entrepreneurship. Programs like the Lean Launchpad, a joint venture between NUS, Nanyang, and SMU, offers MBA students the chance to take the next steps in turning product ideas into business plans.

The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) business school specializes in investment activities and corporate finance. A school spokesman said, “Located at the doorstep to the mainland China market, with a culture of East meets West, HKUST MBA…delivers unique learning experiences with both international and Asian perspectives. Our alumni can benefit from lifelong learning through alumni audits on electives that hit the market trends such as fintech and entrepreneurship.”

A big advantage of ISB is that it draws the top faculty from top notch global institutes such as the Wharton the Kellogg and the likes. It is a mind-blowing experience to learn from such stalwarts. Academics at ISB is an intellectually stimulating experience and one will be having the opportunity to go through Case based learning which is very interactive. Apart from academics ISB has many student clubs which are the professional and social clubs.

Situated in Asia’s most livable city of Singapore, the Nanyang MBA is an intensive global programme with a focus on Asia. This 12-month transformational programme allows participants to gain deep, practical real-world insights into business models, management philosophies and rigorous academic theories across a variety of industries to prepare to excel in the global environment.

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“The CEIBS MBA is offered from our Shanghai campus, and the city itself, China’s economic capital, is an amazing classroom where students have a ringside seat from which to observe and experience how business is done in China,” said Professor Juan Fernandez, CEIBS Associate Dean and MBA Director.

Getting into an MBA from a prestigious institution has always been a formidable challenge. With today’s complexity and uncertainty due to Covid-19 pandemic there are a host of practical issues related to student visa and career prospects post-graduation for students who were eyeing the markets especially the US. There has been a rising trend towards studying closer to home and at the same time, the level of rigor, relevance, and prestige of top Asian business schools is also sky rocketing.



Author Bio:

Manan Puri - MBA Admissions Consultant

Manan Puri (ISB Class of 2013) is the Co-founder of S4G (, a premium b-school admissions and GMAT strategy consulting firm. With alumni from the top b-schools across the globe, S4G guides b-school applicants through the end-to-end journey, from GMAT to the final admit.

S4G have helped applicants to crack admissions into international B-schools such as ISB, NYU Stern, Cornell, Ross, NUS, Nanyang (NTU) and other Indian executive MBA programs such as IIM A PGPX and IIM B EPGP. Been on both sides of the table (applicants and application reviewers), they are one of the best MBA Admissions Consultants to help you guide through your MBA application cycle.

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