The “1-year leadership development program” is a full-time, one-year MBA program offered by the prestigious IMD Business School in Lausanne, located on the picturesque shores of Lake Geneva. This transformative program is tailored to enhance students’ leadership skills, empowering them to take their careers to new heights. IMD’s full-time MBA program is among the top MBA programs in Europe, boasting a vast network comprising more than 50 faculties, 100 coaches, and a yearly cohort of 9,000 executive participants.

The program is structured around four core pillars: critical thinking, creation, cooperation, and value creation, which serve as the foundation for the entire curriculum. It provides unique opportunities for participants to explore their options and build invaluable networks that cater to their individual needs.

IMD Business School's state-of-the-art campus in Lausanne
The futuristic architecture of IMDs campus reflects its innovative approach to business education

Experience at IMD

With an impressive staff-to-student ratio of 2:1 and over 20 mandatory sessions led by seasoned analysts, IMD offers an exceptionally challenging and personalized MBA experience. This commitment to excellence is reflected in its global ranking, with IMD Business School holding the 28th spot in the Financial Times Global business school rankings. It’s worth noting that the program maintains a competitive acceptance rate of 27.6%.

Moreover, IMD offers a wealth of resources to support its students, including a dedicated team of mentors for behavior and dynamics analysis, an innovation lab for human-centered design expertise, a digital lab for hands-on coding experience, and much more. IMD is a thriving hub for continuous learning, fostering connections, providing fresh perspectives, and nurturing leadership skills for MBA candidates worldwide.

Engaged students in IMD's MBA classroom
IMDs interactive classrooms foster a collaborative environment for leadership development

IMD Business School boasts a vast alumni network of over 100,000 professionals worldwide, many of whom have achieved remarkable success in their careers.

The program’s tuition fees stand at CHF 97,500, with generous scholarships available for outstanding international candidates based on merit. Notable scholarships include the Stewart Hamilton Scholarship, the Staton Scholarship, the Hilti Scholarship for Women, the Nestlé Scholarship for Women, and the BackPack-Excellence Scholarship for Women.

Class Profile: 

The MBA cohort at IMD Business School represents a diverse array of industries and professional backgrounds, creating a truly global learning environment. The class typically consists of 104 students, each with varied industry experience ranging from Manufacturing and Financial Services to Energy and Technology. On average, full-time MBA candidates bring 7 years of work experience, enriching classroom discussions with their diverse industry insights. The median GMAT score for incoming students is 680.

Infographic of IMD MBA class enrollment statistics
A glance at the diverse and experienced cohort of IMDs one year MBA program

Admission Deadlines

Key application deadlines for IMD MBA program
Important dates for prospective students to remember when applying to IMDs MBA program

Application requirements:

To apply, candidates are required to meet the following criteria:

  • Degrees and Transcripts: Submit copies of all original diplomas and transcripts, with an official translation into English or French.
  • English Test: Provide a TOEFL or IELTS score from within the last two years (for non-native English speakers without a fully English-taught university degree).
  • CV: Prepare a one-page resume in English using the IMD CV template.
  • Passport: Submit a copy of the photo page from your passport, valid for the entire MBA year.
  • GMAT/GRE: Present GMAT or GRE scores from the last five years.
  • Recommenders: Secure two business-related references that can attest to your accomplishments, interpersonal skills, teamwork, and leadership.

To ensure a smooth application process, candidates are advised to enter and submit their contact information at least two weeks before the application deadline, using professional email addresses. Hotmail, Gmail, etc., are not accepted.

Candidates should also provide a professional, high-resolution digital photo, a CHF 150 application fee, and meet additional requirements specified by the school.

Essay Analysis IMD MBA 2023-2024:

IMD’s application process includes one mandatory essay, which involves discussing a difficult decision. Candidates may choose to submit an optional statement if they wish and are also required to respond to several short essay-type questions within the application. These questions cover topics such as other business schools the applicant is considering, their existing skills related to professional goals, and their Plan B. For a comprehensive analysis of IMD’s primary essay and these additional prompts, continue reading.

IMD MBA student engaging with digital learning tools
IMD incorporates modern technology to enhance learning experiences for MBA students

Required Essay: 

What is the most difficult decision you have had to make as a leader? (Word limit 300)

Structured Approach:

  1. Understanding the Essay Prompt:
    • Begin by clearly understanding the essay question. In this case, you are asked to discuss the most challenging decision you’ve made as a leader. IMD is interested in understanding your leadership experiences and your ability to make difficult decisions.
  2. Selecting a Relevant Experience:
    • Think about your leadership journey and identify a specific incident or decision that was particularly challenging. It could be from your professional life, a project, a team, or any context where you had to take a leadership role.
  3. Describing the Context:
    • Start your essay by providing context. Describe the situation or problem that necessitated your leadership. This might include information about your role, the team involved, the challenges you faced, and any relevant background information.
  4. Discussing the Decision:
    • Describe the actual decision you had to make. What were the options available to you, and why was this decision particularly difficult? Explain the stakes involved and why it was a pivotal moment in your leadership journey.
  5. Analyzing Your Decision-Making Process:
    • IMD is likely interested in understanding how you approach complex decisions. Discuss the factors, data, or considerations that influenced your choice. This can include ethical, strategic, or practical aspects.
  6. Challenges Faced:
    • Reflect on the challenges and obstacles you encountered during this decision-making process. It’s essential to be honest about the difficulties you faced and how you managed them.
  7. Outcome and Impact:
    • Describe the outcome of your decision. What were the consequences, both immediate and long-term? How did your decision affect your team, organization, or project?
  8. Reflecting on Leadership Skills:
    • Discuss what this experience taught you about leadership. Did it reveal specific qualities, such as your ability to make tough decisions under pressure, your communication and problem-solving skills, or your adaptability as a leader?
  9. Lessons Learned:
    • Conclude your essay by summarizing the lessons you learned from this difficult decision. How did it shape your leadership style or inform your future decisions as a leader?
  10. Word Limit Management:
    • IMD has set a word limit of 300 words. Be concise and ensure that every word adds value to your story. Focus on the most critical aspects to stay within the word limit.
  11. Proofreading:
    • Once you have written the essay, proofread it for clarity, grammar, and coherence. Make sure your story flows smoothly and is easy for the reader to follow.
  12. Review and Seek Feedback:
    • Have someone else read your essay to gain a fresh perspective and provide feedback. They can help you identify areas for improvement.

Remember that this essay is an opportunity to showcase your leadership qualities and decision-making skills. Be genuine, reflect on your experiences, and demonstrate what makes you a strong leader. 

IMD MBA student focused on academic excellence
Individual study forms the backbone of the rigorous academic journey at IMD

Optional Essay: 

Is there any additional information that is critical for the Admissions Committee which has not been covered elsewhere in this application? (i.e. re-application, health, grades, etc.) (Word limit 50) 

This is an optional essay for IMD’s MBA program that allows applicants to provide additional information that they believe is essential for the Admissions Committee to know. Given the word limit of 50 words, it’s important to be concise and focus on key points. Here’s a structured approach to writing this essay:

  1. Introduction (5-10 words):
    • Begin with a brief, attention-grabbing sentence to introduce the essay.
  2. Relevance (10-15 words):
    • Clearly state why you are writing this essay. For instance, mention if you are a re-applicant or if there are specific circumstances the committee should be aware of.
  3. Critical Information (15-20 words):
    • Mention the additional information you want to convey. This could be an explanation for a gap in your resume, health issues, or anything else that might affect your application.
  4. Impact and Conclusion (5-10 words):
    • Conclude with a sentence that summarizes the impact of this information on your application.

Do you already have a network in place? (Word limit 50)

It asks whether you already have a network in place, and you likely need to address this within a word limit of 50 words. Here’s a structured approach to writing this essay:

Introduction (15-20 words): Begin with a concise statement that introduces the topic and sets the tone for your response.

Example: “As I embark on this MBA journey, my existing network plays a pivotal role.”

Body (25-30 words): In this section, elaborate on your current network and its relevance to your MBA journey.

Conclusion (10-15 words): Summarize your stance on the topic and express enthusiasm.

What skills and experience do you think you already possess that will help you with your post MBA career plans and will make you stand out in front of potential employers? (Word limit 100)

To craft a well-structured and compelling response within the 100-word limit, you can follow this approach:

1. Introduction (15-20 words):

  • Start with a brief introduction that sets the tone for your essay. Mention your intention to discuss your existing skills and experiences.

2. Skills (35-40 words):

  • Identify and list the specific skills you possess that are directly relevant to your post-MBA career plans. Be concise and clear in your descriptions.

3. Experiences (35-40 words):

  • Highlight a couple of significant experiences or achievements that showcase how you’ve applied these skills in the past. It’s essential to connect your skills to concrete examples.

4. Alignment with Career Goals (10-15 words):

  • Briefly mention how these skills and experiences align with your post-MBA career goals.

5. Conclusion (10-15 words):

  • Sum up your main points and emphasize your readiness to excel in your post-MBA career.

What is your plan B if you are not able to secure your ideal job post MBA? (Word limit 50)

This is a concise and direct question that requires a focused response within a strict word limit. Here’s a structured approach to address this essay:

Introduction (Approximately 10-15 words)

  • Start by briefly introducing yourself and stating your career aspirations and ideal job post-MBA.

Plan A: Ideal Job (Approximately 10-15 words)

  • Explain what your ideal job is and why you are pursuing it.

Discussion of Plan B (Approximately 15-20 words)

  • Discuss your alternative career plan or “Plan B.” This could involve a different industry, role, or even entrepreneurial aspirations.

Reasoning (Approximately 10-15 words)

  • Explain why you are considering this alternative plan. Is it based on your skills, interests, or a potential market opportunity?

Transferable Skills (Approximately 5-10 words)

  • Mention any transferable skills from your MBA program that would be relevant to Plan B.

Flexibility and Adaptability (Approximately 5-10 words)

  • Highlight your adaptability and readiness to pivot if Plan A doesn’t materialize.

Conclusion (Approximately 5-10 words)

  • Conclude by reiterating your commitment to success and adaptability to circumstances.

Sample Essay (50 words):

“My primary goal post-MBA is to secure a leadership role in strategy consulting. However, I am also aware of the competitive nature of this field. My Plan B involves exploring opportunities in corporate strategy or entrepreneurship. My MBA will equip me with strong analytical and leadership skills, enabling a smooth transition if my ideal job is not immediately attainable.”

Please note that meeting the 50-word limit is crucial for this essay, so being concise and to the point is essential. Make sure your response is clear and focused on the question, highlighting your adaptability and preparedness for different career scenarios.

Placement Statistics:

IMD’s MBA program boasts an impressive record of 97% of graduates successfully transitioning into new roles, industries, or geographical locations post-graduation. A significant percentage, approximately 77%, secure high-paying positions within Europe, while about 71% of IMD MBA Grads find placements in their target industries. The mean salary for graduates stands at $126,565 (€106,315), with an average signing bonus of $36,926 (€31,018). Many graduates choose to start their own companies, while others join startups and innovative ventures. Nearly 47% of MBA Grads receive a sign-on bonus, and IMD graduates find employment in nearly 20 different countries.

Career success statistics post IMD MBA graduation
A snapshot of the successful career transitions achieved by IMD MBA graduates


In summary, the IMD Business School’s “1-year leadership development program” stands as a beacon of excellence in the world of MBA education. With its picturesque location on Lake Geneva, a highly personalized curriculum, and a strong network of faculty, coaches, and participants, it offers a transformative experience to nurture and develop leadership skills. The program’s four core pillars of critical thinking, creation, cooperation, and value creation provide a solid framework for students to explore their options and build unique networks.

IMD MBA graduates celebrating their accomplishments
The culmination of the IMD MBA journey a moment of celebration for the leaders of tomorrow

IMD’s commitment to individualized education, reflected in its impressive staff-to-student ratio and numerous resources, has earned it a spot among the top MBA programs in Europe. Its global ranking and a competitive acceptance rate further attest to its quality. The school’s vast alumni network, generous scholarships, and an array of placement opportunities make it an attractive choice for MBA candidates worldwide.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions):

  1. What is the tuition fee for IMD’s 1-year leadership development program?
    • The tuition fee for the program is CHF 97,500. However, there are generous scholarships available for outstanding international candidates based on merit.
  2. What is the typical class profile at IMD Business School?
    • The MBA cohort at IMD represents a diverse range of industries and professional backgrounds. The class typically comprises 104 students with an average of 7 years of work experience. The median GMAT score for incoming students is 680.
  3. What are the placement statistics for IMD MBA graduates?
    • Approximately 97% of IMD MBA graduates change their function, industry, or geography after graduation. Around 77% secure high-paid jobs in Europe, and about 71% find placements in their target industries. The mean salary for graduates is $126,565 (€106,315), with an average signing bonus of $36,926 (€31,018). A significant number of graduates start their own companies or join startups and new ventures.
  4. What are the application requirements for the program?
    • Applicants are required to provide degrees and transcripts, an English language proficiency test (TOEFL or IELTS), a one-page resume in English, a copy of their passport, GMAT or GRE scores, and two business-related references. Detailed requirements can be found on the IMD website.
  5. What is the essay requirement for the IMD application?
    • IMD’s application includes one mandatory essay where candidates discuss a difficult decision. Additionally, candidates may submit an optional statement if desired and are required to respond to several short essay-type questions within the application.
  6. How can I contact IMD for application-related inquiries?
    • To contact IMD, ensure you use a professional email address, as they do not accept email addresses from providers like Hotmail or Gmail. It’s advisable to enter and submit contact information at least two weeks before the application deadline to provide ample time for recommenders to fill out and submit the online form.

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