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How to Decide Between Different Types of MBA Programs

Posted in Test Prep on August 20, 2010 by

One of the most difficult and most important aspects of applying to business school has nothing to do with getting accepted — choosing an MBA program that’s right for you. Even if you’ve done well in an undergraduate institution, scored highly on the GMAT, written a killer essay, and accumulated extensive work experience in the industry, you still have to choose the type of MBA that best suits your needs.

There are many options out there:  one and two-year full-time MBAs, part-time MBAs, executive MBAs, etc. The types are as varied as the people that apply to each, and each program is designed to serve a particular type of applicant. Here are some of the biggest advantages and disadvantages of each:

Two-year, full-time MBAs

In a two-year, full-time MBA program, students go to school (you guessed it) full-time. While the focus on academics is intense, this structure creates the opportunity for internships in between school years to provide specialized training.  One advantage of programs like this is that core classes are usually taken by a cohort of students in your graduating class, thus providing a network of other MBA students that may become valuable business relationships in the future.

Two-year, full-time programs are best suited for career-changers, since the overwhelming majority of full-time MBA students don’t maintain full-time jobs while in school.  It is not well suited for students without clear career objectives (since you’ll be looking to launch a new endeavor right out of school) or without some means of funding their education while not working.

One-year, full-time MBAs

A one-year full-time MBA is similar to a two-year full-time MBA only in that students do not generally work while in school.  One-year programs are often more difficult to get into since they are accelerated and have additional requirements, such as prerequisite graduate or undergraduate courses in business. For those who are eligible, however, this program offers the distinct advantage of taking less time to complete, thus allowing students to enter the workforce much more quickly than the other MBA options.

Due to the intensity of a one-year program, there is no room for internships, which can be a major drawback for career-changers or those looking to explore different areas of business while in school.  In addition, some companies do not accept one-year MBA degrees for career advancement and promotions, as many specialty and/or core curriculum courses are eliminated.

Part-time MBAs

A very popular option for those who wish to advance their current career without having to take time off work is the part-time MBA program. This type of MBA is by far the most popular option out there — nearly 2/3 of all MBA students are enrolled in either a part-time or distance learning program.

The main advantage of a part-time MBA degree is that courses are generally scheduled before or after normal working hours to allow students to earn their degree while holding down a job.  This is often ideal for those students who wish to advance their current career without losing opportunities — or wages! — while in school.

The disadvantages of a part-time MBA program are that tuition assistance is not always an option since the coursework is spread out over longer periods of time; overtime or work-related travel could interfere with classes if working while in school; and business school career placement services are usually not open after regular business hours.  Additionally, part-time MBA credits frequently do not transfer to full-time programs, and vice-versa.

These are just a few of the factors that you should consider when deciding on the program that’s right for you. Which program type is the best fit for your needs? Leave your answer, or any MBA questions, in the comments below.