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Is a One-Year MBA Program Right for You?

Posted in Test Prep on August 5, 2011 by

Northwestern’s Kellogg offers a highly-regarded one-year program

The “traditional” MBA experience — two years, full-time, with a summer internship after the first year — isn’t right for every applicant. Many MBA students choose alternative paths, deciding to get an Executive MBA, attend school part-time, or take classes online.

For students reluctant to leave the work force for two years and already confident in their core business knowledge, a one-year MBA program can also be an attractive option.

Thinking about a one-year program? Here are some important factors to consider while making your decision.

1) Time and general b-school experience

This one’s pretty obvious. The hallmark of a one-year MBA program is, after all, the amount of the time it takes. But you should think carefully about the implications of the shortened time frame, both positive and negative. You won’t be out of the job market for as long — but you’ll also have less time to network, learn from your professors and peers, and take on leadership positions in clubs. Talk to current one-year students to see what kind of extracurricular and leadership opportunities exist and what the school does to foster community.

2) Cost

One-year MBA programs will be less expensive than two-year MBA programs. Plus, you’ll minimize your time out of the workforce. This is definitely an important factor to consider, especially if you have a family to support or if minimizing your debt is crucial.

3) Curriculum expectations

Almost all one-year MBA programs will expect a certain level of fluency in business and/or economics, and most will require that you have completed coursework in areas like statistics, accounting, corporate finance, etc. If your business background is shaky, a one-year MBA program might not be your best choice. Still set on a one-year program? Consider taking part-time business courses at a local community college or other university (either to fulfill admissions requirements and/or gain basic skills), then applying to a one-year MBA program when you’re ready.

4) Pace

By necessity, one-year MBA programs move at breakneck speed. As one INSEAD student put it in this Globe and Mail Article, “to really capitalize on this MBA, I feel that I [will] need to reinforce my learning by further self-study once I have re-entered the work force.”

4) Career goals

Looking to change careers? A one-year MBA is probably not for you. For career-changers, a summer internship in your new field of interest will be crucial to gaining hands-on experience, networking, and (hopefully!) getting an awesome job after graduation. If, however, you’re looking to advance in your current field, or even just within your current company, a one-year MBA could be a great way to increase your skills, knowledge, and earning potential without leaving the industry for too long.

5) Summer internship opportunities

Even for those looking to remain in their current field, the benefits of a summer MBA internship shouldn’t be underestimated. That said, however, some one-year MBA programs have come up with creative ways to give their students, if not quite an internship, something like it. At Cornell’s Johnson Graduate School of Management’s Accelerated MBA program, for example, students complete a semester-long “management practicum” which matches them to companies in their interest area. During winter break, students complete a two-week internship on-site at those companies, helping implement the projects they’ve been working on all semester. For other one-year MBA programs’ internship alternatives, check out this Wall Street Journal article.

6) Future location

Many highly-regarded MBA programs abroad only offer one-year programs. If you want to gain international experience and/or work abroad eventually, schools like INSEAD, Oxford’s Saïd School of Business, IMD, and others are great options.  As you make your decision, however, keep in mind that some U.S. employers m may have a bias toward traditional two-year U.S.-based programs.

Would you consider a one-year MBA program? Why or why not?