Choosing between a one-year MBA and a two-year MBA should be a simple matter of personal choice. Yet, the reality isn’t so straightforward.
If you wanted to study at a top school in the United States, for example, you would find your selection of one-year MBA programs somewhat limited, although the idea is catching on. The same would apply in Europe if you were looking for a two-year program. So, you may have to compromise on one of these aspects.
The two-year format of the MBA is the long-time precursor of its one-year counterpart, brought into being by the Tuck School of Business back in 1900. The one-year MBA came to prominence in Europe 60 years later. This condensing of the degree might have come as an affront to some leading management experts at the time, but the format gained traction. According to The Graduate Management Admission Council® (GMAC®), a global, non-profit association of leading graduate business schools, in its 2016 Applications Trends Survey, it is becoming the more popular of the two program lengths.
This North American-European divide is still in play, and may well impact your options in terms of program length—be it a decision on the length of program you pursue or one on where you study. Though there are certainly exceptions on both side.
The Two-Year MBA: Time on Your Side
“We haven’t felt comfortable offering a one-year MBA here,” Madhav Rajan, former senior associate dean at the Stanford Graduate School of Business (now at Chicago Booth), told the New York Times back in 2014. “I think there would be huge demand if we ever went that route, but given the content we want to disseminate, that’s not something we’ve pursued.”
This is the big argument for the two- year MBA encapsulated. The two-year program (and remember that ‘two years’ can mean anything from between 16 and 24 months), allows students more time to read, digest, study, and apply what they’ve learned. The schedule may be slightly less intense than a one-year program, leaving more days to participate in extracurricular activities and networking.
A longer MBA program may also mean more opportunity to do electives. MBA programs are composed of the core subjects that need to be covered by all students to obtain a full grasp of management, but there are also chances to specialize. With hundreds of electives available at some schools, students are offered a colorful bouquet of options. If that makes you feel like a kid in a candy store, well … maybe you should look into two-year MBA options.
Most, if not all, two-year MBA programs feature a summer internship as the filling in the sandwich. For students who have not had a traditional business background or who want to change sector, this can be an excellent opportunity to trial a new industry or job function, without having to commit long-term. Younger students with less work experience may also benefit from the experience the internship can provide.
The One-Year MBA
The one-year MBA benefits two sets of students in particular: those with solid functional experience, and those who know precisely what job they’re aiming for when they set foot on campus.
The one-year MBA can cost as much as 50 percent less than a two-year MBA, and you’ll only have to save up enough money to cover your living costs for one year. Taking one year rather than two out of work also means a great deal less salary lost, too. Nick Barniville is director of MBA and master’s programs at the European School of Management and Technology in Berlin. He explains that, in addition to time and money saving, “all evidence from major rankings suggests that graduates from one-year programs earn roughly the same as those graduating from similarly ranked two-year programs.
“Participants on one-year programs get less vacation and have a more intense work schedule; this can be included as an efficiency benefit because it makes little sense to be paying a lot of money to have free time,” he adds.
Ultimately, the decision is a personal one. How much experience do you have? How sure are you of your future plans? Where do you want to study? Do you want to change careers or just upskill? Consider your options carefully, and make sure that you speak to schools in the process, so you can fully understand which is the right format for you.
Source: This article first appeared in TopMBA.com