Comparing and contrasting one-year MBA programs to traditional two-year programs
Choosing the right MBA program is a very personal choice and there are many factors to consider including school rankings, geography, the specifics of the curriculum and many others.
Of particular interest is the length of the MBA program. Which one might be right for you, the one-year or the two-year program?
One-year programs are very common in Europe and have been gaining in popularity in the last few years. INSEAD, a one-year MBA program, has topped the Financial Times MBA program rankings for two years in a row . Additionally, Cambridge: Judge and IE Business School in Spain, both one-year programs, round out the top ten in the FT rankings.
The clearest benefit to completing a one-year MBA are the cost savings.
A 2016 survey showed that affordability is a commonly cited concern when studying for an MBA and accordingly interest in two year programs is decreasing. In addition to carrying a lower price tag, the opportunity cost of disrupting a career path to gain additional education is significant. To be able to return to work one year earlier, likely with a salary increase, a promotion or in a more desirable role, is an incredible advantage of the one-year MBA.
As one-year programs have become more mainstream, recruiters are taking notice and adjusting how they hire. With the traditional MBA, you would complete a summer internship after your first year and if successful, receive an offer from that company to start the following fall. The one-year MBA completely disrupts this cycle. However, companies are changing their hiring patterns to allow for MBA students from one-year programs to apply to their MBA-entry positions.
If you have a partner or a family, a one-year program has the benefit of disrupting the entire family for a shorter period of time. Many students travel from across the world to study, which requires a partner to make the sacrifice on their time as well. Each personal situation is unique; however, if a partner or an entire family move to a new city or a new country during the MBA program, a shorter period of disruption may be beneficial for the entire family.
On the other hand, there are certain benefits of traditional MBAs. Many people use a two-year MBA to take a break from a rigorous career and consider alternative industries.
For instance, an engineer who wishes to transition to management consulting can benefit from a two-year program by first gaining relevant management skills in a class and then applying to jobs. Many recruitment cycles run through the fall months and the two-MBA would give you sufficient time to prepare to apply for full-time positions.
If you have just begun your studies with a one-year MBA, most likely you would not have had enough time to consider your career options before starting applications. This is not to say that you cannot explore career opportunities during the year, you absolutely can! However, you should be aware of deadlines for your target companies and prepare in the summer before your program begins.
It is also worth noting that US firms traditionally value MBA degrees more than the European firms. MBA recruiting from two-year programs has historically been part of US companies’ hiring practices. For instance, many private equity firms and investment banks in London only recruit with undergraduate programs and not special entry programs for MBAs.
This is partly balanced by US firms that have branches in Europe and hire MBAs. Nevertheless, there are many employers who recruit from one-year programs. For instance, tech companies such as Amazon, Microsoft, and Uber hire heavily from one-year MBA programs. Management consulting firms are also major recruiters from these programs.
If you are utilizing the MBA degree to change industries, completing a summer internship can propel you towards your new role. For a one year program, it may not be possible to complete a summer internship: . This is because MBA internship openings are often filled by students from American schools and follow the schedule of American universities. Changing industries without any direct work experience such as an this internship may make your goal more challenging. This is a challenge that can be overcome; however, it is an important to note for those students who wantlooking to make drastic career changes.
I suggest that you weigh the factors according to your unique needs and ambitions. After all, an MBA degree is an investment and as any good investor, your aim is to maximize your return on investment. Will an extra year of study be justified in the long term? The answer will depend on your personal preferences such as where you wish to work after the MBA or if your target sector hires from certain schools. You can do research by attending information sessions, meeting the admissions team, speaking to current students, and reading the school’s employment reports. Gather as much information as you can and you will be able to make an informed decision!
Researching schools and preparing your applications can be overwhelming. If you want to receive expert support on your applications, feel free to contact me, Rona Aydin, at [email protected] for a free consultation.