MBA programmes: One or two years – that is the question...
MBA News Barbara Barkhausen / 05-04-2012
Full-time MBA programmes are still the most popular choice for students, but part-time, online, executive and distance-learning MBAs are catching up fast according to the QS TopMBA.com Applicant Survey 2011.
One-year MBA programmes are more popular in Europe, whereas most schools in the US or Asia Pacific region still stick to the two years of studies. Compared to Europe, there are a much smaller number of B-schools offering the short version in the US Amongst them are Babson College’s Olin Graduate School of Business, the Boston University School of Management and the University of Southern California’s Marshall School of Business for example. Latin America, however, seems to currently undergo the shift to the shorter 12- to 18-month format.
As with many things both options have their positives and negatives and every student will need to assess personal needs, budget and career options before deciding on a shorter or longer programme. One-year programmes are more efficient for students who already have undergraduate business degrees. The shorter training leaves students with the option to continue working in their current job or at least stick to their current company. It is more cost-efficient and therefore accumulates less debt, especially if students can keep their job.
The traditional two-year model by contrast is the flagship MBA programme and it certainly conveys more what the MBA is about. It offers a more profound course structure, plenty co-curricular activities, more intense networking and more international, social and practical experiences.
Thomas Robertson, dean at the Wharton School, emphasizes the value of his two-year programme in his blog on BusinessWeek: “Our students develop leadership skills in more than 100 MBA student organizations, running 43 conferences per year on topics such as finance, private equity, and social impact, and on regions such as China, India, and Latin America. They take advantage of myriad international opportunities, including 10 modular courses offered in countries around the world and 41 peer-organized ‘treks’ to international destinations.” Admittedly, such a full programme would not work in only one year, but it might also not be necessary for every student. Someone who wants to enhance a career in the same company might be better off staying with the company and attending a shorter programme. Someone who wants to switch careers and industries, though, might benefit from the extended content of the two-year MBA and the opportunity to explore new industries in a summer internship.