Choosing the right MBA program for yourself is crucial yet daunting for the wide range of varieties out there. In order to pick the perfect fit MBA program, you will need to consider if its duration, costs, course format,etc. is appropriate for your situation. This article will help concise all you need to know about different MBA programs and guide you through the process of considering which MBA program is for you.
1. How Many Types of MBA Programs Are There?
There are 5 main types of MBA programs:
- Two-year Full Time MBA program
- One-year Full Time MBA program
- Executive MBA program
- Part-time MBA program
- Online MBA program
The distinctions between these programs mainly lie in course duration, tuition fee, format which provide much more flexibility for people with less time and resources to study for their MBA.
Key differences between MBA programs
Here is a comprehensive look at the fundamental differences between each type of MBA program:
|Type||Duration||Average Professional Experience||Format|
|2-Year Full Time MBA||2 Years||3+ Years||Full-Time course load|
|1-Year Full Time MBA||11 – 16 Months||3+ Years||Full-time course load with less time in between semesters|
|Executive MBA||2 Years||8+ years||Classes typically meet on the weekends or evenings to accommodate a full-time work schedule|
|Part-Time MBA||3+ Years||0-3 Years||Often consists of evening classes, allowing students to earn a degree with a full-time career|
|Online MBA||2+ Years||0-3 Years||Curriculum to be followed from home or remote location|
More information and details about each program will be discussed in the next few sections.
2. Two-year Full Time MBA Program
The two-year MBA program is the traditional and the most common type of MBA programs. With longer access to the academic environment, plentiful networking opportunities and internships, the two-year MBA programme is designed to give you a fuller MBA experience than other MBA programs.
Two years of commitment
These programs usually last 4 semesters which are spread out over 2 academic years. Students will attend classes every weekday with free weekends as well as summer and winter breaks. Two-year MBA programs are intensive with full time coursework and therefore requires the most commitment in terms of time.
Plenty of valuable internships and networking opportunities
The first year will usually focus on fundamental business concepts including coursework in accounting, marketing, finance, business law,… and intermediate to advanced training in core business skills. The second year of these programs is dedicated to more advanced coursework as students may opt for a formal specialization during the second year of a two-year program.
These programs also offer the most opportunities for experiential learning with internships and real-life business projects. As a full time student, you’ll have access to career services, social and professional clubs, speaker series, counselling, and other activities.
All top business schools offer 2 Year full-time MBA programs. Most people want to apply for a top MBA not only for their excellent academic environment, but also the internships and networking opportunities from these prestigious schools which are oftentimes considered invaluable.
Tuition fee ranges from $100,000 to $180,000
The costs of these 2-year MBA programs are at least $100,000 and up to $180,000 – quite high compared to other programs, but there are financial aids and scholarships available. Here is an overall look at the tuition fees from top B-schools that offer the program in the US and Europe:
|Top B-schools that offer 2-year program||Total Tuition Fee (Class of 2021)|
|Harvard Business School||$146,880|
|London Business School||$112,486|
For anyone who wants the full experience of MBA program
If you can afford to delay working and spend the next 2 years studying, the traditional MBA programs are perfect since they offer the most well rounded business school experience. The value of most full-time MBA programs lies in the dynamic academic environment in which students participate, along with numerous job and networking opportunities. If you are looking for an opportunity to switch career paths, a two-year program is also the best option. Working individuals who are eager to enhance their existing career paths might choose a part-time MBA program to remain employed while studying.
3. One-year Full Time MBA Program
One-year MBA programs are also known as Accelerated MBA programs. These programs are considered more intensive and rigorous than the other 4 types of MBA programs. Their coursework largely resembles the two-year program, but is contracted to one fast-paced year. One-year MBA is designed for college students who want to earn an MBA in the shortest time possible.
11-16 months long, intensive with little breaks
These programs are usually completed in an 11–16-month time-frame. It is a fast paced and highly intensive program which doesn’t allow students to engage in other activities since they don’t have the time. Unlike two-year programs, one-year programs have little to no breaks, which means students are required to attend courses during weekends and there is often no winter or summer break.
However, there are some exceptions. INSEAD, for example, allows students to take a 2-month summer break if they attend INSEAD during the January to December promotion (instead of the September to July promotion). This break gives a student not only the opportunity to pursue a summer internship but also to volunteer, travel, or just relax and spend time with their families. There is no requirement by the school for the student to do anything during this time.
Same coursework as the two-year program
One-year MBA programs are similar to two-year MBA programs in terms of coursework but with exceptionally heavier course load. Since there usually aren’t extended semester breaks in most one-year programs, internship opportunities may be limited.
One year programs often allow their students to have elective focus and pre-enrollment coursework – credits that have already been earned with bachelor’s degrees, therefore shortening the normally required course duration of a traditional MBA degree.
Tuition fee ranges from $70,000 to $120,000
The estimated expense for one-year programs is between $70,000 and $120,000 – also quite high as they only last for 1 year. This can be explained that these programs offer students with an intense course schedule, and the amount of knowledge and skills they can obtain is nowhere near inferior to the 2-year MBA.
Here is an overall look at the tuition fees from top B-schools that offer the program in the US and Europe:
|Top B- schools that offer 1-year program||Total tuition fee|
|University of Southern California||$115,315|
|University of Notre Dame||$81,242|
|Hult International Business School||$76,200- 78,300|
For those who want to get back to work quickly
This type of MBA degree is for students who want to get the degree in a very short amount of time and get back to the labor market. They might be students who have just gotten their undergraduate degrees or professionals who cannot afford to stay in school for more than one year. The one-year program is especially beneficial in enhancing an existing career.
4. Executive MBA Program
Executive MBA (EMBA) programs are designed for the experienced working professional who cannot afford to take a prolonged period of time away from their career. The program is delivered in a part-time format, over 12-24 months. B-schools look for participants with at least five years of managerial work experience. Thus, EMBA candidates are usually more mature than full-time MBA counterparts.
Work on weekdays, study on weekends
Most Executive MBA programs can be completed in two years or less, significantly faster than traditional part-time MBA programs. Classes generally meet on Fridays and Saturdays, and often on alternate weekends. EMBA students, by and large, stay in their current job positions on a full-time basis (and with a full-time salary) while they learn.
Exclusively for the professionals
The curriculum for an EMBA is similar to that of a regular MBA, with the only distinction that classes are more fast-paced since the students are often in upper management level. Some of the more general courses include studies in entrepreneurship, finance, management, marketing, and strategic management.
Tuition fee ranges from $50,000 to $65,000
Traditionally, the majority or entirety of EMBA students’ tuition costs were covered by employers, who benefit from the new skills their managers are learning. However, recent years have seen a trend towards self-funded candidates – which has meant that more schools are offering EMBA scholarships. Either way, students will also be earning a full-time salary while studying, making the financial implications of EMBAs somewhat less daunting in comparison with full-time MBAs.
|Business schools that offer EMBA||Total tuition costs|
|Columbia University in the City of New York||$60,532|
|University of Pennsylvania||$60,042|
Designed for professionals
Business schools look for EMBA participants with a high level of managerial experience (five years minimum; ten years total work experience on average). As a result EMBA candidates are usually more mature than their full-time MBA counterparts. If you are a professional who is looking for a degree to further improve your business and managerial skill sets, EMBA programs are a great choice.
5. Part-time MBA Program
Part Time MBA are programs that can be done in parallel with your job or any other regular course with attending classes on weekends or evening classes. They are often seen as less competitive than full-time programs and can take longer to complete.
Duration can vary in lengths
The duration of part-time MBA programs can vary in length as there are many factors that determine the time it takes to earn an MBA part-time. Most part-time programs can be finished within 3 to 4 years depending on how fast the students finish their required coursework. However, programs can last up to six years.
Part-time students often take 1-2 classes each term. Some schools may offer academic credit for professional experience. Part-time students may need three or more years to complete their degree, depending on their course load.
Year-round with classes at night and on weekends
The coursework of part time MBA programs remains the same as full time MBA programs with a much slower pace. Students will have the flexibility of choosing how many classes they want to attend each semester. These programs generally run year-round, with classes scheduled outside of normal business hours to allow students to continue working full time while studying for their MBA.
Tuition fee ranges from $90,000 to $200,000
Part-time students usually pay per credit, which can cost around $20,000 more compared to a full time program. However, part time students can continue to work while taking classes. Many employers also offer tuition assistance or reimbursement programs that can help defray those costs.
Flexible and less competitive
A part-time MBA makes the most sense for those who can benefit more from the flexibility of a part-time program over the focus provided by a full-time one. If you are a full time employee with extensive work experience and have no interest in switching career paths, it is recommended that you opt for a part time program.
Part time programs have a much less competitive applicant pool, so if you are not confident that you can get accepted into prestigious full time programs, part time programs are great alternatives.
Find the best Part time programs at:
6. Online MBA Program
Speaking of flexibility and convenience, online MBA programs take it to another level. An online MBA degree can be earned primarily or entirely through the use of an Internet-connected computer, rather than attending college in a traditional campus setting. Online MBA programs have seen a huge surge in demand due to the Covid 19 pandemic which prevents many students from accessing MBA education.
The program lasts for about 2 to 3 years
On average, most online MBA degree programs are expected to be completed in about 2 to 3 years. The classes are presented in a lock-step format in which there is a prescribed order of coursework that must be followed.
There are plenty of online MBA degree programs that offer accelerated programs, and the average time commitment for those programs ranges from 18 to 21 months.
Flexible with live-streaming technologies
An online MBA offers the same rigorous curriculum as its on-campus counterpart. Using live streaming apps and video conferencing technology, online-MBA programs provide a flexible combination that suits both your learning style and lifestyle. A distance-based MBA is an opportunity to attend out-of-state schools without the expense and hassle of relocation, and it also allows you to have more control over your pace of study.
Tuition fee is much cheaper
The costs vary greatly – anywhere from US$10,000 to US$80,000.An online MBA generally costs less than an on-campus MBA since you do not have to pay for the campus or any study equipment.
|Top B-schools that offer online MBA program||Total Tuition fee|
IE Business School
Imperial College Business School
Warwick Business School
Alliance Manchester Business School
Perfect for full time workers and international students
Online MBA programs are designed towards flexibility and convenience. Rather than quitting your job to attend a full-time day program or relocate to attend a top school, consider choosing an online option that allows you to balance school with work or family responsibilities.
International students should also consider online MBA programs as these programs reduce the cost and hassle of moving to another country for education.
7. What to Consider When Choosing an MBA Program
Before you embark on any application for your MBA degree, it is important to do thorough research with the program you are planning to choose. Here are some of the most basic questions you need to answer before taking the leap.
Is the program and school accredited?
Most colleges and universities will voluntarily sign up for an accreditation process to show that they reach specific educational standards. This accreditation process is set up by an accrediting agency.
The quality of the accreditation varies depending on how highly the accrediting agency is regarded by students, employers, and other educational institutions. The accreditation that students look for will be dependent on the type of program they want to pursue.
Proper accreditation ensures that a school and its program are certified and trustworthy. Accredited schools must adhere to standards articulated by outside learning commissions. The three most trustworthy international accreditations for MBA programs are those awarded by:
- AACSB (Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business)
- AMBA (The Association of MBAs)
- EFMD (European Foundation of Management Development)
It is possible that a business school may be accredited by other institutions so you need to check carefully.
Additionally, you should always pursue high ranked business schools with good reputation if possible. MBA degrees provided by top business schools like Harvard Business School or Northwestern Kellogg are highly sought after by recruiters, thus giving you a better chance of employment.
Are you eligible for the program?
Eligibility is another factor you need to take into account when choosing your MBA program. The common admission requirements that most business schools ask for are:
- A bachelor’s degree from an accredited school or institution
- A minimum of 2 to 3 years of professional working experience
- Proof of English efficiency (for international students).
- GMAT or GRE scores.
Each program will have its different requirements and you need to at least meet their minimum standards to stand a chance getting accepted. Many schools will have an application fee ($100 to 300$) for their program, thus making applicants more selective with their choice.
Can you afford it, moneywise?
Most of the time, tuition fee is the highest cost to be considered but there are more underlying expenses.
The process of applying to the program alone can cost you a great deal of money. If you are an international student and need to take TOEFL for proof of English proficiency, the TOEFL exam will cost you around $170. The cost of the GMAT test is $250 globally. The cost of living and travelling will also need to be taken into account.
Getting an MBA degree should be considered a huge investment decision to make financially.
The price tag of an MBA degree can seem daunting but there are ways to lessen your financial burden. Many business schools grant financial aid for students who are eligible but cannot afford the cost of an MBA. These financial aid can also be in the form of scholarships.
If you are working full time, applying for an EMBA is a great option since your employer will likely help pay or sponsor your tuition cost. However, most companies require a few years’ commitment after you finish your program. Therefore, you need to be certain you’re willing to commit to working at your workplace for a long period of time.
The best way to know if the MBA program is worth your money is looking at the program’s student employment report. If the employment rate for students is high (usually above 80% is considered high) and the reported average salary can help pay your MBA degree expenses in a short amount of time, you should go for it.
Can you afford it, timewise?
It’s easy to take a traditional 2-year MBA program when you are not working full time or have to support your family. Not being able to fully attend your classes can hinder the quality of your MBA program and put all your effort to waste. If you are unable to afford time for a full time MBA program, options like part-time MBA or online MBA can be very beneficial as they are designed to allow flexibility in course load. These programs will allow you to take classes outside of usual business hours and offer classes during weekends.