While full-time MBA programs offer a fuller, more comprehensive experience, part-time MBA programs provide students a chance of getting a business degree without giving up their job or salary. Nowadays, many top business schools offer a part-time option of their flagship program, giving students a great deal of flexibility without compromising on the quality of content, delivery, or learning experience. In this article, we will explore in detail part-time MBA programs and top business schools that offer part-time MBA programs.

1. Part-time MBA Program vs Full-time MBA Programs: What’s the difference?

A Master’s Degree in Business Administration (MBA) provides an advanced education in crucial business functions and corporate leadership skills. It is an important step for professionals to advance further in their career. An MBA degree holder can reach executive positions in competitive industries like consulting and finance or become an entrepreneur with their startup. The extreme competition to get into top business schools justify the reason why MBA graduates earn higher salaries.

Two common paths prospective students generally take when pursuing an MBA are full-time MBA program and part-time MBA program. Besides the differences in course length and schedule, part-time MBA programs also have other key differences compared with full-time programs, which should be taken into account when applicants are considering choosing their dedicated path. 

Student Type

MBA students typically have accumulated about 5 to 6 years of professional experience, and tend to be in their late 20s to early 30s. These statistics, however, may vary depending on the program type and the business school.

Full-time degree seekers often have less professional experience. In some cases, these students are admitted to their MBA program immediately after they earn their bachelor’s degree. 

On the other hand, part-time MBA degree seekers often have more professional experience. They choose to enroll part-time for the reasons of switching their career to another direction after working for another field. Experienced professionals may work alongside with studying towards an MBA degree to move into managerial positions within their industry.

Program Duration

MBA students typically work towards earning 36 to 40 credits in order to graduate. They earn credits by enrolling into business core courses, electives, internships, or capstone projects. These offerings help participants open up to new opportunities for learning and building professional skills.

A full-time MBA program often lasts 1 to 2 years, though there are programs that last shorter or longer than the typical duration. For example, business schools may offer accelerated programs that last as short as 10 months, in which students may focus on electives that are grounded in their chosen field and complete internships in their summer.

Part-time students, however, usually take 1 or 2 classes per term. The small course load each term means that these students may take at least three or more years to complete their MBA degree, although some schools may offer academic credit for professional experience.

Program Structure

Most schools offer a standard business core that all MBA students complete. Learners can expect to take courses like operations management, data analytics, and managerial accounting.

Full-time students often have access to a variety of courses and other learning opportunities like electives and concentrations. They can also use school breaks to take part in experiential learning. The academic calendar often follows a traditional 15-week semester, though some schools offer shorter accelerated terms.

Part-time programs, including executive MBAs, may include night and weekend classes. Some schools organize students into cohorts, in which learners move through the curriculum together in lock-step. Part-time students may not have as many options for concentrations or electives.

Program Cost

MBA programs tend to be expensive, with many universities charging more than $50,000 annually. Additionally, some of the top business schools in the U.S. cost more than $100,000 per year. As such, an MBA represents a significant financial investment.

Full-time students who can access term-based tuition rates typically pay less for their education. Alternatively, part-time students usually pay per credit, which can cost more. Full-time students also tend to enjoy more financial aid options. Nevertheless, it can be quite difficult for full-time students to juggle class requirements with a full-time job.

Part-time students, however, can continue to work while they take classes. Many employers also offer tuition assistance or reimbursement programs that can help defray those costs. There may be fewer scholarships for part-time students.

2. Why should you apply for a part-time MBA Program? 

Part-time MBA programs offer students with limited time and finances a manageable way to pursue a business degree, with the flexibility and comfortability to customize learning plans and balance everything in life. Part-time MBA programs cater to students already working in their field. Classrooms are often filled with experienced business professionals, allowing for ample networking and collaboration opportunities, albeit with extra 1 or 2 years of learning compared to full-time students. However, there are more advantages of a part-time degree that may interest you.

You pay less

Attending a part-time MBA program can be less of a financial burden than attending a full-time MBA program, because students can maintain a job while attending school. Students that attend school full-time are not able to devote the necessary time to learning while maintaining a full-time job. Many colleges that offer part-time MBA programs design the courses for students who work full-time, so students can earn a salary while attending school.

You can study worry-free

Students that attend part-time do not have to worry about finding employment after they graduate. This is a big advantage over full-time MBA students, who graduate and have to enter the job market with little to no experience. Part-time students also have the advantage to apply what they are learning to their jobs, which can lead to career advancement.

You can take the online option

There are many part-time MBA programs that are offered online, so students do not have to move or relocate to attend school. Online programs are also convenient for students, because students have more flexibility in their schedules. As with any online program, online MBA students must have excellent time management skills and be able to maintain a vigorous schedule.

You may be eligible for reimbursement

Part-time MBA students who work may be offered tuition reimbursement by their employer. Tuition reimbursement is when the employer agrees to pay for part or all of the cost of attendance. Some companies will pay a percentage of tuition, based on the grades received for the course term.

What are the Disadvantages of a Part-time MBA Program?

Although attending part-time to earn an MBA has many advantages, there are also disadvantages that students must deal with when attending school part-time. Earning a master’s degree is a difficult task, and part-time programs take more self-motivation and effort than full-time programs.

If students participate in part-time programs, then they have less academic involvement than full-time students. Most full-time students do not have the distraction of a full-time job, so full-time students have more time to devote to courses. If part-time students study completely online, then they do not have as many opportunities to ask questions and there is less interaction with other students.

There can also be added stress for part-time MBA students. Part-time students have to devote a full day to work, and then they have to take classes in the evenings or weekends. Part-time students can sometimes become mentally exhausted, so part-time students must have great time management skills and be able to handle stressful situations.

3. Top Part-time MBA Programs

If you have determined that a part-time MBA program suits your schedule best, the next step is to find which program can offer you the best quality. Here are 10 of the top MBA programs offered for students who can’t attend a full-time program.

Business School


Duration of program

Average work experience


The Wharton School

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and San Francisco, California, U.S.

24 months

13 years


IESE Business School

Barcelona, Spain and New York, U.S.

16 months

15 years

119,000 euros ($133,356)

HEC Paris

Paris, France

15-18 months

15 years

82,950 euros ($93,105)

MIT Sloan School of Management

Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.

20 months

17 years


London Business School

London, U.K.

20 months

12 years

$121,973 – $128,600

The University of Chicago Booth School of Business

Chicago, Illinois, U.S. and London, U.K.

21 months

13 years



Fontainebleau, France and Singapore

14-17 months

14 years


The University of Oxford Said Business School

Oxford, U.K.

22 or 24 months

14 years

£91,350 ($113,164)

UCLA Anderson School of Management

Los Angeles, California, U.S.

22 months

14 years


Berkeley Haas School of Business

Berkeley,  California, U.S.

19 months

14 years


Source: NBC

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