When it comes to choosing an MBA program, there is a dizzying array of choices. According to the Graduate Management Admissions Council there are over 4,650 programs that offer post-graduate degrees in business and management. The field continues to expand; in recent years, you also have a range of options for earning an MBA online or via a hybrid of on-campus and online learning.
To narrow the field, your first consideration is the program type. There are many options, but programs tend to fall into one of four categories, namely 2-year programs, accelerated programs, part-time MBA programs, and executive MBAs. Some schools offer a menu of program types, allowing you to apply to the one that is best for you.
When it comes to choosing a program type, there are two primary factors to consider: 1) the stage you’ve reached in your career and 2) your immediate career aims. Where you stand on these two dimensions will give you some guidance to help you with selecting a program type.
The traditional MBA degree is a full-time, two-year program with a summer internship between the first and second year. The 2-year programs are generally best suited to individuals who have work experience but are still relatively early in their careers. Also, if you’re going to school with the goal of changing careers then two years of school with an internship in between is probably your best option. You should also know that in certain fields, such as management consulting and investment banking, the full-time degree is practically a right of passage.
Accelerated MBA Programs
Accelerated MBA programs allow you to complete your degree requirements in 12 to 18 months. Accelerated programs typically start in January and don’t break in the summer for an internship. These programs may be better for a candidate who has already entered the ranks of junior management and intends to return to the same firm or at least the same field after graduation. If you fall into that category, you may already have a good grounding in business skills and knowledge so the foundations courses offered in the first year of a 2-year program may not be needed; furthermore, a summer internship is going to be less valuable to you.
Part-Time MBA Programs
According to Forbes magazine, over 50% of all MBA students opt for a Part-Time MBA Program. Part-time programs allow you to avoid the financial burden of spending one or two years away from the workforce. These programs tend to appeal to applicants who plan to stay in their current jobs, at least in the short-term, but need the skills and credentials an MBA provides. Because the biggest financial impact on MBA students is typically lost wages, the least costly option is to attend a Part-Time MBA program.
Executive MBA Programs
As the name suggests, Executive MBA programs are designed for individuals who have climbed the corporate ranks and want to complement what they’ve learned on the job with more formal business and management training. Executive MBA students typically attend classes on weekends or during intensive periods throughout the year. Many, if not most, of the members of an Executive MBA class are being groomed for C-level leadership by the companies that sponsor their degree.
The figure below summarizes the factors to consider when selecting the type of program that is the best fit for your career stage and career aims.
Figure 16: Factors When Selecting Type of Program
To determine which program type is the best one for you, you should consider what stage you are in your career and the career goals you developed in the previous unit and select a program type that best matches your timeline and career objectives.
Unit Review: Select a Program Type
- The MBA program universe is 4,650 programs and growing.
- MBA programs are typically one of four types: 2-year programs, accelerated programs, part-time MBA programs, and executive MBAs.
- Your career stage and career aims may point you toward a particular program type.