The Best One-Year MBA Programs In The U.S.

One Year Kellogg

One-year MBA students at Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management. Courtesy photo

For Tara Chang, an MBA was destiny. Her father has one. Her two brothers each have MBAs on their resumes. Even her grandmother holds the distinction that is the modern day near-guarantee to wealth and professional success. For Chang, it wasn’t an “if” as much as a “when.” And the when came this past year. It also came via the less-talked-about one-year route.

“I think the one-year program has done exactly what I wanted out of an MBA,” says Chang, who recently graduated with her quickie MBA from Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management. A business education staple in Europe, the one-year MBA has yet to gain significant steam in the states. Yet, with the soaring costs of traditional two-year programs, the less expensive one-year option seems to be gaining ground.

These accelerated degrees certainly are not MBA-lites. Elite schools such as Kellogg, Cornell’s Johnson School of Management and Emory’s Goizueta Business School all have one-year offerings. Throw in Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business and four of Poets&Quants’ top 25 schools have a one-year option, which excludes the Stanford Graduate School of Business MSx program and the MIT Sloan Fellows Program. In total, 21 of the Poets&Quants’ top 100 MBA programs house a one-year MBA.


The path to programs like Kellogg, Goizueta, Cornell Johnson and Notre Dame are similar to Chang’s journey. Those programs essentially leverage an elite undergraduate business degree for much of the core work, allowing students to almost immediately jump into gradate-level electives. After graduating from MIT’s Sloan School of Management with an undergraduate degree, Chang spent time working at WebMD and most recently, New York City-based startup Visible Measures, where she worked her way up from being the only salesperson in a 20-employee venture to vice president of sales and marketing as the company ballooned to 150 in four years. The Los Angeles native boasts a top-shelf undergraduate degree, early career success, and is not looking to significantly jump industries.

“If you are not using the MBA as a tool to make a career change and are interested in staying in a similar or the same industry, then the one-year option becomes much more interesting,” says Matthew Merrick, the associate dean of MBA operations at Kellogg. Similarly, the Babson College one-year program is essentially an extension of a strong undergraduate business degree. “Our one-year program is structured for those who have an undergraduate business background, to leverage their existing academic foundation to complete the MBA in an accelerated format,” says Elizabeth Resker, the assistant director of graduate admissions at Babson. “There are several academic pre-requisites for the program and typically those who have a BSBA degree should qualify.”


Still, Merrick says not to look at a one-year MBA as an “MBA-lite.” “It’s not a siloed version of our two-year program or an MBA-lite,” Merrick continues. “This is the full MBA experience, and we’re just giving you some credit for your undergraduate academic experiences.”

Perhaps most interesting is the sticker price of the degree when compared to two-year programs. At Kellogg, for instance, the total cost for a two-year MBA (tuition plus living expenses) is more than $186,000, but the one-year offering comes nearly $60,000 cheaper at around $128,000. Emory Goizueta’s one-year is even less, $117,000, a $45K discount to the two-year version, which surpasses $162,000. While technically not a one-year program, Columbia Business School’s J-Term — a January start-time that shortens the full-time two-year MBA to 16 months. With Columbia’s estimated yearly cost of nearly $100,000, cutting the first year in half can be an attractive option for MBAs not looking to participate in an internship.

Of course, the other side to consider is outcomes. At Cornell Johnson, only 64% of 2015 one-year graduates reported a job offer at graduation, compared to 85% in the two-year program. One-years gained ground three months after commencement, with a jump to 84% reporting offers and two-years reporting 92% with offers. However, there is one head-scratching surprise: Graduates from the one-year MBA program reported higher median salaries of $122,500, compared to $119,100 for two-year MBAs. At Notre Dame’s Mendoza College, two-year MBAs out-performed their one-year counterparts in the most recent employment report. Some 93% of two-year MBAs reported pocketing job offers with average salaries of $108,219. Meantime, just 84% of one-year MBAs held offers three months after graduation with an average salary of $100,052.


Another hesitation for the one-year option is that there often is less integration with other options and about half a year less bonding time with classmates. These are both issues elite programs are addressing head-on. At Goizueta, Katie Lloyd, senior director of MBA admissions and one-year program operations, says the school has created “thoughtful activities” to “ensure synergy” and “help bring the two groups together as seamlessly as possible.”

At the University of Southern California’s Marshall School of Business, nurturing classmate bonding goes to another level. Students of the one-year IBEAR MBA program are incentivized to live together in an apartment complex seven miles west of the downtown Los Angeles campus. Program Director Richard Drobnick predicts about 40 of the 55 students currently in the program — and their families — are living in the complex. Students are given a subsidy of $18,000 for a two-room spot and $12,000 for a one-room place. However, Drobnick says those amounts are decreasing to $12,000 and $9,000, respectively, for next year’s cohort.

“We offer subsidies to attract our folks to live in one complex,” Drobnick explains. “It reduces the stress on spouses. It gets the Korean children, the American children and the Chinese children to play together. The students can come home from class at 6 or 7 at night, have a meal with their family and go into study groups without the transportation costs.” Drobnick says the living situation has helped foster life-long relationships and created an “incredibly intense community.”

  • jaye

    I would crosscheck the tuition fees stated here. Cornell’s 1 year MBA is $132,528 for the 2 terms, but it is stated as $90,000 here

  • Jack Lewis

    So nice to hear a case/story like this.

    One aspect not easily understood is the degree to which we have focused on keeping the “family” together. Its only 2,000 alums and 40 years, but I can find every alum ever one way or another. We kept working on our database all the time….its not easy as we have alums in 60 countries and 75 percent of our grads are or were F1’s originally….these grads move, change positions, and get promoted often…as international mba grads, they travel much more and longerthan a program which has 70 plus percent US nationals…although its exciting to see so much increase in international expertise amongst American MBAs over the last 25 years. So we keep our Trojan family grads together…Facebook and LinkedIn have made this much easier. Cheers…Jack

    ps, by the way, our staff probably has longer average longevity than any…save possibly the great programs in western europe? Five staff (a lot of staff for 55 participants!), have 20 years of IBEAR or Marshall plus IBEAR experience or longer. What an advantage in keeping the family together! Collective historical memory. We’re not stale as our Faculty Director changes and there is normal faculty turnover.

  • Jack Lewis

    This seems like a really thoughtful reply. Job search in an accelerated program is very challenging. In the IBEAR case, you are doing 18 courses (56 units) in 5 eight week terms. There are many “distractions” or program enhancements like an international trip to two markets in Asia or Latin America, APBO conference attendance, trips supporting career development to Seattle and Santa Clara…all gratis. Many participants do not have US work permission…many are going for quite senior positions…many would like to do industry or function change which can be very difficult. A mid career search takes longer on average and targets should be focused…you don’t get execs coming to campus to interview for these positions often. Recessions make it worse. Graduation is off cycle…in mid July. So these 33 years olds face many challenges (actually 29 to 33 year old or so get more opportunities via the entry level MBA career search process (competing with 2 year MBAs). However, many highly qualified focused participants jump all the hurdles (if you can’t manage this how to you succeed in the senior position in the US market?). They are ready to go with good senior positions months out by graduation or easily by 6 months out from mid July. Participants complaining about help from the CRC at USC Marshall….strange since they can’t only access the CRC and compete with hundreds of 2 years and evening MBAs…they also have a totally dedicated Career Development Director with IBEAR…full time staff member…for about 35 max serious self sponsored position seekers out of 55 participants in total. Look to thyself…I often thought…we worked a long time to secure this position which we have had about 5 years now.

    Jack Lewis, former director

  • Jack Lewis

    Re USC IBEAR MBA average salary…should not be head-scratching if one reads a bit about the program. This is a mid-career MBA…more like IMD than accelerated one-year programs in the US. Your famous founder understood this well. The average age of all participants is normally 33 or 34 with a 90 percent range of 29 to 42. We have graduated one 65 year old not so long ago, a retiring board member of Hitachi Chemicals….great guy and a grad speaker. So average salaries should be even higher than the $122K figure…though we have 75 percent foreign nationals and normally foreign nationals staying in the US have e lower average salaries than US nationals…bringing the average down. IBEAR grads with work permission in the US, six months after graduation in mid July should average much more, I believe.

    Jack Lewis, former director

  • helan

    hi, any update on your decision? have you got any scholarship from IBEAR? my friend received 40k which is a great amount of money..

  • leon

    Hope someone with 1 yr MBA experience can answer my question.
    How do international students do after 1 yr MBA? is it harder for them to get a job than 2 yr MBA international students? Also, how important is Internship? If you were admitted to 2 yr MBA in Texas or Olin, also 1 yr MBA in Cornell or Kellogg, which option is better for international students? and what should you consider before making decisino on this

  • Alan

    the USC Marshall’s IBEAR MBA is an executive MBA degree.

  • ulin

    Do they consider the IBEAR as a full time degree or executive degree.

  • AgeingAspirant

    Thats the answer I am also looking for. As this info might help me better weigh my options.

    Also the info I am looking current students and Alumni can be at best termed as ‘Ther Prespective’. Reasons can be many – Visa issues, Lack of commitment from school to get them placed, Market Behaviour- dont want aged MBAs etc.

  • permanda

    interesting point. can you please illustrate more on why this difficulty facingvthe IBEAR? is it because of the program or the students themselves?

  • C. Taylor

    As you get older, background+networking become increasingly decisive in your post-MBA career.

    At the Executive MBA level, the differentiators you buy are nearly 100% prestige+networking opportunities. Prestige is branding–you still need a product to sell (your background+presentation of your background). Networking combines expanding your employer options (larger network) and selling yourself (directly to your network, and indirectly through people in your network discussing you with third parties).

    Two year full-time MBA programs offer the maximum potential assistance for career pivots. These are followed by one year full-time programs with internship opportunities, and then by one year full-time programs. These programs all offer similar levels of rigor.

    At the other end of the spectrum are various EMBAs targeting those with 12 to 20 years of experience (mid-career executives), with the bulk of candidates varying in experience according to the program. Graduates from these rely almost exclusively on prestige+background+networking. A similar product is the one-year graduate degree for mid-career execs (IBEAR, etc.). That just accelerates the EMBA.

    Some EMBAs offer less rigor than normal MBAs. That is because rigor most often benefits early-career people as they normally have greater exposure to practical work. Rigor also benefits those who would start over at a lower pay-grade in a more different field.

    In the middle are part-time and online programs. These usually offer the same rigor and content as normal full-time programs but are designed to fit into the lives of working professionals who will rely more on background+networking for post-MBA positions.

    If you are dead set on Seattle, Foster is fine. Understand though, that the decisive factor in your post-MBA career will be your background combined with your networking/network. This is also true of an accelerated program like the IBEAR. If this does not describe what you want, you may benefit from moonlighting in your targeted field and networking heavily–starting now.

    You would benefit from speaking–now–with Marshall/Foster/Cox/Anderson/etc. alums to better inform your selection between them of networking opportunities. Remember, you can always create your own. And you should create them–and will be expected to.

  • AgeingAspirant

    I have been talking to Alumni of IBEAR and current students too. They don’t seem to have great results right after MBA. I am not sure how they would grow in long term but in short term they face difficulty. Also they don’t suggest to join IBEAR out rightly. They think IBEARS don’t receive the same attention from alumni as 2 year MBA grads do.

    As I am going to fund my own degree w/o any backing from family and current employer, Job post MBA is very critical to me to repay the loans.

    Said that I am open to any program. My goal is to secure job in IT Product management/ Strategy Consulting. For these reasons, consultants from various forums are suggesting to go for UW Foster due to its location (Seattle), have lot IT big wigs like Microsoft, Amazon etc. With 10 years exp under my belt, I don’t see myself struggling too much in my post mba job as I am not going to re invent my career for sure.

    Consultants also say that Southern California is much different than Northern California and the Silicon Valley. SC doesn’t have that ease of access to NC opportunities.

    USC is definitely a good school for Media and entertainment industry. But will it give me same results for my ambitions in IT and Technology industry?

  • AgeingAspirant

    I have been talking to Alumni of IBEAR and current students too. They don’t seem to have great results right after MBA. I am not sure how they would grow in long term but in short term they face difficulty. Also they don’t suggest to join IBEAR out rightly. They think IBEARS don’t receive the same attention from alumni as 2 year MBA grads do.

    As I am going to fund my own degree w/o any backing from family and current employer, Job post MBA is very critical to me to repay the loans.

    Said that I am open to any program. My goal is to secure job in IT Product management/ Strategy Consulting. For these reasons, consultants from various forums are suggesting to go for UW Foster due to its location (Seattle), have lot IT big wigs like Microsoft, Amazon etc. With 10 years exp under my belt, I don’t see myself struggling too much in my post mba job as I am not going to re invent my career for sure.

    Consultants also say that Southern California is much different than Northern California and the Silicon Valley. SC doesn’t have that ease of access to NC opportunities.
    USC is definitely a good school for Media and entertainment industry. But will it give me same results for my ambitions in IT and Technology industry?

  • Nigerian-Applicant

    Thank you. If I pick the MBA, Do you think MIT Sloan Fellow worth the $131K fees? It is a concern as my company won’t pay them.

  • C. Taylor

    IBEAR = Marshall MBA
    Anderson online = Anderson MBA
    MIT Sloan Fellowship = MIT MBA or MIT MsM or MIT MsMT (you pick)

    mitsloan (dot) mit (dot) edu/fellows/program-components/degree-and-research-options/

  • Odyoni

    very well written and detailed post. Thank you. Why there is no career service at MIT and Stanford? this is unusual.

  • Nigerian-Applicant

    What do you think of MIT Sloan Fellow vs IBEAR MBA? any thought for a 34, already employed ? any thought!

  • C. Taylor

    Marshall. No contest among those three. Marshall grads have much better outcomes than rankings would suggest. Grind out an app for Anderson’s online offering (they don’t call it that, but it is), just for fun. I would suggest the same for IE, but you seem US-focused.

    I would suggest getting an MBA online from Anderson, IE, Carnegie Mellon, or UNC over an EMBA from Foster. Foster over Cox, but that depends a lot on you and your goals.

  • radish

    IBEAR would be better than the Foster GEMBA. Regardless of ranking, USC Marshall is higher regarded and better name in business than Foster. Also, the location is big advantage for USC Marshall. As for the IBEAR, It is really strong program with very strong alumni base. In fact, one of the selling points of the IBEAR is that it enables its students to reinvent their career despite being mid-career. The quality of education in the IBEAR is top notch. The downside of the IBEAR is its unjustified insanely price tag. It is very expansive. Foster GEMBA is unknown program with weak alumni. There is a program that is one year MBA but it happened by somehow to be filled with mid career folks, it is Purdue STEM MBA, it is one year, in a great school and university with world class reputation in operation, supply chain, and analytics. and it is much much cheaper than both, the IBEAR and the GEMBA. But, it is very new, two years old. No alumni base at all. SMU COX Fast Track MBA, in my opinion, is pretty much similar to the Purdue STEM MBA, in almost all aspects of fees, curriculum, and electives. Keep in mind that Foster GEMBA, is an Executive MBA, meaning that the academic workload would be lower than the regular ones, and there is NO electives. While programs at Purdue, SMU, Cornell, And Emory, are all exact similar to the two year MBA, with similar core, taught the same way they taught for the two year MBA. There is bigger room for electives, so those programs are more intense than the Foster. IBEAR gives three courses as electives, but also, it teaches the core the same way of the two years MBA. It is rigorous program. For placement of the IBEAR, there is no published report, but, since the number of the students is low, around 50, it is easy to track them over the web, so, I found that some get good jobs.. but, you would consider their previous experience before making any conclusion..

    If, I would summarize the MBAs for mid career folks, it will be the following:

    1- Sloan Fellows programs at MIT and Stanford (downsides: no career support, and very very very expansive, and for already established folks)
    2- IBEAR (downside: expensive)
    3- SMU, Purdue (downside: reputation worldwide compared to the above, but they are good schools)

    If you want to include the other one year MBAs for younger students, then the list would be:

    1- Sloan Fellows (The absence of the career support is BIG disadvantage here)
    2- Kellogg
    3- Cornell
    4- Emory
    5- USC+ Notre Dame+ Purdue+SMU+Florida,…

    If, you can get the IBEAR to give you some money, it is really good program.

    best of luck..

  • AgeingAspirant

    Pretty interesting Review.
    There are few more 1 year MBAs in USA which this article doesn’t mention. The UW Foster GEMBA and SMU Cox Fast Track MBA. What are your views about them? Any Idea?
    I have admits from above programs in addition to IBEAR. My analysis weighs them more or less same considering Post MBA career in IT Product Management/Strategy/Consulting. Can you provide any inputs which should help me decide 1 over others? Are you aware of placements statistics Post MBA for IBEAR?
    Any help is highly appreciated.

  • Maham

    Thanks for the reply, John!
    I think I will retake the GMAT and improve my chances of getting in!

  • I think the 650 won’t kill you, given your work experience with two very well known companies. But there’s no doubt that you are on the cusp with a 650 and would be better off at 680 or above.

  • Maham

    Hey guys,

    So I am planning to apply for Kellogg’s One-Year MBA and I thought I would get some insight from here. The article mentions that schools are not extremely GMAT conscious when it comes to one year programs, so do I stand a chance at my current 650 GMAT score?

    I am a 26 year old Pakistani female with 3 years of work experience as a market research executive with Nielsen and Product Manager with Novartis.

    I have given my TOEFL exam and scored 115/120 and am contemplating retaking the GMAT, but I fear I will not be able to raise the quant score significantly.

  • akshay

    dudee.. I believe you.. duh….give me a break..

  • BCG

    It depends on the career goals and what the program has to offer. Our boss enrolled in the IBEAR despite been accepted into the Kellogg 1Y program.

  • WESTern

    Don’t underestimate the USC Marshall brand. It is highly regarded by business world.

  • Harold

    But an MBA is more about “brand”. Do you think the name of USC will ever become close to MIT or Stanford? !

  • MBA-Recruiting

    comparing the IBEAR MBA with other is not fair. IBEAR is very unique offering. This program is exclusively designed for mid career managers with minimum of six years of work experience. You can not compare it with Kellogg 1Y or Cornell AMBA. For MIT and Stanford, they seem to offer executive programs with some relaxed admission standards. It looks for me that people attending MIT Sloan or Stanford MSx are largely looking for prestige which is not a good sign.

  • gema

    it is still hard to believe.

  • eddysham

    Yes, and it happened many times. The reason, Stanford Msx is NOT an MBA. MIT Sloan is an executive with easy entrance (No GMAT required). On Other hand, USC IBEAR MBA is REAL course with 56 credits (the traditional two year MBA is 63 credits) The core courses are same, the same electives. In Stanford, courses for MSx are customized exclusively for them, not the same quality of the MBA. I hope you can understand now, why many people pick USC IBEAR over Sloan and MSx…

  • Kamran

    Thank you Nathan. How would you compare the IBEAR MBA to the European Programs such as INSEAD, IE, and IMD? For someone 34 years old, and needs quality education and sponsored by his company, i.e no need to worry about career. I got the feeling that even if ranked higher, non US schools are not on par with US schools with respect of quality education, faculties, universities resources, life experience , and the superiority in business education. I would appreciate it highly if could elaborate on the IBEAR program in particular comparing it with others.

  • toptier

    and do you think someone got into MIT Sloan or Stanford will turn it for USC ? Would love to hear your reasoning…

  • Fortune-500-CTO

    Thank you Nathan for this valuable article. My close friend graduated some years ago from the IBEAR MBA at Marshall School. Beside USC, he was accepted into the Kellogg one year MBA and INSEAD and he chose to attend the IBEAR. The man was 34 and he selected the IBEAR for the fit factor. It turned to be the right decision. He works now as s CEO of one of the largest semiconductor manufacturer in the world. He always told me that the quality of education he got in Marshall was second to none. The school is known for its strength in technology and engineering and that was reflected on the strong quantitative curriculum. In the IBEAR, the school does not differentiate between two years or the IBEAR students from the courses viewpoint, the same rigor, the same content, and the same professors. Unlike the other schools. The other aspect is the high quality of his peers there, he was astonished by their achievements and accomplishments and many of them took senior leadership roles after the program, unlike other programs where most students get professional and mid level management roles.

  • Hi Karman,

    Thanks for chiming in. Actually, there is quite a bit of info specific to the IBEAR program in this article compared to other programs. I included direct quotes from Richard Drobnick, the program director, as well as some info that differentiates IBEAR from other programs. IBEAR is unique to other one-year programs in the U.S. mainly because of its work experience requirements and the emphasis on international. Thanks!


  • Karman

    Just wondering, why USC IBEAR program did not get better attention despite surprising facts of: Being established in 1978 way before many schools. having stellar and loyal alumni network, which sometimes include Chairmen, CEos, billionaires, ..ect.

    what was the reason?

  • MBA-Watch

    Columbia J-Term is not a one year, it is two year without an internship.

  • We think it’s fair — especially when comparing it to a program like USC’s IBEAR. As stated in the article, USC competes directly with MSx and Sloan Fellows for students — particularly for international students.

  • Just updated with a couple sentences about the J-Term.

  • Pat T.

    Why wasn’t the Columbia J-term mentioned?

  • MBA-Watch

    Is it fair to compare the one year MBA programs in this list to MIT Sloan Fellows and Stanford MSx? I believe the two programs are an executive education programs although being delivered full time.

  • Also, stay tuned for a similar article focusing on the international one-year programs.

  • Thanks for weighing in. The topic actually was discussed during the interview and there are a few factors to consider. First, a sizable portion of students attending IBEAR are sponsored and are not only receiving full-tuition from their companies, they are staying salaried, as well. Drobnick also spoke of (relatively) high scholarship amounts. Essentially about $1 million is broken out into $25,000 to $40,000 grants. Not everyone gets awarded a scholarship, but I believe he said about 80% of the class (55). Additionally, he said scholarships reflect where they are trying to get students. Right now the focus is the Pacific Rim and Latin America. Lastly (as stated in the article), if students live in the housing provided by the school, some money is given to help decrease the living cost.

    I’m not trying to defend the absurd cost of an elite one-year MBA — just throwing out some more considerations.

  • International-1-Y-MBA

    even, the top tier international programs with better names that target similar group such as IMD, INSEAD, and Cambridge, are all much much cheaper than USC IBEAR.

  • International-1-Y-MBA

    Nice article. I wish you have asked USC IBEAR director why their program is insanely expensive? at 100K plus the estimates expenses in LA, it could easily reach 130K. This is more expensive than Kellogg and Cornell!. It is the major factor that discouraged me as an international applicant from attending the program despite being one of the best available one year MBA programs.