The Best One-Year MBA Programs

Willamette University’s Atkinson Graduate School of Management

A one-year MBA is a super fast way to get the degree. But at Willamette University, the Atkinson Graduate School of Management has an accelerated program that is possible to complete in a mere nine months. Few students actually speed through the program that quickly, but it’s a real option for applicants with all of the required prerequisites, making this the quickest MBA program in the Top 100.

But of all the top 100 programs, it’s not only the fastest: it’s the least expensive. At little more than $30,300 in tuition and fees, the full cost of this MBA will come in at under $50,000, including room and board, books, and health insurance. That’s much less than half the cost of most other top 100 programs. So if you’re intent on going the one-year route and Kellogg, Cornell or Emory or not options, this is a very good alternative to consider.

The accelerated option, which can be completed in nine to 15 months of full-time study, is an unusual opportunity for students with a business undergraduate degree from an AACSB-accredited school and more than two years of professional work experience. Applicants must have a grade point average of 3.2 or better and completed their undergraduate degree within the past seven years.

Less than 5% of the school’s incoming class participates in the accelerated option (that would be only a handful of students per year) since most of Willamette’s 100 incoming students choose the school for its “Early Career” and “Career Change” focus. “Even students who qualify to complete the program on an accelerated basis often decide they want a more robust experience and opt for our traditional, 21-month format,” says Aimee Akimoff, director of MBA recruitment.

The Willamette accelerated option is a highly customized program. Specific curricular requirements for the accelerated MBA will vary for each applicant based on an evaluation of the undergraduate or graduate level management courses previously completed and the grades received in those courses. By and large, accelerated students largely focus their studies in the elective and second year MBA curriculum. These courses provide in-depth knowledge, hands-on experience and the opportunity to pursue individual career interests.

To do the program in as little as nine months requires going full-time and handling a regular course load of around 15 to 18 credits a semester, adds Akimoff. It also requires that you got a grade of a B or higher in every undergraduate or master’s course that allows you to waive out of the core requirements.

Students need sufficient undergrad courses in all of the following areas: data analysis, accounting, marketing, human resources, organizational behavior, operations, finance, business government and society, ethics, and statistics. “It is also somewhat rare that we have a student that gets that many courses waived,” says Akimoff. “We have very few students who are eligible to do our accelerated option, let alone in 9 months.”

Willamette, which launched the accelerated option in 1993, has found that it is an effective way to market to particular groups of students, such as Beta Gamma Sigma members, for example – who graduated at the top of their class at an AACSB-accredited business school. However, as Willamette’s Early Career and Career Change program is designed for students who are earlier in their career or those who want to change their career, the program still draws a large number of students with less than two years of professional work experience and career changers who are looking to refocus their careers.

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