One-Year MBA Programs Gain More Traction

The downside? Career switchers tend to be at a disadvantage because they lose the benefit of a summer internship–which has increasingly become a prerequisite to a job offer. In careers such as consulting and investment banking, companies largely recruit students from internships, so there’s very little hiring of one-year students into those careers, says Randy Allen, associate dean for international and corporate relations at Cornell’s Johnson School.


One-year students also lose out on the intense bonding experience of a two-year program, many of which require cohorts of students to go through the first year core together.  That’s why some of the nation’s most prestigious MBA players, such as Harvard, Stanford, Wharton, Dartmouth, and Chicago, have not entered the market. Deans at those schools believe that the ideal MBA program is a two-year, all-encompassing experience with an internship, a global immersion trip, and a full menu of electives that allow more time for specialization.

Still, other prominent schools with accelerated MBA programs include Babson, the University of Pittsburgh’s Katz School of Business, and the University of Florida (see table of the best 12-month programs). And one-year MBAs have long been common in Europe, where INSEAD, IMD, IE Business School, and Copenhagen Business School are among dozens of options.

They also are gaining in popularity in other parts of the world. In Australia, for example, the Melbourne Business School recently replaced its 16-month program with a 12-month version after observing signs of Australian students favoring part-time over full-time study.  The number of Australian applicants has roughly tripled since Melbourne shortened its program, according to Deputy Dean Jennifer George.


At Melbourne, the condensed time frame students have to digest the MBA curriculum is much like any other one-year program. More radical is the school’s overhauling of students’ daily schedules. Borrowing from the modern workplace, Melbourne’s new program rejects the traditional university model of a few lectures amid vast tracts of unallocated time and assigns students to an 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. “workday” in collaborative teams and with professors on the school’s premises every weekday. So much for outdated notions that graduate study is in part a time for mind clearing and reflection. Most other one-year programs aren’t nearly as regimented.

While the optimal one-year student is not trying to make a career change, some still try to pursue that route. Consider Sandra Reimen who is among a minority who chose Pittsburgh’s Katz program looking to switch careers. With 10 years under her belt at ANC Bank, most recently as vice president of retail operations, before starting Katz in July 2011, she was thinking of using her finance background as a merchant planner in the fashion industry.

That had been part of her long-term plan to gain experience before launching her own luxury designer handbag business. She received so much support from the MBA program, however, that she decided to plunge into her entrepreneurial venture early. Katz’ entrepreneurship professor is a venture capitalist who helped Reimen by introducing her to contacts at United Parcel Service, whose international shipping operation will be key to her business which imports the hand bags from four factories in Colombia. “Everything I needed to help me get started I found through the university,” she says.  “I like the professors at Katz. It’s the perfect environment to foster creativity.”

Reimen launched her business in May after unexpectedly getting her first celebrity endorsement at an entertainment awards show in Los Angeles. “I thought it would be more of a hobby to start,” she says. “I was in the process of talking with a [fashion] company and had been verbally offered a job, but I called off the interview process a week ago” after seeing orders for her $500 to $700 handbags pour in on her website.

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