The Top One-Year MBA Programs In The United States

Duke Fuqua this summer announced the launch of a one-year MBA for graduates of master’s in management programs, an effort to appeal to European applicants. File photo

Northwestern Kellogg’s one-year MBA is among the oldest in the U.S. Kellogg is also the highest-ranked U.S. B-school to offer a one-year program. Renee Cherubin, senior director of full-time MBA admissions at the Kellogg School, says the view that Kellogg’s one-year program in any way dilutes the two-year is erroneous, despite the fact that the former carries all the benefits of the latter.

The one-year program, Cherubin says, is structured to leverage prior academic experience and allow students to move directly into the electives that are most meaningful to them. “It’s important to note, however, that the 1Y program is not an ‘accelerated pace’ program in which we fit two years of study into one,” she tells Poets&Quants. “With the opportunity to skip certain core classes and dive into electives, the program takes four quarters to complete rather than the traditional six.

“With this, the biggest difference is time. The students have their entire MBA experience within one year at Kellogg, instead of two.”

Nonetheless, there is big-time overlap. From June to June, students have the same access to the Career Management Center and on-campus recruiting, the same global and travel opportunities, and the same selection of more than 200 electives, including experiential learning courses that give the opportunity to apply classroom theory to real business challenges. “1Y students,” Cherubin says, “are not siloed at Kellogg. They share classes, clubs, and the alumni network with students in other Kellogg programs.”


Renee Cherubin, senior director of full-time MBA admissions at the Kellogg School. Kellogg photo

The major difference between Kellogg’s programs, of course, is cost. Tuition for the one-year program is $101,288, and total cost is currently estimated to be $140,366, up $12,172, or 9.5%, since 2016. As big a number as it is, the total cost figure for Kellogg’s one-year MBA is less than the tuition for the two-year MBA: $146,808, according to the school’s website. Total cost to attend the school for two years is $211,220.

But cost is not the only difference. There’s also a difference, Cherubin says, in the candidates themselves.

“To help students choose between our 1Y and 2Y programs, we describe students in the 1Y MBA program as those who typically have a strong clarity in their career goals and are using the MBA for career enhancement and acceleration, rather than for a major career shift,” she says. “Students must consider that the 1Y MBA program is structured around academics and is four quarters straight through without a formal summer internship.”

She points to a trio of MBAs who graduated from the one-year program, and how it helped them. Laura Brady, who graduated in 2016, worked around the world in HR and talent development and wanted to pursue an MBA “to enhance her career in that space,” Cherubin says. “She utilized the leadership development tools and coursework offered at Kellogg to land a position in Global Talent Development, to eventually be named the Global Director of Diversity and Inclusion at ABInBev.”

Darshil Shah, who graduated this year, participated in the Asset Management Practicum during his time at Kellogg, despite having already secured a position with Evercore post-MBA. “He saw value in participating in the program, playing the role of portfolio manager and analyst to manage a portfolio valued over $10.5 million,” Cherubin says. “Darshil’s experience expanded further than investing as he was able to attend a workshop held by Warren Buffett and learn from fund managers and alumni that visited class weekly.”

Mike Burnes, who also graduated in 2019, came to Kellogg from the transportation industry. “He enrolled in the NUvention Transportation program, where he partnered with an engineering student from the McCormick School of Engineering to build a venture for the trucking industry,” Cherubin says. “While he didn’t plan to move forward with launching the business they developed, the experience allowed him to build a deeper network with those focused on transportation and to have the experience of building a business plan, while also networking with senior level faculty and administrators at Kellogg.”


One of the most rewarding characteristics of Kellogg’s one-year MBA program, Cherubin says, is its global diversity. The current class 133 includes individuals from across the world and from a wide variety of industries, functions, and backgrounds. “At Kellogg,” she says, “you have the opportunity to develop deep relationships with the 1Y cohort, while also developing your broader network by interacting with the traditional two-year Kellogg MBA program. You have the intimacy associated with a small program but benefit from the network and resources of a larger one.”

Kellogg one-years can join two-years or dual-degree MMM (MBA plus Master of Design Innovation versus Engineering Management) classmates in KWEST, which stands for Kellogg Worldwide Exploration Student Trips. The vast majority of students participate before matriculation; they’re split into small groups of about 20 students and led by five second-year students on a service and bonding excursion somewhere around the world — as far away as New Zealand or as near as Western Canada. “Every KWEST trip goes to a unique location, and every detail is planned exclusively by students for students,” Cherubin says. Another unique opportunity for 1Y students: participation in the San Francisco Winter Quarter that complements Kellogg’s existing Growth & Scaling curriculum. This program lets students gain course credit while working in an internship with a VC portfolio company, or directly in PE/VC firms. “The experience also allows students to network with various companies and alumni in the Bay Area,” Cherubin says. “Those who participate in the SF Winter Quarter are really intentional in growing their network on the West Coast, and come into Kellogg knowing they’d like to continue their career in a technology-related function.”

Class of 2018 graduates from the Kellogg one-year MBA program accepted jobs at tech companies (Google, Amazon, Adobe), healthcare companies (Baxter, Anthem, Intermountain Healthcare), consumer products companies (Nike, SC Johnson, Kraft Heinz) and consulting companies (BCG, Bain, McKinsey), among others. Cherubin points to another alum, Class of 2018 grad Anusha Mohan, who came to Kellogg after working as a merchandise planner for ModCloth. “Anusha’s intention was to focus her efforts on technology and marketing and utilize the CMC’s resources to recruit on campus. Anusha eventually accepted an opportunity with Amazon in product management, and has since gone on to join Fernbrook Capital Management, a VC fund focused on early-stage, tech-enabled companies.”

The one-year Kellogg MBA is also a program that is constantly evolving. The school continues to evaluate its programming to meet the interests of its students, Cherubin says. Offerings for 1Y students have increased over the last five years to include additional experiential course offerings as well as global opportunities. New this year are week-long global courses exclusively offered to 1Y students, which take into consideration their limited time on-campus at Kellogg is limited. The courses — including Doing Business In Israel, offered at the Coller School of Management in Tel Aviv, and Negotiations, held at the University of Edinburgh Business School in Scotland — are offered over both winter and spring break. Additional experiential learning opportunities for 1Y students include the Asset Management Practicum, part of Kellogg’s new Asset Management Pathway; the practicum is a year-long experiential learning course sequence where students manage a portfolio under the guidance of faculty from the finance and accounting departments. Practicum students “are responsible for analyzing individual investments, making asset allocation decisions, trading, risk monitoring, and performance evaluation,” Cherubin says.


Another differentiator for 1Y students: the Zell Fellows Program, an applied entrepreneurial experience for a select number of MBA candidates looking to start a new venture or acquire an existing one. Cherubin points out one recent grad, the Class of 2018’s Chase Michalek, who was selected as a Kellogg Zell Scholar as a part of the 1Y program. “While here he started FVG, a veterinary services platform that is innovating the industry,” she says. “This opportunity allowed Chase to maximize his one year at Kellogg, providing him the resources — mentorship, leadership coaching, guidance — he needed to help him refine his business, secure funding and launch FVG post-graduation.”

Cherubin says Michalek — like Laura Brady, Darshil Shah, Mike Burnes, and others — had what Kellogg is looking for in a one-year MBA student: ability to motivate a team to drive impact, fearlessness in questioning the status quo and seeking non-obvious solutions, willingness to approach business problems with a mix of intellect, energy, and creativity, and eagerness to seek diversity in their networks and teams while collaborating with “an engaged, ambitious community of peers.”

“These are among the traits that we really value,” Cherubin says. “We’ve designed our application process to allow us to understand how each person would bring these traits to Kellogg in his or her own unique way. From there, we teach them how to build upon them throughout their experience.”