One-Year MBA programs have slowly been on the rise in the U.S. lagging behind the popularity of the degree in Europe. But demand for the accelerated MBA has grown over the last decade as U.S. prospective students look for more focused paths and less expensive options to accelerate their careers. According to the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC), 47% of prospective students in 2018 considered a One-Year MBA, the highest percentage in a decade, and yet, One-Year MBA programs accounted for just 10% of AACSB-accredited MBA programs in the U.S.
While a One-Year MBA isn’t for everyone, more prospective students are considering it for good reasons.
The One-Year MBA can be the perfect solution for those looking to accelerate their existing career path since a traditional summer internship is not a necessity for those continuing within their existing functions or industries. Whether you work in finance, consulting, marketing, tech, or any number of fields, the One-Year MBA provides an accelerated pathway to advanced roles. It is also the preferred MBA degree for students who are sponsored by their companies or entrepreneurs who need to quickly build a foundation of business fundamentals to grow their ventures.
The intensive nature of an accelerated MBA enables students to focus on putting into practice what they learn to accelerate the trajectory of their current career and move into leadership roles after the program. Although One-Year MBA programs offer slightly fewer electives than a traditional Full-time MBA, electives are often used for career exploration and not necessary for those advancing within their existing fields. At Emory University’s Goizueta Business School, One-Year MBA students complete 10 electives (versus 14 in the Two-Year MBA) giving them the opportunity to expand their knowledge and skillsets and dive deep into topics that directly apply to their current industry.
Pivoting Career Paths
Career switchers shouldn’t rule out the One-Year MBA degree either. While it may limit a transition into some industries – those few that traditionally hire exclusively from an internship pool – it can be a gateway for those with transferrable skills looking to transition into a related industry. For example, those looking to transition from sales to marketing roles, engineers wanting to move into technology product management, or researchers and regulators seeking to move into the business of healthcare.
An accelerated MBA is also a great tool to add value to other graduate degrees. Goizueta offers six One-Year MBA dual degree options: JD/MBA, JM/MBA, MD/MBA, DPT/MBA, MDIV/MBA, and MTS/MBA. Law and business, as well as healthcare and business, are natural fits providing graduates flexible career options as well as the ability to transition career paths more easily further into their careers.
The obvious reasons to pursue a One-Year MBA are the reduced time to completion and cost. Requiring just one year to complete instead of two reduces your time away from your career and away from a steady income. The opportunity cost of being away from your career is vastly reduced and the acceleration in your career (which often means a higher salary) comes in half the time.
One-Year MBA programs are also less expensive than traditional Full-time MBA programs. Goizueta’s One-Year MBA has a 25% lower tuition than the Two-Year MBA but students also save on the cost of living expenses including housing and health insurance.
This translates to a quicker return on investment for One-Year MBA students. It’s worth noting that Goizueta One-Year MBA graduates realize similar salary outcomes as their Two-Year MBA counterparts. For the class of 2020, the average base salary for Goizueta One-Year MBA graduates was $126,463 vs $130,112 for Two-Year MBA graduates.
One-Year MBA Myths
One of the myths of One-Year MBA programs is that the small cohort size leads to a less valuable network. This may be true at some business schools but not all. First, although the number of classmates in your accelerated MBA cohort may be smaller, you will build deeper and more personal relationships with each other, creating a trusted, lifelong network and a robust support system. Second, Goizueta’s One-Year MBA students have integrated opportunities to engage with and learn from their Two-Year MBA counterparts both inside and outside the classrooms. Through shared electives, leadership development programming, and co-curricular and social activities, One-Year MBA students can build a robust network across the business school. Also, the small class sizes translate to a high-touch, personal experience with intimate access to faculty experts to aid in the learning experience.
Another myth is that One-Year MBA programs have fewer experiential learning opportunities. At Goizueta, this is categorically false. Emphasizing experiential learning and putting lessons into practice, Goizueta One-Year MBA students have the same academic experiential learning opportunities as the Two-Year MBA students as well as the option for an additional global immersion experience. Goizueta students participate in leadership development programming such as one-on-one peer and executive coaching sessions, Goizueta’s Advanced Leadership Academy (GALA) and its sailing capstone, and navigating a US Army Leader’s Reaction Course; hands-on client consulting projects with Goizueta’s IMPACT Program, and global business immersions that include experiential modules in destinations around the globe.
Finally, a common myth is that a One-Year MBA is a watered-down MBA degree. Although it is a shorter academic experience, it is also a more intense experience that packs the full learning opportunities from a traditional Full-time MBA into just one year. Experiential learning, leadership development, real client projects, global travel, student clubs, social activities, career coaching…an accelerated Goizueta One-Year MBA has it all.
Not for Everyone
Make no mistake, One-Year MBA programs will not surpass the traditional two-year Full-time MBA in the number of program options or prospective student demand. They also are not for everyone. The intensity of the program can be daunting. And the high-touch nature of the program due to smaller cohort sizes is not a good fit for those looking to be a small fish in a big pond. But for those looking to accelerate their existing career paths or transition into a related field or industry, the lower cost, shorter timeframe, faster ROI, and higher touch accelerated MBA degree may be an ideal fit.
Brian Mitchell is the Full-Time MBA Associate Dean at Emory University’s Goizueta Business School. Prior to joining Goizueta, Brian spent 20 years in marketing and strategy roles in the pharmaceutical industry ultimately leading a specialized products P&L of over $600 million. Upon transition to education, Brian earned an Ed.M. from Harvard University where he attended as a Zuckerman Fellow within the Center for Public Leadership and was awarded Harvard’s Intellectual Contribution and Faculty Tribute award for his research on global partnerships in graduate business education.