Two-Year Vs. One-Year MBAs: Key Differences

Two-Year Vs. One-Year MBAs: Key Differences

Accelerated one-year MBA programs have overtaken the traditional two-year MBA in popularity.

While both the one-year and two-year MBA options offer a significant salary boost, there are key differences that are important to note. US News recently explained some of the benefits and drawbacks of each program, offering insight into what prospective students can expect from the one-year MBA.


One of the main differentiators of the one-year MBA program is the accelerated pace. With just one year to complete their degree, students should expect to hit the ground running.

“In a two-year program, you have more time to digest the course content,” Melissa Jones, an MBA coach with Fortuna Admissions and a former assistant director at INSEAD, tells US News. “People come from having maybe not studied business or can be younger in their career, and they have more time for networking and the job search. The one-year program is a bit more intense. The days are longer and the networking and the job search happen much sooner.”


Two-year MBA programs are ideal for those looking to make a career switch. The time structure of a two-year program allows for students to explore and experiment. On the other hand, one-year programs are designed for students who want to build on skills to stay in their existing field.

“The one-year MBA is really for those building off an existing foundation and confident they want to continue on,” Steve Thompson, senior director of admissions for full-time programs at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, tells US News. “Academically, they have the experience to join a one-year program, and they have career experience that has instilled a lot of confidence, so maybe they want to go back to the same company or return to the same industry, but they don’t want to veer too much.”


Networking is a huge component of the MBA experience. Typically, MBA students build relationships through clubs and extracurricular activities. And while one-year MBAs can join these groups, they “have to be more selective and might only be able to do one or two things,” Jones says, due to the accelerated nature of the program.

The biggest difference between the two program types is the summer internship, a cornerstone of the two-year MBA, but typically absent in one-year programs.

“The internship is critical for those looking to pivot careers,” Thompson says. “That doesn’t exist in the one-year, so I’d advise students to think it through and be honest with themselves. If they are on the right trajectory where they see themselves being happy, explore the one-year. It minimizes opportunity costs and they still have a world-class academic experience.”

Sources: US News, P&Q

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