Many prospective applicants are seriously considering whether this is the year to apply for an MBA. Business schools have become increasingly innovative in their approaches to management education. There’s traditional two-year programs, one-year accelerated MBAs, part-time MBAs, executive MBAs, online programs, and global MBAs. But which MBA delivery option is right for you?
There’s something out there for every interest type and schedule. If you’re having doubts about whether an MBA is feasible, don’t rule it out. Do some research first.
A one-year MBA may be right for you if:
Long the norm in Europe, Find MBA says that accelerated MBA programs have grown in popularity stateside over the past several years. This format is best suited for those who want to continue working in the same industry but would like to deepen their knowledge and skills in specific areas in order to move into a higher position.
Recruiters show no real preference for the two-year over the one-year program. Therefore, the decision often boils down to whether candidates are career accelerators or career changers.
This degree is time consuming and requires intense focus. Therefore, applicants must come onto the scene with a strong background in business fundamentals. Many programs show a definite preference for those with an undergraduate business degree.
This MBA delivery option is both a time and money saver. It often provides a faster return on investment as participants endure only one year of lost income. While the accelerated MBA option doesn’t allow for internships, students return to the workforce after 12 months.
An executive MBA may be right for you if:
This iteration of the MBA is tailored specifically for mid-career professionals who want to continue working while pursuing their degree. Executive MBA students also immediately apply the lessons of the classroom in the boardroom. They may be looking to switch industries, or to transition from manager to entrepreneur. A demanding family life may also make it impossible to take advantage of the extracurricular activities available to traditional full-time MBA students, which may make an EMBA more desirable.
Students in an EMBA program must have the support of their employers. This format requires some time out of the office for week-long residencies or classes held on alternate Fridays. Historically, companies sponsored 100 percent of their employees’ studies. However these days, only about a quarter of students receive full tuition reimbursement.
Many schools won’t state an actual number of required years of work experience. However, the expectation hovers around 10 years. Participants are typically in their late 30s. Executive MBA applicants must show prior management responsibility and a record of significant achievements. This wealth of professional experience is what ultimately enriches the learning environment in the classroom.
An online MBA may be right for you if:
Some MBA aspirants are either unwilling or unable to leave their job and family to pursue a full-time, two-year degree. In that case, a program that can completed from the comfort of one’s own home could be the ideal solution. The online MBA delivery option is even more appealing given that the caliber of such programs has improved dramatically in the past five years.
IU Kelley School of Business and University of North Carolina’s Kenan-Flagler Business School tied for 1st place in US News’s 2019 ranking of online MBA programs. Meanwhile, CMU Tepper School of Business, University of Florida Hough Graduate School of Business, and USC Marshall School of Business round out the top five.
That list may receive a jolt next year, as the Ross School of Business—the highest ranked school to launch an online program—just announced an inaugural cohort of 72 students. “We overshot our goal, and we’re happy with 72 students,” Wally Hopp, associate dean of part-time MBA Programs at Ross, tells Poets & Quants. “We hit the mark on quality and quantity,” he adds.
In today’s global business environment, much of the day-to-day interaction takes place remotely, via E-mail, text, or video conference. An online MBA format maximizes these technologies and perhaps even better prepares tomorrow’s business leaders for navigating within the dominant communication methods.
This format requires a high degree of self motivation and excellent time management. Like the accelerated MBA, online programs work best for candidates intent on sticking to the same career path or moving ahead within their current company.
Or, is a traditional MBA right for you?
The classic MBA experience is still the gold standard for many applicants, we’ve found. The full-immersion experience is invaluable for the networking opportunities and alumni connections it provides. It also provides a unique time for MBA students to reflect on and reconsider their career paths.
In reality, every candidate has his or her own unique needs that must be aligned with the format that makes the most sense. Whichever MBA delivery option you choose for your b-school journey, a great fit with your goals and lifestyle will ensure the best results from application to graduation.