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 are 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, 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 want to deepen their knowledge and skills in specific areas 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 explicitly tailored for mid-career professionals who want to continue working while pursuing their degrees. 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, making 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 ten 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 you can complete from the comfort of your 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.
Carnegie Mellon’s Tepper School of Business and University of North Carolina’s Kenan-Flagler Business School tied for 1st place in US News’s 2021 ranking of online MBA programs. Meanwhile, IU Kelley School, USC Marshall School of Business, and the University of Florida Warrington round out the top five.
The pandemic has taught us all that we can navigate much of the global business environment remotely. An online MBA format maximizes these technologies and perhaps better prepares tomorrow’s business leaders to navigate 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 who want to stick to the same career path or move 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 whole immersion experience is invaluable for the networking opportunities and alumni connections it provides. It also offers a unique time for MBA students to reflect on and reconsider their career paths.
In reality, every candidate has their own unique needs that align 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.