Getting To Know One-Year MBA Programs In The US

One-Year MBA Programs

The attractions of attending a rapid, pared-down and intensified one-year MBA program:

  • It takes less time.
  • It costs less.
  • It requires less time out of the work force.

Completing B-School in one year offers not only the best ROI you can get, but also the quickest. Folks who go through one-year programs pay off their MBA loans in half the time (on average) of people who are doing two-year programs.

So to sum it all up: one-year programs offer you the opportunity to pay half the tuition and half the living costs to complete the same degree in half the time.

Sounds almost too good to be true. But the truth is, if you’re the right person for a one-year program, it’s most definitely not!

Who is the right person for a one-year MBA program?

As attractive as they are, one-year programs are not for everyone. Ideal candidates for one-year programs are those that know exactly what they want and are already on their way.

So one-year programs are fantastic for MBA candidates who want a career jump and acceleration in what they already know. In other words, these candidates have good experience, and want to learn more and break the barriers holding them back within the same career path. One-Year MBAs are exceptionally great programs for candidates who will return to the same company at a better role, or candidates who want to gain the knowledge and network from an MBA and bring it back to a family business or entrepreneurial venture.

What are the major differences between a one-year program and a two-year program?

While on paper these programs are very similar to the standard two-year MBA program, there are four key differences:

1. Focus:

Since time is tight in one-year programs, they tend to focus intensely on giving students the opportunity to get specifically what they need without anything superfluous. So unlike two-year programs that have electives and a variety of courses that allow students to explore and dabble (in special management programs, electives, classes in other schools/departments, internships), one-year programs provide a laser-focused curriculum on one specific area of interest. You know, the one the students came in for specifically.

2. No Internship:

Along the same lines, since there is no summer/break in the one-year programs, few of them offer an internship. And that makes one-year programs unsuited for most career switchers; especially for those who want to move into consulting or finance where the internship is the sine qua non of moving into desired companies without prior experience.

3. Types of Students:

Since one-year candidates often stay in-industry, it should come as no surprise that the class makeup is a bit different. These students are often a bit older, a bit more experienced, and are accepted (on average) with slightly lower GMATs than full-time candidates.

4. Fewer Networking Opportunities:

Less time in a program means less time to network. Ask anyone who’s been to B-School and they will tell you that the second year is a total blast, since most candidates have already gotten offers. So year two is a huge opportunity to socialize, hang out and have fun. But it’s about more than fun, of course. All of that socializing is really just networking in beer goggles… erm… disguise. Making friends and connecting with your classmates means deepening the professional network that will be available to you throughout the rest of your career, which is one of the most invaluable takeaways of B-School.

Best US one-year MBA programs

OK so now that you’ve got a better understanding of the pros and cons of one-year programs, let’s talk about the specific programs available to you in the U.S. There are quite a few of them across the country, but only two offered by Top 10 programs:

  1. Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University
  2. The Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management at Cornell University

A Look At Kellogg’s Program

Kellogg’s program kicks off in June to give one-year students a head start before they join their full-time classmates in September. Kellogg’s accelerated MBA allows student to bypass unneeded core courses and focus only on what they need for their specific career (a nice choice of 200+ courses available).

Tuition is about $91,000, which is about $30,000 less than the full-time program (and that is not including the saved opportunity costs!), so if you know what you want to do, it’s a good option to increase the returns on your investment in time and money. And you don’t really miss out on anything!

One-year students are quite integrated with the two-year program and can participate in lab-based courses, KWEST, the annual ski trip, and all the other fun unique offerings of Kellogg. Like most one-year programs, you do sacrifice the summer internship, so recruiting starts the second you walk through the doors (actually even before).

A Look At Cornell’s Program

Cornell’s one-year program – which runs annually from May to May – is an accelerated format focused on management for those who want to minimize their time away from work. Tuition is similar to Kellogg and the post-MBA salaries for both part- and full-time are comparable. However, it is important to note that the employment rates at three months post-graduation are not equal: 92% for the two-year program, and 84% for the one-year program. That stat illustrates the advantage a two-year program provides to job seekers. (Compare the two programs here.)

There are many other excellent one-year programs out there including Emory, Babson, Katz, Cox and Olin; all schools with international prestige and excellent employment rates. The major difference in graduating from these second-tier schools is the same as for their full-time programs: post-MBA placements tend to be relatively regional in comparison to Top 10 programs. But they otherwise offer similar structures and the same advantages as all other one-year programs

But wait! There’s More!

U.S. Mid-Career One-Year Programs

In addition to “regular” one-year programs designed for candidates with a moderate (3-6 years) amount of work experience, there are several one-year mid-career executive MBA programs offered by Top US programs geared towards older, more experienced candidates. Schools like Marshall’s IBEAR program, Stanford’s MSX program or the Sloan Fellows program.

Each one is unique but they share many similarities:

  • Students are much older (30-35 on average)
  • Students are much more experienced (10-15 years)
  • Students are much more international (75%!)

These are a bit easier to get into than the full-time programs of their respective schools, but are still very prestigious. The main attraction here is to place candidates together in a class with those with the same level of experience. For older candidates, these programs are near perfect: Less time out of the workforce, smaller opportunity costs, and a more cohesive and experienced class, yet still extremely prestigious, allowing you to reach your career goals.

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