It’s early February, time to explore one of the MBA world’s hidden opportunities: J-term, or January Entry.
As the name implies, these students begin in January and continue through the summer term, meaning that they get the same amount of classroom time as traditional two-year MBAs.
J-term programs are typically smaller and more international, with a faster pace that makes them a good fit for students who already have a position lined up after graduation. Best of all, if you only recently realized you want to do an MBA, or received unsatisfactory results during the fall application season, you can still apply to many of these programs!
The advantages of J-term
Yep, most J-term programs (with the notable exception of Columbia) have much later deadlines. For example, INSEAD’s deadlines extend deep into the summer, while HEC accepts J-term applications until November 15th! That means you can start applying now or take advantage of an immediate second chance.
The vast majority of J-term programs are easier to get into than their September equivalents. Most B-School candidates apply in the first two rounds of September intakes because of the far greater range of offerings. By the time January rolls around, there are fewer people to compete against, which can work to your advantage.
By starting later, you sacrifice the traditional summer internship, but gain half-a-year in the workplace. While many J-term programs cost roughly the same as their two-year counterparts, you save significantly by reducing your time spent as a student.
Alternative Internship Options
At schools like Columbia, the January program focuses on skipping an unnecessary internship and returning more quickly to the job market. However, at continental programs (i.e. INSEAD), there are often fantastic opportunities to add an internship to your studies (with sometimes only the January intake offering an internship).
A Quick Survey of the Best J-Term Programs
Columbia’s J-Term is the most famous and prestigious in the U.S. It is also the only one highlighted here which has REGULAR deadlines. That means that unless you are a strong Round 3 candidate, it’s probably a good idea to wait for this one.
INSEAD, Europe’s most prestigious business program, has two intakes – January and September. The class is divided pretty much evenly, with 50% matriculating in September and 50% in January, although only the January intake offers an internship opportunity.
HEC Paris offers both a September and January intake, with the curriculum remaining the same regardless of the intake.
IMD Switzerland offers a small, prestigious 11-month January MBA program with a class of 90 students, often on the older side (Average age is 35).
IE Business School is Spain’s top business school and has two intakes – one in November and one in April – with rolling deadlines. You can send your application at any time.
Erasmus University, Rotterdam School of Management’s international full-time MBA program, only has a January intake, and is consistently ranked as one of Europe’s Top 10 MBA programs.
Warwick is the only top-ranked UK school which offers two intakes per year (March and October).
EMST is a Berlin-based MBA program which offers later deadlines and only a January intake.
Ivey Business School is a top-ranked, one-year, full-time MBA program beginning in March.
Queen’s School of Business in Ontario, Canada offers a one year full-time MBA program that starts from January.
York University’s Schulich School of Business offers the option of either a September or January intake for their full-time MBA program.
If you’re aiming to change careers, a more traditional MBA with a summer internship is a good choice. However, if you plan to return to a fast-moving company or industry, the time gained through a shortened J-term program may make a big difference in your career prospects. The programs above allow you to earn an MBA without missing a beat.