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Are you planning on attending a top MBA program in Fall 2017? As the first step in your business school search process, how do you decide between applying for a one year or two year MBA program?
Here are some of the critical factors to consider to make sure you find the right fit:
1. Your Profile. How much professional experience do you have thus far? Are you certain of what you want to do once you complete the MBA? If you have had more than four to five years of experience, plan to remain in your current industry, sponsoring company or family business, and are looking at the MBA to be the yeast that helps the dough rise, the one-year program is probably a better option for you. If, however, you are unsure of your post-MBA career trajectory or looking to switch industries, the two-year program is a better bet. You will, as a result, not be overwhelmed with a simultaneous high-octane job search and the intensive commitments of a full-time MBA program.
2. Summer Internship. If you are interested in switching careers or looking for a different role within the same industry, the summer internship between the first and second years of a two-year MBA is a critical foot-in-the-door, and can lead to your first full-time job in the industry post-MBA. However, if you have already established your professional prowess in the industry you hope to build a career in, the summer internship becomes less critical. For both programs, if you are considering a pre-MBA internship, do so wisely – have a crystal clear idea of what you are planning on getting out of it. Otherwise, spend the summer as downtime with family and friends, or travel to your dream destination, so that you are ready for the programs’ intensity.
3. Experiences, Extracurriculars and Exchange Programs. Both programs offer a wide range of opportunities to participate beyond the classroom. If you have a clearer career focus, you will be able to maximize your engagement with real-world projects and competitions that are most relevant to you. In the two-year program, you get to do so at a less intensive pace. You get to network for longer, dabble with your interests more, cross-register for classes across campuses, and work on your passion-startup, simply because you have more time. You also get more bandwidth for MBA exchange programs with other top schools globally, often resulting in access to alumni networks and job prospects from multiple schools.
4. Subject Specializations. Passionate about finding business solutions to global problems like urban sanitation or access to primary care in developing countries? You may want to consider subject specializations which many schools offer, from finance and analytics to healthcare and sustainability. If you are interested in a specialization, the two-year program is a better option because you have the time to delve deeper into this subject, engage in research projects or write cases with Professors in your second year.
5. Cost, Opportunity Cost and Jobs. The one-year MBA is definitely cheaper, both in terms of how much it would cost, as well in terms of the amount of time you are spending outside the workforce generating an income. However, you are saddled with job searching while trying to maximize your MBA experience, which can be overwhelming. So if your fit is better aligned with the two-year program, do not opt for the one-year program solely because of this factor. It is important to note here that your recruiting potential as an alumnus – that is, your potential to find not just gainful, but also high-quality, employment within six months of graduation and a subsequently strong career trajectory – matters to a number of top business schools. Research your schools thoroughly to see how much this factor weighs in their application evaluation process.
The verdict: One year programs are better for boosting or fast-tracking your current career path. Two year programs are better if you have less/non-traditional work experience, or are looking to switch roles or industries altogether. However, it is important to contextualize these factors and assess how your specific needs/path fit with the one- or two-year program.
Need help deciding which program is best for you? ReachIvy can help!
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