Choosing Between a One and Two Year MBA Program
The verdict is out but the jury is hung. Which will it be, a one year or two year MBA program? You've weighed out the pros and cons. You've studied all the research and poured over statistics on career advancement and salary, but, unfortunately, you still seem to be at a deadlock. Let's see if we can't shed some light on your dilemma.
One of the most difficult things about reaching this decision is that it requires you to first come to some rock-solid conclusions about yourself and your future.
- You must determine your priorities
- In a turbulent economy you must set strategic goals
- You must know what kind of working conditions push you to be your best.
Look, it's no secret that there are serious advantages to a one year MBA program. You're going to save money and gain a wealth of marketable training all while leaving work for a relatively short period of time. Plus, these days, many programs have integrated hands-on work experience akin to summer internships, thus neutralizing what was once the biggest knock on the one year stint.
On the other hand, the traditional two year MBA track also offers its share of benefits that, at first glance, seem hard to pass up. Two years provides grad students with a lot more breathing room in which to accomplish their most sought after goals: good grades and solid networking.
As challenging as MBA courses are, spreading the work out over four semesters gives you every opportunity to score well without having to stake out a corner of library as your personal colony. Yes you will be able to enjoy both the light of the sun and the moon while you socialize with fellow students, schmooze with professors, join clubs, start new ones and explore the vast opportunities that await you post-graduation, all while still maintaining an enviably high GPA.
More importantly, if you're planning to use an MBA as a launching pad to a new career, it is generally advisable that you graduate from a two year MBA program. The value of an extra year of honing your skills, both in and outside of the classroom, will not be lost on your future employer.
Now, here's the big question: Out of all these benefits, which are the most beneficial to you?
What are your biggest priorities? Saving money and reentering the work force as quickly as possible or padding your CV and possibly landing your dream job? Are you all about getting your MBA as quickly as you can or having the time to pursue other activities while you study?
If you find your priorities align clearly with either one option or the other then you know that you've found your direction. But what if, for example, your ambition is to pursue a new career path and at the same time you'd like to not have to shell out the tuition for a two year program. Or, alternatively, long-term networking is your goal but you just can't see yourself being out of the work force for longer than a year?
Well, ok, there is a conflict there, but you have to decide, which priority is most important to you? When push comes to shove, what would you be willing to sacrifice and what would you not?
Something else you might want to consider is whether the reasoning that forms the justification of your priorities is as strong as you think. Are you clinging to assumptions that are preventing you from seeing the full picture?
For example, are you so sure leaving the workforce for more than a year would be a bad idea? If the economy is tough right now and good jobs are scarce, then maybe it's a perfect time to invest in furthering your education. Or if you're so sure that a one year program won't give you enough internship experience and networking opportunities for the position you want to land, perhaps you should take a look into some more schools and see if they offer one year programs designed specifically to advance students towards particular career goals.
There are literally thousands of programs out there. Speak to people at Cornell, INSEAD, Kellogg or EMORY and inform yourself. Maybe you can save time and money without sacrificing your top career choices.
- Clear identify your priorities and list them according to hierarchy of importance
- Double check your facts about your own needs and the services provided by the programs you're considering.
- Find the program(s) that will work best for you. Don't let yourself be bound by formulaic thinking and research. Think outside of the box. Things are always changing and you might be on the verge of a great discovery.
That being said, one final consideration has to do with another personal matter – the way you prefer to work. How are you most productive? Can you see yourself thriving in the intense academic environment of a one year MBA where things will inevitably be rushed, or will you get more out of and be able to put more into a program with a standard two year curriculum. The nature of your work habits should definitely play into your choice.
Choosing the right MBA program ranks up there with the toughest decisions you'll have to make in your entire career. One year programs do have some attractive features like convenience, lower cost and expedience, however, only you can determine whether these factors should be decisive!
The best advice we can give you is that you are your own best guide. Just get some 'order in the court.' In true business-like fashion, all you have to do is break down the problem, see the solution and implement it.
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