Ask the expert: is a one- or two-year MBA best?

Dear George,

I am 32 years old and am inclined towards a one-year programme because I don’t want to spend too long out of the workplace. However, I have heard that two-year programmes are better for people who plan on career path changes and are not entirely sure of what they will do next. Do you tend to agree?

Dear Prospective MBA

An interesting question and one that has been a dilemma for many would-be MBA students.

Both parts of your question are correctand therein lies the dilemma. Yes, a shorter, one-year programme does (obviously) keep you out of the job market for less time and, yes, a two-year programme may be more suitable for people who want to change their career path.

One of the reasons two-year MBAs are better in this respect is down to the, sometimes mandatory, summer internship in a company in the middle of the programme. This helps students to assess the suitability of a career change. Not only that, but also an internship is often a prerequisite for being offered a job at the end of your degree.

However, there are some caveats here, most concerned with the current global financial and economic situation.

Spending less time out of the job market will not be important if there is, in effect, no job market. This is the reason that applications to MBA programmes are traditionally counter-cyclicalwhen the economy is down they go up.

Many applicants believe that a business school is a good place to shelter from economic storms. The idea is that you will emerge later with a shiny new MBA just as, you hope, the job market picks up.

That’s why a recession is also a good time to put into effect that dream of changing careers. Maybe your new career path will be the one most in demand in an economic upturn.

Of course, both one-year and two-year programmes have advantages and disadvantages and both are quite suitable whether or not you are planning a change of career.

But, in very general terms, if you want stay in the same career area and are pretty confidant of finding another job after graduation then a one-year programme may be best for you.

If you are thinking of changing career then two years, allowing you time to assess your new career path, may offer more advantages.

George Bickerstaffe.

If you have any advice for our prospective student feel free to post it below. If you have a question for George Bickerstaffe please email it to: AskTheExpert@economist.com

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3 Responses to “Ask the expert: is a one- or two-year MBA best?”

  1. Carol Howe Says:

    Dear Mr. G. Bickerstaffe,
    Does The Economist rank MBA Schools by major/discipline? The F.T. did this 1/26/09. Your subscribers would like to see which MBA Schools excel in Accountancy, Finance, Info. Technology, and the like.
    Thank you.

  2. Filiber Says:

    Dear George,
    I am 39 years old and am inclined towards a one-year programme because I don’t want to spend too long out of the workplace. Two years ago, i have studied one MBA program in Spain and i hve a dual degree in Telecomunivcation Engineering, Valencia(Spain) and Brest(Francia). I have worked in Alcatel, Canon, etc…and actually, i have not a job(i have been fired).What kind of programme can i do?Is it enough with the education that i have?

  3. Helen Warwick Says:

    You’re absolutely right in having concerns about being away from the workplace. In such a tempestuous and economic climate it’s important to keep your career secured while ensuring your skills and knowledge are at the cutting edge of your field.
    We at Hult International Business School (www.hult.edu) are fully aware of these challenges, and have designed all our programmes so that our graduates stay away from work for as little time as possible and gain valuable practical knowledge they can apply directly to their work. Unlike many business schools, we offer an intensive one-year MBA rather than two, giving you the green light to get back into the workforce and allowing you to recoup your MBA investment in half the time of other programmes.
    Alternatively, we also offer a part-time MBA at out Dubai campus. Pursuing this option means you will keep up with your career in this volatile economy AND enhance your skills – something pretty vital for aspiring CEOs and company directors. Offered over two years instead of one, our part-time MBA curriculum is identical to our full-time program, and is recognised by world leading head-hunters. Opting for a Hult degree is a wise decision in the current economic climate, and a smart way to elevate your career to the next level.

    About Hult International Business School
 (www.hult.edu) Hult International Business School (formerly known as the Arthur D. Little School of Management) is the first global business school with operations in Boston, London, Dubai and Shanghai. The School offers a range of business-focused programs including a one-year MBA, Master’s and Undergraduate degrees. Hult is ranked 31st in the world and 16th in the US by the Economist Intelligence Unit and 6th for International Mobility by the Financial Times. The School is a fully accredited member of the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC) and the Association of MBAs (AMBA).

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