Choosing your MBA : one year or two?

Before embarking on the quest for the right MBA, there are a few questions that you need to answer. The first may be Why pursue an MBA ? The second is probably Which is right for me - a 1 year or a 2 year MBA ? 

There are several reasons for doing an MBA but candidates usually associate themselves with at least one of the reasons below :

  • Boost my career & my salary
  • Renew and upgrade my business tool-kit and deepen my understanding of the global business world
  • Develop skills necessary to set up my own company
  • Expand my network
  • Develop my soft skills such as leadership and managerial competencies and grow through personal development
  • Gain international exposure
  • Improve my career prospects and get through more job search filters
  • Increase my confidence and my credibility among hierarchy, co-workers and clients

If you recognize yourself in any of the above, then you are ready to launch into the complex jungle of the MBA search. The consideration is whether a 1 year or a 2 year MBA is better suited for you. The answer generally depends on your profile and whether you are able to finance your living costs and tuition fees over a prolonged period with no income.

ROI better in 1 Year

Traditionally the US format of an MBA is a 2 year programme whereas most European schools will propose an intensive 12 month course.  This explains why the ROI on European schools is far greater than their American counterparts.  Indeed, the recent GMAC Applications Trends Survey indicates a continued preference for the 1 year MBA, compared to the 2 year model of the US Ivy League schools.  Applications to European MBA’s are growing faster than those in the States. “Value for Money is still a big concern for candidates,” comments EDHEC Global MBA Director in this article by Business Because. Those with a family to consider generally opt for an MBA that allows a prompt return to the work place and the 1 year MBA is a more cost-efficient format which equips graduates for today’s fast-paced business world.

Class profile

Generally speaking, the US MBA will have a younger and less diversified class profile.  Average age can be 26 compared to 29 in Europe. Needless to say, with age comes experience and so if you already have several years of experience under your belt, the 1 year MBA would generally be more suitable.  The 1 year MBA with its mature class offers strong networking opportunities and higher-level group discussions.  Candidates learn from both peers and professors through “we did it this way” discussions.  

Importance of Accreditations

But can a one year MBA cover the same requirements as a two-year model?  The answer is yes, on condition that the programme is AMBA accredited and that the school has the AACSB and Equis certifications of quality.  These certifications are only awarded to establishments that meet international quality standards relative to curriculum, professors, class profile, facilities, admissions procedures etc.  With these labels, you can be reassured that nothing is missing and that the school and MBA are regularly audited to the highest standards.

Short can be long !

In terms of ability to stay longer in the host country and actually absorb the culture and language, the 2 year MBA certainly accommodates this, but many countries’ visa systems are fairly generous.  In France for example, an MBA candidate can use his/her student visa to do an internship for up to 6 months after the MBA and then prolong the stay for another 6 – 12 months to do paid work using the APS system. A short MBA needn’t mean a short stint in the country.

The attractions of a 1 year MBA also suit the ambitious, young candidate seeking to be drawn upwards and learn from the experience of peers. This precious mentoring is a real plus for such individuals. While European MBAs can have a more mature class average, the age range is also generally more diversified and the more experienced participants are able to benefit first-hand from the innovative insights of their younger classmates. 

To sum up, the ideal length of your MBA will depend on your personal profile, family circumstance and finances. 
If you wish to find out more about EDHEC Global MBA’s 10 month programme, please start here. We provide you here an MBA checklist as a good starting point to help you find the right MBA.