Finding the Right MBA Program: Accelerated, Part-Time or Full-Time
Once you have decided to pursue an MBA, you will quickly discover that there are a number of program options to choose from. One of the first decisions you’ll need to make is finding a program that satisfies your professional objectives as well as your busy schedule. Historically, MBA degrees were available to either full-time or part-time students.
However, in the last ten years there’s been proliferation in the number of program options, each designed to meet the needs of today’s working professionals: Accelerated, Online and Hybrid programs. Which type of program is best for you? Understanding the options will help you make that decision.
While accelerated MBA programs have long been the preferred format in the rest of the world, they are relatively new to the U.S. Accelerated programs provide the same essential management education in a condensed timeline, typically less than two years. The shorter time period allows graduates to begin earning a return on their investment sooner and the programs tend to be less costly.
Degree credit requirements differ widely among accelerated programs but usually range between 35 and 45 total credits. Coursework is completed over terms that last 6-10 weeks vs the traditional 15-week semester. The major difference between accelerated and traditional programs is the number of elective classes. As a general rule, accelerated programs require fewer elective classes.
Accelerated curriculums are completed on a part-time basis and appeal to working professionals who can commit to a rigorous schedule without too much disruption to their personal or professional lives. To facilitate the condensed timetable many accelerated programs make use of a hybrid delivery model where some portion of the curriculum is delivered online.
The admission requirements vary somewhat depending on the program but generally require, two years or more of work experience, a GPA of 3.0 or better from an accredited undergraduate institution, and strong performance on the GMAT (some programs waive the GMAT requirement). You will also need letters of reference and an essay that specifies how the program will help you achieve your goals. In some cases, an interview may also be required.
In short, if your goal is to improve your career options without disrupting your life, the accelerated MBA will give you more flexibility and enable you to finish your degree in a shorter amount of time.
Going back to school as a full-time graduate student can be an exciting and fulfilling experience. Immersing yourself in the world of business academia is a luxury for those who can afford the time and added expenses of a full-time program. Applicants to full-time programs make a 24-month commitment and are quite often looking to change careers.
Students attend classes during the day, evening, and on weekends. The credit requirements are much higher – typically 60 credits are required over four terms or two years. The first-year courses include many of the core foundational courses and don’t typically vary from program to program. The added credits are completed as electives in the second year. It’s the added electives that allow many full-time programs to offer degree concentrations in specific business disciplines, such as finance, marketing, healthcare, etc.
Those who can’t afford to go back to school full-time and who need more flexibility than offered by an accelerated program should consider a part-time MBA program. Part-time curriculums are similar to full-time programs except that student decides how quickly he/she wants to complete the program. For some, the go-at-your-own-pace option is a significant attraction, but for others it may lack the structure they need to stay motivated.
Many colleges and universities require students to complete their degree within five years of starting; those enrolled in a part-time MBA program usually complete them in 3.5-4.5 years.
Degree credit requirements can vary, but are more akin to full-time rather than accelerated programs. Depending on the program, students attend daytime or evening classes and often mix with full-time students.
Part-time programs appeal to individuals who can’t meet the time commitment required in either an accelerated or full-time program due to personal or work-related issues.
Which MBA Is Right for Me?
The answer to which program is right for you depends on many factors, most notably the time commitment, financial resources, and personal flexibility.
Immersing yourself in a full-time MBA program is a luxury, but it will take you out of the job market for two years with no assurance regarding your reentry. Accelerated programs condense nearly the same amount of material into a shorter timeframe but may be too demanding for someone with little formal business education. The go-at-your-own-pace part-time program provides added flexibility but the extended timetable delays the return on your investment.When choosing a program it’s also important to consider your academic experience and the circumstances under which you do your best work. For some, the demands of an accelerated format may be ideal; for others, it might be counter-productive.
The MBA Program at Ramapo College
Working professionals enrolled in Ramapo College’s accelerated MBA Program develop a foundation in business leadership, critical thinking and international management. Located in Mahwah, NJ and surrounded by world-class corporations, the Anisfield School of Business at Ramapo College is accredited by AACSB, a recognition earned by only 6% of the business schools worldwide.
Over the course of 20 months, students complete 14 courses, spend a week in China and consult for a local business as part of their capstone course. Students attend evening classes twice a week at the Mahwah campus. Those choosing the project management track are prepared to take the Project Management Professional (PMP) exam. Many graduates find that having the PMP designation along with their new MBA makes an indelible impression on potential employers.