One-Year MBA vs Two-Year MBA Which is Better for You?

Pursuing an MBA program is both a personal and professional decision. Hence it is important to carefully mull over the comparative benefits, consider your individual situation and circumstances and only then make an important choice. 

One-Year MBA vs Two-Year MBA

A conventional two-year MBA program is usually full-time, residential, and covers two nine-month academic years, with a summer break in between. On the other hand, a one-year residential program is usually 11- or 12-month. However, both the programs offer a key set of curricula including foundational topics like accounting, finance, organizational behavior, and economics, along with an array of electives.

A lot of queries and indecisions exist among students when it comes to choosing between a One-Year MBA and a Two-Year MBA, even though both offer a Master’s in Business Administration at the end of their respective full programs.  

In the USA, universities mostly do not entertain the idea of a fast paced quickie MBA and this is important to know because nearly 50 percent of world’s most renowned business schools are there. one year MBA degrees are largely offered in the domain of UK, Europe (INSEAD, IMD) and some Asian institutes, like the ISB and IIM. But even in these countries the number of universities offering one year program, is far less than the ones with two year programs.

Let us now try to understand that apart from the name and duration of each – what other significant characteristics distinguish these two programs.

One year MBA programs are rather intense, with the curriculum tightly packed in a 12 month package. On the other hand the two year program allows the scope to explore MBA as well as an existence beyond it.

Primarily, your time at hand along with your personal and professional situation will have to be assessed while opting for your MBA program. While opting for MBA, candidates are known to come with individual demands from the degree. What works well for one may simply not fit the other, though the end goal may still be the same – career growth and best-in-the-industry salary.

There are, however, certain factors that determine the nature of candidates who can apply to a two year vs a one year MBA.

Top Factors to consider while deciding One-Year MBA vs Two-Year MBA

 Academic Background

Two Year MBA – For pursuing an MBA Candidates from any background including hard core technical fields, arts and media – are eligible. Quite a few Ivy League MBA schools, of the US, proudly portray the diversity in their class profiles.

One Year MBA – Designed intensely, the curriculum leaves very little time for students, without a strong quantitative background, to cope with the necessary speed. It is crucial for candidates to have the necessary expertise to handle the complex coursework. A strong mathematical, or economics, background is critical.

Work Experience

Two Year MBA – 4-5 years of work experience is considered good for a two year MBA as it will enrich the peer to peer learning environment. However, this program is also open for applicants not having any work experience

One Year MBA – For fast-paced one year MBA, emphasis is more on being a pre MBA professional. The curriculum is designed in such a way that there is very little time to choose electives and pay compensation for the lack of work experience. 1 year MBA is mostly not recommended for fresh graduates.

Career Goals

Two Year MBA – The two year duration of the program leaves enough time for candidates to explore various electives.

One Year MBA – Applicants with focused end goals generally apply for one year MBA programs. They are found to be pre-decided on specialization, opting for the program to enhance career profiles, then change track.

Cost of the degree

Two Year MBA – In 2017-18 a two year MBA at Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management was priced at $100,217/year, which means the two year course would cost you  over two hundred thousand dollars. CNN Money calculates that students on two-year programs end up paying close to $350,000 when they add up interest from student loans, tuition and fees, and loss of job income.

One Year MBA – In comparison, Kellogg’s one year MBA program was estimated at $133,720 in 2017-18, which is about $70,000 cheaper. According to available data, graduates from Hult International Business School’s one-year MBA successfully repay the degree cost in 2 years, while those of MIT’s two-year program take close to 5 years for doing the same.

Career Break

Two Year MBA – If you are opting for a two year MBA program it means you will have to take a complete break from your career, if any.

One Year MBA – On the other hand the one year MBA program is a hiatus, rather than a full-fledged break. Many organisations also offer funding to employees for the degree, post which many rejoin the company, at a better salary and job role, adding value to their domain.


Two Year MBA – All two year MBA programs offer summer internships which offer a great opportunity to engage with working professionals, building networks and creating opportunities for jobs.         

One Year MBA – A one year MBA program does not leave time for internships, hence the benefits of internship are absent in this course.

Placement and Job Opportunities

Two Year MBA – Campus placement is there in most of the two year MBA programs. Interesting in the US, job offers are available predominantly to students pursuing a 2 year MBA program.

One Year MBA – Other than missing out on campus placement, those pursuing two year MBA programs and aspiring to work in the US need a sponsored work permit from outside the country –Asia or Europe.

However, do take note that opportunities open to you will essentially be the same, irrespective of the duration of your degree, if your degree is from a top-notch business school. While awarding compensation employers will not discriminate between someone from a HBS two-year program and that of an INSEAD one-year program.

List of some of the popular 1-year MBA schools –

Top 10 One-Year MBA in the US-

  • University of Pittsburgh-Joseph M Katz
  • Northwestern University – Kellogg School of Management
  • University of Southern California – Marshall School of Business IBEAR MBA
  • Emory University – Goizueta Business School
  • Cornell University – SC Johnson College of Business
  • University of Notre Dame – Mendoza College of Business
  • Babson College – Olin
  • Southern Methodist University – Fast Track MBA at Cox School of Business
  • University of Florida – Hough Graduate School of Business
  • Pepperdine University – Graziadio School of Business and Management

Top 10 One-Year MBA in UK, Europe and Asia–

  • INSEAD – The Business School for the World (Fontainebleau, France and Singapore)
  • IMD – Switzerland
  • University of Cambridge – Judge Business School (Cambridge, UK)
  • SDA Bocconi School of Management (Milan, Italy)
  • IE Business School (Madrid, Spain)
  • Indian School of Business (Hyderabad and Mohali, India)
  • HKUST Business School (Hong Kong)
  • University of Oxford – Said Business School (Oxford, UK)
  • HEC Motréal (Montréal-Québec, Canada)
  • University of Edinburgh Business School (Edinburgh, Scotland)

The list only offers a basic idea of available admission options for those aspiring to pursue the one year MBA degree. In addition to the listed programs above, there are some exciting options being offered by NYU Stern (NYU Tech MBA), Columbia Business School (J-term), IIMs (EPGP, PGPX, etc.), NUS and NTU in Singapore and the Sloan Fellows programs (MIT, Stanford and LBS) that offer an MBA in the shorter format.

To sum it up, a two-year program will give you additional time to build expertise, explore the job market, and validate both academic and career choices. International students and those looking at a career change, such as engineers, lawyers, teachers, artists or are interested in a management career and/or in relocating to a different country – are the ideal candidates for such a two-year program.

Contrarily, aspirants targeting to move up in the career ladder are best suited for the one year program as they are less likely to feel the need to acquire knowledge of the job market, or to build strong foundations in management.

Remember, MBA programs have varying durations and are designed to adapt to different clienteles and their respective needs. The choice of either should be purely subjective, based on the individual needs. To make the best choice, do an extensive research on your interests and assess them with the options available in either of the MBA programs. Pick what suits you best!

Good Luck.

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