What to Expect From One-Year Accelerated MBA Programs

by Melissa Sartore
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A one-year online MBA offers an affordable, accelerated pathway to grow as a business professional and succeed in today's workforce.

Accelerated MBAs provide a fast-track career advancement for business professionals looking for a quick, affordable return on investment. While traditional MBA program last two years, online MBAs allow for accelerated degree options. Many schools offer online MBAs with the same classes as a two-year degree condensed into an accelerated one-year timeline.

Online MBAs that last one year may not meet everyone's needs. A one-year MBA may require full-time student status, with online programs often incorporating some local residency requirements. Scroll down to learn how to decide if a one-year online MBA aligns with your personal and professional aspirations.

What Is a One-Year MBA?

A one-year online MBA consolidates a traditional MBA curriculum into just 12 months, allowing students to get a jump start on advanced careers in business. Synchronized coursework offered along a cohort model spans 4-8 weeks, and learners and instructors interact through group projects, discussion forums, and online lectures.

An accelerated online MBA requires a significant investment of time and effort. Prestigious business schools have turned toward offering online MBAs, giving learners the chance to earn a well-regarded, credible degree at an affordable price. Along with only having to pay one year of degree-related expenses, students can also find programs that cost one lump sum.

Pros and Cons of an Accelerated MBA

The pros and cons of an accelerated MBA demonstrate how the degree meets the needs of different types of learners. Students often complete coursework with a cohort, allowing for the development of a cohesive, familiar learning environment. However, by keeping students in the same groups until graduation, cohorts may keep enrollees from interacting with a more diverse student body.

Additionally, one-year MBAs rarely allow students to specialize in one area. Consider the following pros and cons while exploring online one-year MBAs.

Pros

Coursework mirrors traditional MBAs and is offered on a shorter timeline Cohort programs facilitate camaraderie among students and instructors Often more affordable, with flat tuition rates and fees Shorter pathway to career advancement No thesis requirement

Cons

Few specialization options available Limited networking opportunities when offered as a cohort model May require full-time status without the ability to keep working Admission requires previous work experience Individuals who want to advance to a doctoral program benefit from a master's degree with a thesis option

What Should I Expect in an Accelerated MBA Program?

Coursework in a one-year online MBA includes business fundamentals like accounting, finance, and marketing. Enrollees also study strategic management and organizational behavior in order to develop a holistic understanding of the business landscape.

Elective classes may allow learners to specialize their MBA, but many one-year online MBAs do not provide this flexibility. Due to the nature of accelerated degrees, online MBAs rarely include thesis requirements. Instead, students take part in final projects or comprehensive exams at the end of the program.

Accelerated online MBAs include classes that typically last 4-8 weeks. Students may take part in daily online class sessions, completing homework on their own time. Due to an MBA degree's condensed timeline, assignments, assessments, and projects require timely completion.

What's the Difference Between an EMBA and an Accelerated MBA?

An accelerated MBA emphasizes business fundamentals and often requires full-time enrollment. While some one-year online MBAs may allow students to maintain employment, learners in executive MBAs (EMBAs) typically remain in the workforce while earning their degrees.

An EMBA empowers students with knowledge and skills they can immediately take back to their positions as they work toward or within managerial and leadership roles. Learners can take EMBA classes online, during the evenings, or on weekends.

Are Accelerated MBAs Less Prestigious?

MBAs establish their prestige through their curriculums and graduate performance in the workforce. While an accelerated MBA requires less time in the classroom, these programs hold merit when compared with traditional options.

An accelerated MBA delivers the same courses, skills, and degree as a traditional MBA. Top-tier business schools offer one-year MBAs, attesting to their reputability in the business world. Students should consider which accelerated MBA best meets their needs personally and professionally.

Financial Considerations of an Accelerated MBA

Accelerated MBA programs often require full-time enrollment. This leaves little opportunity for students to keep working, potentially limiting their ability to pay for the degree. If learners cannot stay out of the workforce for that long, an accelerated MBA may not be the right choice.

While traditional and executive MBAs span two years or more — potentially incurring unexpected added costs along the way — most accelerated MBAs allow students to know the program cost when they start their degree. Learners may find accelerated MBAs that charge flat-rate tuition and fees to be more affordable than traditional or executive programs.

Interview with an Expert

Claire Gravenhorst is an enthusiastic business professional passionate about diversity, corporate social responsibility, and the power of businesses to enrich their employees' lives and their communities. Gravehorst has over five years' experience in global business environments as a training specialist, an HR professional, and an analyst in the tech space. Most recently, she is working as a business process analyst supporting global HR initiatives across 40+ countries. Gravehorst holds an Associate Professional in Human Resources (aPHR) from Human Resource Certificate Institute (HRCI), a bachelor of science - HR management from Western Governors University (WGU), and a master of business administration (MBA) from Western Governors University (WGU). She hopes to build her career for the next five years before pursuing a doctor of business administration (DBA).

Where did you get your MBA?

I got my MBA at Western Governors University (WGU).

At what point in your career did you get your MBA, and why then

I considered this to be early in my career. I had over five years of experience at this point and was working in my chosen field of HR. I decided to get my MBA because my long-term goals need to be supported by both education and experience.

I aspire to both executive leadership and business ownership in my career. An MBA allows me to stand out at this stage in my career and sets me up for further education and experience.

What do you do for your career now

Currently for my career I work as a business process analyst, consulting on and documenting processes for multiple functions inside the HR team.

What advice do you have for someone considering pursuing an MBA

I would advise them to look at their reasoning for getting the MBA and identify what is most important. Are you looking for a degree to set your resume apart from the rest? Are you looking to go down a specific career path?

I wanted an MBA over a more concentrated master's so that I had the flexibility to adjust my career path if an incredible opportunity came along. An MBA provided the general qualifications to work in any area of a company.

What's most important when selecting an MBA program? Program prestige, location, cost, something else?

For me, getting the degree quickly and inexpensively was imperative, but I didn't want to sacrifice accreditation or quality of education.

As a working adult, the ability to build my school schedule around my work schedule and go at my own pace gave me opportunities to push or rest as I needed to. Without this ability, setting aside the time and resources to get my education would not have been possible. I didn't have to put my career on hold in order to get the degree.

Additionally, one-on-one attention when I needed instruction was very important to me. WGU has a robust system of mentors who provide instruction and support through your time there, and that was one of the things that kept me motivated while I was studying.

Do you think people in a one-year MBA program get the same quality education as folks in a traditional two-year program

I would say it probably depends on the program. The competencies and content are about the same, in my experience. What sets a one-year program apart from a two-year program is the pace at which you have to learn. I also think that there are fewer breaks and rests in a one-year program, and the individual daily time commitment is higher.

Who is a one-year MBA program best suited for

Students who learn quickly, have experience in the field, and are highly motivated to get their degree.

What advice would you give someone considering a one-year MBA program

I would say be prepared to prioritize your education above everything else. It's important to clear time for school in order to complete the degree on time. This can mean giving up hobbies for the year, adjusting how much time you spend with friends, and giving up free time.

I considered my degree a second job. Each weekday I would get home from work, go to my computer, and work on my degree.

I would also say get your support system on board — your partner, friends, family, co-workers. You will need cheerleaders and support to get through.

I also would advise students to connect with other students. The ability to bounce ideas off each other, study together, and commiserate was one of the things that helped me learn the material and develop the competencies necessary to earn my MBA.

Common Questions About Accelerated MBA Programs

true What Are the Best Accelerated MBA Programs?

The best accelerated MBA programs match their students' personal needs and professional goals. Many top-tier business schools offer one-year MBAs.

true Are There Online Accelerated MBA Programs That Don't Require the GMAT?

Many accelerated MBAs accept students without requiring the GMAT. Even schools that request GMAT scores may waive this requirement based on work experience.

true Can You Do an Accelerated MBA Program Online?

Yes. Many schools offer one-year online MBAs. Some programs suggest that degree-seekers enroll full time, making it difficult to maintain employment while pursuing the degree.

true How Do You Choose an Online Accelerated MBA Program?

Choosing an online accelerated MBA requires careful consideration of cost, curriculum, time commitment, and career opportunities.

Melissa Sartore holds a Ph.D. in history from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her BA and MA in history are from Western Illinois University. A medievalist by training, she has published on outlawry in medieval England with additional publications on outlaws in popular culture and across geographic and historical boundaries.

Header Image Credit: Hiraman | Getty Images

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