FAQ: What Is a 1-Year MBA? (Plus Benefits and Pros and Cons)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published April 8, 2022

An MBA can be a valuable graduate degree for people who want to attain high-level positions in or related to business administration. MBAs traditionally take two years to earn, but there are programs available that students can complete in as little as one year. If you're a recent college graduate or a mid-career professional looking to pursue an advanced degree in business in as little time as possible, you may be interested in this particular credential. In this article, we define the one-year MBA and answer several frequently asked questions about it.

Related: FAQ: How Will an MBA Help My Career?

What is a 1-year MBA?

A one-year MBA is a Master of Business Administration degree that you can earn in one year—half the time of a traditional MBA program. The goal of an MBA program is to educate students about concepts and practices relating to management and leadership and to equip them with the skills required to succeed in a rapidly changing, competitive landscape. The curriculum may vary to some extent depending on the program, but it typically includes coursework subjects such as accounting, finance, management and strategy, plus various electives.

Students may choose to pursue an MBA in general management or to specialize in a major, such as:

  • Accounting

  • Economics

  • Finance

  • Management science

  • Managing organizations

  • Marketing

  • Operations

  • Strategy

MBA graduates often work high-level leadership roles in the public or private sector. Because of the expedited nature of the one-year MBA program, it allows students to reach their professional goals in less time.

Related: MBA Degrees: What They Are and Why You Should Earn Yours

What are the eligibility requirements for a 1-year MBA program?

The eligibility requirements for a one-year MBA program may vary by school, but they generally include:

  • Undergraduate business degree: A bachelor's degree in business or a related field is a common criterion for acceptance into an MBA program. In some cases, this may be more of a preference than a requirement.

  • Prerequisite coursework: To succeed as an MBA student, it's essential to have had some undergraduate experience in specific areas of study. These include economics, financial accounting, statistics, marketing and operations.

  • Minimum GPA: Owing to the intensive, accelerated nature of the one-year MBA, the minimum GPA is usually high—often 3.4 or 3.5. For a mid-career professional, extensive work experience can take the place of their GPA.

  • Academic transcripts: In addition to your GPA, sealed academic transcripts from all of your previous undergraduate and graduate institutions provide admission officers with a look at your overall academic ability.

  • Letters of recommendation: Letters of recommendation from professors, mentors or other figures who're familiar with your academic ability are a common requirement for graduate schools in general. Schools usually ask for two to three letters.

  • Statement of purpose: A statement of purpose is a personal essay that introduces you to the admission committee and discusses your academic and professional goals. An effective statement shows how you can be an asset to the school to which you're applying.

In addition to the above, a school may ask that you write one or two short essays on specified topics. Many schools now don't require candidates to submit their GMAT scores but do accept them if submitted. A high score can still improve your chances of acceptance.

Related: How To Apply for Graduate School

How does a 1-year MBA differ from other types of programs?

A one-year MBA differs from other types of MBA programs in the following ways:

Time

The principal distinguishing characteristic of the one-year MBA is the length of time required to complete it. It's an intensive program, meaning that students complete it in a sprint of consecutive months. The traditional full-time route usually takes two years, including breaks. Part-time students can take three to four years to complete their degree, also with periodic breaks. The traditional route allows the possibility of working while earning a degree, but this is less likely during a one-year program.

Related: 10 Tips for Getting an MBA While Working

Target

The target audience for one-year MBAs is usually mid-career professionals returning to school to earn a degree that can help advance their careers. Therefore, compared to other MBA programs commonly populated by recent college graduates, there may be a higher proportion of older students with experience in business management. College graduates who wish to earn an MBA but minimize the time and money they spend on their education may also enroll in a one-year program.

Related: Everything You Need To Know About Being Mid-Career

Student opportunities

As an accelerated program, one-year MBAs may offer fewer opportunities commonly associated with graduate school. These include chances to network with professionals and other students and to gain experience working for companies domestically or abroad. The likely makeup of the student population, may cause this to be less of a concern for most of the program's participants.

What are the pros and cons of a 1-year MBA vs. a 2-year MBA?

Though both one-year and two-year MBAs are full-time programs, the former differs from the latter in a couple of ways. The chief point of difference is the length of study. A traditional two-year program amounts to about 18 months of full-time academic study separated by periodic breaks, such as for holidays, while a one-year program is usually 11-13 months of intensive study with no significant breaks.

Another major difference between the two types of programs is the curriculum. Many, though not all, two-year programs offer a broader range of courses to their students and allow for more specializations. Along with these opportunities, they also provide professional working opportunities, including abroad. Often, an internship is a requirement for completion. In contrast, the one-year MBA, being shorter, typically doesn't allow for such opportunities. A two-year program may be the more suitable option for most college graduates.

Related: How To Study Abroad: A Step-by-Step Guide (With Tips)

What are the benefits of a one-year MBA?

A one-year MBA offers several benefits over a traditional program, including:

Pace

For some, the rapid pace of the one-year MBA may be an advantage. The high intensity of the program leaves less room for students to idle. This can be beneficial in terms of sustaining focus, as it may be easier to concentrate in an environment that forgoes periods of inactivity. For similar reasons, it can help students to maintain their interest in the subjects they study and retain the information they learn.

Related: 12 Strategies for Staying Focused on Your Goal (With Tips for Improved Focus)

Financial cost

The shorter length of study typically results in a lower cost of education. Students of a one-year program pay for only one year of learning, amounting to slightly over two semesters' worth. In comparison, two-year full-timers pay for at least four semesters. As a result, one-year students can save a significant amount of money on their graduate education.

Related: FAQ: Graduate School vs. Professional School

Opportunity cost

There's also a lower opportunity cost, or the opportunities the students may miss on account of being at school. Specifically, they spend only one year away from the workforce. Mid-career professionals can return to their jobs sooner and college graduates can enter the job market more quickly.

Related: How To Calculate Opportunity Cost (With Example)

Return on investment

A return on investment is a measure of how much you get in return for the amount you put into a venture or activity. With regard to a one-year MBA, the investment is the money you've spent on the tuition and fees and the potential earnings lost from being preoccupied with schooling. The return would be the education you gain and the potential rewards that may stem from it.

Whether you attend an MBA program for one year or several years, you gain similar knowledge and the resulting credential has equivalent value. Therefore, for less investment, you stand to gain an equal return, meaning that your return on investment is likely to be higher with a one-year MBA.

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