Like most master’s degrees, the Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree typically takes two years to complete, if you study full-time. However, when the lack of a graduate degree is standing in the way of earning a promotion or achieving a management role, you might not be willing or able to wait another two years. Many colleges and universities now offer online and on-campus programs that allow students to finish their MBA programs faster. Different schools shorten the time it takes to get your MBA degree in different ways, such as by paring down the number of credits required to graduate or offering accelerated schedules for full-time students. At some of the fastest schools, students can earn their MBAs in as little as 18, 14 or even 12 months.
Programs That Require Fewer Credits
What many aspiring business students don’t realize is that not all MBA programs require the same amount of coursework to graduate. Some schools award an MBA degree once students complete 30 credits of graduate-level business courses, while others require twice as many credits – and, naturally, take far longer.
One way to drastically shorten the time it will take to earn your MBA is to look for a program with less extensive degree requirements. The G. Brint Ryan College of Business at the University of North Texas offers a 36-hour MBA program that you can complete 100 percent online. Dedicated students can finish the program in just 14 months.
The MBA program offered by East Carolina University’s College of Business has a low credit requirement, but only for students whose undergraduate studies were in business. The school accepts both business and non-business majors into its MBA program, but those without a background in formal business courses will need to complete seven foundation courses that business students can apply to waive. Combine these foundation courses with the eight required MBA courses and three graduate-level electives needed to graduate, and that means non-business majors would need 54 semester hours compared to just 33 semester hours for students with a business background.
Accelerated programs are difficult to come by for students who don’t have an undergraduate degree in business. MBA programs that accept students with a non-business background often require extra foundational business coursework.
Full-Time Accelerated Options
Part of the reason earning an MBA seems to take so long is because the majority of MBA students are only able to study part-time. It makes sense, given that MBA students are established business professionals in their own right and they often can’t or don’t want to put a halt to their careers just to go back to school. However, if you are able to study full-time, and especially to handle an intense, accelerated workload, then you could graduate much sooner than you would anticipate as a part-time student.
For example, the prestigious MBA program offered by The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Kenan-Flagler Business School has an extensive 62-credit curriculum. However, full-time online students can complete the program in as little as 18 months if they choose an accelerated course format.
More than 58 percent of MBA students study part-time. As a result, it typically takes up to four years for them to complete their degrees.
One-Year MBA Programs
Probably the fastest MBA programs out there are 12-month accelerated programs. The Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University in Evanston, IL, is just one of the business schools that offers a 12-month MBA. Kellogg’s program runs from June to June and requires students to complete 15.5 course credits. Students can choose from seven majors or earn their MBA degree in general management.
The SC Johnson College of Business at Cornell University in Ithaca, NY, is another business school with a 12-month MBA program. This Ivy League program is full-time and residential, incorporating weekend courses, specialized immersive courses and a management practicum. The biggest difference between the one-year and two-year MBA programs at Cornell University is that the one-year option does not include an internship. The program is recommended for students with experience in their industry, not career changers.
LaSalle University in Philadelphia, PA, is another school with a One-Year MBA program. This intensive, on-campus day program only accepts about 25 students and is accredited by the Association for the Advancement of Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB).
Different business schools and MBA programs – even 12-month MBA programs – can attract very different students. While the average age of a One-Year MBA student at LaSalle University is 22, the average student in Cornell’s 12-month MBA program is 29.