Expanding Your Options: Applying to Programs Starting in January

January 30, 2014 | by Matt Symonds

So you’ve decided you really want to start your MBA in the next 12 months, but it will be another few weeks before you hear back from the schools you applied to in round 2. What are the other options to consider as you plan the year ahead?

There’s still round 3 to consider. Though the acceptance rate at the top 5 or 6 US schools for round 3 is notoriously low, there are still many other schools in the top 25 who have a significant number of places available in this final round. The other alternative could be to start your MBA in January 2015 and, ensure that your application is among the first being considered for a place, rather than the last.
Schools with January start dates include programs such as Columbia, INSEAD, IMD, Thunderbird, and HEC Paris. And, for some of these schools, the round 1 application deadline for the January 2015 classes is fast approaching (i.e. March 21 for INSEAD) so now would be the time to start working on your application.

So could a January start date be a good option for you? Here are some points to consider:
1. Length. MBA programs starting in January are often shorter than the traditional two year MBA. INSEAD pioneered the one year MBA format. The Columbia January entry runs for 16 months and Thunderbird’s runs for 12 or 15 months (whereas their September entries span two years).
2. Internships. Some of the January entry programs, such as Columbia and Thunderbird, eliminate the internship in order to provide the accelerated format. (INSEAD on the other hand includes an internship option for the January entry, but not for the September entry). Deciding whether you want an internship opportunity is very personal. Not doing an internship might work for students who wish to remain in the same industry after graduation, pursue entrepreneurial interests and/or are returning to a family business, or have a strong network already. An internship may be invaluable for people looking to change industry, role, or move to a new geography.
3. Cost. Shorter programs are generally cheaper in terms of overall tuition fees and living expenses. Also, it reduces the time during which you forgo a salary. Schools such as INSEAD therefore often do very well in return on investment calculations.

For additional information about timing in terms of whether to apply in Round 1, 2 or 3, see our previous blog “Fortuna’s MBA Edge Step 3”.

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