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Understanding the Different Types of MBA Programs

understanding the different MBA programs

Committing to pursuing the Master of Business Administration (MBA) is a life-changing endeavor.

People that are drawn to risks and rewards associated with entrepreneurship, management, or corporations can duly benefit from business school. And, business school isn’t just about creating decision-makers — it’s about creating leaders. The most important qualities for catalyzing meaningful change across the industries that shape our everyday lives have to do with inspiring innovation, galvanizing support, motivating others, and collaborating in service of a greater—often audacious—goal. Sure, you need analytical acumen and creative instincts, too. But the MBA is about so much more. With this in mind, it’s important to acquaint yourself with the different types of MBA degrees.

What Types of MBA Programs Are There?

Understanding the types of MBA programs available is important as the one you choose can drastically change your career trajectory. And while each will offer a world-class education, they have uniquely different formats and management curricula (not to mention strengths, specializations, and community cultures, among other distinctions), which will influence the next two years of your life. Your discerning approach and careful research on the type of MBA program that’s best for you will ensure you’re spending your time and effort strategically. 

If you’re wondering, “what are the different types of MBA courses?” you’re not alone. Most MBA options include courses in obvious fields such as Economics, Finance, and Consulting. However, there are types of MBA degrees that can focus on entrepreneurship, real estate, luxury goods, or nonprofits. Much depends on your MBA career vision and where you see yourself going post-MBA. 

If you’re looking to expand your career options, grow your leadership capacity, make yourself eligible for a higher salary bracket, or want to increase your knowledge base, keep reading to learn what are the different MBA programs that are available to you.

Choosing an MBA Option 

The duration of your chosen program sets the pace of your studies, as well as the speed of re-entry into the job market. In terms of MBA major options, different types of MBA courses include full-time programs, part-time programs, or online programs. 

Full-Time Programs

Full-time types of MBA programs generally fall within a 2-year course or 1-year course with, as the name suggests, a full-time workload. An MBA from a top US school follows the traditional two-year format, which some candidates prefer for the opportunity it affords to delve deeper over this extended period. In terms of intensity, you can expect to spend roughly six hours a day in class during accelerated, 1-year programs, and roughly half that in standard ones. 

2-Year Full-Time MBA Programs

Typically, these types of MBA course loads will encompass two academic years split into four semesters. The first year is usually reserved for completing the general course requirements to build the fundamentals of what different types of MBA degrees will require. Once the core courses have been finished, the second year allows you to focus on your specialization. Keep in mind that some 2-year full-time programs also have a summer internship component. 

1-Year Full-Time MBA Program

A 1-year full-time MBA program is an accelerated course load that usually requires applicants to have prior experience, both academic and business-related, to secure a position. INSEAD pioneered the one-year MBA format over 50 years ago, and this has proven to be a highly successful model. Students appreciate the opportunity to gain their MBA degree (in which they cover 80% of the material you would cover in a top two-year program) in half the time, meaning a much lower overall cost and less foregone salary Of the different types of MBA degrees, a fast-track program is attractive if you have focused career goals and want to beef up your skills before quickly returning to the workforce. As the time needed to earn this MBA is compressed, the workload reflects this with an increase in intensity.  

Part-Time Programs

For those who can’t take extensive time away from their current occupation to pursue an advanced degree, a part-time program offers an opportunity to earn an MBA. These programs usually consist of evening or weekend classes that allow students to continue working throughout the week as well.  The EMBA (Executive MBA) is designed for working managers, for example. (Read our related blog, EMBA vs. MBA: 5 Key Differences.)

Online Programs

If you’re searching for types of MBA programs that offer the most flexibility, several high-ranking accredited universities offer online courses. By applying to online MBA programs, you can continue to work and build experience while still being able to access a variety of concentrations.

Common MBA Program Concentrations

Anyone delving into the requirements of the modern-day workforce will recognize that an MBA grants you substantial leverage when choosing your career options and your pay scale. An MBA can encompass a host of specialized skill sets, with the most common including:

  • Accounting
  • Consulting
  • Economics
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Finance
  • International Management
  • IT / Technology Management
  • Leadership
  • Marketing
  • Operations Management
  • Strategy

This is not an exhaustive list, and each can be further specialized to give you an advantage within your industry.

How to Determine Which Option is Best for You

Choosing which type of MBA program you should pursue rests upon the short- and long-term career goals you hope to achieve. When selecting a program, you will want to consider if you can:

Fulfill the Prerequisites

Every program will have admission requirements that you need to fulfill in order to apply. The prerequisites aren’t universal and the prior work experience needed can be vastly different between schools and programs. 

If you are applying to a full-time five-year BA/MBA program, there may be little to no work experience required to enroll. However, this is not always the case, as most will require around three years of professional experience.  For this reason, some applicants prefer deferred admission MBA programs that allow them to find a school, retain admittance, and work for two-to-five years before actually enrolling in the program. Part-time programs will sometimes require less experience, although they too usually request a minimum of three years in the field. 

Fulfill the Time Commitment 

The time commitment for the different types of MBA programs can vary as described in the above section. You can fast-track an MBA if you have the prerequisite work experience and the free time to pursue it by applying for the 1-year option. However, if you are pursuing an MBA while working full-time, you’ll be committing your weekends and evenings to study over a longer period. 

Afford the MBA Program

An MBA is an investment in your future, but aside from the time commitment, there is also a cost attached to receiving higher education. Seeking an MBA scholarship can help offset the cost of tuition. In addition, many companies incentivize their employees to pursue the MBA by offering a tuition reimbursement in exchange for a contract to stay with the company for a minimum number of years after earning your degree.

Let Fortuna Admissions Help You Secure an MBA

Seeking out the different types of MBA programs is an excellent way to jumpstart your career, Fortuna Admissions is here to help. Contact us today for a free consultation with our MBA admissions coaches and discover why we’re consistently rated as the best in the industry.

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