Why a January MBA Start is a Good Option

March 11, 2016 | by Matt Symonds

If your business school applications so far this season have been unsuccessful, there’s no need to feel pessimistic about your MBA options for this year. Just because you haven’t made the cut for September entry options doesn’t mean you’re out of the game. Consider, instead, a January entry MBA program, for which the admissions season is just starting.

There’s an interesting and highly international lineup of schools offering January MBA programs options: Columbia Business School, INSEAD, HEC Paris, IMD, Canada’s York-Schulich, and Queen’s School of Business. Consider these factors:

Cost advantage. The accelerated format of the January entry programs will save you money (lower tuition fees, lower living costs), and you will incur lower opportunity cost (less foregone salary). This often yields a strong ROI.

Competitiveness. Due to the massive volumes of candidates applying for a September start date, competition may be slimmer for J-term. Insiders report that January entry at Columbia is less competitive, though when Caroline from Fortuna was INSEAD’s Director of Admissions, she observed that offer rates at the school were generally equal for both admissions dates.

Accelerated curriculum. J-term will help you get back into the workforce sooner, which will be especially appealing for those returning to the same industry. INSEAD, for instance, covers 80% of the curriculum from a top two-year MBA in 10 months. We suggest students enter these programs with some prior business knowledge. Note that J-terms might also offer fewer elective options.

Networking. If you go the J-term route, make sure you’ll be able to integrate seamlessly into the rest of the MBA program. If expanding your professional networks is one of your motivating factors for pursuing an MBA, then a smaller cohort, which you will find at some schools, may not be for you.

Career options. Columbia’s J-Term is faster because the school does not offer an internship period, which may be necessary if you are a career switcher. On the other hand, INSEAD’s January entry offers an eight-week summer break where many students do an internship.

Re-entering the job market. Many recruiters are geared up to hire MBAs as they graduate in the summer, but since so many enter the job market simultaneously, competition can be steep. Most businesses have recruiting needs throughout the year, so graduating outside of the summer cycle may give you a boost.

Read our full article in Poets and Quants on “Why A January MBA Entry Is A Good Option”.

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