The MBA is among the greatest investments you can make in yourself and your future. This ultimate career booster doesn’t just consist of incessant studying and tough deadlines, or at least it shouldn’t! The MBA is a combination of intense curriculum, demanding group projects, complicated assignments but also extracurricular opportunities, chances to network and create valuable contacts with prospective business partners or employers and, of course, fun!
However, as the programme is indeed very dynamic and requires extreme dedication on the part of the students, fitting all those aforementioned aspects into just one year is close to impossible. That is one of the reasons why the traditional two-year American MBA is the better choice when it comes to deciding which type of programme can provide the ultimate MBA experience.
Us two-year MBA: more time to learn, practice, and have fun
In theory, regardless of their length, all MBA programmes are supposed to teach students the gist of all business-related courses. Objectively speaking, no programme, no matter how intense and dynamic the curriculum, can possibly fit the same amount of material into half the time. In other words – two-year MBA programmes give you twice the time of the one-year programmes to take advantage not just of mandatory core business courses but also of a wide variety of electives and extracurricular engagements.
Many leading European schools have introduced two-year MBA programmes that are gaining popularity and attracting many candidates annually. Those programmes rank high in some of the most prominent global MBA rankings and are proving to be a serious competitor to the US two-year programmes. However, the two-year MBA originated in the United States and the programme's motherland has the advantage of several decades, during which the programme curriculum was perfected and successful teaching practices and mechanisms were developed. Hence, even though there are many non-US two-year MBAs that are worth considering, the American programmes are the indisputable leaders in terms of structure, content and faculty diversity and prominence.
Cover your basics, then tailor your programme
One of the greatest advantages of the two-year programme is that it allows students to customise their MBA experience. Students complete the first year of their programme and finish all the core courses of the programme (in most cases between six and nine core mandatory courses, covering various aspects of accounting, marketing, business operations and strategy, finance and management). They then have the luxury and advantage of tailoring their second-year studies according to their interests and career goals – an opportunity that one-year MBAs don’t offer. Possible electives may include Advanced Corporate Finance, Advanced Real Estate Investment and Analysis, Competitive Strategy, Consumer Behaviour, Entrepreneurship and Venture Initiation, Fixed Income Securities, Health Care Field Application Project, Information Industry Structure and Competitive Strategy, Innovation, Change, and Entrepreneurship, International Development Strategy and so on.
Why the investment of time and money is totally worth it
We have to be fair and admit that the traditional two-year US MBA programmes require a more considerable investment in terms of both finances and time. However, the MBA is an investment that does pay off in time and students realise that once they graduate and their careers go up to full speed, their ROI will prove the decision to go for a two-year MBA was the best choice.
A great illustration why the two-year programmes are indeed the better investment is provided by the annual Financial Times Global MBA Rankings. According to the latest rankings published in January 2014, 12 out of the top 20 global MBA programmes are located in the United States. The value of those programmes (calculated using the salary earned by alumni today, course length, fees and other costs, including the opportunity cost of not working for the duration of the course) is at least 83/100 and goes up to 99! In comparison, the value of those European programmes in the top 20 global MBAs varies from 3/100 to 84/100 – a clear illustration of the two-year MBA programme's worth.
The two-year mba enables you to find out who you are as a business person
Many people who decide to do an MBA have a very clear idea about how they want their post-graduation career to progress. Somewhere in between the projects and simulations that the MBA curriculum requires them to engage in, many of those same people realise that they are having a change of heart and find out that there is something different that they want to do after they graduate. In this sense, this is the advantage of the two-year programme. It enables you to dedicate enough time, effort and energy to all your core courses but also gives you time to reflect on them all and get to know what you enjoy, what you have a knack for and, as a result, what electives to choose for your second year.
As previously mentioned, regardless of whether it is a one-year or a two-year programme, the MBA is a serious investment so you shouldn’t choose the shorter and cheaper one just so you can get it over with as soon as possible. On the contrary – if you have made the decision that an MBA will benefit your professional profile, take your time, do yourself a favour and choose a programme that is long enough for you to be able to thrive and blossom as a business person, instead of being overwhelmed with studies and not being able to take in what you are actually experiencing.
The eternal dilemma: one-year vs. two-year MBA
All that said, many people would rather be more economical about their post-graduate studies and prefer to push themselves to their limits in order to finish their degree in a year so they can go back to their careers as soon as possible. Even though two years allow you to dedicate sufficient time to studies, take as many electives as you want, get involved in internships, socialise and build valuable prospective business contacts, and also have some fun, one-year MBAs are a more practical option for a good number of prospective MBA students. That is why many top American business schools are responding to this serious market demand with a growing number of one-year MBAs. So, whatever your preferences, the US can offer you just what you need to make the most of your business education degree.
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