The Rise Of the One Year MBA Program

2016 was a very unusual year for the MBA rankings. For the first ever time since the beginning of the Financial Times ranking back in 1999, a one year MBA program has topped the list.

INSEAD has joined an elite and exclusive club of business schools that have claimed top spot since 1999. These schools include the prestigious Harvard Business School, IMD, London Business School and Stanford Graduate School of Business.

Europe Leads the MBA Way

The one-year MBA program is far more common in Europe than it is in the US. The following business schools are highly ranked by The Financial Times, based in Europe, and offer accelerated one year programs:

  • INSEAD
  • IE Business School
  • Lancaster University Management School
  • Cabridge Judge Business School
  • Warwick Business School
  • Bocconi University
  • IMD Business School

These top European business schools and others have realized that some students have immediate career goals and are in a rush to enter the corporate world. This is especially desirable in countries like Spain, Ireland and Greece, which have been saddled with debt and economic turmoil in recent years. In order to stimulate growth, they need as many sharp, business-savvy graduates as possible—and they need them now.

The only real downside to a one year MBA is the fact that students may find that they have scant time for extra-curricular activities and networking opportunities. Moreover, students don’t get to enjoy being in an academic environment in the same way as they would otherwise have done were they on a lengthier course.

Pros Outweigh the Cons

The pros far outweigh the cons, though, and the fact that a one year MBA program has finally topped the rankings is a sign that people are embracing that fact. Past critics of one year programs had said that they simply can’t benefit a student in the long term, but INSEAD’s 2012 class now have an average salary of around £100,000 a mere three years after graduation. That figure dwarfs and doubles what they were earning before they started their MBA. Compare this average salary to what graduates from the other four schools in the top five are earning, and the figures are barely any different.

Moreover, INSEAD is currently ranked tenth when it comes to offering value for money. Although tenth might not seem like a lot to shout about, it’s interesting to note that the other four schools in the top five (Harvard, London, Stanford and Wharton) are all floundering at the bottom when it comes to value for money.

Another area where INSEAD comes out on top is fees. INSEAD has lower fees than Harvard, Stanford and Wharton, which makes sense when you consider the course is shorter. Another way of looking at it, though, is that students are getting more bang for their buck.

After all, if a student can get just as much from a one year MBA and earn just as much as a graduate of a two year earns but actually pay less for the privilege, the one year MBA must surely be heading in the right direction.

IMD business school is No.2 in Forbes’ rankings for 1-year MBA programs. A one-year MBA at IMD costs over $90,000.

The long-term rewards are fruitful, though. Students generally arrive at IMD with a median salary of around $90,000, but make on average up to $226,000 five years after graduating. IMD graduates than any other land general management jobs at top employers. Coming out top in the Financial Times category of Executive Open, IMD is another European business school succeeding across the board.

It’s no small secret that an MBA is one of the priciest presents a person will ever give themselves. Once you factor in loss of income for two years because you’re on a two-year program, plus travel fees, study equipment and interest payments on student loans, the cost can escalate (at U.S. schools) to a hefty $350,000.

Indeed, despite the promise of future earnings, the total cost could be one of the reasons why applications for two-year programs are actually down right now. Kate Smith, Admissions Director for North Western’s Kellogg School of Management says: “The value proposition of the one year is great, so there is high demand for it.”

Although MBA applications to North Western’s Kellogg School of Management are down, applications to European one year programs are on the rise, increasing by almost 25% since 2009.

Kellogg bucks the trend in the U.S. as it offers a one year MBA program, and is in fact the highest ranked school in America to do so. Kellogg believes it has a chance to grow its MBA course significantly, precisely because it is a one year program.

Shena Simons, who opted for a one year MBA instead of a two year, said:

People doing the two-year program are looking to have a college experience. With the one year, you go in, you want to learn stuff, and then you get out to restart your career.

After the dark cloud of the economic recession that began in 2009 lifts, it’s vital for the European economy that more and more hungry students enter the world of business as soon as possible. Thanks to the stellar one year MBA programs, they now can. Perhaps America could learn a thing or two from business schools competing to be the top from around the rest of the globe.

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