Which MBA Program Type is Right for You?

Which MBA Program Type is Right for You

If only choosing which MBA to go for were as carefree as rummaging for the best candy in a pick-n-mix. It can, however, be just as delightful. Today, there is a splendid global selection of MBA program options available. Not just in terms of curricula and electives, not to mention location, but also length, delivery and intensity. Something, in short, to suit everybody.

Having an extensive range of MBA program opportunities, no more than a Google search away is terrific, but the process of making the final choice can be daunting.

Let’s take a look at the various MBA program types, or formats on offer. It is important to point out that the differences between one MBA program type and another are not always clearly delineated – there’s a lot of flexibility and overlap.

MBA program types: the basics

The full-time MBA program

The full-time MBA is pretty much what it says on the tin. Participants of this program opt to either leave, or shelve their jobs, for between 10 and 24 months to take the full-MBA study plunge. Three program subtypes fall under the full-time umbrella. They are:

  • The two-year MBA: Common in North America, this provides students with a summer internship opportunity halfway through the program. Participants of this longer program tend to have more opportunities to explore program electives, useful for career changers. Candidates tend to have less workplace experience.
  • The one-year MBA:  A more intensive, condensed option, better suited to those who have a clearer idea of their desired outcomes. There might be a greater focus on real-life projects and simulations. This is a format which is particularly popular in Europe, with more functionally-confident candidates enrolling slightly later in their career.
  • The accelerated MBA:  A midway option, predominantly found in North America (hence accelerated rather than extended). These are aimed at candidates who are confident in the functional core modules, and do not need to study them as rigorously.

Read more about choosing the right program length here.

The part-time MBA

The part-time MBA degree is a full-time program equivalent studied over a longer period – often flexible. Students can continue in employment as classes are held during evenings, or over weekends. Traditionally these programs would require you to be on-campus for classes, so would be best suited to candidates who live in relatively close proximity to the school. There is increasingly crossover, however, with…

The distance online MBA

The distance online MBA (they bear all sorts of names) is also a part-time degree, usually undertaken by students who want to remain in their current job role. For the majority of the program, participants study course materials via a designated software platform, and will interact with professors, mentors and peers using video conferencing, discussion threads, email and so on. Reputable programs are usually not conducted entirely remotely, featuring an on-campus requirement. This can be a residential leadership week at the beginning of the course, for example, or projects, events or conferences later on.

Want to know which are the best online MBAs? Check out the QS Distance Online MBA rankings.

The executive MBA (EMBA)

The executive MBA is geared toward more senior professionals who want to combine their work with further study. Traditionally, they would be company sponsored, though recent years have seen an increase in self-funded candidates. The average executive MBA candidate in 2016 was 38 years of age.

This part-time degree is usually offered in a modular format, where students can attend classes over a set number of intermittent residential weeks, or over weekends and evenings. EMBA programs can be fast-tracked so that they are completed in as little as 18 months, or studied over a longer duration. 

An alternative is the global executive MBA (GEMBA), ideal for participants focused on conducting business on a multinational level. This MBA program type gives students the opportunity to study and get engaged in work projects cross-continentally – often visiting as many as six or seven countries over the duration of the program.  

Candidates can additionally apply to an increasing number of joint executive MBA programs. These courses are a collaboration between two or more leading business schools.

Karen Turtle
Written by Karen Turtle

A content writer with a background in higher education, Karen holds an MA in modern languages from the University of St Andrews. Her interests include languages and literature, current affairs and film. ​

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