(The New York Times, 01 August 2014)
Streamline, accelerate, graduate. Educators have been scurrying to figure out how to cut short just about every field of professional study, be it law, medicine or business.
Graduate business programs were first truncated in Europe in the late 1950s, half a century after the two-year degree was introduced by Dartmouth. But one-year M.B.A.s are only starting to catch on in the United States with cost- and time-conscious students.
Donato Wilkins started a graduate program in May 2013 at Emory’s Goizueta Business School and is already headed toward a new job in mergers and acquisitions at PricewaterhouseCoopers. “I did the math, and the return on investment for the one-year program was much higher than for the two-year program,” said Mr. Wilkins, who had worked three years in corporate finance at Xerox and Newell Rubbermaid but wanted to get into a more exciting slice of finance. He considered both savings on tuition and the additional income from starting a job with an M.B.A. salary one year earlier.
He believes this: “You get the exact same benefit as the two-year program — the same professors, the community, the G.B.S. network, all the on-campus resources and Goizueta brand — in less time and for less money.”
Enrollments are up 26 percent for Goizueta’s program over last year. Cornell enrolled its largest one-year M.B.A. class on its Ithaca campus this year, and has opened a new program focused on the global digital economy at Cornell Tech in New York City. A long program was a concern when designing an M.B.A. for techies, said Douglas M. Stayman, associate dean for M.B.A. programs at Cornell’s Johnson School of Management. “The tech economy moves quickly, and if people are out of it for a long time, it’s an issue.” (The one-year M.B.A. runs about $93,000 versus $116,000 for the two-year.)
The Graduate Management Admission Council counts 189 one-year programs, compared to 173 four years ago, and 55 percent of them have reported increases in applications over last year.
Proponents say a year is sufficient for students with strong quantitative or analytical skills who are willing to clear their schedules to study. Typically, students start in May, and cram in almost a year’s worth of foundational business classes in four months. In September, they fall in with students who are in their second year of a traditional program, taking elective classes, joining industry-related and cultural clubs (essential for network-building), participating in case competitions and interviewing at companies. Students in the one- and two-year programs graduate as a class, with the same degree, the following May.
Some schools let students go even faster. The University of Florida’s Hough Graduate School of Business, for example, runs a 10-month M.B.A. for students who graduated with an undergraduate business degree within the previous seven years.
The pace of the one-year degree — essentially completing three-quarters of the academic credits of a two-year degree in half the time — can limit the appeal. “One-year is for people who are accelerating their careers, not changing their careers,” Mr. Stayman said. “You don’t have time to do career exploration.”
Employers interview during the fall, so students with five months of M.B.A. study under their belts are competing with students with 15 months, including an internship. One-year students need to have enough of a career history to make the case that they don’t need that internship.
The positive spin, said Alex Sevilla, assistant dean and director of Florida’s M.B.A. programs: “A student can say to a recruiter, ‘I voluntarily chose the one-year program, and that gives you some indication of my horsepower.’ ”
According to G.M.A.C.’s 2013 student poll, fewer job seekers from one-year programs (53 percent) had received offers by March than had students in the final year of two-year programs (61 percent). While one-year students reported an average 70 percent increase over pre-M.B.A. earnings, their earnings boost was 9 percent lower than what two-year students reported.
There are other drawbacks. Students don’t have time to spend a semester abroad. They forfeit some electives. They can join clubs but can’t lead them (presidents are picked the spring before they arrive). And elite business schools like Harvard, Wharton and Stanford don’t have one-year M.B.A.s. “We haven’t felt comfortable offering a one-year M.B.A. here,” said Madhav Rajan, who oversees Stanford’s full-time M.B.A. program. “I think there would be huge demand if we ever went that route, but given the content we want to disseminate, that’s not something we’ve pursued.
“You get to know your classmates and interact with your professors over two years,” Mr. Rajan said. “The whole notion of our M.B.A. is that it’s a transformative experience.”
Read this article at the New York Times.
An M.B.A. Your Way
If full-time study is too much of a commitment, there are plenty of other ways to fit M.B.A. training into a harried schedule.
Best for: Working executives with 12 to 15 years’ experience and on track for senior management.
Should know: Veteran professors and former C.E.O.s teach, with the focus on general management and networking with other highfliers. You’ll want to be one, because E.M.B.A.s can be pricey. Columbia’s is $175,200 (for tuition, books, meals and accommodation during weeks in residence). That’s $243 per class hour. But the range is wide. You can also spend $42,000 at the public University at Albany (for tuition, books, meals and international travel).
Time frame: A long weekend once or twice a month for 18 months to two years, with some weeks on campus or studying abroad.
Best for: Students with 5 to 10 years’ experience who aren’t willing to stop working to study but want to move into management or change industries.
Time frame: Evenings and weekends for two to five years.
Should know: A danger of part-time programs is that students choose when they take classes and how many at a time, so it’s easy to extend how long it takes to earn a degree. To help students focus, some schools require that they move through as a cohort. American University’s Kogod School of Business recently revamped its part-time M.B.A. into a sequenced, one-night-a-week, one-course-at-a-time lock-step program. The school even takes care of dinner. “The idea is they don’t have to think about it,” said Jill Klein, director of the professional M.B.A. program. “They just have to commit, and in 27 months, they’ve earned their M.B.A.”
Best for: Working students who want to load up on courses during slow periods.
Should know: Students can switch between part-time (generally two courses or fewer) and full-time status (three or four courses) from one semester to the next. It’s not a back door into the more competitive two-year cohort, however. Typically, flex students can take some electives with traditional students but not core classes.
Time frame: Weekdays, evenings and weekends for two to eight years.
Best for: Recent graduates who have taken only a handful of undergraduate business courses and are hoping for an edge in breaking into a specific field.
“You see a lot of people coming out of school with minimal work experience trying to get jobs,” explained Alex Chisholm, director of statistical analysis at the Graduate Management Admission Council. He offered a defensive strategy: “You can say, ‘I might not have that much experience, but I can help you today with accounting or finance.’ ”
The degree also appeals to applicants not ready for an M.B.A. program. It used to be that schools would take M.B.A. applicants straight out of college, said Mark Zupan, a professor and former dean of the University of Rochester’s Simon Business School. “But when schools get ranked on the basis of starting salary, they have incentive to look toward older candidates.” Convincing evidence: The mean age of G.M.A.T. examinees sending scores to specialized master’s programs in accounting is 24 and in finance 23. A more typical M.B.A. applicant is a 27-year-old with five years’ work experience who wants to move into management.
Should know: Demand is growing, in large part fueled by foreign students seeking an American credential. Last year, 20 percent of G.M.A.T.-takers were planning on applying only to specialized master’s programs in business, up from 13 percent in 2009. At the same time, the number of G.M.A.T.-takers considering only M.B.A. programs dropped slightly, from 55 percent to 53 percent. The most popular concentrations are finance and accounting, and schools keep adding others. Simon now has six, including marketing, pricing and business analytics; Fordham Graduate School of Business offers 14, including programs in applied statistics and decision-making.
Time frame: One year or, part time, two years.
Best for: Recent liberal arts graduates testing the business waters and bolstering résumés through an intensive introduction to working in teams and business fundamentals.
Should know: Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth is seeing a younger skew: students who’ve just completed sophomore year of college. “Students are seeking a jump on the competition when they apply for internships,” said Robert G. Hansen, senior associate dean and a faculty director. “The summer internship after junior year is increasing in importance in getting a full-time job on graduation.”
Stanford, University of Virginia, Wake Forest and Dartmouth are among schools offering these certificate programs, costing $5,000 to $11,000.
Time frame: 4 to 10 weeks in summer.
Best for: Midlevel managers who want to update skills or deepen understanding of business concepts.
Should know: These certificate courses, open to all, are taught by professors from the M.B.A. programs. But they don’t actually get you an M.B.A. They’re boot camps. And while the term Mini-M.B.A. has caught on, some schools worry it cheapens the brand of their full-blown M.B.A. The University of Michigan Ross School of Business, for example, uses the less alliterative name Business Acumen for High-Potential Executives. Its 10-day course costs $16,690, including materials and some meals. Columbia’s 12-day Mastering Management course is $19,850. Most programs, however, set you back only $2,000 to $4,000.
Time frame: Daily for two days to two weeks, or one night a week for several months.
Read this sidebar at the New York Times.