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MBA Admissions Edge step 12: The benefits of a 1-year MBA programme

Matt Symonds Fortuna Admissions - October 16, 2019

Best 1-year European MBAs

The shorter 1-year MBA format is gaining significant traction among fast-track professionals - which means European business schools are in the spotlight

A growing appetite for the shorter 1-year course length favoured by many MBA programmes in Europe, combined with concerns about tighter US immigration policies and the much-debated ‘Trump effect,’ has driven a surge in demand over the past few years.

1-year programmes: ROI and timing

A significant advantage afforded by the 1-year programme is its stronger return on investment (ROI). With smaller foregone costs (and relinquishing only one-year of salary), schools like IMD in Switzerland – which boasts an impressive five-year gain of US $194,700 – are attracting more applicants worldwide.

A recent Forbes MBA ranking corroborates this accelerated ROI. The 13 European schools in the 1-year ranking had a payback that ranged from 2.2 to 3.2 years, while grads of Harvard Business School take 4 years on average to pay back their investment. Wharton led the US ranking with a five-year gain of US $97,100, but seven business schools from Europe emerged with a stronger ROI over the same time period.

The other benefit is timing: if you’re still hoping to apply for this autumn’s intake, several top 1-year programmes accept applications for fall intake later than US programmes. This includes HEC Paris, Cambridge Judge and Oxford Saïd. IE Business School in Madrid, Spain, accepts applications on a rolling basis. You might also consider applying for a January intake at INSEAD, which has three campuses across Europe and Asia. 

What do admissions advisors think about 1-year programmes?

For a closer look at the benefits of a 1-year programme, I solicited the insider advice of three Fortuna Admissions colleagues, former senior admissions professionals at INSEAD, HEC Paris and IE. Here’s what they had to say about the unique benefits of the one-year format within the context of these top tier international programmes.


“INSEAD offers benefits that you won’t get at the M7 schools,” says Fortuna’s Caroline Diarte Edwards, former Director of MBA Admissions at INSEAD, which ranked number 1 in the Financial Times Global MBA Ranking for 2 consecutive years. 

“The efficiency and cost savings associated with a one-year format rather than the traditional two-year programme, unparalleled international exposure by virtue of its diverse community, and the opportunity to study on the school’s campuses in France, Singapore and Abu Dhabi.”

INSEAD was in fact the first school to recognise the importance of a truly international perspective for business leaders, and this internationalism has been a fundamental part of the school’s DNA since its inception.

In its quest to train business leaders who excel at working across cultures, INSEAD has constantly pushed the boundaries of what it means to be international. 

‘The Business School for the World’ has long been lauded for its internationally diverse programme, with students hailing from more than 80 countries and no dominant nationality in the classroom,” says Caroline. “It’s undoubtedly a powerful springboard for anyone looking to advance an international career.”

HEC Paris

According to Fortuna’s Brendan Kramp, former UK Director of Development at INSEAD and graduate of HEC’s MBA programme, it’s a good time to consider HEC now because it occupies a very fine balance between the 1-year programmes like INSEAD and traditional two-year programmes.”

Stretching beyond the 1-year format, HEC’s is a 16-month programme that offers “the intensity of an accelerated programme while allowing students to do a fieldwork project or internship for one of the 4-month segments, thus gaining real world experience during the programme,” says Brendan. “Many students have taken advantage of this option to gain entry to their post-MBA employers in cities like London, Paris, New York and Hong Kong.”

IE Business School

IE is another 1-year programme, where candidates benefit from a dynamic, rolling admissions process that typically has a fast turnaround. 

Fortuna’s Lisa Bevill, former Director for MBA Admissions at IE, notes that as soon as an application is received, it’s reviewed. IE’s admissions team works swiftly to review applications and supporting materials, coordinate an interview, and communicate a final decision to applicants.

“IE will work with candidates for their intake of choice of September or January,” says Lisa. “However, it’s typical to reach class capacity months before the intake start, so you should apply well in advance. Keep in mind that an acceptance to IE can be deferred to the next intake as well.”

Start thinking about applications now

If you’re feeling motivated to pursue an international MBA, know that along with the unique benefits come special considerations. You’ll want to track timing-related factors, from planning your move abroad to financing your degree. 

Language classes for programmes such as the IE MBA start over a month before the programme begins, so it’s wise to plan ahead (even though IE doesn’t have set application deadlines).

If you feel the urgency to start now, all the better, just know that the logistics of launching your MBA journey on another continent mean September (or January) will arrive sooner than you think.

Already found your perfect European MBA programme?

We help qualified international students to attend MBA programmes across the globe with post-grad student loans. Seriously. 

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Post updated for accuracy and freshness on October 16, 2019. Originally published on April 18, 2018.

The Fortuna Admissions team are former admissions gatekeepers from top-tier institutions including Wharton, INSEAD, Harvard Business School, London Business School, Chicago Booth, NYU Stern, IE Business School, Johnson Cornell, Yale SOM and Berkeley Haas.

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