One Or Two Year MBA: Which Should I Choose?

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Bryan Smith - April, 13 2023

5 min read

About the author

Content Manager at Prodigy Finance, helping international students gear up to study abroad

How long are MBA programmes?

On average, an MBA programme usually takes students between one to two years to complete if they have pursued their studies full-time.

While a two-year MBA programme has generally been considered as the default duration of study, many universities and colleges have introduced and popularised a one-year programme which condenses the focus of study into a shorter syllabus.

How many years is an MBA?

Generally, full-time students complete their MBA over a two-year period that can total up to 16 months of study time. However, students enrolling in a one-year programme could expect to complete their studies over two semesters, or between 9 to 10 months.

MBA pros and cons

Career progression

While some might question if business school is worth it, a major benefit - and frequent motivator - for enrolling in an MBA programme is enhancing your career prospects and progression. While many top companies prefer to have their managing staff equipped with academic accreditation, many startup entrepreneurs have leveraged their experience and learnings to launch their own companies and products.


Students enrolled in an MBA programme can use their studies to their competitive advantage by networking effectively with their peers to form lifelong connections for both friendship and business. Students pursuing a programme with an accompanying internship can also use this opportunity to develop relationships at their company of practice.


An MBA is a costly endeavor regardless of whether it runs across a one or two-year programme - and for many, the cost of pursuing such an education can be prohibitive and difficult to overcome. This is especially true for students wishing to complete their MBA in two years.

Time commitments

While the average MBA curriculum might take up to two years to complete, applicants will need to be ready to sacrifice their personal time to pursue and perform in their studies. Generally, students are encouraged to devote between 12 to 15 hours of study time per week per course.

What’s the average MBA programme duration in the USA?

Traditionally, the average MBA programme in the US is both full-time and runs over two years. In some cases, accelerated MBA programmes can take around 16 months to complete.

In recent years, one-year programmes have become more popular amongst students seeking a focused and concise education.

One year MBA programmes

One year MBA programmes have become more popular in recent years, thanks primarily to the fact that given their shorter duration, they’re usually far more affordable for candidates studying abroad.

Generally considered a more intensive experience, one-year MBA programmes are generally constructed over a 10-12 month period and can require students to have greater clarity of what career goals they wish to pursue, given that there is less time available to explore different career paths or opportunities before full-time work begins.

The best one-year MBA programmes

If you’re considering enrolling in a one-year MBA programme, you’ll have a host of great options to consider. Some of the best one-year MBA programmes in the USA include:

  • Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern
  • Johnson Graduate School of Management
  • Emory University's Goizueta Business School
  • Mendoza, Notre Dame
  • USC Marshall School of Business

Two year MBA programmes

A two-year MBA programme is another popular choice for students - and a traditional two-year programme is generally considered to be full-time and covers two nine-month academic years with a summer break in-between.

Two year MBA programmes are generally designed to give students greater flexibility and exposure to different subjects and career paths, given their longer duration.

The best two-year MBA programmes

  • London Business School
  • University of Navarra - IESE Business School
  • Columbia University - Columbia Business School
  • University of California Los Angeles - Anderson School of Management
  • University of Toronto - Rotman School of Management

One or one-year MBA programmes: Which is best for me?

Finding whether a one or one-year MBA programme is best for you may depend largely on your ability to relocate for a longer period, whether you wish to pursue a focused or general curriculum, and your ability to afford a longer programme of study.

The pros and cons of one-year MBA programmes

The pros

One-year MBA programmes are short, intensive, and are often hyper-focussed on one particular area of study, meaning that students can benefit from a shorter, more affordable, and specific degree curriculum that can rapidly enhance their careers and professional prospects.

The cons

Given the shorter and more intense nature of a one-year MBA programme, enrolled students might find it more difficult to network with colleagues and other students, pursue other study topics and courses of interest, and will need to dedicate more study time to ensure that they are adequately prepared to pass their respective courses.

The pros and cons of two-year MBA programmes

The pros

two year MBA programmes enable students to explore a wider range of available courses in their curriculum, afford more time to connect with peers and enable more study time throughout their study period. two year MBA programmes can also enable students to pursue a broader range of interests in their respective curriculum, and many programmes offer an internship component which a student can complete over their summer holiday.

The cons

Given the longer study duration and cost of relocation, one-year MBA programmes can be vastly more expensive when compared to a one-year programme. Additionally, enrolling in a one-year MBA programme may see a student incur additional costs to renew their study visa depending on their country of study or residence or face additional challenges securing accommodation for the entire duration of their programme.

Will a one or two-year MBA influence my earning potential?

While there is generally no consensus as to whether a one or one-year MBA programme offers a greater post-study earning potential (given your area and choice of study will impact your earning potential more substantially than your study tenure), it is worthwhile to mention that a one year MBA programme may offer a greater return on investment.

Given that a one-year programme is generally far more affordable, you may find that the ROI of such a degree is substantially higher and might offer significantly lower monthly repayments should you apply for a student loan to cover the costs of your studies.

How to pay for business school?

Ready to transform your future with a one or one-year MBA programme?

Prodigy Finance provides loans to international masters students pursuing their MBAs abroad. You can check the prodigy finance college list supported.

For any other information about Prodigy Finance, or our student loan process, feel free to browse through our site, or register for a webinar to have your questions answered by one of our teams.

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