How Long Does It Take to Get an MBA?

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When determining how much time you’ll need to complete an MBA program, there are many variables to consider.

Since there’s a wide range of program formats and delivery options available, the duration varies from program to program. To understand the time commitment required, it helps to look at typical program requirements and durations. Here’s what you need to know!

Program requirements

While all MBA programs expose students to the same core business subjects, no two schools offer the exact same curriculum. As you’re evaluating the time commitment required for different MBA programs, it’s important to first understand typical program requirements, so you know how your time will be split between core curriculum and elective coursework.

Core curriculum

Core courses in MBA programs are designed to equip you with fundamental business knowledge and skills essential to succeed in today’s business landscape. Most MBA programs require you to take a core set of business courses, including accounting, economics, finance, marketing, human resources, operations and leadership.

The amount of time dedicated to fulfilling these core requirements depends on your MBA program. For example, if you’re in a full-time, traditional two-year MBA program, the required core courses will typically take up the first year of the program. However, if you’re in an accelerated program, which takes between 11-16 months total, you’ll spend less time on these core subjects, but you’ll be expected to have a firm grasp on business fundamentals upon admission.

Elective courses

After you’ve completed your core courses, you can determine elective courses based on your area of specialization. Before narrowing in on a specialization, identify your strengths and weaknesses, evaluate potential career paths, and consider what’s in demand. While you want to play to your strengths, it’s also important to assess the marketability of different specializations. Once you’ve established your career goals and a corresponding specialization, you can tailor your MBA education by choosing electives that focus on your particular area of interest. The amount of time spent on elective courses varies, depending on the program curriculum and design, but in general, the latter portion of your MBA program will be focused on elective requirements.

Program durations

Prospective MBA students come from all walks of life, and their needs are diverse. To accommodate students’ varying needs, schools offer MBA programs in a range of formats and delivery options, which are listed below. When you’re looking into options, keep in mind that the biggest factor affecting program completion time is whether you choose to study on a part-time or full-time basis.

  • The traditional MBA is a full-time, two-year program with classes on campus.
  • An accelerated MBA can be completed online or in person, and typically takes 11-16 months to complete on a full-time basis.
  • Part-time MBA programs can be completed online, in person, or a combination of the two, and generally take four to six years to complete.
  • Executive MBA programs can be completed online, in person or a combination of the two and range from 18-24 months (attended on a part-time basis).
  • Dual MBA programs allow students to earn an MBA while they work toward another related degree. Students can typically complete dual degree programs in a three-year period, but depending on the degrees it could take longer (e.g., a dual MD/MBA degree would take five years).

Find a program that’s just right

Thankfully, MBA programs offer flexibility so you can find a format and program duration that works for you. And while you’re looking into graduate business programs, remember that there are also specialized business master’s degrees if you realize you want to focus in a specific area. To narrow down the options, take our mini quiz to find programs that suit your specific needs. Or, if you want to search schools by duration, program type, and more, go here.

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