1-year MBA vs. 2-year MBA: Is quicker always better?

There are shorter and more flexible options available for those who want to get an MBA but are not willing to spend two years in a full-time programme.

By U2B Staff 

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Enrolling yourself into an MBA programme requires careful thought and planning. There are so many factors to consider including delivery mode, programme accreditation, and reputation, cost, and time investment. As an aspiring MBA candidate, should you spend two years getting your MBA or choose a shorter option, the 1-year MBA?

A 2-year full-time MBA programme is commonly offered by some of the best business schools around the globe. However, business schools have diversified their MBA offerings due to declining enrolment rates for the two-year programme.

Business schools are now offering shorter MBA programmes, that can be completed in as quickly as a year. 1-year MBA programmes are far more common in European and UK business schools. Almost all European and UK business schools offer this shorter MBA programme.

The 1-year MBA programme is less common in the United States, which delivers the more common two-year format. Taking two years out of the job market can a risky decision for some MBA applicants. While there is plenty to gain from this investment, there is the inevitable loss of time, income, and career opportunity in that time-frame.

The two-year MBA programme is designed to give you a richer college experience. These programmes will give you longer access to the academic environment, provide more networking options and opportunities to interact with students and professors.

All of this will give you a deeper and more fulfilling MBA experience compared to if you enrol in a one-year programme. Enrolling into the 2-year MBA programme will allow you to take the time to focus on your studies without distractions.

However, the biggest plus point of the shorter programme is how quickly you can complete it. This translates to you having to spend less on tuition fees and living expenses, and also the ability to seek employment for a full-time salary all that much faster.


There is also a notion that MBAs who graduate from a full-time, two-year programme are better positioned to understand the end-to-end picture of business operations. This puts you at an advantage as there are employers who appreciate this and recruit exclusively amongst two-year full-time MBA graduates.

The two-year programme graduates are a great choice for management fast-track programmes, entry-level consulting jobs, or any other graduate-level job in business.

Conversely, the one-year programme is a lot more intense and may not offer the entire spectrum offered by its longer counterpart. Opting for the one-year programme may cause you to miss out on a wider range of electives, placements, and study trips. While you lose out on these valuable aspects of the programme should you choose the one-year programme, you get to re-join the real world and accumulate work experience.

Unlike in the one-year programme, in the two-year programme, you have more time for internships, placements, and extracurricular and social activities. This makes the 2-year MBA programme a good option for you if you are a younger student.

The one-year programme may be a better choice for you, if you are at a more mature position in your career, and if you are seeking a faster climb up the corporate ladder.

Shorter options for MBA applicants besides the 1-year MBA

MBA applicants who are looking for shorter options may also consider competency-based MBAs that can be completed in as quickly as six months. Competency-based MBAs are simply a different way of getting the same education and qualifications as you would from a traditional MBA.

The major difference between the competency-based MBA and a traditional MBA is that you will learn and demonstrate your competency in specific advanced business administration skills, which means less classroom time. You will also complete specific advanced business administration skills or competencies at your own pace to graduate.

Additionally, you will be expected to demonstrate your mastery of each competency through competency assessments and earn credits when you complete assessments that can take many forms, such as work-based projects, short papers, or planning documents.

Generally, competency-based MBAs can save you time and you will also spend less on this qualification given the shorter duration.

However, this programme is not for everyone, particularly if you are just starting a college course. This is because, most of these programmes will require many transfer credits, particularly in general education coursework to enrol.

The competency-based MBA degree programme is ultimately a great choice if you are a self-starter and want to earn the MBA qualification as quickly as you can. Ultimately, the programme structure helps you prepare for leadership roles within your organisation, and at a faster pace.


Professionals who do not possess an undergraduate qualification but have gained sufficient work experience can consider getting an Executive MBA or EMBA.

EMBAs can add specific business skills to your toolkit that can all work in your favour to give you the desired outcome for your career progress. All MBA programmes are generally helpful in opening new and bigger career opportunities and promotions that lead to improved remuneration and compensation.

An EMBA applicant generally has more extensive work experience ranging anywhere from 10 to 15 years and therefore may not be required to have undergraduate degrees to enrol.

The EMBA applicant typically has more business knowledge acquired through work experience and therefore may not be required to undergo entrance examinations, unlike the average MBA candidate.

There are fast track options available for EMBA programmes, which can help you complete it in as quickly as ten or 14 months.


An accelerated MBA, in a nutshell, is an MBA programme that can be completed within ten months to a year – compared to traditional two- or three-year MBA programmes.

This programme is not only shorter in duration, but it also allows you to skip core subjects in business and focus on electives tailored to your career goals.

Alternatively, some programmes allow you to take core courses over the summer so that you can qualify to join the second year of the programme and complete the programme more quickly.

If you have a few years of business experience and are looking to further your career in leadership roles, an accelerated MBA is suitable for you as you will not need to spend too much time deviating from your career while pursuing this degree.