How Long Does It Take to Get an MBA?

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If you're wondering about the length of an MBA program, it's important to know the amount of time you spend in the classroom will depend on the type of program in which you enroll. If you choose a traditional, full-time, 2-year MBA program you may average as little as two or three hours a day in school. If you choose a more intensive, accelerated MBA program, you may spend as many as six hours a day in class. Part-time MBA programs generally require more limited attendance.

Estimated Length of an MBA Program

The length of an MBA program—and other graduate degree programs—vary per school, type of program and student circumstances, but here are some examples of typical program lengths for common degree programs:

Type of ProgramCompletion Time
Full-time MBA2 years
Accelerated MBA12 – 18 months
Part-time MBAUsually 3 years
4+1 MBA5 years
Evening/Weekend MBA2 years or more
Executive MBA1-to-2 years
Online MBA1-to-2 years
Specialty Master's2 years
Joint Degree3-to-4 years
DBA3-to-6 years
PhD4-to-5 years
Executive EducationSeveral days to several months

MBA Teaching Methods

Top MBA programs commonly use a teaching technique known as the "Case Study Method," which means that, instead of being structured around traditional lectures, essays and exams, in most MBA classes students are divided into teams and presented with business scenarios, complete with problems that they must work together to solve.

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Core MBA Business School Subjects

According to The Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC), "Although no two business schools offer the same curriculum, all MBA programs expose students to a common body of knowledge in basic accounting, economics, finance, human resources and organization design, marketing, operations, policy, and quantitative methods and statistics."

These core subjects are generally taught in the first year of a traditional, 2-year MBA program. Other types of programs may require that you be proficient in some or all of these areas upon entrance, and may not cover as many of them, or cover them in as much detail.

Top MBA Program Success

You're likely to do well in an MBA program if you're able to:

  • Work creatively under deadline
  • Articulate your ideas clearly and succinctly—even in high-pressure situations
  • Effectively manage your time
  • Define what you want to get out of a particular experience—and then maintain your focus on these objectives despite distractions
  • Develop good working relationships with team members of diverse personality types and backgrounds
  • Maintain a high energy-level while meeting the demands of a rigorous schedule

Working While Attending School

Working while going to school, depends on the type of program you choose. Part-time and executive programs are designed specifically to meet the needs of working students, while accelerated, 1-year MBA programs are likely to demand your full attention. Most traditional, 2-year MBA programs will probably fall between these two extremes; they may allow you enough time to hold a part-time job, but they're not specifically designed to accommodate a working person's schedule, and working while attending business school full time is not generally recommended by schools.

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