As you head toward the finish line in your current academic career, you may be contemplating applying to specific post-graduate venture – like one of many 1-year Master’s programs – and actively trying to weigh your options. Or, perhaps you’re stuck at a crossroads and wondering if you should pursue a Master’s or PhD and you feel a shorter timeline might be advantageous to your future career goals. In any case, this blog aims to clarify the reasons one might pursue a 1-year Master’s degree, and, discuss some of the top 1-year Master’s programs in the United States and Canada.

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Article Contents
9 min read

Should I Consider a 1-Year Master’s Program? Understanding 1-Year Master's Programs Preparing for a 1-Year Master's Program USA's Top 10 1-Year Master's Programs Canada's Top 10 1-Year Master's Programs Conclusion: Key Things To Consider About 1-Year Master’s Programs FAQs

Should I Consider A 1-Year Master’s Program?

You may have come to the end of your undergraduate career – or, perhaps you’ve been out of school for some time and you are looking to pursue a graduate degree. Either way, this is an exciting step in your future career path! But, academic endeavours can be taxing as they require ample preparation, time, and of course, money. Knowing what type of graduate degree you’re working toward is one thing, but knowing which program, and the timeline of it, is another! There are online Master’s as well as online graduate programs, traditional 2-year programs, ones that require undergraduate research experience, and everything in between.

Want to know if a Masters or PhD will help you get into med school? Watch this video:

No matter what you’re considering, it’s important to note that 1-year Master's programs have emerged as a popular alternative to traditional 2-year courses. These programs are especially appealing to those seeking to fast-track their education and quickly re-enter the workforce or pivot their career paths; or, for those who might not have the same bandwidth (in regards to time or money) to dedicate two years to a single program. This blog will delve into the merits of these accelerated programs, comparing them with standard Master's degrees. We'll also showcase the top 10 1-year Master's programs in the USA and Canada, highlighting why they stand out and are worth your consideration!

Understanding 1-Year Master's Programs

1-year Master's programs are characterized by their intense, full-time curriculum, designed to compress two years' worth of learning into a single year. This more accelerated format is ideal for those who can dedicate a full year to study without significant work or personal commitments. These programs often attract working professionals looking for a quick way to upgrade their skills or shift career paths, or, individuals who, for personal, professional or other reasons, cannot dedicate two calendar years to school and feel they are prepared to tackle their degree in 12 months.

1-year Master’s programs are also popular among international students who wish to minimize time and living expenses abroad. Of course, financial expenses and time commitments shouldn’t deter your Master’s journey entirely, as there are plenty of undergraduate, Master’s and graduate school scholarships and individual financial aid routes to explore at each institution that could help you make it work. In order to help you weigh your options, we will explore the structure, ideal candidates, and key differences from traditional 2-year programs throughout this below…

The Financial Aspect: Cost-Benefit Analysis

Choosing a 1-year Master's program can be a financially sound decision for some. This certainly varies between students, and depends on other factors like jobs, living situations, personal finances, and academic goals.

While the upfront tuition might be similar to a 2-year program, the overall costs including living expenses are often lower due to the shortened duration. This is particularly worth considering for certain types of students, such as those who are looking into special Master’s programs geared toward students who are invested in making it to medical school, or, those who aren’t certain that they need a Master’s to get a PhD, but have goals to explore, and maybe achieve both, degree options. The ‘return on investment’ is great in many cases, but only select people will have the ability to jump into a 2-year program without hesitation.

 Additionally, the opportunity cost of being out of the workforce is reduced. Sometimes, it can be a tough call to make, but for the sake of example, if you’re a working professional (in the business field) wondering how long it takes to get an MBA, you might be more inclined to opt for the quicker, accelerated option. Or, you may realize that there are several online MBA programs that allow you to keep your current role while working.

Career Opportunities, Networking and Industry Demand

No matter what path you take, if you’re ever asked by an interviewer or colleague, ‘why a Master’s program at our school?’ or, ‘why do you want to join our graduate program?’ you probably shouldn’t outrightly state that it is because you want a certain salary one day – but what you can say is that you feel there are excellent career prospects and opportunities for graduates of their program! Most people pursue a Master’s to learn more, increase their chances at obtaining a certain role or switching careers, and often, to get a higher pay grade (in some sectors).

When it comes to 1-year Master's programs, graduates often find themselves in high demand across various industries. An advantage held by some 1-year Master’s students is that, often, they have some networking and career experience already. This isn’t always the case of course, but on the flip side, many students who pursue 2-year programs do so to reap the benefits of learning skills and networking in their program, perhaps because they’re fresh out of their undergrad. There is no right or wrong choice here, and career-wise, holding a Master’s degree in any form can be an advantage.

Program Structure and Commitment

The structure of a 1-year Master's program differs significantly from that of a 2-year Master's program, each delivering a specific curriculum, but with one being a fast-tracked version! Here are some key differences in program structure and time commitment, along with their pros and cons:

Structure Differences

Pros and Cons of 1-Year Master’s and 2-Year Master’s

1-Year Master's Program

2-Year Master's Program

Preparing for a 1-Year Master's Program

The intensity and pace required to get a 1-year Master's degree in Canada and the United States demands thorough preparation and a proactive approach.

Giving yourself ample time to prepare your application and ensuring you have all materials required – transcripts, letters of recommendation, and anything else – on hand well in advance will ensure that your application is submitted in a timely manner. But, before you even apply, it’s always beneficial to do some research. What is the program like? What are students saying about it? Often, the best information is sourced from the institution itself and its current and former students, however, online forums like Facebook groups, Discord and Reddit can be beneficial for prospective students to gain insight into an institution’s day-to-day, a specific program or even a particular career. For instance, among residency Reddit and law school admissions Reddit, there are also subreddits online for almost every academic field and program known to humankind. Of course, all information that doesn’t come from the school itself or a reliable source (like a grad school consultant) should be taken with a grain of salt and can present many potential biases. However, these online environments can also be utilized to get a better understanding of a particular town or city a program is located in (if you’re unfamiliar with it), and can provide clarity about things that are indirectly related to a Master’s program, such as jobs in the community, neighborhood issues, campus life, or housing costs.

It’s also beneficial to know what the curriculum of each program looks like before you prepare your applications. For example, will your chosen program require a Master’s thesis? If so, you’ll need to know how to write a Master’s thesis proposal. Will it require research or group work? Will you need to take tests prior to applying?

Once you’ve done your research and prep and decided on your top 1-year Master’s programs, you’ll be able to apply and submit all materials necessary.

Now, you may be wondering, what does a typical 1-year Master’s degree application consist of, and, what’s required?

Aside from having a bachelor’s degree in a relevant field of student (or, specific work experience if the program allows it), you’ll also need English proficiency for many programs (submit TOEFL or IELTS scores), and may also need to take the GMAT or GRE. For example, when it comes to MBA’s, students often have to take the GRE or GMAT to be considered. While there are MBA programs that don’t require the GRE or GMAT, if you’re looking at MBA’s, it’s important to know what each prospective program requires of you.

Here’s what else you should know about your application:

  • Transcripts: Collect official transcripts from your undergraduate institution and any other post-secondary education.
  • Resume/CV: Update your resume or grad school CV to highlight your academic achievements, work experience, and any relevant skills or extracurricular activities.
  • Academic and Professional References: Most programs require two or three letters of recommendation. Choose referees who know you well and can speak to your academic and professional capabilities.
  • Personal Reflection: Write a compelling statement of purpose that reflects your academic interests, career objectives, and reasons for choosing the specific program.
  • Personal Interview: Some programs may invite candidates for an interview as part of the application process. This could be in-person, by phone, or via video conference. Either way, if interviews are a required by the program you should spend time reviewing  graduate school interview questions!
  • Program-Specific Requirements: For certain fields, such as fine arts, journalism, or architecture, you may need to submit a portfolio or writing samples.

We recommend that start looking at your programs well in advance (some students plan 1-2 years ahead of time and aim to submit their application as soon as possible, rather than at the deadline). If you require references, volunteer work, extracurriculars, or anything else that is time sensitive, planning your application process a year in advance can certainly help ensure these things are in your possession and completed months before the application deadline. As always, we recommend students start this early so that as their tests and interviews approach (if these things are required; it varies by program) they can have enough time – usually 3 months – to focus on preparing, practicing and studying!

USA's Top 10 1-Year Master's Programs

  1. MS in Management Studies, MIT Sloan
  2. LL.M., Harvard University
  3. Master of Finance, Princeton University
  4. MS in Business Analytics, NYU Stern
  5. MBA, Purdue University
  6. MS in Supply Chain Management, University of Michigan
  7. MS in Marketing, Northwestern University
  8. MS in Information Systems, Boston University
  9. MS in Computational Finance, Carnegie Mellon University
  10. MS in Real Estate Development, Columbia University

Canada's Top 10 1-Year Master's Programs

  1. MBA, University of Toronto
  2. Master of Finance, Queen's University
  3. Master of Management Analytics, Queen's University
  4. Master of Global Affairs, University of Toronto
  5. Master of Management in AI, Queen's University
  6. Master of Professional Communication, TMU
  7. MEL, University of British Columbia
  8. Master of Information, University of Toronto
  9. Master of Public Health, University of Toronto
  10. MSc in Applied Computing, University of Toronto

Conclusion: Key Things To Consider About 1- Year Master’s Programs

  • Admission Requirements: Generally, these programs require a relevant undergraduate degree, professional work experience, and standardized test scores (GMAT/GRE). Some programs may also require specific technical skills or a portfolio of work. This can vary by program, but it’s important that you ensure you’re prepared to meet all requirements if you’re hoping for admission!
  • Program Highlights: Each program is tailored to meet the evolving demands of its respective field, offering specialized curricula, strong industry connections, and career opportunities. It’s always recommended that you thoroughly research your program’s highlights and what it will offer you as a student (versus a more traditional 2-year Master’s). Being part of prestigious universities and learning environments, these programs offer extensive networking opportunities and access to resources that can significantly benefit students' careers.
  • Career Prospects: Each program is designed to prepare students for specific career paths, with a blend of theoretical knowledge and practical skills. Graduates from these programs often find themselves well-prepared for leadership and specialized roles in their chosen fields, benefiting from the programs' focus on practical skills and industry relevance.
  • Diverse Fields: 1-year Master’s programs cover a range of fields from business and finance to technology and real estate. There are several more Master’s programs out there than the 20 included in this blog, some of which are 1-year in duration!


1. What are the main benefits of a 1-year Master's program?

The main benefits include time efficiency, intensive specialized learning, potentially less of a financial burden (for those worried about cost of living while being in school for 2 years) and a quicker return to the workforce.

2. How do 1-year Master's programs differ from traditional 2-year programs?

1-year programs are more condensed and intensive, offering the same level of specialization in a shorter time frame. Sometimes, these programs tend to appeal more to people with workforce experience, rather than those who recently completed an undergraduate degree. But, this is subjective.

3. Are 1-year Master's programs more financially beneficial than 2-year programs?

Generally, yes, due to lower overall costs, reduced living expenses, and a shorter duration out of the workforce.

4. What career opportunities are available for graduates of 1-year Master's programs?

Graduates often find diverse opportunities across various industries that value the intensive training these programs provide. This also depends on your field and the type of degree you earn!

5. How should I prepare for the intensity of a 1-year Master's program?

Preparation involves a combination of academic readiness, time management skills, and personal and professional support systems. Preparation also involves potential testing (like the GRE or GMAT if you’re looking into an MBA), gathering letters of recommendation and/or intent, and other materials. This is why it’s essential to prepare as far in advance as possible. If you know you want to apply to a Master’s program at this time next year, start researching now, gathering materials as soon as you can, taking at minimum 3 months to study (if you do have to take any exams or tests) and aiming to complete your application well before its deadline.

6. Is a 1-year Master's program suitable for working professionals?

Absolutely! These programs are ideal for professionals seeking to advance their careers without a long hiatus from work. Many people take a year off – or, reduce their hours – to pursue a 1-year Master’s.

7. What should I consider when choosing between a 1-year and a 2-year Master's program?

Consider factors like your career goals, learning style, financial situation, and the time you can dedicate to intensive study! Some people thrive in intensive environments, while others may prefer a program that spans over 2 years.

8. Does the condensed nature of a 1-year program compromise the quality of education?

No, these programs are designed to deliver the same level of education and specialization as traditional programs, just in a more intensive format. Often, 1-year Master’s do not have summer breaks, whereas some 2-year programs do! You’ll be doing a lot of learning in a short period of time, but the program won’t cut corners.

To your success,

Your friends at BeMo

BeMo Academic Consulting

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