How long does it take to get an MBA? Your MBA schedule will depend on a few different factors, from the type of program you enroll in to whether you are balancing going back to school with a busy work week. MBAs are already one of the shortest master’s level programs out there, but shorter, accelerated MBAs are becoming more popular in recent years, too. At the end of the day, how long it takes to get an MBA will depend on your drive and your goals. In this blog, learn how long it takes to get an MBA, what your MBA track options are and how you can get your MBA finished faster.
Listen to the blog!
It takes between 1 and 2 years to complete an MBA.
An MBA is a master’s degree in business that prepares students for leadership and managerial positions across all industries and fields of business. It is an increasingly popular graduate school program as applicants look to level up their careers and gain better skills and experience.
In recent years, the traditional 2-year MBA programs have ceded popularity to the “accelerated” MBA, programs which are typically 12 to 18 months long. Online MBA programs have also been sprouting up with more regularity as applicants look for more flexible education options and completed faster.
Although the majority of MBA programs out there are still the traditional 2-year sprint, there are many different types of MBA programs available, each with their own pros and cons and unique schedules. can be tricky, so we’ll go over each type next.
The full-time MBA is the traditional, 2-year program option, though some programs offer the “accelerated” version, which is completed in 1 year. Full-time MBA students typically do not work while pursuing their studies, but they will complete an during their program.
The time it takes to complete the full-time MBA depends on whether you choose the 2-year, full academic calendar program or the faster 1-year version, which means you’ll be completing the same amount of work, just in less time.
- Comprehensive business education
- Plenty of opportunities for networking and professional development
- More options for specialization
- Can complete your degree in 1 year instead of 2
- More costly
- Bigger time commitment
- Accelerated program can cause burnout
Top Full-time MBA Programs
Almost every business school offers the traditional 2-year MBA track, but each one may have its own unique curriculum and experience. Check out the and the to see which one might be right for you. These are some examples of the :
The part-time MBA is another choice that is becoming more popular. MBAs accept a huge variety of applicants, from the recent grads to mature applicants looking to go back to school. A part-time MBA is an excellent choice for someone who wants to return to school without putting their career on hold. Part-time MBAs offer evening and weekend classes so you can earn your degree without quitting your job. Part-time MBAs are around 3 years long.
- Allows you to continue working while going to school
- Flexible course options
- Can be either online or in-person
- Adds time to your degree
- Not the best choice for recent grads who lack experience
Best Part-time MBA Programs
- Booth School of Business at the University of Chicago
- at UC Berkeley
- University of California, Los Angeles
Online or Hybrid MBA
Online or hybrid MBAs are increasing in number, and many of them are fully accredited, same as the traditional MBA. So, it is entirely possible to get your MBA completely online. There are also hybrid programs if you prefer learning in the classroom, too. Online MBAs are great options for students who want some flexibility in their schedule but want to cut down on the time it takes to get their degree. Online MBAs are usually 12-18 months long.
- Flexible schedule, learn at your own pace
- Hybrid learning options
- Less costly than traditional MBA
- Fewer programs available
- Not many choices for specialized MBA
Best Online MBA Programs
Here are some of the best online MBA programs to choose from:
- Indiana University – Bloomington
- University of North Carolina Chapel Hill
- University of Southern California
- University of Florida
- Carnegie Mellon University
The executive MBA is designed specifically for professionals with more substantial work experience. This program helps prepare you to take on executive level roles in business, such as C-suite and director positions. If you’re not sure what to pick between , it may come down to your work experience and qualifications, or the time you have to commit to your studies. Executive MBAs are usually 2 years, with not many options for acceleration. In Canada, executive MBAs can be between 1 year and 18 months.
- Ideal for applicants with substantial work experience
- Flexible learning on evenings and weekends
- Programs are typically 2 years
- Limited electives
If your goal is to enter the international business world, or get a position in a multinational company, a global MBA is your best bet. This type of MBA is ideal for students who crave international experience and opportunities. The downside is they are mainly 2-year programs, so not the fastest MBAs.
- Experience business on the global level
- Opportunities for international networking and work placements
- Usually not able to work and study
- Usually a 2-year program
Dual degree MBAs, such as an degree or 4+1 program, where you earn both your bachelor’s and your master’s at once, are a good idea if you’re an undergraduate student who already knows they want to pursue an MBA or you want to specialize in a certain area of business. These programs usually take 2-3 years, or even 5 years if you complete a 4+1 bachelor and master’s combo.
- Possibility to earn your bachelor’s and your MBA at once
- Specialize and streamline your business education
- Take 2+ years to complete
- Narrows your MBA job options after you graduate to your chosen specialty
With so many options of MBA to choose from, how do you know you’re picking the right one for you? Well, first it’s important to think carefully and ask yourself some realistic questions about and what you’re willing to compromise on for your education.
Then, it’s about doing your research and selecting the right program fit for you within the options available to you and or can be informative, but we recommend looking beyond the admissions data to the quality and content of the programs themselves. Choose the one that works for your schedule, your budget and your career aspirations. Your business education will bring you a return on investment based on what YOU put into it, not what business school name is attached to it.
Here's some questions to ask yourself when researching potential MBA programs and deciding on what type to pursue:
- What are your career goals? What kind of position do you want to pursue?
- Are you interested in specializing or working in a specific industry?
- Can you balance work and studies?
- What’s your budget? Are you eligible for financial aid or ?
- Is online or in-person learning better for you?
- How many hours can you devote to an MBA every week?
- Are you willing or able to put your work on pause? For how long?
- Is an MBA worth it for you right now?
Factors that Affect Your MBA Timeline
Aside from these important questions, there are other factors that can affect your MBA timeline. Because, on top of the 1-2 or even 3+ years of schooling, you need to take into account the amount of time it takes to actually prepare an MBA application.
The admissions cycle alone can take a year, so if you are serious about pursuing an MBA, factor this in.
It’s possible that you want to finish your MBA as fast as possible and get straight back to work with all the benefits an MBA degree can grant you. While it is possible to get your MBA finished very quickly and level up your career that fast, enrolling in an MBA is about more than that.
Fast-tracking your MBA certainly has its pros, but you also want to get the most value out of your investment as you can. An MBA is an investment—in your future and yourself. If you rush through the program with the singular goal of getting promoted or making more money, you will be missing out on added experience. To find the right balance of speed and worth, you’ll need to commit.
Here are a few tips on how to finish your MBA faster and graduate in record time, without losing too much educational value.
1. Enroll in an online or accelerated program
The most obvious way to shorten your MBA is to enroll in a shorter program. Accelerated MBAs and online MBA programs have a condensed academic calendar, so you’re doing the same amount of coursework in a shorter period of time. Some of these programs will have a 6-8 week course calendar instead of the traditional 12-15 week schedule, for instance. This is great if you want to get finished faster but remember that with a shorter schedule you can risk study burnout.
2. Take more courses
The other simple way to get your MBA done faster is to take on a full course load and complete more courses per semester. The downside if you likely won’t have time to work while you study, so you’ll need to compensate for this with either flexible work hours or be comfortable taking time off work.
It’s also possible you can transfer credits from your bachelor’s program, professional development courses or certifications, or even your years of work experience. Check to see if any of your professional qualifications or experience can be used to satisfy some of your MBA program’s credit requirements to reduce the total number of credit hours you need to meet.
3. Plan ahead
Planning is crucial when it comes to getting your MBA! Plan ahead with your applications so you know exactly when you’re going to complete what step, when you’ll take the and when you’re going to apply and matriculate to an MBA program. A detailed application schedule will give you an overview of how long it takes to get your MBA and what steps you still need to complete. You can work with an service if professional application help is right for you.
4. Communicate with your employer
If you plan to keep working while you earn your degree, or if you’re going to take a leave of absence from work, it’s critical to keep your current employer in the loop. Discuss with them whether you’re able to take time off while you study and return to work afterwards, or if you can work out a flexible work schedule while you’re going to school. Chances are, your employer will be willing to work with your MBA goals, especially if you’ll be bringing your new experience and knowledge back to your current workplace.
5. Hold yourself accountable
Do what you say you will do, when you say it. While you’re studying to get your MBA, create a detailed schedule for yourself and keep to it. Schedule your courses, your extracurriculars, your work schedule and your personal commitments. Keeping yourself organized will reduce stress and help you avoid delays, obstacles and the prospect of retaking courses or exams.
There’s a great metaphor about the various commitments in your life being balls you need to juggle in the air. Some of the balls are glass, some are rubber and bounce right back if you drop them. The key is figuring out which of your juggling balls are glass—whether in your personal, professional or academic life—and which ones will be okay if you drop them in favor of a glass one. For example, if you decline a party invitation to study for an important exam or let someone else take over a work task to attend your brother’s wedding.
Studying for your MBA while juggling work and home commitments is all about balance, so use your judgment to determine which commitments are important and urgent and which ones will bounce back. And when you commit to doing something important, do it!
1. How long does it take to get an MBA?
A traditional MBA takes 1-2 years to complete. Part-time MBA programs and some dual degrees take 3 years or more to complete. You can also find accelerated or online MBA programs that take 12-18 months to finish.
2. What’s the fastest way to get an MBA?
The fastest way to get an MBA would be to enroll in an accelerated, 12-month program or an online MBA, which takes 12-18 months on average. But keep in mind that the fastest options might not be the best fit for you!
3. Is an MBA worth it?
An MBA can absolutely be worth the investment if it brings you value, knowledge and experience. The reasons for pursuing an MBA vary, but for the most part applicants are seeking to boost their careers, change career paths or move into managerial or leadership positions. If your goals align with getting an MBA, it may be well worth your time and money.
4. Does it matter where you get your MBA?
The name of the business school attached to your MBA program truthfully matters less than the value you get from an MBA program. Even if a program is not the “best” one out there, it may be the perfect fit for you. MBA programs all adhere to high academic standards, and they are respected degrees, no matter where they are from. Choose the MBA program that is right for you, and don’t focus on the prestige of a business school’s name or reputation.
5. How long does it take to get a part-time MBA?
Part-time MBAs usually take 3 years on average, though you might take more or less time, depending on whether you keep working during your studies and how many courses you take per semester.
6. What is the best age to do an MBA?
There is no age limit for MBAs, and this type of program tends to attract people of all backgrounds, ages and experience levels. The type of MBA that’s right for you may certainly depend on where you’re at in your career and your age range, but know that it is never too late to pursue an MBA!
7. How hard is an MBA?
MBAs are graduate level programs, so they are not a walk in the park. However, MBAs are focused on experiential learning and practical education, rather than a heavy academic focus. While an MBA will challenge you, it may also be a very rewarding challenge.
8. What is the hardest part of getting an MBA?
The most difficult part of getting an MBA is balancing the needs of your career with your education and your personal life. Most MBA applicants will have already started their careers and may have family and other personal commitments to keep, too. Going to school while juggling these can be hard, but fortunately MBA programs can be quite flexible for working students.