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How Long Does It Take To Get An MBA?

By Charlene Lattea, WVU Online | Wednesday, August 09, 2023

Explore MBA program lengths, flexible schedules, and tips for efficient completion to boost your career.

If you’re an aspiring business professional preparing for a big career change by getting a Master of Business Administration (MBA), one of the biggest things you need to consider is how long it is going to take.

Whether you plan to go full-time or part-time, getting this degree is going to have a big impact on how you live your life for the next few years, so it is important to understand that the type of program you choose will determine how long you will be in school.

In this article, we’ll help you sort out all the information you need to know to answer the question: how long does it take?

The Duration of MBA Programs

The length of the MBA program you are enrolled in will play a major role in your overall experience, so make sure that you consider all your options. Check out the "big three" types of MBA degrees below:

Full-Time MBA Programs

The traditional full-time, in-person MBA degree is best suited for people seeking a big career change. With this degree, you’ll be taking classes during the day (or possibly at night) and it will take all your time for about two years.

Other full-time MBA programs include the accelerated MBA, which is usually 12 to 18 months; the global MBA, which is 2 years and focuses on international business; the Executive MBA, which is for working professionals with several years of experience and also takes 2 years; and the dual-degree MBA which allows you to earn a second degree at the same time, making it longer in duration, perhaps 3 or 4 years.

Pricing: in-person degrees are more expensive, but many business schools award fellowships, grants and scholarships based on merit.

Part-Time MBA Programs

The part-time MBA is for those who need flexibility to continue working while earning their degree.

In an in-person program, you take classes on nights and weekends, while still working full-time.

If you’re an online student, you will complete coursework remotely, often attending live lectures via the internet. Part-time programs are typically 3 years or longer, but you can work at your own pace.

Pricing: Part-time students usually pay per credit, which can cost more in the long run.

Online MBA Programs

The Online MBA is for working professionals who want convenience and flexibility. These are growing in popularity because they allow you to take classes from anywhere you have an internet connection.

They require the same time commitment as the in-person degree and have similar completion times. A full-time online program may take 2 years to complete, while a part-time online program may take 3 or more years.

Pricing: Online MBA programs are usually less expensive, while giving you the same learning opportunities you would find in an on-campus program.

For example, WVU’s 12-month, full-time online MBA program is affordable at $820 per credit hour. It requires 30 credit hours and gives you all the professional skills needed for top job placement.

Factors That Affect the Length of an MBA Degree Program

There are other factors besides the type of program you are enrolled in that can affect the length of time it takes to complete an MBA. Be sure to consider these when deciding on your program:

Admission process
It takes time to talk to admission counselors and navigate deadlines and application requirements. Every program has a different process. For example, some will ask for standardized graduate testing scores, while others do not.

The amount of time it takes to complete your MBA will take longer if you are going to class while working full-time. An online MBA can help with this, since these programs have a wide variety of flexible study options.

Transfer credits
Many MBA programs will allow you to transfer some graduate-level credits into your curriculum, which can be very helpful in shortening the duration of your degree. This is worth checking into when looking at potential programs.

Business background
If you already have a background in business, that will give you a great advantage. If not, think about taking some classes in accounting, economics, and statistics through Ivy Software before you enroll in your MBA program.

Tips for Accelerating Your MBA Journey

Since you will be spending quite a bit of time and money getting your MBA degree, it is only natural that you try to find a way to expedite your studies and graduate earlier.

The following are some practical tips for accelerating your MBA journey:

  • Find an accelerated MBA program that fits your needs. An accelerated program is the fastest way you can get your degree and usually takes 12 to 18 months.
  • Since you won’t have time to do an internship with an accelerated MBA, look for an internship on your own that you can work into an unconventional schedule.
  • If you pass on the accelerated MBA and choose another type of MBA program, plan ahead and create a course schedule with your advisor that reduces your time to graduate.
  • Take extra courses during the regular term or in the summer.
  • Improve your study habits so you won’t have to retake any classes.

Working While Getting an MBA

Do you need to continue working while getting your MBA? This has some benefits, as well as some drawbacks.

Benefits include staying in the workforce and continuing to work on your career and not losing a salary.

The drawbacks, of course, have to do with how many hours there are in a day and how much time you have available to devote to your studies.

The following are some strategies for pursuing part-time MBA programs while working full-time, in order to manage your schoolwork and your job effectively:

  • Work a part-time job while taking a full-time MBA program.
  • Work a full-time job, while choosing an online or part-time program.
  • Arrange a flexible work schedule with your employer, if possible.
  • Block out specific time for your studies and minimize distractions.
  • Plan your calendar and schoolwork in advance, especially if it involves travel.
  • Take vacation time to complete big projects or study for exams.
  • Apply your day-to-day work experiences and observations to your classwork.
  • Communicate constantly with faculty and advisors, as well as with your work supervisor.
  • Use digital productivity tools, such as note-taking apps, document management systems, and cloud storage programs.
  • Develop good study habits and be sure to schedule breaks for yourself.
  • Optimize your time management skills.

Does Age Affect the Time It Takes to Get an MBA?

There is no perfect age to get an MBA. This is entirely individual, and depends a lot on your health, fitness, and personal energy.

Your early to mid-20s, right after you graduate with an undergraduate degree, might be a great time to get your MBA because you may not have the responsibilities of someone with a family or a full-time job.

Keep in mind, however, that many MBA programs recommend, or even require, that you have a few years of work experience.

If you are older, you will likely be in a better financial position to afford the cost of an MBA.

Mainly, don’t worry about your age! The best time to get your MBA is when you are ready to take your business skills to a new level, and when you have the motivation to do it, no matter how old you are.

Making the Right Choice

Look at all the options before taking this next big step for your career, so that the type of degree you choose will be worth it to you, no matter what length of time it takes.

Look at your goals, personal circumstances and career objectives. Now, taking all these into consideration, what is your time commitment?

To help choose the most suitable MBA program duration for you, consider the following:

Your goals for the future

  • Do you want to get an MBA as quickly as possible in order to enter or get back into the workforce? If so, consider a one-year accelerated MBA.
  • Do you want to attend in-person and have maximum contact with professors and peers? Then a two-year, full-time, traditional MBA may be right for you.
  • Are you preparing work overseas? If so, a two or three-year global MBA could be your ticket.

Your personal circumstances

  • Will you work full-time while getting your MBA? If so, consider a part-time degree.
  • Do you plan to work part-time while getting your MBA? If so, consider an online MBA, which gives you more flexibility for the same amount of time as a full-time degree.
  • How much business experience do you have? If you have several years, consider an Executive MBA, which takes about two years to get, while you continue to work full-time.
  • Or, what life stage are you in? Do you have family responsibilities? An online MBA allows you to set your own pace and get the degree in your time frame.
  • Will you be looking for ways to pay for your MBA and unsure where the money is coming from? If so, consider an accelerated degree, that allows you to complete it more quickly and thereby saving in cost.

Your career objectives

  • Are you a business professional with years of experience who wants to move into a leadership position? If so, a two-year Executive MBA would be a good match for you.
  • Do you plan to combine your MBA with a career in healthcare, law, the arts, or another profession? This will take you longer, but a dual-degree MBA might be best.
  • Do you plan to specialize? Most two-year MBA programs, whether in-person or online, will allow you to specialize, but an accelerated degree will not.

As you use the questions above to weigh your time commitment against the benefits of different program lengths, it is important to remember that regardless of the type of degree program you enroll in, you will generally receive the same graduate degree in the end.

So, it really is a very personal decision and it depends entirely on the time you have available to you to complete the MBA of your choice.

Ready to Earn Your MBA? Connect with WVU Online Today!

The future for MBA graduates is very promising. As you build your career, you may want to improve your skills with a degree from WVU Online.

The WVU John Chambers School of Business and Economics offers an Online MBA program for working professionals who want the convenience and flexibility of online learning from a nationally recognized university.

Contact the Coaches at Our Learning Engagement Center

After reading this article, if you are unsure about your goals, or how to identify your interests and skills, be sure to reach out to one of our WVU Online admissions coaches. They are trained to help you look at your individual situation and make the right choice for your future.

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