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BETTER STRATEGIES. HIGHER SCORES.

Before You Apply: Know the


Different Types of MBA Programs
Before you apply, you should know that there are several different types of business school programs.
Which one you select depends on your career goals. As you decide among these alternatives, you
should consider four major factors:

 admissions requirements
 the amount of time you’re willing to commit
 cost
 career goals

Program Options
Here’s a very brief overview of your choices.

Program Length Professional Experience Schedule


Full-time MBA 1–2 years 3+ years Full time courseload
Evening classes allow
Part-time MBA 3+ 0–3 years students to keep working
full-time
Personalized schedule to
Online MBA 2 years 0–3 years
be followed from home
Generally meet on
weekends to
Executive MBA (EMBA) 2 years For execs with 8+ years
accommodate student’s
busy work schedule
Early Career MBA 2+ years For recent college grads Full time courseload
For execs (middle- and upper-level
Global MBA 1–2 years Full-time courseload
managers) from all over the world
1–2 semesters
Certificate Programs* Not required 4 to 6 courses
(varies by school)

*A certificate program is not an MBA, but it does confer expertise in important business fields and can therefore
be quite valuable.

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BETTER STRATEGIES. HIGHER SCORES.

Choosing the Right Program for You


When weighing your options, consider these four questions.

ADMISSIONS REQUIREMENTS: ARE YOU EXPERIENCED?

The amount of work experience required varies greatly between programs. There are some full-time
programs (like those offered as part of a five-year BA/MBA degree program) that require little or no
work experience. Most full-time programs, however, require at least three years of post-
undergraduate professional experience. If you are a recent college grad, you might want to consider an
Early Career MBA program. Part-time programs typically prefer three years of work experience,
although they will admit students with less. EMBA candidates, on the other hand, often need at least
eight years of professional experience at the management level. Certificate programs typically have the
least stringent admissions requirements; work experience is rarely required.

You may be tempted to fast-track your career by entering an MBA program directly after college. This
suits some, but many find the experience disappointing because they lack the practical knowledge
necessary to apply what they learn in the classroom. In addition, they can contribute little to classroom
discussion.

TIME COMMITMENT: ARE WE THERE YET?

If you want the degree as soon as possible, you should consider enrolling in a full-time program. Some
deliver the degree in as little as 12 months. Part-time programs often require three to four years,
although students with undergraduate degrees in business can sometimes place out of certain
coursework. Both EMBA and online programs generally take two years to complete. Between work
and school obligations, EMBAs are extremely time-consuming; prepare to forfeit nearly all of your free
time if you pursue this option. Online MBAs, on the other hands, offer flexibility in terms of how many
credits you take per semester, or how long it takes you to complete the program. If you’re looking for a
quick fix, a certificate program may be the way to go. At Wharton, for example, certificate programs
consist of four to six courses that students typically complete over two semesters. That’s a relatively
small commitment that can yield big rewards.

COST: WHO PAYS?

Graduate degrees aren’t cheap. Some scholarship money is available for full-time MBA students, but
unfortunately, many programs don’t offer financial aid to international students. However, in many
cases, students enrolled in part-time, EMBA, and certificate programs receive partial or full
reimbursement from their employers. There’s a catch, of course—most reimbursement programs
require recipients to remain with the employer for a number of years after earning their degree. And if
your employer has no reimbursement program, you will foot the bill.

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BETTER STRATEGIES. HIGHER SCORES.

CAREER GOALS: UPGRADE OR CLEAN BREAK?

If you want to improve your position with your current employer, a part-time or certificate program is
a good fit. Each allows you to enhance your professional skills and increase your value. Best of all, you
can usually do it at your employer’s expense. And don’t forget online MBA programs, which allow you
to complete your courses from home or work.

If, however, you are looking to start a new career or find a new job, a full-time program is probably
your best bet. A part-time program will slow your progress, and one of the main incentives to study
part-time (employer reimbursement) probably won’t be available. Look for online programs that offer
plenty of opportunities to network with professors and fellow students (usually during weekend
immersion projects).