Source: The New York Times
By Samantha Stainburn
Aug. 1, 2014
Graduate business programs were first truncated in Europe in the late 1950s, half a century after the two-year degree was introduced by Dartmouth. But one-year M.B.A.s are only starting to catch on in the United States with cost- and time-conscious students.
Donato Wilkins started a graduate program in May 2013 at Emory’s Goizueta Business School and is already headed toward a new job in mergers and acquisitions at PricewaterhouseCoopers. “I did the math, and the return on investment for the one-year program was much higher than for the two-year program,” said Mr. Wilkins, who had worked three years in corporate finance at Xerox and Newell Rubbermaid but wanted to get into a more exciting slice of finance. He considered both savings on tuition and the additional income from starting a job with an M.B.A. salary one year earlier.
He believes this: “You get the exact same benefit as the two-year program — the same professors, the community, the G.B.S. network, all the on-campus resources and Goizueta brand — in less time and for less money.”
Enrollments are up 26 percent for Goizueta’s program over last year. Cornell enrolled its largest one-year M.B.A. class on its Ithaca campus this year, and has opened a new program focused on the global digital economy at Cornell Tech in New York City. A long program was a concern when designing an M.B.A. for techies, said Douglas M. Stayman, associate dean for M.B.A. programs at Cornell’s Johnson School of Management. “The tech economy moves quickly, and if people are out of it for a long time, it’s an issue.” (The one-year M.B.A. runs about $93,000 versus $116,000 for the two-year.)
The Graduate Management Admission Council counts 189 one-year programs, compared to 173 four years ago, and 55 percent of them have reported increases in applications over last year.
Proponents say a year is sufficient for students with strong quantitative or analytical skills who are willing to clear their schedules to study. Typically, students start in May, and cram in almost a year’s worth of foundational business classes in four months. In September, they fall in with students who are in their second year of a traditional program, taking elective classes, joining industry-related and cultural clubs (essential for network-building), participating in case competitions and interviewing at companies. Students in the one- and two-year programs graduate as a class, with the same degree, the following May.
Some schools let students go even faster. The University of Florida’s Hough Graduate School of Business, for example, runs a 10-month M.B.A. for students who graduated with an undergraduate business degree within the previous seven years.
The pace of the one-year degree — essentially completing three-quarters of the academic credits of a two-year degree in half the time — can limit the appeal. “One-year is for people who are accelerating their careers, not changing their careers,” Mr. Stayman said. “You don’t have time to do career exploration.”
Employers interview during the fall, so students with five months of M.B.A. study under their belts are competing with students with 15 months, including an internship. One-year students need to have enough of a career history to make the case that they don’t need that internship.
The positive spin, said Alex Sevilla, assistant dean and director of Florida’s M.B.A. programs: “A student can say to a recruiter, ‘I voluntarily chose the one-year program, and that gives you some indication of my horsepower.’ ”
According to G.M.A.C.’s 2013 student poll, fewer job seekers from one-year programs (53 percent) had received offers by March than had students in the final year of two-year programs (61 percent). While one-year students reported an average 70 percent increase over pre-M.B.A. earnings, their earnings boost was 9 percent lower than what two-year students reported.
There are other drawbacks. Students don’t have time to spend a semester abroad. They forfeit some electives. They can join clubs but can’t lead them (presidents are picked the spring before they arrive). And elite business schools like Harvard, Wharton and Stanford don’t have one-year M.B.A.s. “We haven’t felt comfortable offering a one-year M.B.A. here,” said Madhav Rajan, who oversees Stanford’s full-time M.B.A. program. “I think there would be huge demand if we ever went that route, but given the content we want to disseminate, that’s not something we’ve pursued.
“You get to know your classmates and interact with your professors over two years,” Mr. Rajan said. “The whole notion of our M.B.A. is that it’s a transformative experience.”