Full-Time vs Part-Time MBA Programs

One of the first choices prospective MBA students face is enrolling in a full-time or a part-time program. Students earn the same degree irrespective of their schedule and will have the same long-term financial benefits. Regardless of their program duration, MBA graduates can double their salaries within three years of completing their degrees. While many of the results are the same, the choice between a full-time and part-time program plays a significant factor during the program and will shape one’s MBA experience.

A full-time MBA program is an intensive and structured curriculum that typically takes two years to complete. Many full-time programs have rigid roadmaps to graduation. While students can learn a lot during the immersive experience, the program leaves little time for familial and personal responsibilities—and a full-time job is out of the question.

However, the reward for such a commitment is a rapid education in business and management, with all the collaborative experience and professional networks that go with it. Almost all full-time MBA programs offer career assistance and boast high placement rates for students upon graduation.

On the other hand, a part-time MBA program is structured around the student’s schedule and responsibilities. This type of program is designed for professionals who want to keep working in the field while studying, those with families and lives that can’t be put on hold during the two years that a full-time MBA commitment requires. Instead, students can typically build the program’s schedule and pace according to their preferences, taking one or two classes at a time over several years—usually with a limit of six years.

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Part-time programs cost less upfront because they are stretched out over a more extended period. There are fewer scholarships available for part-time students, but employers are more likely to help subsidize students’ tuition. What’s more, part-time programs can be easier to get into than their full-time counterparts, even at some of the most prestigious schools in the world.

Applications for full-time MBA programs have dropped every year since 2014, according to the 2020 Application Trends Survey Report. However, in 2020 worldwide MBA program applications surged, with nearly three out of four full-time two-year MBA programs reporting growth in the number of applicants.

Business school admissions officers worldwide surmised that the tumultuous effects of Covid-19 drove many people to consider career changes and apply to schools in their countries of residence due to international travel limitations.

Read on to find the critical differences between full-time and part-time MBA programs.

Matt Zbrog
Matt Zbrog

Matt Zbrog is a writer and researcher from Southern California. Since 2018, he’s written extensively about how new and aspiring business school students can best plan their education and careers. In the Two Views series, he conducts detailed interviews with recent business school alumni, with a particular focus on the choice between in-person, online, and hybrid learning models. His Femme-BA series highlights business schools that not only excel academically but also take unique and robust steps to support a diverse and inclusive learning environment for women.