Full-Time vs. Part-Time MBA Programs
One of the first choices prospective MBA students face is whether to enroll 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. MBA graduates—regardless of their program duration—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.
The reward for such a commitment, however, 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.
Part-time programs cost less up front 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 a student’s 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 2017 Application Trends Survey Report, and employers are increasingly looking to part-time MBA graduates. But trends change, and not everyone fits into the majority choice.
Read on to find the critical differences between full-time and part-time MBA programs.
|Full-Time MBA Programs||Part-Time MBA Programs|
|Who Typically Enrolls||Full-time MBA programs often attract students who are either recent graduates or in the early stages of their careers.
Full-time MBA students tend to have fewer responsibilities and more free time, and are therefore able to dedicate serious and consistent energy to their studies.
|Part-time MBA programs appeal to working professionals and those who are more established in their lives and careers.
Part-time MBA students may have personal, financial, career, or family obligations which necessitate a more flexible graduate-level program.
|Duration||Most full-time MBA programs can be completed in two years, but there are some accelerated one-year programs available to full-time students.||While it can vary based on student pace, most part-time MBA programs take between three and five years to complete.|
|Structure||The school and its curriculum largely determine the structure of full-time MBA programs. While there may be opportunities for personalization (in the selection of electives or specialization), the structure tends to be rigid.
For example, the first year may be spent learning management and business fundamentals, and the second year may be spent on electives and specializations. While online programs offer some independence in scheduling, coursework looks less like a traditional undergraduate menu, and more like a specific roadmap.
|Each student creates the structure of their part-time MBA program. The structure tends to be relatively fluid, as each student can assemble the program around his or her life.
This is why part-time programs have such a broad time frame for estimated graduation: some students choose to structure their part-time MBA over four years, while another might use six. Most part-time MBA programs provide mentors, counselors, and other resources to help students mold a curriculum in a way that is best for them.
|Featured On-Campus Programs||
|Featured Online Programs||
|The Bottom Line||Full-time MBA programs are an immersive and all-in experience.
They consist of not only classes but job placements, corporate residencies, networking events, and collaborative projects. The career pause necessitated by one’s commitment to a full-time MBA can be offset by the fast growth of one’s knowledge, resources, and network.
Full-time MBA programs are best suited for recent graduates, those making a change in specialization, and those less burdened by personal responsibilities.
|Part-time MBA programs fit into a busy schedule instead of consuming it.
They allow students to continue working in their career and meeting their personal obligations while also advancing their professional education. While scholarship options and networking opportunities may be less plentiful than at a full-time MBA program, many employers will subsidize a part of a part-time MBA student’s tuition.
Part-time MBA programs are best suited for working professionals juggling a busy life.