An accelerated MBA program is a condensed, intensive degree plan that offers an MBA education in one year, rather than the usual two years. In an accelerated online MBA program, students view lectures, complete course work and participate in discussions through Internet platforms, as they would in any online MBA program. However, an accelerated online MBA program will entail more advanced work at a very fast pace. Accelerated MBA programs, which usually take about 10 to 15 months to complete, have been growing in popularity in recent years. Businessweek.com reports that at some schools, admissions officers have seen application rates for their one-year online MBA programs surpass those of their two-year ones.
The Benefits of an Accelerated MBA
The popularity of accelerated online MBA programs can be attributed to the fact that these one-year degrees save students both time and money. Students are becoming less willing and able to spend two years out of the workforce, and an accelerated MBA program allows them to enhance their job potential without losing valuable time.
According to a survey conducted in part by The Wall Street Journal, 82 percent of students and alumni cited the ability to re-enter the workforce faster as a top factor in choosing a one-year MBA. Additionally, many accelerated online MBA programs cost less than their two-year counterparts. So, the lower cost, plus the fact that students will be able to make money with their degrees sooner, make an accelerated online MBA an excellent option financially.
Various Accelerated Choices
Many schools offer accelerated online MBA programs geared toward individual student goals. A great example is the varied accelerated MBA program available at Suffolk University. The Accelerated MBA for Previous Business Majors allows students with undergraduate business experience to opt out of as many as eight courses of the traditional 18-class MBA program. Suffolk offers a similar arrangement with its Accelerated MBA for Attorneys. The GMAT is waived during admission with documentation of LSAT scores. The business law course is waived, and four elective credits are transferred from the student’s law school degree. This shortens the traditional Suffolk MBA program by at least five courses, and students are able to graduate after 10 to 13 classes. Suffolk also offers an Accelerated MBA for CPAs, which works in the same way.
More and more schools are starting to offer accelerated versions of their online MBA programs. However, it is important to ensure that an MBA degree is awarded as a year-long program. The term “accelerated” is sometimes used to describe two-year programs as well. Two schools that offer quality one-year online MBA programs, designed to take only 10 to 15 months to complete, are Babson College and the University of Florida. In fact, both schools placed among the top 10 one-year MBA programs in rankings by Macquil.com. Also, the business programs at the University of Florida are accredited by the AACSB, and, according to the school website, the university was recently recognized as having one of only two distance-learning programs in the world to earn the rating of “excellent” by The Economist magazine.
Accelerated Versus General
Classes will move more quickly in an accelerated online MBA program than in a typical one. More information will be covered per class, and tests will be more intense and more frequent. An accelerated program is geared toward students with extensive backgrounds in business, usually bachelor’s degrees in business combined with at least two years of professional experience. Course work will start at a more advanced level than that of a general MBA. Rather than reviewing basic business concepts, students will delve directly into the practice of those concepts. Accelerated programs are often tied to a school’s general MBA program. For example, students of the one-year MBA online at Babson College begin the program in May with an intense 12-week summer program. Then, students take their elective courses along with second-year students of the general MBA programs. This means that students need to have already taken a significant number of business courses before entering a one-year program. The prerequisites for the Babson program include Financial Accounting, Managerial Accounting, Finance, Statistics, Quantitative Foundations of Decision Support Systems, Strategy, Operations Management, Organizational Behavior, Marketing, Microeconomics, Macroeconomics and Business Law.
Despite the current popularity of accelerated online MBA programs, there are definite pros and cons to the shortened style. According to The Wall Street Journal survey, almost two-thirds of students in one-year online MBA programs spent more than 15 hours per week on schoolwork beyond lectures and class discussions. Combine that with an intense course load, and students in accelerated programs have little time for anything other than studying, working and sleeping. Some students surveyed said they felt exhausted by the fast-paced curriculum and some mentioned not having had enough time to fully absorb case studies. However, there are many benefits to such an intense and fast-paced course schedule. Some students and alumni reported that the intensity of the accelerated program helped fuel constant engagement with the material and close bonds with classmates.
Students in one-year online MBA programs will get less of an opportunity to network with their classmates and get career assistance from administrators than those on a regular track. Students in the faster-paced programs have little time for internships or consulting projects, which means less of a chance to make company contacts. According to The Wall Street Journal, many such students had problems with their career-service departments not doing enough to help them make contacts or create career paths. Much of this is due, in part, to the fact that there just isn’t time in an accelerated program for students or school administrators to reach out, but another factor is the reality that an accelerated program is created for students with extensive business experience. This can be a turnoff to students who are looking to change careers and make industry contacts; they may need more connection opportunities and should consider two-year programs. Students with years of experience are less likely to require internship opportunities or career assistance, so they may not see accelerated programs as lacking.