What is an Accelerated MBA?

Updated January 4, 2023

Accelerated online MBA programs can provide a quick pathway to your ideal career. Discover online MBA programs offering quality academics in short timeframes.

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MBAs prepare students to pursue in-demand careers as sales managers, administrative services managers, top executives, and financial managers. Enrollees learn fundamental business skills in management, communication, marketing, and accounting.

Accelerated MBA programs allow students to earn their degrees in less time and money than traditional MBA programs. An accelerated program typically takes 12 months, while a standard business program requires 24 months.

Individuals considering accelerated degrees should weigh factors like work-life-school balance, program quality, online vs. in-person delivery, and cost. Review our ranking of the top accelerated MBA programs and explore admission requirements, potential benefits, and typical coursework.

Why Pursue an Accelerated MBA?

The fastest MBA programs save students time and money on their degrees while providing the same education as traditional MBAs. Accelerated options require the same types of courses and credits, condensing the material into a shorter time frame. 

Students attracted to accelerated MBA programs include working professionals with business experience. They usually possess undergraduate degrees in business and an understanding of business fundamentals. 

An accelerated MBA program may not offer the best fit for learners with undergraduate degrees in non-business fields who may not have relevant professional experience. One-year MBAs fit a lot of material into a short period, requiring students to hit the ground running.

Is a One-Year Online MBA Worth It?

Students can calculate their return on investment by comparing program costs, potential salaries, and how long it takes to gain employment. Though business school tuition is typically high, jobs for graduates commonly pay well.

Accelerated MBAs require less time and money than traditional MBAs but still require a significant investment of time and money. Candidates must research average tuition costs before enrolling. The amount of time it takes to repay student loans or recover the cost of earning an MBA varies.

New MBA hires receive a median annual base starting salary of $115,000 from U.S. companies, according to a March 2022 report.

New MBA hires receive a median annual base starting salary of $115,000 from U.S. companies, according to a March 2022 report. Many employers also provide significant signing bonuses to business school graduates.

Accelerated MBAs allow students to graduate more quickly to pursue lucrative roles in the workforce. However, it also usually makes retaining employment while pursuing your degree exceedingly difficult or even impossible. Consider whether you can afford to live without your normal salary for a year when figuring out if an accelerated program makes sense for you.

Pros and Cons of Accelerated MBA Programs

Choosing an accelerated MBA program offers potential benefits and drawbacks. Only you can decide if a one-year MBA suits your learning style and needs. The following list outlines the benefits and trade-offs of accelerated online MBA programs.

Benefits of One-Year MBAs

  • Save Time: You can enter the workforce, begin earning money, and start making progress toward your career goals more quickly.
  • Save Money: Enrollees can sometimes save money on their degrees with schools that charge by semester rather than per credit. Graduates can also quickly begin earning strong salaries.
  • Easier Transition: Shortening the time spent in education and entering the professional business world helps to reduce the stresses related to searching for employment.
  • Same Outcomes: Accelerated MBA students typically receive the same career opportunities and earn similar salaries as those who complete traditional MBA programs.
  • Professional Classmates: Students enrolling in accelerated MBA programs tend to be older and further along in their professional careers than those in traditional MBA programs.

Trade-Offs With One-Year MBAs

  • Less Time to Build Relationships: MBA programs allow enrollees to foster deep friendships and develop extensive networks. A one-year MBA reduces the time available to develop these beneficial connections.
  • Can't Work Simultaneously: A one-year MBA requires a major time and energy commitment, limiting the sustainability of full-time employment while in school.
  • Too Intense: An accelerated MBA program may offer too much information in a short period for learners who need additional time to process new information.
  • No Internship: You likely won't complete a summer internship. Experiential learning opportunities, like traditional MBA summer internships, often lead to professional connections and job opportunities after graduation.

What to Expect From the Fastest Online MBAs

The fastest online MBA programs take 12-20 months to complete. Traditional full-time MBA students usually graduate in 24 months, but part-time learners may take longer. Some schools offer five-year bachelor's-to-master's bridge programs, which allow students to earn bachelor's and master's degrees in business in just five combined years.

Traditional and accelerated MBAs usually require the same number of credits, but faster programs condense the curriculum of a traditional two-year degree into one year. MBAs typically require 30-45 credits. Accelerated and traditional MBA programs offer many specializations.

Traditional and accelerated programs both offer several formats, including online, in-person, and hybrid delivery. Some online MBAs use real-time synchronous courses, while others feature asynchronous classes, allowing students to log on to virtual classrooms whenever it fits their schedules.

ACCELERATED MBA TRADITIONAL MBA

Length of Program

12 months

24 months

Specializations

General management, strategic leadership, marketing, financial management, human resources management, etc.

General management, strategic leadership, marketing, financial management, human resources management, etc.

Types of Courses

Leadership, marketing, financial management, information systems, accounting, data analysis, operations, strategic management

Leadership, marketing, financial management, information systems, accounting, data analysis, operations, strategic management

Average Credit Load

30-45 credits

30-45 credits

Program Format

Online, in-person, hybrid

Online, in-person, hybrid

Admission Requirements

Bachelor's degree in business, minimum 2.7-3.0 GPA, letters of recommendation, statement of purpose, 3-5 years of relevant professional experience

Bachelor's degree, minimum 2.7-3.0 GPA, letters of recommendation, statement of purpose, GRE or GMAT

Internships

Optional

Often required

Goal

Prepare graduates for well-paying careers in business

Prepare graduates for well-paying careers in business

Student Demographics

Older students, working professionals

Often younger students transitioning from bachelor's degrees

Are Fast MBA Programs Available Online?

Many universities offer accelerated one-year MBA programs online. These increasingly common distance education programs provide learning experiences and opportunities of the same high quality as their on-campus counterparts. Many online accelerated MBA programs feature the same instructors, curricula, cohort structure, and student resources as the schools' in-person MBAs.

People from all backgrounds can appreciate the convenience and flexibility of distance education. Fast MBA programs prosper in an online format, emphasizing the importance of technology skills in contemporary business. 

Only you can decide if a distance education MBA suits your learning style and personality. Factors to weigh include cost, program structure, and comfort level with independent learning and self-motivation.

The Admissions Process

Admission requirements for accelerated MBA programs vary by college but do not differ significantly from traditional business schools. Each applicant must possess a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited school and a minimum 2.5-3.0 GPA. Candidates without undergraduate degrees in business-related fields may need to complete foundational prerequisite business courses before enrolling.

Students applying to business schools typically take MBA entrance exams and must submit GRE scores or GMAT results. Some programs do not require standardized test scores. Other common requirements include 3-5 years of professional experience, a statement of purpose, and letters of recommendation. 

Accelerated MBA programs may require applicants to demonstrate professional experience more often than traditional business school programs. Some schools also require in-person or phone interviews. Required application materials may include college transcripts, a completed application, and an application fee.

MBA program tuition can range from $9,000 to over $80,000 per year. With extra costs for books, fees, and travel, the total expenses can reach well over $100,000. Still, the number of graduate students continues to increase each year. Many rely on financial aid options like scholarships and work-study programs to help cover the cost. 

We compiled a list of some of the best affordable MBA programs of 2023 to help students in their search. We designate an MBA program as "affordable" if it offers low tuition, excellent financial aid resources, and/or cheap online options. To learn more about the methodology used to evaluate them, follow the link below.

Common Questions About Accelerated Online MBAs

How do you succeed in accelerated courses?

Students interested in accelerated online MBA programs should review the program's schedule before enrolling to ensure they have enough time to commit to each class. After starting the program, learners can manage their time by creating study plans with appropriate pacing for assignments, lectures, and studying.

How long does an accelerated MBA program last?

Compared to a traditional MBA program's two-year curriculum, accelerated online MBA programs usually take one year to complete. These programs are ideal for learners with enough time to focus on fast-paced courses.

What courses are in an accelerated MBA program?

The best accelerated online MBA programs include similar curricula as traditional MBA programs. Students can expect to study project management, business finance, marketing, and organizational leadership. They can also consider electives like healthcare management and global leadership.

What is in an accelerated MBA program?

The fastest online MBA programs typically offer the same topics of study and learning opportunities as traditional MBAs but within a shorter time frame. An accelerated online MBA usually includes condensed courses to move learners through their programs in as little as one year.

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