Scott Edinburgh
January 12, 2024

Evaluating Different Types of MBA Programs

Two people with tea use an iPad to evaluate different MBA Programs

Getting an MBA does not necessarily require taking two years off from work. While the traditional two-year program might be the best fit for many MBA hopefuls, there are an increasing number of alternatives you can consider based on your personal circumstances and goals.

All programs teach the same general curriculum, often by some of the same faculty. However, full-time MBA programs tend to have more students who are looking for a career change and are interested in a more intense program with a heavy networking and social component in addition to the academics. Of course, many part-time MBA graduates also go on to seek new employment and/or change industries completely. If you are indeed looking for a career change, don’t miss Personal MBA Coach’s 6 Tips for Career Changers.

Executive MBA programs tend to cater to students with more, and more varied, years of experience compared to the traditional 3 to 7 years for most full-time MBA programs.

Wondering if one of these nontraditional options might be right for you? Below, Personal MBA Coach shares some of the factors tipping the scale for each program.

Executive MBA

What is an Executive MBA Program?

Executive MBA programs are geared to higher-level executives and members of senior management. Entrepreneurs who run their own businesses also can fit well into EMBA classes. EMBA students tend to have more leadership experience than part-time MBA students, though the required experience varies greatly by school. Personal MBA Coach sends applicants with as little as 5 to 6 years of experience to some EMBA programs, whereas other programs are looking for 10 to 12+ years of work experience. At MIT Sloan, for example, applicants have an average of more than 17 years of experience. Successful candidates also often have international leadership expertise, though this is not required for admission.

EMBA students are generally not looking to change roles immediately, although recruiting is certainly possible from the program. Much of the recruiting happens through internal networking, often with fellow EMBA classmates.

If you are interested in an EMBA program, learn how Personal MBA Coach can help you achieve your goals with our EMBA Packages.

Part-Time MBA

Part-time MBA programs are geared to professionals in the early or middle part of their careers who want the experience of an MBA without taking time off work. Students usually fall below 37 years old and are trending younger, with the majority falling between 27 and 32.

By enrolling in a part-time program, students are able to reduce the overall cost of an MBA because, in most cases, they do not have to forego two years of salary to earn the degree.

Part-time MBA classes are held at night, over the weekend, or both, and they can be completed in different amounts of time depending on the school, the schedule the student wants to have, and how many courses a student decides to enroll in each year. Furthermore, schools such as Michigan Ross offer fully online part-time MBA programs.

This type of program can take longer and may offer fewer recruiting opportunities, but recruiting still happens both on campus and through individual networks. One of Personal MBA Coach’s first part-time clients went to NYU Stern many years ago and has a leading job at Google today!

A part-time MBA can be financially and logistically attractive, especially if a short-term career switch is not your key motivator for pursuing an MBA.

One-Year MBA

For those who want to dedicate themselves full time to their studies but do not need an internship, a one-year MBA may be an attractive option. If you are not switching industries or roles, the standard recruiting process may not be necessary.

One-year MBA programs provide fewer networking, recruiting and community-building opportunities. However, for those candidates who can’t afford to take two full years out of the workforce, they can be a good choice.


Deferred MBA

A growing number of top business schools offer deferred MBA programs in which current undergraduate students can apply during their senior year, with the intention to work after graduation for a couple of years before enrolling in an MBA program. This gives students the chance to lock in a top MBA program before entering the workforce.

Harvard Business School’s 2+2 and Stanford’s Deferred Enrollment Program are some of the best-known deferred MBA programs; students accepted into these programs work for two years before starting on campus. Taking a slightly different approach, Yale SOM’s Silver Scholars Program allows students to study in an MBA program immediately upon finishing their undergraduate program. After one year of MBA studies, students join the workforce for a year before returning to Yale SOM for the third year to finish their MBA.

Kellogg, Berkeley Haas, Wharton, Columbia Business School, Chicago Booth, UVA Darden, and MIT Sloan are other top business schools that offer deferred MBA programs. Download our Deferred MBA eBook to learn more about these programs. With later spring deadlines, candidates finish the undergraduate recruiting process and secure full-time job placement (hopefully) before applying. Successful applicants have already demonstrated considerable leadership through internships and extracurricular activities, either on- or off-campus. They also have a strong sense of their career goals, though this often becomes clear only after working with a consultant on the applications. While these programs are competitive, they are a good option for high achievers looking to get a jump on the MBA application process.

Unsure which is right for you? Personal MBA Coach advises candidates through all types of business school applications and can guide you on which is the best fit for your unique situation. Sometimes, candidates will apply to more than one program type and select the one with the most attractive package. We can talk through whether this is an ideal strategy for you.

If applying to business school is still in your far future, consider our Early Planning services to find out how you can best position yourself for future MBA application success.

Learn more about how Personal MBA Coach can help you achieve your goals with our Comprehensive Packages!