What Is an Accelerated MBA?

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An accelerated MBA program is a college program that lets you earn your MBA in a fraction of the time that it would take in a standard or traditional program. These programs, which are available from colleges across the country, follow the same curriculum as a standard program and may let you choose a concentration in a field like finance or marketing too. Before you look at the benefits of these programs or compare an accelerated program to a traditional degree, there are some key things you should know.

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How Long Will it Take?

Business schools often require that students spend two years working on their MBA degrees. In an accelerated program, you can get your degree in around a year. A report in The Wall Street Journal found that most programs take between 10 and 15 months to complete. There are some programs that give you up to 18 months to finish your degree. The total amount of time that it takes you will depend on factors like the program itself, the number of classes you must take and even the length of those classes.

With accelerated programs being the fastest MBA online programs, it can be a challenge to survive their fast-paced and rigorous coursework. But it isn’t impossible to earn your MBA degree from an accelerated program by keeping these tips in mind! 

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  • Set realistic short-term and long-term academic goals with realistic expectations. Even with an undergraduate business degree, you will encounter intellectual challenges in an MB program. The main reason: graduate degree programs are for students with high skills in communication, critical and analytical thinking, and collaboration. There is no spoon-feeding in any shape or form!
  • Maintain good physical and mental health. With personal and professional responsibilities pulling you in different directions, your health should be of topmost priority.
  • Adopt effective study habits and time management and organization skills. You should consider using digital apps (e.g., calendars or planners) to organize your schedule, set alarms and keep track of deadlines. Otherwise, you will find yourself eating dust in your MBA studies.
  • Establish a strong support system. Aside from letting your family and friends know about your MBA studies, you should connect with your peers and professors, take advantage of student support services, and form study groups. 

During your stay in an accelerated MBA program, you should keep your eye on the prize – the most coveted graduate degree in the world! According to the AACSB, the MBA degree has been the most popular graduate degree in the United States since the 2010-2011 academic year. 

But even with such huge popularity and surge in supply, the appeal of the MBA degree hasn’t declined among employers across diverse industries, particularly among business-centric organizations. There’s also the fact that it’s considered the go-to graduate degree for nearly 40% of executives in Fortune 1000 companies.

How Does it Work?

An accelerated program can function in several different ways. One way is through a hybrid system that requires you take half your classes online and half in a traditional classroom. A more common approach that many accelerated programs use is the use of shorter and more intensive classes. Instead of letting you take two classes during a traditional semester, you’ll take one class that you complete during a five-week session. You can usually take up to three courses before the traditional semester even ends. Accelerated programs designed for executives may let you take classes that meet on weekends or on weeknights too.

There are accelerated also online MBA programs with no GMAT needed. If you’re quite unsure about your standardized test scores, consider these options so you can worry less about this MBA requirement!

Can You Specialize Your Degree?

Some students worry that enrolling in an accelerated program will keep them from specializing their degrees. Before you enroll, ask your academic or admissions counselor about the concentrations available in that program. You’ll usually take three or more classes within your concentration before or after taking your core courses. A concentration in marketing is great for those who want to work in advertising, while those who want to work in emerging markets may select a concentration in international business. Other common concentrations you can choose from when working on your MBA include finance, economics, human resources management and general management.

Many of the top online MBA programs offer specializations or concentrations. Indeed, the popularity of MBA programs offering specializations is on the rise! For example, AACSB-member business schools offering MBA programs with specializations saw a 19% increase in enrollment. In comparison, standard MBA programs’ increase in enrollment was 13% only. Such increasing popularity can be attributed to the specialized programs’ aim of better preparing future business leaders for stiff competition. 

But should you choose a specialization in the first place? While your answer will depend on your personal interests and professional goals, you should first consider the benefits that an MBA degree with a specialization can bring to your career. 

  • You can gain in-depth, industry-specific knowledge and skills that will boost your career advancement opportunities. You can specialize in business analytics and intelligence, an emerging focus in the business industry with diverse applications.
  • Your expertise in a particular subject in business administration can set you apart from the rest of the competition. You become better skilled than professionals with a generalist MBA degree. Your specialist competencies are more attractive to potential employers..
  • Your networking opportunities can be more focused, too. You’re more likely to come into contact with professionals with similar business-related interests. You have more opportunities to gain industry insights and connections.
  • Your salary potential can increase with certain specializations. Of the numerous specializations offered by accelerated MBA programs, the most lucrative are finance, marketing, strategy, entrepreneurship and management. These specializations aren’t just industry-focused but are also adaptable to a wide range of industries, such as the entrepreneurship specialization being suitable for both existing and emerging types of businesses.

But don’t choose a specialization just because it’s the trend or it’s there either! You must carefully think about its pros and cons, particularly since completing concentration courses can pose more challenges.

Course Curriculum

Traditional programs and accelerated MBA are similar in terms of the overall course curriculum offered. This curriculum usually includes 10 courses, and at least seven of those courses will be core business classes. Some programs are a little longer and will require that you take 12 or more classes. Courses include HR management, leadership for executives, nonprofit and corporate taxation, individual taxation, business ethics, business leadership and business law. You can look forward to taking 10 to 12 classes or more in business school.

Cost of Completing an Accelerated MBA

We can safely say that the online executive MBA cost isn’t too different from the cost of online accelerated MBA programs! Many colleges and universities even offer accelerated EMBA programs, such as Pennsylvania State University. 

Of course, the actual tuition and fees differ among accelerated MBA programs. The tuition and fees are also affected by numerous factors, such as whether it’s a public or private institution, an in-state or out-of-state student, and an on-campus or online program. 

In general, public institutions charge 70% less than private institutions while in-state students enjoy more affordable tuition and fees than out-of-state students. The exception to the rule is that private institutions usually charge the same tuition and fees for both in-state and out-of-state students. While exceptions also exist, online programs tend to be more affordable because the traveling and incidental expenses associated with attending on-campus programs are removed. 

Can you save money in an accelerated MBA program? Yes, but there are caveats that you must be aware of.  

For one thing, your cost of attendance can be lower because of the shorter duration of accelerated MBA programs. You will still pay the same amount for the tuition and fees as the students in the standard MBA program. But since you will spend less time earning your MBA degree, your traveling and incidental costs will be reduced. 

For another thing, your opportunity cost savings can be lower, too. You will spend less time out of the labor force and dive back into it sooner when you’re in an accelerated MBA program. You can start recouping your money investment sooner, too, and enjoy faster career advancement with strategic planning. 

Business schools began offering new MBA programs designed for those who work long hours and other nontraditional students in the 1990s, and the number of unique MBA programs grew even larger after the widespread popularity of the internet. An accelerated MBA is one example of a unique program that lets you take multiple classes over shorter semesters and online classes to earn your degree in 18 months or less.