Article by Ben Feuer, Photo by Denis Denis

As the recent Financial Times ranking shows, the one-year MBA is growing in appeal for students. Let’s face it, who wouldn’t want a great name brand MBA and increased earning potential with less financial and opportunity cost? Programs like INSEAD, Kellogg, LBS and Columbia J-Term attract a diverse range of applicants, and each program has its unique strengths and weaknesses.

What they all have in common, however, is that they require a different mindset than 2-year MBA programs when considering essays, school specific research, recommenders and overall application strategy. While there are many nuances to consider (too many for us to cover in this lil’ ol’ article, sadly), here are some of the must-haves if you intend to focus on one-year programs.

One-Year MBA Must-Haves


1. A clear path to an attainable goal.  Career shifters, reformed literati or those who have recently left their job or taken time off are not strong candidates for one-year MBA programs. You should be employed. Furthermore, you should like your current employer and be comfortable with the prospect of returning to your job after graduation, since your recruitment options will be more limited in this environment. Your goals essay, recommendations, short answers and resume job descriptions should all reflect this attitude consistently.

2. Lots of relevant quantitative experience.  Successful one-year MBA applicants Your recommenders can point to this, but your GMAT, resume and undergraduate field of study will do most of the heavy lifting here. If you are weak in this area, bolster your GMAT score with more test prep or take additional coursework, like Macroeconomics, Microeconomics or Corporate Finance, at local schools with strong national reputations and earn great grades.

3. A History of building strong relationships quickly. The ‘accelerated’ nature of 1-year MBA programs favors sparkplugs over slow burners. Look to your personal history and emphasize past area where you were able to build meaningful professional relationships in short time frames, then emphasize those experiences in your essays (or have your recommenders do it for you).

4. Goldilocks age range.  MBA programs are notoriously age-ist, and the one-year programs are no exception. Older applicants will almost invariably be steered toward EMBA offerings — however, younger applicants are also not strong candidates for one-year programs since they are less well-established in their field and with their contacts.

5. A strong ability to manage your time(line).
One-year MBA offerings are geographically and stylistically diverse. European schools offer many-staged application processes with relatively less preference by stage. US programs sometimes use their traditional MBA deadlines and sometimes do not. Columbia’s J-Term Program is on a different timeline complelety, taking many of its students very early via a rolling admissions process. Successful one-year MBA applicants prepare early and manage their applications carefully to avoid pitfalls.

This article should give you a good general sense of whether you’re right for a one-year MBA program. If you have specific questions about your candidacy or if you want to talk to us about possible alternatives, including Masters in Management, Marketing, JD/MBA, MPM and EMBA programs, feel free to reach out to us anytime.