Which is better - A one year or a two year MBA?
To answer this question let us consider the case of an aspiring applicant that I recently met. This young man already has an MBA degree (acquired in 2008) from a leading international management institute. However, he feels he still has more to learn. Moreover, his experience of working with one of the Big 4 auditing firms in India had also turned out to be far from satisfactory. Now he is keen to apply to other schools in the US and enhance his qualifications. He had worked for three years before deciding to enroll for this one-year MBA and it had not worked for him at all.
What do you think happened in his case? If your mindset is “I have no idea of the industries or functions and will explore them once the MBA programme gets started,” you should not explore a one-year MBA programme.
One-year MBA programmes are meant for people who have some idea of the nature of jobs that they will be recruited for after the course. They can be confused but the confusion has to be very informed, ie they will have to be aware of the factors to assess before jumping into any of the available alternatives.
Two-year MBA programmes are meant for people who are open to experimenting and are willing to spend another year to understand the alternatives that are available to them in various industries and functions. People with work experience of less than five years should scout for a two-year MBA. The ones with five to seven years of work experience should consider both the alternatives. If one is making a significant switch in career (industry or function), ie, if one is currently working in operations in healthcare, and is keen on moving to investment management, it is like a double switch - both the industry and function are different, and here one definitely needs a two-year MBA and an internship. Entry barriers are the lowest in investment banking only when you go through the internship route. Most of the bulge bracket banks would like to meet you several times before hiring you for full-time positions. The full-time conversions without an internship are tough given the competitive nature of certain industries
If you are working with Infosys or any other IT firm and are keen on moving over to products (working for product management positions with Microsoft), you should take the two-year MBA route. You should look at building concepts in the first year, trying an internship, assessing various alternatives after internships and going in for full time recruitment in the second year along with building your base in product management and marketing related courses.
If you are already working in product development teams and are now keen on making a switch from a development role to a management role, I think you should opt for a one-year MBA programme. The US may not offer many one- year MBA programme options with placement support and you may have to explore Canada, Europe, and other global destinations. For someone willing to make a career in India, there are some good alternatives in private B-schools too. Remember. an MBA is a means to an end and not an end in itself.
(The author is CEO and co-founder of PythaGurus, an MBA admissions consultancy).
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