How Long Does it Take to Get a Master of Business Administration Degree?

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Obtaining a Master of Business Administration, or MBA, degree can make you stand out among job candidates with only bachelor's degrees and suggests you have deeper knowledge of the theories and practices of business administration. However, before committing to the time and money involved in obtaining your MBA, you should understand what will be expected of you. Several different types of MBA programs allow various amounts of time flexibility so you can pick the one that fits your schedule and resources.

Full-Time MBAs

  • The typical MBA degree requires a class schedule similar to that of an undergraduate degree: a regular semester- or quarter-based series of classes held on a university or college campus. The full-time MBA degree is earned in two years; most programs require 36 credits for completion, with three 3-credit courses taken each semester. The work demands of a full-time MBA program typically are strenuous enough to take up the majority of students' time outside of class.

Part-Time MBAs

  • Part-time MBA degrees differ from standard MBA degrees in that students continue working while taking night or weekend classes. Enrollment in part-time MBA degree programs is on the rise, according to a 2012 survey conducted by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business. A part-time program has the advantage of allowing students to continue earning income while they work toward their degree and the cost of tuition is sometimes covered by employers. However, this flexibility comes at the expense of speed: Course credits are extended over three or four years, depending on the school and program.

Online MBA Programs

  • Online MBA programs share many of the scheduling advantages of part-time programs, allowing students more control and flexibility over how quickly and when they can complete their credits and coursework. Since courses in an online MBA program are not fixed to a set class schedule, a student can complete them at her own pace. If a student has sufficient free time, an online degree may be earned more quickly than a standard MBA program, even if the student is employed. However, the flexibility of the online MBA coursework also means the degree can be earned over a longer period -- four or five years -- than in an in-person part-time program.

Accelerated MBA Programs

  • An accelerated MBA program is an option for students who want to earn their degree more quickly than the typical full-time schedule. This type of program is designed for students who can completely commit their free time to studying, so they can earn the degree in as little as a year. Due to the time commitment required to complete the accelerated program, however, students have fewer opportunities to pursue electives or search for jobs while they are working on their degree.

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