The Best 1-Year MBA Programs in the US

For working professionals, a master’s degree in business administration can be a game-changer, letting them learn more about a specialty, undertake research or gain experience in international business. 

MBAs can give people the boost they need to succeed in the workplace, maybe helping them nab the promotion they’ve wanted for so long or switch careers to something more rewarding.

Pursuing an MBA doesn’t have to take years, either. Many colleges, including several Ivy League campuses and other prestigious schools, have established one-year MBA programs, several of which are tailored for mid-career professionals. 

In 12 months or less, students build on their core business knowledge with electives and experiential learning opportunities that expose them to new ideas and concepts.

These programs typically offer an intense series of courses delivered with the same quality of education as traditional MBAs at half the time. 

Top-tier schools stand out thanks to not only prestigious faculty and strong course offerings but also because of what they offer to enhance the experience for their students, from study abroad opportunities to extra-curricular clubs to connections with well-placed alumni. 

Prospective students have a lot to consider when choosing a school, including majors offered, experiential learning programs available, and how well alumni have done, from the average base salary they earn to how many get jobs in the months following graduation. Taking a year off of work to pursue an MBA can be daunting, but with the right program, it will be worth it.

Here are 10 of the best one-year MBA programs in the United States.

Babson College F.W. Olin College of Business (Wellesley, MA)

Babson College
public domain photo via Wikimedia Commons

Students who dream of starting their own businesses can give themselves a leg up at this quaint New England college.

U.S. News & World Report ranked Babson College’s entrepreneurship MBA No. 1 in the nation. And entrepreneurship is just one of seven concentrations areas MBA students can focus on, with others including international business and marketing.

Babson students have an opportunity to not only tailor their studies to their interests but also take advantage of courses that embrace forward-looking concepts. 

Two-thirds of the classes MBA students take are electives and special topics, which can include STEM courses. Two of the college’s seven MBA concentrations are geared toward STEM – quantitative finance and business analytics and machine learning – giving students experience in a growing field.

The program understands the importance of personal relationships, too, as students take their core courses with a cohort that lets them bond through the shared experience. That sense of community continues even after graduation. 

More than 42,000 fellow grads – who pull in an average early career salary of $91,500 – live worldwide, perfectly positioned to guide their peers to success.

Southern Methodist University Cox School of Business (Dallas, TX)

Southern Methodist University Cox School of Business
Spencerjc1, Cox SMU, CC BY-SA 3.0

Small class sizes are a big draw at this urban Texas school.

Just 46 students made up the one-year MBA class of 2022, and it was a diverse bunch, with 26% women, 21% U.S. minorities, and 9% international students.

Students take a core group of courses and then can choose from one of several concentrations, such as accounting, finance, management, marketing and real estate. They also benefit from the 37:1 faculty-student ratio, according to the Princeton Review

The university offers plenty of opportunities for learning outside the classroom, too, with more than two dozen clubs available to help students build connections with one another and gain additional experience. 

They also can join the Global Leadership Program, in which students take a weeklong trip overseas to learn more about business from the people doing it. And back in the states, SMU’s location in Dallas also puts it in a strong position to connect its MBA students with Fortune 500 companies that call the city home.

NYU Stern School of Business (New York, NY)

NYU Stern School of Business
Jess Hawsor, NYC, NYU Stern School of Business, CC BY-SA 4.0

Build up your business background in one of the world’s financial capitals.

NYU offers two one-year MBA programs, the Tech MBA and the Fashion & Luxury MBA. 

A STEM-designated degree program, the Andre Koo Tech MBA sets up its graduates for a career in the technology sector. Students take traditional business courses, such as Leadership and Accounting, but augment that with a core group of technology classes, including Software Engineering and Emerging Technologies.

Meanwhile, the Fashion & Luxury program is geared toward students interested in working in the fashion industry and luxury area, as the name suggests.

In addition to coursework, students can take advantage of opportunities to advance their careers through the NYU Stern Fashion & Luxury Lab, which uses projects and networking to bring together students and industry leaders.

Through it all, students learn from the best of the best. The more than 300 faculty members include four Nobel laureates and founders of leading businesses from around the world.

University of Southern California Marshall School of Business (Los Angeles, CA)

USC Marshall School of Business
Charlesclinton, Bridge Hall, CC BY-SA 3.0

Working professionals who want to add another layer to their resume can do that in just a year through USC’s International MBA for Mid-Career Professionals (IBEAR MBA). 

In this on-campus program, students complete 19 courses over five eight-week terms. They complete a management consulting project over several months as their capstone piece.

But students also have several opportunities for learning off-campus, such as participating in a team-building retreat, taking excursions to Silicon Valley, and traveling to Asia for a 10-day trip to economic centers.

Since the program was established in 1978, it has graduated nearly 2,000 alumni spread around the world, with graduates earning an average starting salary of more than $122,000, according to the Princeton Review

MBA students who join the Alumni Mentor Program are paired up with experienced grads who offer guidance and insight into the business world.

University of Notre Dame Mendoza College of Business (Notre Dame, IN)

University of Notre Dame Mendoza College of Business
Eccekevin, Stayer Center 1, CC BY-SA 4.0

Notre Dame sets its one-year MBA students up for success with a special program in their first week on campus.

This full-time MBA, which begins each June, opens with the four-day Integral Leadership Development program, in which students use self-examination to learn about their values, strengths, and weaknesses. From there, they start a nine-week summer term followed by the regular academic year.

Notre Dame’s business school earned the #36 spot on the U.S. News & World Report’s most recent list of the best business schools, and it’s no wonder. Students can choose from nine majors, including five STEM-designated ones, and join several MBA clubs to define their skills further, get to know their peers, and give back to the community. 

That spirit of community service is also present in off-campus activities, such as the 10-day immersion trips overseas and the Meyer Business on the Frontlines Program. Students team up with businesses and humanitarian groups for projects and then visit them overseas.

Notre Dame’s MBA program has graduated big names through the years, too, with Chicago Bears President and CEO Ted Phillips and Paul Reilly, director and CEO of Raymond James Financial Inc., among its notable alumni.

Cornell University Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management (Ithaca, NY)

Cornell University
Kenneth C. Zirkel, Cornell University Arts Quad from McGraw Tower, CC BY-SA 4.0

Students can take classes at the Ivy League school in Upstate New York or in New York City when they join this MBA program.

Cornell’s program is STEM-designated, so students can enroll in classes at Cornell Tech on the city’s Roosevelt Island that will set them up for modern business with classes in areas like data analytics. 

The program begins with a 13-week summer semester full of core classes in topics including managerial finance, and then moves on to the fall semester. Students in the one-year program also can take part in the Immersion Learning program for two-year MBA students, which lets them focus more on specific topics they’re interested in, such as corporate finance or digital technology. 

It’s all helped make Cornell #15 in U.S. News & World Report’s list of Best Business Schools for 2022.

Students have a lot to look forward to after graduation as well if they follow the example of the one-year MBA program’s class of 2020, which had 58 graduates. 

Of that group, 88% had received a job offer within six months of graduation, and members of the class received an average base salary of more than $126,000.

Emory University Goizueta Business School (Atlanta, GA)

MBA students looking for a more personal experience can find it at Emory University, where the student-faculty ratio is just 5:1.

In addition to traditional coursework, the program holds case competitions that give MBA students a chance to experience what a real competitive business environment is like. They get to hone their leadership skills while solving problems.

Attending school in a city like Atlanta means students also are close to major international corporations based there – such as Coca-Cola, Delta, and the Home Depot – and all the business opportunities they have to offer. 

Emory can draw from its network of 141,000 living worldwide for the Alumni Mentor Program, connecting students with Emory grads to activities like mentor roundtables and job shadowing.

The university also has 60 extra-curricular groups open to students, including business and professional organizations such as the Finance Club, Investment Club, and Real Estate Group. 

Duke University Fuqua School of Business (Durham, NC)

Duke University Fuqua School of Business
RomanB2011, Fox Student Center, CC BY-SA 3.0

Duke’s business program and its specialties rank among the best in the nation.

U.S. News & World Report tapped Duke for the #12 spot on its overall list of Best Business Schools for 2022. Also earning high marks from the publication were its specialties in marketing (#5), management (#9), nonprofit (#10), among others.

Students complete the Accelerated Daytime MBA in 10 months, starting with a summer session. Beyond the core courses, they can choose from more than 100 electives to build a personalized program that suits their career goals. 

They can take advantage of experiential learning opportunities as well to get a taste for international business. 

Through the Global Academic Travel Experience, students undergo six weeks of lessons before taking a two-week study tour abroad, where they can meet with local business leaders and other residents. 

Or, they can sign up for the Outgoing Exchange Program to spend a term studying at one of several business schools the university has a relationship with.

Through its Career Management Center, Duke prepares students for life after the MBA program. A team of professionals, including career coaches, works with students to search for jobs and identify new opportunities. 

Northwestern University Kellogg School of Management (Evanston, IL)

Students have more than 200 courses to choose from when completing their MBA at Northwestern University.

Named the #4 business school in the country for 2022 by U.S. News & World Report, Northwestern also came out on top for its marketing specialty in the publication’s rankings. But students have several options to choose from when picking a major, including accounting, economics, finance, strategy, and more. 

The one-year program runs from June to June, and students must take some pre-enrollment courses before beginning the summer quarter. Students can also choose to augment their education with experiences abroad through some of the university’s global learning programs.

Northwestern also embraces research in its business school, which edits several scholarly journals, including the Journal of Economics and Management Strategy and Games and Economic Behavior.

A degree from Northwestern will put grads in good company, too. Alumni include executives for companies such as Hershey, Mattel, and Google.

MIT Sloan School of Management (Cambridge, MA)

MIT Sloan School of Management
John Phelan, Endicott House, Dedham MA, CC BY-SA 3.0

The MIT Sloan Fellows MBA aims to give mid-career professionals a place to gain additional tools to propel their careers forward.

Students enrolled in the fellows program study alongside over 100 other students in the school’s full-time, one-year residential program. 

People come from around the world to earn their MBAs at MIT, whose faculty includes Esther Duflo, winner of the 2019 Nobel Prize in economics.

Students take courses in the summer and the fall, and in January, they enter the Independent Activities Period, “a community-wide celebration of knowledge offering 700+ learning experiences.” 

MBA students can take short courses, study or conduct research abroad, or take one of the Executive Electives before finishing their studies in the spring semester.

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