How Long Does It Take to Get an MBA?

MBACommitting to an MBA program is a huge decision, especially when you are not quite sure exactly how long it takes to get an MBA. Although there is no single answer regarding the length of time required to earn the degree, as many people move through the programs at their own pace, the steps one must complete are fairly uniform and can generally be categorized as detailed below.


If you want to go to business school, you will almost certainly be required to take the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT). The GMAT is administered electronically at testing centers throughout the country, and can be scheduled at nearly any time of year. Prep courses are available through national vendors such as Kaplan and Manhattan, both of which also make their materials available through retail booksellers. Buying the materials alone is much less expensive than taking a course. However, although it is by far the more expensive of the two options, the structure and instruction provided in a course are extremely difficult for someone who is unfamiliar with the test to replicate.

The Application Process

Once you have completed the GMAT and decided which schools you intend to target, you must actually fill out and submit applications. Many top schools also require one or two rounds of admissions interviews, for which they extend invitations after winnowing the applicant pool. Finally, acceptance letters are sent out and students make their selections for the upcoming academic term.

The MBA Program Itself

Full-time students typically take approximately two years to finish their MBA requirements. Taking 12-15 credits each semester will make this happen. If the program requires only approximately 30 credits, it can be completed in as little as one academic year. Part-time students often take much longer to finish their degrees than do their full-time counterparts, sometimes taking as many as five years depending on whether they take one, two, or three classes per semester. Most MBA program curricula include marketing, corporate finance, financial and managerial accounting, business law, operations management, entrepreneurial leadership, microeconomics, macroeconomics, organizational behavior, human resource management, statistical methods, business strategy, technology information systems and global financial markets.

Deciding on a Concentration

MBA programs often give students the option of choosing a specific concentration that requires them to take additional courses in, for example, finance, marketing, entrepreneurship, operations management, business and public policy, valuation and strategy or accounting. These courses are typically taken in place of whatever electives are needed outside the core curriculum to complete the degree, essentially giving students the equivalent of a “minor” in whichever business-related subfield they choose. This allows them to combine the breadth of the MBA curriculum with deep knowledge related to one particular aspect of business administration, according to Forward Thinking.

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Go forth and apply to business schools that meet your preferences. There is a program out there for you. Now, before you commit, you will know full well how long it takes to get an MBA.