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One-Year MBA Vs Two-Year MBA: Demand Changes Again Among B-School Candidates

Find out if the one-year MBA vs two-year MBA has won out in the 2024 GMAC Prospective Students Survey, plus the changes business school candidates want to see

Tue Mar 26 2024

According to the 2024 Graduate Management Admission Council Prospective Students Survey, in the battle between the one-year MBA vs two-year MBA, the latter is once again the preferred degree format for b-school students. 

This was the finding from the survey that was sent out to more than 4000 prospective students from 132 different countries, in which they were asked questions regarding their preference for various forms of graduate management education. 

This year’s results were in contrast to the previous year’s survey, in which the two-year MBA was narrowly surpassed in popularity by the one-year program.

However, the 2024 survey's responses conformed to the trend seen over the past five years, where the two-year program was favored by candidates. 

Nonetheless, there were regional differences between the preference for MBA length. 

Over the past five years, the one-year MBA has been consistently more popular among candidates from East and Southeast Asia and Canada, while the two-year MBA has always been the preferred option in the US. 

The 2024 report also found that demand for the full-time MBA has remained stable over the past five years, with 42% of candidates stating a preference for it over studying part-time, despite the disruptions of the COVID-19 pandemic and the increasing demands for flexibility.

Similarly, the demand for increased flexibility has been mirrored by the growth in popularity of hybrid programs.

According to the report, while the in-person MBA remained the most popular format, the preference for in-person study has declined since 2023, dropping from 81 percent in 2019 to 73 percent in 2023.

In its place, hybrid learning grew in global popularity, from 12% in 2019 to 17% in 2023, (though most candidates stated a desire to spend at least half of their time in the classroom.)

The exception was in Central and South Asia, where its popularity did not grow, while Africa and North America indicated the highest preference for hybrid study. 

This trend falls in line with the rise of hybrid workplaces, which have increasingly become both available and expected by prospective employees.

Meanwhile, the interest in online learning remained relatively stable, although growth was seen in some regions such as in East and Southeast Asia, Canada, Eastern Europe, and the Middle East.

However, nearly half of candidates wanting to pursue remote degrees said that they did not believe these would be as valuable as in-person programs.

The barriers facing those opting for in-person or online programs also differed. 

According to the survey, candidates tended to be more concerned about their financial and time investments, while in-person candidates were more concerned about getting into their preferred program.

Overall, while many MBA format preferences remained similar over the past five years, it appeared that there was an increasing desire for flexibility amongst candidates.