One recurring theme in graduate management education these days is the growing popularity of one-year MBA programs, especially in the United States, where two-year programs have traditionally ruled. While it used to be that one could count American one-year and accelerated programs on one hand, every other month it seems that a new school announces such a program, or at least signals its intent to launch one.
While these schools are responding to market demand, these moves invite questions about whether or not companies will be as interested in the graduates they produce. While one-year programs tend to attract applicants with more full-time work experience and/or significant business training, as these programs become more common, some wonder if they will start to attract less experienced applicants who ultimately will have a hard time finding the types of high-paying jobs they want to pursue post-MBA.
For years only a handful of top-ranked American business schools have offered accelerated MBA programs, including Kellogg, Columbia, Cornell (Johnson), and Emory (Goizueta). These programs continue to be successful, so much so that some schools are doubling down on their one-year programs, including Kellogg. We expect to see more and more schools follow suit in the next several years. The market for graduate management education is a market, after all, with the sellers (schools) always thinking about how to evolve and meet the needs of the buyers (applicants). Even in education, the sellers need to innovate or risk falling behind.
Two obstacles that schools face as they try to launch compressed programs are the challenges that grads face in finding full-time work (for those who are not returning to their same jobs), and finding a way to make sure the program covers everything that an MBA grad needs to know. Perhaps the most common reason we try to talk clients out of applying to one-year programs is that they frequently underestimate how much work they’ll need to put into landing full-time jobs after they graduate. It’s easy to think that potential employers view all grads at a business school in the same way, and that simply having a degree from the school puts you on even footing with all of your classmates. But, you will be judged for all of the experience you gained before entering business school.
Employers know that you won’t learn everything in business school — even in a two-year program — and they expect that they will need to train you a great deal once you’re hired, anyway. So, they’re as interested in your professional experience and your working style as they are in what you know from your studies. If you only have a couple of years of experience, then compounding that with less classroom training may make you even less marketable as a potential hire. So, while we love the innovation we see in today’s business schools, be wary of pursuing a one-year MBA simply because it seems like a shortcut to a high-paying job. The less full-time work experience you have, the more we urge you to stick with a two-year program, no matter where you plan on pursuing your degree.
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The Yale School of Management has generated a lot of buzz recently, given its soon-to-open new campus and the school’s hiring of Wonder-Dean Ted Snyder last year. Not surprisingly, we get a lot of inquiries about the school. What does surprise us, though, is how many Yale applicants don’t really know whether the school is good fit for them. We always urge these applicants to go back and do their homework a bit more before they start crafting their applications.
Are you thinking about applying to Yale SOM this year? If so, why? How do you know if it’s really is a good fit for you? More importantly, how do you know the Yale admissions team will think you’re a good fit for the school? Today we present four things that you should know about Yale SOM before you apply:
“Raw Case” Approach
Yale SOM offers a unique version of the popular case method teaching style, known as the “Raw Case” approach to management education. Most case method programs use what are commonly referred to as “cooked” cases (or “closed” cases) that are packaged and synthesized before use. Yale SOM has developed its own set of cases which are housed on a multimedia platform and feature the types of open-ended, “fuzzy” source materials that a professional might encounter while analyzing a problem. Sometimes, the opportunity to tackle a “live” case presents itself, for example, when a high-visibility corporate issue is being actively followed in the media. These cases require students to sift through all the data and information to find what is pertinent and what can be ignored. Distilling information is often one of the most challenging aspects of real-world problem-solving, and Yale SOM attempts to teach students how to jump over this hurdle before diving into an analysis.
Many schools emphasize teamwork and a collaborative culture. Yale is a friendly school where generally, people are trying to help each other succeed. The term of art for this is “coopetition” (SOM Professor Barry Nalebuff even wrote a book on it) and you can find it in action both inside and outside the classroom at Yale.
Required International Experience
First-year students are required to travel to one of several destinations in the world as part of the International Experience Destinations program. (Stanford introduced a similar requirement after Yale launched theirs.) These ten-day trips allow students to study their businesses of interest within another culture and setting. The trip is linked to the spring course State and Society and the year-long Leadership Development Program. This furthers SOM’s long-standing history of maintaining a global perspective.
Most top programs have some level of outreach to underrepresented groups (women, African-Americans, Hispanics, Native Americans). However, Yale is much more proactive in their diversity initiatives. The new Pre-MBA Leadership program is a fully-sponsored summer session for minority college students, which is designed to introduce them to the MBA experience – and hopefully help them choose Yale when they are ready for their MBA. Yale has also participated in The Consortium, a joint effort among many good schools that offers a streamlined application for minority candidates (though note that Consortium applications have different deadlines, and at Yale, all Consortium candidates are evaluated together, with decisions released for all of them in mid-February).
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Competitive European MBA applicants almost always are interested in INSEAD, and among U.S.-based applicants, INSEAD is almost always their first or second choice if they’re interested in earning an MBA abroad. This makes sense given the terrific international exposure that INSEAD students get at the school’s two campuses. What frequently surprises us, though, is how little applicants really know about the school, beyond that fact that it’s a highly-ranked program with a high profile around the world.
Are you thinking about applying to INSEAD? Here are five why INSEAD may be the perfect school for you to target for your MBA experience. While not all six of these need to describe you, the more these descriptions sound like you, the more likely you are to thrive at INSEAD:
You want to take advantage of multiple programs and opportunities in multiple countries
With INSEAD’s close partnership with Wharton and Kellogg and affiliations with major business schools in Asia and elsewhere, students are able to study at multiple premier graduate schools all while pursuing their INSEAD degree.
You want to work in a multinational company or you want to work overseas
This is a common profile for an INSEAD candidate and its unique program offers obvious advantages to candidates with goals in an international context. It can be somewhat more challenging for graduates to find jobs in the U.S. when coming out of INSEAD, although they can leverage the recruiting resources available at INSEAD’s partner schools like Wharton and Kellogg to gain a “home field advantage” in the job search process.
You have clear goals
With the need to hit the ground running on Day One at INSEAD, students don’t have much time to figure out what to do next. They should have career goals well defined in advance. If changing careers, then the January intake might be a more suitable option, and students need to be prepared to put in extra effort to secure the right internship to enable their transition.
You are headed to work in a family business
Only a few schools have resources devoted to the challenge faced by those taking over a family legacy (ESADE is another). INSEAD has a specialized Family Enterprise Challenge executive education program and faculty such as Christine Blondel have focused their research on multi-generational family business and the successor’s dilemma.
You are flexible and are comfortable with ambiguity
When applicants don’t even know where they’ll literally be going to school if accepted — Europe or Asia — they need to bring with them a resilience and a willingness to adapt, just to survive the admissions process. One sign of the maturity that INSEAD values in candidates is the ability to roll with the punches and be agile to change. The INSEAD program is so fast-paced and hectic that it might be a burden to someone who is ill prepared.
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If you came here wondering if you should apply to business school in Round 3, we’ll tell you right now that the answer is usually, “It depends,” although we do have some very strong opinions on the matter. Applying in Round 3 is not automatically a bad idea (if it were, then why would schools have a Round 3 deadline at all?), but there is definitely a “buyer beware” aspect that you should consider. In this case, what you’re buying is a few minutes of an admissions officer’s time, and the price you pay is all the stress associated with applying to business school.
Is it worth the risk to apply in Round 3, or you should wait to submit your applications in Round 1 during the next application cycle? Every applicant is different and there are a variety of factors to consider for this very crucial decision.
Let’s clear up one misconception right away: Round 3 is NOT an automatic black hole where applications go to die. As we wrote earlier this year, top business schools know that great applicants can come in any round, and many schools have very specific reasons (such as U.S. schools needing to stay competitive vs. international programs) for paying close attention to the Round 3 applicant pool.
Still, since in Round 3 your chances of success can’t help but be impacted somewhat by what happened in the previous rounds — Did your first-choice school admit more students than it originally had planned? Are yields higher than historical averages? — you can’t help but wonder if you’re going to get fair shake in Round 3. Ultimately, however, how well you do in Round 3 depends far more on you and your application than on what numbers the admissions office saw in previous rounds.
Round 3 partly gets a bad reputation from those applicants who throw together their applications at the last minute (rather than having to wait eight months before applying in next year’s admissions cycle) and end up getting rejected. “See,” they say, “I knew I wouldn’t get in. Round 3 is impossible.” But Round 3 wasn’t the problem… their applications were what held them back. We spend a great deal of our time talking applicants out of such kamikaze missions, and the same goes for the “Round 3 vs. next year” decision.
In short, if you apply to a top-ranked business school with a flaw that really bothers you — e.g., a low GMAT score, or a weak undergrad transcript with nothing to compensate for it, or sloppy essays, or I-hope-he-spelled-my-name-right letters of recommendation — then you can safely assume that flaw will also bother MBA admissions officers enough to keep you out. In that case, we almost always strongly recommend that an applicant wait, takes steps to improve things, and then apply next year, when things are in order.
Waiting is always a good idea if you can apply with a notably better application next year. But, if you feel you have a strong application now, and you don’t expect to have a significantly stronger story in eight months, then applying in Round 3 is not such a terrible idea. Just keep in mind that there are factors outside of your control. Just like in real life.
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