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Fortune recently unveiled our second ranking of the best part-time MBA programs in the United States. These top part-time MBA degree programs not only offer top-notch curriculums and access to world-class business school professors, but they also have a track-record of seeing their alumni climb to the tops of the Fortune 500 world.
Part-time MBA programs take longer to complete than traditional MBA programs because students work toward earning the degree without having to return to school full-time. A part-time program can be worthwhile for those professionals who want to obtain an advanced degree that can provide them with the opportunity to move up in their careers or even shift to a new role or industry. There’s a lot of career fluidity among part-time MBA students, much of which has to do with the fact that these students typically have more professional experience and might already be working in their desired field. UC Berkeley’s assistant dean of MBA programs, Jamie Breen, told Fortune that about 75% of part-time MBA students change jobs or get promoted while in the Haas program, usually in their second year.
A full-time MBA is not better or worse than a part-time MBA, but one option might be better for you depending on your specific situation. For example, Fortune spoke with a current part-time MBA student, who expects to graduate in 2024, about why she chose to go the part-time route. She explained that because she wanted to pivot her career—but in the industry she was already in—while earning an income and getting a formal MBA education, the part-time was the best option for her. If you’d prefer to fully immerse yourself in a program for two years, and can afford to do so, a full-time MBA might be the better choice. Full-time MBA programs are for “career switchers,” people really trying to reinvent themselves in a professional sense. Meanwhile, part-time MBAs, like mentioned above, can serve as a career accelerator.
Part-time MBAs, like full-time MBAs, can increase your salary. The University of Minnesota’s part-time MBA class of 2020 saw their salaries increase by an average of 30% from the start of the program to four months after graduating, according to MBA.com. And the average salary was almost $115,000.
Not all universities offer part-time MBAs, but they are increasingly becoming an option. Carnegie Mellon University, for example, announced in 2022 plans to launch a part-time accelerated MBA program. Additionally, UC Berkeley recently began its flexible, online option for part-time evening and weekend MBA programs, after announcing it last year.
Part-time MBA programs can be completed while working full-time because classes are typically held at night or on the weekends, which is widely seen as the greatest benefit of this MBA format. Part-time programs come with the same opportunities and benefits as full-time MBA programs—both offer quality education, career development, and salary advancement. Additionally, attending school part-time is often less expensive than the full-time counterpart in terms of tuition, but also because students won’t have to give up their income while completing the program.
No, it’s not necessarily easier to get into a part-time MBA program, but more applicants are accepted into part-time programs rather than their full-time counterparts. Part-time programs can also be more relaxed in terms of entrance requirements, like GMAT or GRE scores, because applicants tend to have more work experience. That said, many students find a part-time program challenging because they must juggle multiple priorities, including work and family obligations, along with the intensity of the MBA degree.
Just as formats vary for part-time programs (online, in-person, or a hybrid model), so do the associated costs. On average, however, part-time MBAs tuition generally cost anywhere from $60,000 to $200,000.
Some companies do offer to partially sponsor the costs of attending a part-time MBA program for employees. Scholarship America, reported that nearly $22 billion was offered in tuition reimbursement by almost 70% of employers, as of 2019. Additionally, the Society for Human Resources found that in 2020, 47% of companies surveyed offered tuition reimbursement benefits to their employees. And, Fortune compiled a list of companies that offer MBA sponsorships, including: Capital One, Disney, IBM, and UPS.
Part-time MBA programs are less likely to require a GMAT score compared with full-time programs, partly because applicants already have work experience. Part-time MBA programs at Pepperdine University, George Washington University, American University, and Babson College don’t require GMAT or GRE scores to apply. However, the top five schools on Fortune’s ranking of the best part-time MBA programs do require GMAT, GRE, or Executive Assessment scores as part of the application.
The University of Chicago (Booth) landed the No.1 spot on Fortune’s ranking of best part-time MBA programs in 2022-23. New York University (Stern), the University of Michigan–Ann Arbor (Ross), UC Berkeley (Haas), and UCLA (Anderson) round out the top five. Our ranking consists of three components: program score (weighted at 60%), brand score (weighted at 25%), and the Fortune 1000 score (weighted at 15%).