An MBA can help you improve your earning potential, gain new skills and stand out in a competitive job market. So why not try to complete the coursework as quickly as possible?
It's true — taking two classes each term can help you earn enough credits for an MBA in as little as one year. But following an accelerated MBA path isn't for everyone. It takes time management, discipline and a willingness to make sacrifices temporarily to reach your goal.
Reasons for Selecting a One-Year MBA Track
For Jason Ross, the short-term stress was worth the long-term benefits. He knew he wanted an MBA to give him an edge in a second career following his eventual retirement from the U.S. Air Force. Currently in charge of the mental health clinic at Sheppard Air Force Base in Texas, Ross decided on an MBA with a focus on health care management.
Although he plans to remain in his current or similar position for his remaining three years of active duty service, Ross says he didn't want to waste any time securing his degree.
"I wanted to earn it quickly because nothing is certain," says Ross, 37. "Military deployments come up, moving across the country is always a possibility, and even the military is not immune to downsizing.
"Also, I did not want to disrupt my family life for an extended period of time and figured that accomplishing my degree in the shortest amount of time possible would be to my greatest benefit."
Saint Leo University's accelerated online format and military-friendly approach — including its military tuition rates and commitment to working with the unique circumstances servicemen and women encounter — prompted Ross to enroll. He started taking classes on July 1, 2013, and finished his degree work at the end of June by doubling up on classes each term.
A Crash Course in Time Management
With a full-time job and two teenage sons, Ross knew he needed the flexibility of an online degree program. But he also had to have the time management skills to maximize the hours he had available to devote to his studies.
He would work 40 to 50 hours during the week, and then come home to put in two to four hours completing homework, participating on discussion boards and finishing projects. He set Saturdays aside for writing, getting up early to spend six to eight hours on his assignments. Sundays were spent completing readings for the upcoming week. Many of the courses he took shared a similar structure, which helped Ross develop this schedule and maintain it throughout the degree process.
An Understanding Family
His wife took on additional duties at home so Ross could focus on school, and his sons made sure they were quiet at home when he was studying. Free time mostly vanished, but Ross sometimes cleared his Saturday schedule for fun by putting in late nights Friday or Sunday. His boys, who are active athletes, understood that their father might have to miss their practices. But Ross always made sure he attended their games.
Everyone was on the same page to prioritize Ross finishing his degree.
"My wife and boys were amazing during this past year, and their understanding provided me the time I needed to get things done," Ross says. "I cannot express enough the importance of having the full support of your family, and I am extremely blessed to have had such a strong support system at home."
Intense but not impossible
The school work was rewarding as well.
Ross's undergraduate degree is in nursing, so he was unsure how he would do in business courses, especially accounting. While challenging, they proved to be some of the most enjoyable classes he took for his MBA. He was surprised to find that accounting and marketing ranked as his favorite courses.
An accelerated MBA path is intense — but not impossible, Ross says. If you are considering doubling up on your coursework, first take time to establish your support system and prepare yourself for a whirlwind of a year.
"It is going to be hard, it is going to be frustrating, it is going to be overwhelming, and you will question why you ever decided to earn your degree this way," Ross says.
"But it is only a year, and you will get through it. You will succeed, time will go by fast, and you will eventually be glad that you decided to earn your degree at an accelerated rate."
Other posts you may be interested in:
Image Credits: Raphael Chen on Shutterstock and courtesy Jason Ross