Are you a student who’s looking for a career in business administration? Sorting the MBA full-time vs part-time dilemma can be a tough choice for many students. Depending on your situation, both options come with their own set of advantages and disadvantages.

Whether you’re planning to do it full-time or on a part-time basis, an MBA degree is a significant investment of time and money. So, it’s essential to choose wisely. By the end of this blog, you’ll have all the facts and details to make an informed decision.

Full-time MBA Program:

A full-time MBA is a great option for students who have the luxury of dedicating all their time to their studies without any other life commitments. These programs are typically completed within 2 years, and the coursework is designed to be rigorous and fast-paced, making the workload quite heavy. You will have the opportunity to immerse yourself in the full MBA experience with this option, attending events, networking, and participating in extracurricular activities on campus.  

Part-time MBA Program

Part-time MBA programs are an excellent alternative for students who are already engaged in a full-time job and can’t afford to be a full-time student. They allow you to balance academic, personal, and professional obligations without sacrificing one or the other. With this option, you can attend evening, weekend, or online classes while still maintaining your work and personal life balance. This is an excellent choice for students who want to continue working while pursuing their MBA.

Program Structure

In a full-time MBA program, students typically complete a common set of business courses known as a “business core.” This usually includes classes such as operations management, data analytics, and accounting, which are offered by most schools. Being a full-time student provides more opportunities for selecting electives and concentrations. Moreover, students can participate in experiential learning during school breaks. Usually, the academic calendar adheres to a standard 15-week semester, while a few schools have shorter accelerated terms.

Part-time programs, such as executive MBAs, may have classes scheduled on nights and weekends. Cohort-based learning, where students progress through the curriculum together, is also common. However, part-time students may have fewer choices for electives and specializations

MBA Full-Time vs Part-Time: Duration and Timeframe

The main distinction between a full-time and part-time MBA program is the length of the program and the time to completion. Generally, a full-time MBA program takes 18-24 months to finish, whereas a part-time MBA can take from three to five years.

Enrolling in a full-time course requires your complete commitment to achieve optimal results. On the other hand, pursuing a part-time MBA program enables you to work while studying, but it requires a careful balance of responsibilities.

A full-time MBA degree usually requires 36-40 credits, which include business courses, electives, and capstone experiences. These offerings provide opportunities to learn new subjects and acquire new skills. Some schools also offer fast-track programs that allow students to fulfill some MBA requirements while completing their undergraduate studies. Students can take summers off or use that time for internships.

Two female MBA students solving problem on white board while smiling


MBA programs are expensive, and the cost differences between full-time and part-time programs are significant. A full-time program usually costs more because it covers costs like tuition fees, room and board, transportation, books, and other school-related expenses. A part-time program may be less expensive since you’re not paying for room and board, and other additional school items you wouldn’t use as much.

An MBA can be quite costly, with most universities charging over $50,000 per year. In fact, the top business schools in the U.S. can cost over $100,000 annually, making it a significant financial undertaking. Full-time students can benefit from lower term-based tuition rates.

Part-time students often have to pay more per credit compared to full-time students. Additionally, full-time students have a wider range of financial aid options available. Part-time students may face limited scholarship opportunities.

Working part-time while taking classes is possible for part-time students. Additionally, some employers offer tuition reimbursement programs that can help with the cost of education. However, balancing a full-time job with full-time studies can be challenging.

Three part-time MBA students who are still going to work while being in school.

Professional Experience

The MBA full-time vs part-time question is also determined by the applicant’s profile. Full-time MBA programs often expect students to have between three to five years of work experience. This makes them perfect for undergraduates who want to accelerate their career path without taking any breaks. On the other hand, part-time MBA programs welcome students with professional experience. A part-time program is also ideal for professionals who want to advance their careers further while staying in the workplace.

(Are you wondering how to turn your good old resume for employment into an MBA-ready resume? If so, watch this quick video to find out how to tweak your resume for MBA admissions committees.)

Networking Opportunities

Full-time MBA programs provide more extensive opportunities for networking since everyone studies together and lives in a campus-style environment. On the other hand, part-time MBA programs provide opportunities to network and learn with other professionals within your industry. Attending classes part-time opens doors to building relationships with peers, lecturers, and presenters, which in turn can provide diverse learning experiences and professional networks.

Life Balance

Deciding between a full-time and part-time MBA program comes with a complicated backlog of choices. Finding balance becomes one aspect that cannot be overlooked. Both programs have substantial time investments, but part-time MBA programs are a better fit for individuals managing families, starting a business, or those who cannot commit to a full-time program regardless of the cost

Should You Apply for a Full Time or Part Time MBA?

Deciding which MBA program to choose, whether full-time or part-time, depends on your educational background, work experience, and availability. Part-time MBA programs are ideal for individuals who are already employed in their field. These programs have classrooms filled with experienced business professionals, which leads to multiple networking and collaboration opportunities. However, the program pathway might take 1-2 years longer compared to full-time MBA programs.

A full-time MBA program can offer a more intensive education and more opportunities to specialize if you can take a break from work for 1-2 years. If you’re new to the industry, you can also take advantage of internships and mentorship programs.

Smiling MBA student

Part-Time MBA: Pros and Cons

Pros: You have the option to enroll in flexible programs that include night, weekend, and online asynchronous courses. This allows you to work while earning your degree. Additionally, the curriculum is business-focused and will enable you to apply your new skills immediately. If you have professional experience, you may qualify for GMAT waivers or graduate-level credit. You can also check with your employer to see if they offer tuition reimbursement to help pay for your degree.

Cons: Part-time students may have limited choices for electives or concentrations in some programs. Due to the time constraints of balancing school and work, there may be less time available for personal or family activities. Additionally, paying per credit may result in higher overall costs.

Full-Time MBA: Pros and Cons

Pros: Completing a degree faster is possible with one- or two-year programs, which usually charge by the semester and may offer discounts compared to paying per credit. Full-time programs provide more elective and concentration options. Internships during summer can help gain work experience and build a professional network. Some scholarships may only be available for full-time students.

Cons: The admissions process is rigorous, with many schools mandating GMAT scores. It may not be feasible to work full-time while also registered as a full-time student. Your peers in the classroom may have less work experience to draw upon.

Five factors to consider 

When deciding between full-time and part-time MBA programs, here are five major factors to consider. First, the program’s duration and workload, second, flexibility for work and personal obligations, third, networking opportunities, fourth, the location of the program, and finally, the cost of the program. Weighing these factors will guide your decision in choosing the appropriate program for you.

Full-time MBA students sitting around large table

Choosing the right fit

Your unique situation, including your work, personal life, financial situation, and career goals, should be the primary factor in deciding on a full-time or part-time MBA program. Also, remember that a full-time MBA will provide opportunities to develop your social skills through co-curricular activities, while a part-time MBA will enable you to apply what you learn in the classroom immediately in a work setting.


Taking the plunge towards an MBA degree is a huge commitment– both of your life and your finances. When tackling the MBA full-time vs part-time debate, it is important to consider which fits best with your personal goals, lifestyle, and resources. Weighing the pros and cons of full-time programs versus part-time programs can help guide you in this decision-making process. Becoming an MBA certainly has its professional reward, but the journey itself is perhaps even more rewarding. So take the leap, make bold decisions, and look forward to reaching success that only comes with diligent studying and dedication. If you’re ready to reach for the stars and change your life, check out our MBA application services!

With a Master’s from McGill University and a Ph.D. from New York University, Philippe Barr is the founder of The Admit Lab. As a tenure-track professor, Philippe spent a decade teaching and serving on several graduate admission committees at UNC-Chapel Hill before turning to full-time consulting. With more than seven years of experience as a graduate school admissions consultant, Philippe has stewarded the candidate journey across multiple master’s and Ph.D. programs and helped hundreds of students get admitted to top-tier graduate programs all over the world.

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