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One-Year Fast-Track Course-Based MBA Degree vs. Competency-Based MBA: Which Is Right for You?

Earning an MBA degree faster begins by choosing the program that’s best for you.

If you want to start or advance a career in management, a Master of Business Administration (MBA) can help give you just the boost you need. But do you really have the time to earn one? Thanks to two different types of online MBA programs, you likely do.

Both a competency-based MBA program and a one-year fast-track course-based MBA program can help you earn a master’s in business administration in less time than it takes to earn an MBA through a traditional program. And since both are available at universities offering online learning, you can earn either from home and on a flexible schedule that lets you choose when in the day you focus on your coursework. For working professionals looking to earn an advanced business degree, either program can make it possible to balance full-time work with education and family. However, to get the most benefit, you need to choose the option that’s right for you. And that begins by understanding how the two programs differ.

Fast-Track Course-Based MBA Degree vs. Competency-Based MBA: Which Is Right for You?

What Is the Core Difference Between Competency-Based and One-Year Fast-Track Course-Based MBA Degrees?

The primary difference between these two types of business administration master’s programs is in the way you learn and earn credits.

In a competency-based degree program, you will master specific business administration degree skills (called competencies) at whatever pace works best for you. While there is no set weekly schedule, you will have access to learning resources provided by faculty and can also draw on your existing base of knowledge. As soon as you feel you’ve mastered a competency, you can take an assessment. Once you’ve proven proficiency in all the competencies, you’ll earn your MBA degree.

A one-year fast-track course-based degree program operates like a traditional degree program. The difference is, a one-year fast-track course-based program lets you double up on your courses, giving you the ability to complete the degree requirements faster. In the top MBA programs offering a one-year fast-track course-based option, you can take two courses every eight weeks, which will typically require 30 to 35 weekly hours of your time. Once you’ve completed and passed all the required courses, you earn your MBA degree.

How Long Does It Take to Get an MBA From a Competency-Based Program vs. a One-Year Fast-Track Course-Based Program?

A traditional MBA degree program takes an average of two years to complete, but both the competency-based and fast-track course-based programs can take significantly less time. Because competency-based programs are self-guided and allow you to take assessments as soon as you want, it is possible to complete Walden’s competency-based MBA program in as little as six months, though the average student takes longer.1 One-year fast-track course-based programs, on the other hand, are more structured and are designed to take 12 months to complete.1 However, for both programs, finishing your degree quickly requires you to stay focused, which is why it’s important to choose the program that’s right for your needs and personality.

Which Program Is the Better Choice for Me?

A competency-based MBA is likely best if you:

  • Prefer to work independently.
  • Are an experienced professional and want to use your existing knowledge to move through competencies quickly.
  • Are self-motivated, focused, and have a good attention span.
  • Desire a flexible weekly schedule, planned entirely by you.

A one-year fast-track course-based MBA is likely best if you:

  • Prefer to interact regularly with faculty and classmates.
  • Like having a lot of support and guidance.
  • Have the time and commitment to finish as quickly as possible.
  • Want structure in your program, including a predictable weekly schedule of assignments you have to complete.

In short, a competency-based program is likely better if you can stay on task without a set schedule, while a one-year fast-track course-based program is likely best if you can work fast but do better in a structured environment.

However, since both are available through online education, both give you the flexibility you need to continue working. That’s because regardless of what type of online MBA you choose, you can handle your educational commitments at whatever times of day you aren’t working. If you want to expand your range of opportunities, an online MBA can be the perfect choice, whether you choose a competency-based or a one-year fast-track course-based program.

Walden University is an accredited institution offering fast-track course-based Master of Business Administration and competency-based Master of Business Administration degree programs online. Expand your career options and earn your degree in a convenient, flexible format that fits your busy life.

Walden University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission, www.hlcommission.org.

Time to completion and cost are not estimates of individual experience and will vary based on individual factors applicable to the student. Factors may be programmatic or academic such as tuition and fee increases and/or the student’s transfer credits accepted by Walden; program or specialization changes; unsuccessful course completion; credit load per term; part-time vs. full-time enrollment; writing, research, and editing skills; and individual progress in the program. Other factors may include personal issues such as the student’s employment obligations, caregiving responsibilities or health issues, leaves of absence, or other personal circumstances.

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