Two-year MBA programs are enjoying a renaissance. For all the hype around the shift to shorter business school courses, it is still the two-year MBAs that dominate most global rankings.
There are several advantages to longer programs. First, they provide time for deeper reflection, and so tend to be better suited to career changers rather than career accelerators. An internship in the summer—which is often not possible with a one-year MBA—is also a good route into a host of industries such as investment banking, management consulting and consumer goods.
The extra time for a two-year MBA program also means there’s more on offer academically, with additional electives to pick from. There tend to be more extracurricular activities, too, which can bolster a CV.
Many top two-year MBAs are based in the US, but we’ve found the best of them globally.
Stanford Graduate School of Business in California sits at the top—or near the top—of many of the most reputable MBA rankings publications. Stanford, in the heart of Silicon Valley, attracts entrepreneurs and innovators, as well as those who go into every industry imaginable, from financial services to fast-moving consumer goods. Alumni have one of the highest weighted average salaries of all MBA programs, a hefty $228,074 three years from graduation. Stanford is also praised for its excellent alumni network, which includes corporate luminaries such as the billionaire Nike Founder Phil Knight, and Charles Schwab of the eponymous investment company.View School Profile
Harvard Business School is one of the best-known brands in business education. It is renowned the world over for having established the world’s first MBA back in 1908, and for pioneering the case study method of teaching which has been adopted by business schools across the globe. It counts many of the world’s most powerful businesspeople as alumni. Amon them are Jamie Dimon, chief executive of JPMorgan Chase and Jeff Immelt, the former General Electric CEO. Harvard’s MBA is currently ranked second in the world by the FT, but it has achieved the top spot several times over the years across most of the major rankings.View School Profile
London Business School is currently ranked as the best non-US school offering a two-year MBA by Forbes, and the globally acclaimed institution has achieved several accolades over the years, including topping the FT’s ranking of the best European Business Schools in 2018, the fifth consecutive year it has done so. Students on the full-time MBA can exit at 15, 18 or 21 months. The 21-month version of the program—essentially two years—includes opportunities for a summer internship, an international exchange, and other international experiences. Being based in the UK capital is a huge advantage, giving students access to plethora of FTSE 100 companies for recruitment opportunities and executive guest lecturers.View School Profile
IESE Business School in Barcelona, Spain is another of Europe’s leading management institutes that uncommonly runs a two-year MBA, rather than a 12-month program. The IESE course can be completed in either 15 or 19 months, in Barcelona and overseas, which facilitates the cross-cultural learning experiences that are the hallmark of the IESE experience. Students study mostly in Spain, but they come from 55 different countries, with 85 percent of the cohort being non-Spanish. Bloomberg Businessweek has in the past ranked IESE’s MBA program as the second best non-US program in the world.View School Profile
China Europe International Business School in Shanghai has come along leaps and bounds over the past few years. In 2019 CEIBS rose from eighth to fifth place in the FT’s global MBA ranking, making it the highest placed Chinese school to date. This highlights the growing strength of MBA programs in China, applications to which have been growing as fast as the overall economy has, which has been good for job prospects. CEIBS emphasizes “China depth and global breadth”, or teaching global business theories while also focusing on the practical application of these skills in China. Many students learn Mandarin and stay in the fast-growing country when they graduate from the 18-month MBA.View School Profile
Alliance Manchester Business School runs a highly-rated MBA program that can be finished in 18, 15 or 12 months, full-time. The FT ranked Alliance Manchester 10th in the UK this year, and the MBA is very affordable compared with other top British programs. A defining feature of the course are the three consultancy projects students are required to take, working with global corporations on their business challenges or opportunities, putting academic theory to work in the global economy. Alliance Manchester has six bases around the world, in Dubai, Hong Kong, Sao Paulo, Shanghai and Singapore, in addition to main campus in the north of England, so the opportunities to travel are extensive.View School Profile
NUS Business School in Singapore offers a 17-month full-time MBA that merges eastern and western business practices and prepares students for leadership roles in global corporations. The syllabus studies the global economy from a distinctly Asian perspective. And students can go on exchange programs overseas, study treks, take part in case competitions and other initiatives to expand their horizons and broaden their international networks. NUS MBA alumni are part of a 34,000-strong network spread across more than 50 major cities globally. The teaching faculty is also highly diverse, with the 120 professors hailing from 19 nations.View School Profile
Fudan University School of Management was ranked in 2018 as having the 17th best two-year MBA globally by Times Higher Education and the Wall Street Journal. Fudan University is renowned the world over and its business school has been in business since 1929. Fudan is accredited by both EQUIS and AACSB and achieved both feats in the shortest period of time ever recorded for a business school. It runs two MBA programs lasting 24 months apiece, one a joint venture with MIT Sloan School of Management of the US, and the other is run with Korea University and National University of Singapore.View School Profile
IPADE Business School, of Mexico, has been accredited by AACSB for the fourth consecutive time, ensuring a high standard of education. Students on the IPADE full-time MBA spend 22 months studying in Mexico City, part of a vibrant emerging market that has much economic potential, which bodies well for career prospects and those looking to pursue entrepreneurial ventures in Latin America. In addition to developing students’ commercial acumen, the course also develops future business leaders with a deep sense of their social purpose.View School Profile
The Schulich MBA program is ranked first in Canada by a bevy of publications including Corporate Knights, Forbes and CNN Expansion. It is highly customizable and can be taken full-time for between 16 and 20 months. The syllabus can be tailored to students’ professional goals and personal tastes, with 18 areas of specialization on offer, for example in business sustainability, entrepreneurship or global mining management. Students from the Toronto-based program go on to work for leading global brands including Amazon, Deloitte, IBM and Procter & Gamble.View School Profile