Grad school has always been a safe haven for out-of-work professionals in a down economy. Now, as economic indicators suggest the economy has bottomed out and the long recovery has begun, those workers face a tough decision: try to stick it out in a brutal job market or invest in retooling their skills and re-enter the market on the upswing.
For many, the decision comes down to timing.
Accelerated MBA programs are an increasingly appealing option for professionals who want to earn an advanced degree quickly — and affordably — and time their returns to the work force to coincide with the economic recovery. Along with a two-year program for full-time students seeking an immersive experience, the Eller College of Management at the University of Arizona has developed three accelerated MBA program options.
The 18-month evening MBA meets once a week and is aimed at working professionals.
The 14-month executive MBA is designed for high-level professionals with extensive work experience.
The newest program, a 12-month Accelerated MBA, is a full-time experience beginning in summer 2010. The program is designed for professionals with an undergraduate business degree and a few years of experience. After completing a summer boot camp experience, the students step into the second year of the full-time program and focus on elective coursework.
The 18-month and 14-month programs also are offered in Phoenix at Eller’s Scottsdale campus.
“Beyond timing, a traditional, two-year MBA program just isn’t the right fit for everyone,” says Trina Callie, assistant dean of Eller MBA programs. “Workers with significant professional experience will be more at home in an accelerated program, like our Executive MBA. Business professionals who are three to five years out of college will get the most out of our 12-month MBA, where they can focus on elective coursework.”
Hoon Choi, a student in the 14-month Eller Executive MBA program, spent months unsuccessfully looking for a job and networking before realizing that “most of the employers were looking for the total package: MBA plus experience. Now I am expanding my network through an opportunity to work on an innovative, exciting project with my peers, who are all experts in their fields.”
Katherine Tunsky entered the traditional, full-time program this fall and sees it as a way to build skills in industries she hasn’t yet explored.
“My passion is real estate finance, but while here at Eller, I plan on focusing on sustainability and I will be applying for the dual-degree program in hopes of earning a master’s in environmental planning,” she says.
The Eller MBA program also recently introduced new focus areas that help students build skills in specific growth industries, such as energy and health care.
“For example, all of our programs include an international component, which we believe is vitally important in today’s global business environment,” Callie says. “But we also offer students access to consulting projects and career services to help them build their resumes and better position themselves for their coming job searches.”
Liz Warren-Pederson is the marketing and communications manager at the University of Arizona, www.eller.arizona.edu.