Have you ever wanted an MBA, but felt you didn’t have the time? Has the steady upward climb of your career stalled due to the lack of further educational attainment?
An executive MBA (also known as an eMBA) offers those already in a leadership role and looking to rise to the next level with the opportunity to pursue a Master’s degree in business administration. It’s designed to meet a busy executive’s specific needs and on a schedule that fits with their lifestyle by minimizing disruption of their work and personal life.
Differences between Traditional MBA and Executive MBA
When it comes to choosing between a traditional MBA and an eMBA it is important to first understand the differences between the two, ergo the benefits of each.
First, there are usually major differences in age and prior work experience of the students who participate in these two programs. While traditional MBA programs offer entrance to students who have completed any undergraduate program, executive MBA students additionally have professional or managerial work experience (generally at least 10 years) and bring an in-depth knowledge in a particular business field. This can have a significant impact on the way students interact and learn.
Next, students in eMBA programs remain together throughout the entire course of study. This is known as a cohort. The cohort works as a group to provide support and allow for the sharing of diverse perspectives on various topics.
Unlike traditional MBA programs which offer you the opportunity to specialize in a specific area of business – accounting & finance, real estate management, enterprise & new business ventures – eMBA programs typically do not offer areas of specialization. However, they offer electives, special topic seminars, workshops, short courses on hot topics and independent study options in order to deepen your current expertise or widen your range of studies. Some programs even encourage students to work on projects directly related to their current place of employment.
Yes, you will likely find yourself taking traditional graduate-level courses in topics such as finance, statistics, business management and marketing; however, the purpose of an eMBA is to provide you with skills that will prepare you to move quickly into upper-level management.
Instruction is intended to provide you training in areas such as strategic thinking, general leadership and the ability to work across multiple functional areas.
In addition, while traditional MBA programs often offer opportunities to study abroad, most eMBA programs require students to study abroad for some portion of their studies, generally a week or two. This opportunity to gain an international perspective and insight into different cultures is a very important addition to a leader’s cache of tools.
What to Expect from an Executive MBA Program
According to the September 30, 2010 Wall Street Journal article, “The Best Executive M.B.A. Programs,” two of the biggest reasons why students pursue their eMBA are to change careers or industries (35%) or in hopes of landing a promotion (29%). But obtaining an eMBA comes at a price. The average price range for an eMBA is $60,000 to $150,000. In fact, executive MBA fees for some of the top schools and universities are:
- University of Pennsylvania, Wharton (West Coast Campus), $172,200
- University of Pennsylvania, Wharton (Philadelphia), $162,300
- Chicago’s Booth School of Business, $142,000
- Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, $153,900
- Columbia Business School, $148,320
- New York University’s Stern School of Business, $144,000
One unique aspect of an eMBA program is the collective professional experience of its participants, which greatly enriches the educational environment. The interaction of senior-level professionals results in a challenging and stimulating learning experience that provides you with the maximum return on time and resources invested.
Classes are typically held every other weekend (sometimes including Fridays) over a two-year period. And be prepared to spend at least 15 hours a week in combined classroom, research and project work.
Highest Rated Executive MBA Programs
According to the April 15, 2010, U.S. News and World Report article, “What Makes an Executive M.B.A. Different?” participants in a 2009 Global Management Education Graduate Survey conducted by the Graduate Management Admission Council rated the executive MBA the highest among MBA programs for their “excellent or outstanding faculty, program structure, fellow students, admissions, curriculum, program management, and student services.”
In addition, the survey rated executive MBA graduates as the most satisfied with their education. And this is why eMBA programs have grown in popularity from 2004 to 2008. Or so says John Fernandes, chief executive officer and president of the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business, which accredits business schools worldwide.
So which graduate schools rank the highest? Check most of the eMBA ranking lists available and you’ll likely notice that schools like the University of Pennsylvania, Wharton and the University of Chicago, Booth consistently rank near the top. For complete listings, here are some of the top eMBA programs for 2010:
- The Wall Street Journal
- U.S. News and World Report
- Financial Times (London)
- Bloomberg Businessweek
- Poets and Quants for Executives