Why Business Students Get an Executive MBA

Program Overview, Costs, Study Options, and Careers

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An executive MBA, or EMBA, is a graduate-level degree with a focus on business that's similar to a standard MBA program. Both typically have a rigorous business curriculum and result in degrees that are of equal value in the marketplace. Admissions can also be competitive for both types of programs, especially at selective business schools where there are a lot of candidates competing for a limited number of seats.

EMBA vs. MBA

The main difference between an executive MBA program and a full-time MBA program is the design and delivery. An executive MBA program is primarily designed to educate experienced working executives, managers, entrepreneurs, and other business leaders who want to hold a full-time job while they earn their degree.

A full-time MBA program, on the other hand, has a more demanding class schedule and is designed for people who have work experience but plan to devote most of their time to their studies rather than working a full-time job while they earn their degree.

Executive MBA Program Overview

Although executive MBA programs vary from school to school, there are some things that are common across the board. To start with, since executive MBA programs are typically designed for working professionals, they tend to offer flexible scheduling that allows students to attend class in the evenings and on weekends. Most can be completed in two years or less.

That said, you shouldn't underestimate the time commitment required to succeed in an executive MBA program. You're looking at putting in about class six to 12 hours of class time per week, plus an additional 10 to 20 hours or more per week of outside study. Be aware this can seriously cut into your personal time, limiting the hours you can spend with family, socializing, or at other pursuits.

Because executive MBA programs commonly place a great deal of emphasis on teamwork, you can generally expect to work closely with the same students for the duration of the program. Most schools seek to fill the class with a diverse group so that you'll have an opportunity to work with people from a variety of backgrounds and industries. Such diversity allows you to look at business from different angles and to gain insights from your peers as well as from your professors.

Executive MBA Candidates

Executive MBA students generally have 10 or more years of work experience, although this can vary from school to school, and are in the mid-career stage. Many are earning an executive MBA to increase their career options, or simply to update their knowledge and brush up on skills they've already acquired.

Students nearer beginning their careers tend to be better suited to traditional MBA programs or specialized master's programs that cater to students of all ages and experience levels.

Executive MBA Program Costs

The cost of executive MBA programs varies depending on the school. In many cases, the tuition for an executive MBA program is slightly higher than the tuition for a traditional MBA program.

If you need help covering the cost of tuition, you may be able to apply for a scholarship or other types of financial aid. You may also be able to get help with the tuition from your employer since many executive MBA students get some or all of their tuition covered by their current employers. 

Choosing an Executive MBA Program

Choosing an executive MBA program is an important decision and should not be taken lightly. You'll want to find a program that's accredited and offers good academic opportunities. Finding an executive MBA program that's located relatively close by may also be necessary if you plan to continue at your job while earning your degree.

Some schools offer online opportunities. Such programs may prove a good option if there is no convenient campus in your vicinity. Just make sure any online school you sign up at is properly accredited and meets your academic needs and career goals.

Career Opportunities for Executive MBA Grads

After earning an executive MBA, you may continue to work in your current position, or you might potentially be able to accept more responsibility and pursue promotion opportunities. You might also explore new and more advanced MBA careers in your industry and within organizations that are looking for executives with an MBA education.