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Some schools offer a special MBA option for professionals with significant business leadership experience: an Executive MBA, also known as an EMBA.
Earning an EMBA can help executives and managers hone their business knowledge, advance their careers, and contribute more meaningfully to their organization.
In this article, we will explore what to expect from Executive MBA programs. Learn about admission requirements and common courses, compare EMBA and MBA features, and find out if this degree is right for you.
What is an Executive MBA (EMBA)?
Executive MBA programs are aimed at ambitious business leaders who want to take their professional career to the next level.
While traditional MBA programs often attract early-career candidates, EMBAs are aimed at mid- to senior-level executives, executives, and entrepreneurs. This difference in the makeup of the Executive MBA and MBA cohorts is key to understanding what makes EMBA programs unique.
Traditional MBA students may need to learn essential business skills and knowledge from scratch. The typical EMBA candidate has already developed a strong business background through years of work experience, so they may prefer an alternative to an MBA that deepens and expands their existing skill set and knowledge base.
EMBA programs emphasize soft leadership and management skills. Concentrations such as marketing and business analytics are common among conventional graduate business programs, but in EMBA programs, concentrations may be optional or absent. Indeed, most EMBA students already have a specialization and have been working there for years.
The wealth of experience that EMBA students bring to the classroom provides rich opportunities for peer-to-peer learning and networking.
How long does it take to complete an EMBA?
Most executive MBA programs take around 18 months to two years. Since these programs are usually cohort-based, students take the curriculum concurrently as a group. This format nurtures valuable peer relationships, but it does not allow enrollees to set their own pace for graduation.
Even so, EMBA candidates typically work in demanding full-time jobs, so the degree format meets the working professionals’ schedule needs. Formats vary by program, but generally emphasize limited, focused class time. Classes can take place in the evenings and at weekends or take place during short periods of residence. Some schools offer EMBA programs online.
EMBA Admission Requirements
First and foremost, EMBA candidates need a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution. Admissions criteria typically prioritize candidates’ work experience and leadership potential over their academic background, so don’t worry if your undergraduate degree isn’t in business.
Professional experience requirements
Experience expectations can be high. According to the Executive MBA Council’s 2021 Student Exit Survey, EMBA candidates have an average of 14.6 years of work experience, including more than nine years of management experience. Some EMBA programs stipulate a minimum level of experience. Others may prefer more experienced candidates but do not set strict requirements.
Common application materials include official transcripts, professional resumes, personal statements, and letters of recommendation. Some schools require GMAT and/or Executive Assessment scores. As applicants progress through the admissions process, they may also be interviewed.
Common EMBA courses
If you’ve decided that an Executive MBA is your future, you might be wondering what you’re going to study. Like other MBAs, EMBA programs offer a broad foundation in business fundamentals like marketing, accounting, and finance, and electives that allow learners to focus on areas of interest.
Each business school develops its own EMBA program, so make sure all potential programs cover the desired topics. Below, we highlight some popular executive MBA courses. Many programs offer these subjects, but the exact course offerings vary by program.
Manage and lead organizations
Becoming a more skilled leader is often a primary goal for EMBA candidates, and this course examines leadership from the perspective of a senior executive. By exploring the theoretical and practical aspects of organizational structure, students learn to design and implement effective strategies for organization-wide change.
Data analysis for executives
Data-driven decision making is an essential part of an executive’s skill set. In this course, students learn to use probability theory and inferential statistics to inform business decisions. Courses cover quantitative tools and methods such as data visualization, regression analysis, process analysis, and data collection.
Business competitiveness and macro-environment
An important course for EMBA learners whose organizations do business internationally, this course focuses on the strategic and operational issues that managers face in a global business context. Students develop cross-cultural awareness while examining how political, social, and technological factors affect business and the economy at home and abroad.
Contemporary legal, regulatory and ethical issues in business
Leaders are responsible for ensuring that their organizations maintain a responsible ethical standard and comply with applicable laws and regulations. This course examines the legal, moral and social responsibilities of business. Graduates can use what they learn to avoid legal noncompliance and provide ethical leadership.
Business and Management Practices in Global Contexts
In an increasingly global business arena, knowing how to implement an international business strategy has become a key skill for successful executives. Many EMBA programs include hands-on international study experience. Often lasting from a week to 10 days, these immersive courses give students first-hand experience of the challenges and rewards of global business.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about EMBAs
Is an EMBA better than an MBA?
EMBA and MBA programs target different audiences. If you are advanced in your career and want to hone your leadership skills for a management position or promotion to the C-suite, an EMBA may suit your goals. If you’re looking to transition from a junior role into your first managerial position, a traditional MBA might be a better bet.
An EMBA is an advanced business degree that admits seasoned managers and executives from a variety of industries and business subfields. Designed to accommodate working students, this 1.5-2 year degree emphasizes effective leadership, nuanced business knowledge, and peer relationships.
Is an EMBA equivalent to a Masters?
Yes, an EMBA is a type of Masters in Commerce. EMBA programs generally cover the same topics as other MBA programs, but are aimed at a more experienced cohort.