If you’re considering enrolling in an MBA program, you may be wondering whether an Executive MBA is right for you. Many schools that offer full-time MBAs also offer EMBA programs. While both programs will cover a lot of the same material, an Executive MBA is usually a part-time program intended for applicants with more work experience.
It can take 1 to 2 years to complete an EMBA, depending on the structure of the program. You’ll need anywhere from 5 to 10 years of work experience to be eligible, compared to MBA programs that may only require 2 or 3 years of work experience.
GMAT scores are usually less important for admission to EMBA programs than they are for MBAs, making this a good option for candidates with plenty of work experience who don’t do well on tests or who scored low on the GMAT. You should still have a solid MBA resume.
That said, an EMBA isn’t any less rigorous than an MBA. It’s just more streamlined, with less opportunity for electives or specializations. An MBA is for students, while an EMBA is intended for busy professionals.
What is an Executive MBA?
Students who enroll in an MBA program typically leave their jobs to enroll in the course full-time, making it an immersive, time-consuming experience, like going back to college or university. Many courses include the chance to participate in an internship and other hands-on learning programs, such as a semester abroad.
Executive MBAs, on the other hand, are offered in the evenings or weekends, so that you can keep your full-time job while you study. They’re less of a “college experience”, and more of a chance to continue your education with other professionals.
An EMBA program may still require up to 12 hours of class time per week, not including study, so it isn’t “easier” or less intensive than an MBA, but it does offer more flexibility. You may only have to attend classes one or two weekends per month, and you won’t have to participate in an internship along with your studies.
Additionally, while you’ll have to pay for an MBA yourself, an EMBA is often paid for by your employer as an investment in your future with the company. Because of this, EMBA programs are intended for people who want to keep their jobs, not find a new one. You’ll most likely receive a promotion or an increase in your salary when you graduate.
How Executive MBA Differs From a Standard MBA
The biggest difference between the two types of MBA degrees is how they fit into your career path. If you’re just starting out your career, an MBA offers you the opportunity to take a break from work to study full-time or even to change your career path. You can choose a new specialization or pursue your work in a different part of the world.
Because you have to pay for it out of pocket (or with scholarships), an MBA can be a riskier investment than an EMBA, which is often paid for by your current employer. But an MBA from a high-ranking school can provide you with networking opportunities and prepare you to find a well-paying job when you graduate.
It’s possible to get into an MBA program with minimal work experience if you have a high GMAT score and undergraduate GPA. Most full-time MBA students are in their mid-20s, and only have a few years of professional work experience when they enroll.
An EMBA, on the other hand, is for experienced professionals who already know what they want from their careers. They typically have a full-time job and don’t plan to take a break from work or find a new career path once they earn their degree.
Most EMBA students are in their mid-30s or older with at least five years of full-time work experience. The goal of an EMBA is primarily to gain new skills and prepare to work in a higher-level position at the same company.
For example, you may want to learn more about international business strategies, and an EMBA can give you the skills you need to take on a new set of responsibilities.
Advantages of Seeking an Executive MBA
One big advantage of enrolling in an EMBA program is that you don’t have to quit your job to study. If you have several years of work experience and have a good relationship with your employer, they may even be willing to pay for your EMBA degree.
Not only do they get to benefit from all of the new skills you’ll learn, but you can expect up to a 60% increase in your salary. Instead of graduating with no job and a lot of debt, you can stay employed at your current job and maybe even get a promotion.
Another benefit is that you may not have to relocate to enroll in the program. While MBA students can choose from schools all over the world, you’ll have to find a program close to your current employer if you want to enroll in an EMBA.
While this limits your opportunities, it also means that you don’t have to spend time away from your friends and family and get used to a whole new location. Depending on where you live, you can commute to your classes in the evenings or on weekends.
For executives who want to get international business experience, many Executive MBA programs still offer study abroad options to complement your local curriculum. Hult, for example, offers a Metropolitan Executive MBA at five different locations in North and South America, so you can travel to the city that is closest to your workplace.
Finally, most EMBA programs don’t require you to take the GMAT. While applicants to MBA programs may spend months studying for their exams, EMBA programs care more about your work experience than they do about your test scores.
This saves you the stress of wondering whether or not your scores will be high enough to get into the program you want to enroll in. Although you can skip the GMAT, you may still have to take a language proficiency exam if you plan to study internationally.
Although EMBA programs have different admissions requirements than an MBA, some of the basic qualifications are the same. You’ll typically need to provide:
- Transcripts from your undergraduate and/or graduate studies
- A Letter of Recommendation from a supervisor or employer
- A Statement of Purpose or a personal essay
However, the main qualification is that you demonstrate anywhere from 5 to 8 years of professional work experience. You may be required to take an Executive Assessment, which takes less time and involves less study than the GMAT.
In addition, many business schools require you to be fully employed for the length of the program and provide a letter of sponsorship from your employer. This doesn’t mean your employer has pay for your EMBA, but they have to agree to support you in your studies, such as giving you a reduced workload or time to travel abroad.
Aside from the admissions requirements from each school, you might also have to meet certain eligibility requirements for the country you plan to study in. Since EMBA courses are not full-time programs, you may not be eligible to apply for a student visa.
If you plan to study abroad, find out what the requirements are before you enroll in an EMBA program. You may be able to arrange for a work visa through your employer or ask to be transferred to a regional office for the length of your studies.
For example, international applicants to the EMBA at U.C. Berkeley in the U.S. typically have an L1 or H1B visa rather than a student visa. International students in Germany or Canada may need a valid study or residence permit for the length of their program.
If you’re applying for a program abroad, you may need to provide:
- A bachelor’s degree or equivalent
- A TOEFL score of 90 or an IELTS score of 7
- An appropriate visa or study permit for your country of study
Many EMBA programs have international travel components, so even if you decide to study in your home country, be prepared to travel abroad for exchange programs and other learning modules by having a valid passport and travel documents ready.
How to Get Sponsorship
Applying for an EMBA is a little bit different from applying for a regular MBA program. First, you’ll need to have a discussion with your boss or supervisor.
Unlike an MBA program, which usually involves leaving or at least taking a break from your current job, you’ll need your manager’s approval in order to get an EMBA.
Explain to your boss how it will benefit the company for you to undertake these studies. Find out if they’ll be willing to pay for your degree in full or in part. They may ask you to make a commitment to stay with the company for a few years after you graduate.
At the very least, they should be willing to give you a more flexible schedule while you’re studying and provide you with a letter of sponsorship to include with your application.
The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania has a useful guide on how to talk with your employer about your EMBA, as well as how to ask for financial sponsorship.
If you’re self-employed or run your own company, then you can submit your own letter of sponsorship and proof of financial stability.
How to Apply
Once you’ve made arrangements with your boss or supervisor, it’s time to start filling out the application form for your EMBA program. Most schools allow you to start the process online and upload additional documents as you go along.
Consider visiting the campus in person or calling up the admissions department to ask any questions you may have about the program.
Depending on the start date for your program, you should plan to submit your application anywhere from 2 months to 6 months in advance. Your application may include:
- Academic transcript
- Test scores (if applicable)
- Essay questions
- Letters of Recommendation
- Letter of sponsorship
- Application fee
If your application is a good fit for the program, you’ll receive an invitation to an interview either online or in-person. This is a chance for both you and the school to make sure that your professional background and the EMBA program are a good match.
Once you’re accepted, you can begin the orientation process and start networking with other members of your upcoming class!
Business Opportunities After Graduation
If you have the work experience to qualify, then an EMBA may be a better investment for you than a regular MBA, especially if it comes with a promotion and a salary increase.
A 2012 study shows that EMBA graduates can expect an increase in income of around 17%, compared to their income before they enrolled.
However, fewer employers are willing to cover the full cost of an EMBA, with both MIT and Sloan reporting that only around 25% of students have full sponsorship from their employer. A similar percentage have a partial sponsorship.
Since the cost of an EMBA can range from under $50,000 to over $172,000, you’ll have to decide if the investment is worth it.
If pursuing an EMBA is important to you, consider looking for work with a company that you know will support it. Many major tech companies, including Apple and Intel, promise to pay from $5,000 to as much as $50,000 in tuition costs for their employees.
Remember, the purpose of an EMBA is to boost your prospects in your current career, not to switch to a new industry. You might find yourself taking on more responsibilities, managing a bigger department, or spearheading a new project at your company.
Getting your EMBA can make the difference between staying in middle management and climbing the corporate ladder. It can help you prepare for work in a new city or country, and network with other executives on a global scale.
You might also choose to pursue an EMBA if your long-term plan is to start your own company or develop a broader perspective on your industry.
Whatever your reasons for pursuing an EMBA, there are hundreds of programs around the world to choose from to help you reach the next level in your field.