Wharton EMBA: Insider Intel, Application Advice & More

Wharton emba

Are you considering an executive MBA (EMBA)? Across our EMBA applicant clients, the Wharton EMBA program is the most coveted because of its internationally recognized brand. Wharton’s sterling reputation allows its graduates to catapult their careers to the next level, aided by its robust and loyal network of graduates. 

Aimed at executives with extensive managerial experience, Wharton’s main EMBA program resides at the University of Pennsylvania, based in Philadelphia. The Wharton EMBA also has a San Francisco location, and applicants can choose either the San Francisco or Philadelphia cohort.

Our team includes several Wharton EMBA (WEMBA) admissions experts. Among them is SBC consultant Amy, who worked within EMBA admissions for Wharton and shares her insights in a Q&A about the program below.  

But first, here are a few key highlights about the WEMBA program.

Wharton EMBA Application Essays

Wharton’s EMBA essays are more extensive than the essay requirements for its full-time program. Well-executed essays are essential for a successful application, in addition to a strong GMAT or GRE score, recommendation letters, and possible employer sponsorship. 

Here are the 2021 essay prompts: 

Essay Question 1. Required; 750-word limit

What are your career objectives and how will the Wharton MBA Program for Executives contribute to your attainment of this objective?

Essay Question 2. Required; 750-word limit

During the spring of 2020, Wharton Professor Mauro Guillen created and taught the course “The Impact of Coronavirus.” As part of this course, Prof. Guillen interviewed Prof. Sigal Barsade on the concept of emotional contagion and its impact on leadership.

Please review this interview and then respond to the question below: Profs. Mauro Guillen & Sigal Barsade discuss Emotional Contagion What have you learned about yourself during the Coronavirus pandemic? Please share special examples about how these times have impacted you personally and professionally.

Essay Question 3. Required; 500-word limit

Given your already demanding job and the desire to remain committed to important family and personal obligations, how do you plan to handle the additional demands on your time once you enroll?

Essay Question 4. Optional; 300-word limit

If necessary, you may use this optional essay to explain any extenuating circumstances of which the Admissions Committee should be aware.

Wharton EMBA

Wharton EMBA application deadlines

Class Entering in 2022
Round 1

December 8, 2021 (11:59 p.m. PST)

Decisions released on Wednesday, January 19, 2022*

Round 2

February 9, 2022 (11:59 p.m. PST)

Decisions released on Wednesday, March 23, 2022*

Wharton EMBA Acceptance Rate

The Wharton EMBA has a  44% acceptance rate, which makes it the most selective executive program. 

Insider Intel from our Wharton EMBA expert, Amy

Q: You were at Wharton’s EMBA program in San Francisco for more than 12 years. What key changes took place in admissions and the EMBA student experience over that time?

A: The San Francisco program and campus grew quite a bit during my time at the Wharton EMBA program. When I started, each entering WEMBA class was about 80 students. When I left, the cohort was topping off at 115. 

The number of female students has also increased. It was below 20% in each class not all that long ago, but is now around 35%. The campus itself also moved—it relocated in 2011 (a whopping 4 blocks away from the original spot). This was the perfect excuse to choose a space with an amazing view of the San Francisco Bay, update all the technology, and make room to accommodate the growing class size. 

And then there are the Global Modular Courses, which are weeklong, intensive courses taught by Wharton faculty all over the world. That program began in 2010 and is hugely popular among all the populations of students at Wharton. 

Wharton EMBA

Things on the admissions front have shifted, too. For a long time, the GMAT was the only standardized test option. But now Wharton accepts the GRE and Executive Assessment as well. The essay questions have also evolved, and this year’s COVID-19-related topic is a great example of the AdComm’s efforts to stay on the cutting edge–and also keep applicants on their toes!

Q: Tell us about the SF campus and what it offers EMBA students compared to the Philadelphia home base. Do applicants have to choose one or the other?

A: Yes, applicants apply to either PHL or SF when they fill out their applications. The geographical stereotypes do ring true when it comes to the differences between the two campus populations. 

Philadelphia generally attracts more folks from finance, while SF is a magnet for the techies. Although, cross-pollination has definitely become more and more common. Also, there’s the big difference of having the full campus at your fingertips in PHL but only a “satellite” (I hate that term!) location in SF. But actually, being on a much smaller campus in SF really does foster a different kind of community feel for the students.

Image credit: University of Pennsylvania Wharton School

On class weekends, everyone sees everyone, whether it’s passing each other in the hallway, sitting together in the large shared dining room, or hanging on Friday night in the “Wharton Pub” at the designated hotel for WEMBA students. (Yep, that’s really a thing). Sure, it’s different from the experience of taking classes on a real college campus. But it provides a more intimate setting for both students and faculty, too. 

The staff loves to promote the fact that the SF students get the benefit of more facetime with their professors, who don’t have their families and home lives to rush off to as soon as classes end when they are out teaching on the West Coast. So it’s very common to see faculty joining students for meals in the dining room and also, on occasion, they’ve also been spotted at the Wharton Pub.

Q: Who were the most memorable students you met at the EMBA program over the years? 

A: I traveled around Brazil and to Iguazu Falls with a wonderful Wharton student who is now the mayor of Phoenix. I fondly remember a quiet technical director from an animation studio who was so humbled by his admission to Wharton. He went on to start his own company and to appear on Shark Tank, where he landed a deal with not one but two sharks! 

And one of my very favorite students, whom I met during my first week on the job, continued to find time to visit me even 10 years after graduating. Always armed with super interesting stories about his upbringing in Australia, his time in the British Army or his adventures as a serial entrepreneur, his visits were always a highlight!

Q:  What application advice do you have for applicants to Wharton’s EMBA program?

A: Make sure all the key players in your life are on board with your decision to go back to school. EMBA students face the unique challenge of juggling not just school and home life, but also a full-time job, so the struggle of how to spend their time is REAL. It’s important to let everyone around you know that if admitted, you’ll be really busy for the next two years!

Applicants should know that the Admissions Committee really does want to get to know the real you. They are looking to make sure that not only are you a good candidate for Wharton, but that Wharton is also the right fit for you. 

So it’s important to use your application to highlight what makes you unique and authentic. Your essays and interview are a great opportunity to really showcase this. Plus, once in-person classes resume, applicants also have the opportunity to visit campus to sit in on a lecture and share a meal with current students. I highly recommend taking advantage of this!

Q: What advice do you have for students to make the most of the Wharton EMBA experience?

A: My best advice for WEMBA students has always been to invest the time in building relationships with their classmates. For EMBA students at any school, it’s a constant challenge to keep all their balls in the air with a full-time job, their families at home and then to layer school on top of that. 

It would be easy to skip out on the social piece — but that would be a mistake. The AdComm takes great pains to put together a stellar class of really impressive and smart people — who also happen to be kind, diverse and a lot of fun, too.

So on those Friday nights of a class weekend, it’s well worth it to stay up a bit later than intended in order to share stories, get to know one another and build bonds. These are the people who will become the core of your future network, not to mention your lifelong friends.

Q: What do you think the future looks like for Wharton’s EMBA program? Any predictions about how the program will evolve ahead?

A: If I had to guess what’s next, I think the program is likely to expand its global offerings. I mentioned earlier that the Global Modular Courses have really taken off and are a huge hit among the students. That’s especially true for the EMBAs.

So I could see them potentially adding a new global track, a global cohort or maybe some more EMBA-only GMCs. I’m definitely excited to see where they take the program in this regard.


Be sure to participate in Wharton EMBA admissions events and schedule a virtual pre-application phone chat, and sign up for a virtual class visit. An overview of the different EMBA programs and how EMBA is different from full time MBA programs can be found here.

Learn how you can secure your spot at Wharton’s EMBA program in partnership with the SBC team. Ask us if we feel you’re competitive for the Wharton EMBA program via a free consultation request here.

SBC’s star-studded consultant team is unparalleled. Our clients benefit from current intelligence that we receive from the former MBA Admissions Officers from Harvard HBS, Wharton and every elite business program in the US and Europe.  These MBA Admissions Officers have chosen to work exclusively with SBC.

Just two of the many superstars on the SBC team:
Meet Anthony, who served as the Associate Director of MBA Admissions at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, where he dedicated over 10 years of expertise.

Meet Andrea, who served as the Associate Director of MBA Admissions Marketing at Harvard Business School (HBS) for over five years.

Tap into this inside knowledge for your MBA applications by requesting a consultation.


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