EMBA vs MBA: Executive Program Options

Are you contemplating whether earning an executive MBA (EMBA) degree would help you reach your professional goals? Graduates of EMBA programs report that their experiences were enriching on many levels, from personal to professional to financial.  Stacy Blackman Consulting has several EMBA experts on the team who enjoy guiding clients applying to this type of graduate program.

Jordana on the SBC team is a former member of the Admissions Committee at London Business School (LBS) and was the LBS EMBA Program Director in Dubai. Here’s what she had to say about the EMBA degree.

An EMBA program offers candidates the opportunity to further develop their leadership skills in an environment designed to challenge their existing paradigms and biases developed over many years of working.

Candidates typically apply to an EMBA program when they feel they need to hone the skills necessary to take the next step in their careers. This often means C-level positions that require significantly different skills than the ones that got them to their current roles.

A critical aspect of the EMBA experience is the network of students and alumni. Candidates choosing a program should study the alumni network just as closely as they evaluate the caliber of faculty, subject area strengths, and geographic location.

After all, you’ll complete the program in only a few years, but alumni status lasts a lifetime. Many students find that the career advancement opportunities, business partners, and close friendships formed through this network considerably increase the value of their EMBA experience.

Curious if the EMBA is right for you? Request a free analysis of your EMBA candidacy here

EMBA vs. MBA: Key Differences

How to select a target EMBA program, and understanding how it’s different than the two-year, full-time MBA program, are common questions we navigate with our clients.


Most EMBA programs look for a minimum of 8-12 years of work experience, including years of managing people or large projects. By contrast, full-time MBA admits usually have around 3-5 years of work tenure. The average age of EMBA program participants is 35. At Columbia’s EMBA program, the average student age is approximately 32, while it’s 37 at Wharton’s EMBA program.

It’s also worth noting that EMBA programs sometimes place less focus on test scores and GPA, as these programs are more experientially-focused.

For the EMBA application, Jordana advises:

Take some time to think about what you would like to achieve in the next five or ten years, and consider what skills, knowledge or networks you will need to develop to get you there.

Knowing these elements well will help you choose the right program and craft a compelling application to get an acceptance.

Program Type:

Students typically complete traditional EMBA programs on a part-time basis.  This flexibility allows them to continue working as they study, whereas a full-time MBA program does not.

With a full-time, two-year MBA, students typically relocate to the campus. By contrast, EMBA students often choose a campus closest to home, so they can easily travel to the program on alternating weekends. Or they may opt for a joint EMBA program conducted at multiple campuses around the world.

Tuition and Expenses:

Despite the often six-figure price tags, EMBA candidates earn a salary while attending their programs, making these costs somewhat less daunting. In some cases, employers will partially or fully fund an employee’s tuition costs. Many self-funded EMBA students will rely on financial aid since few scholarships exist for these programs. 

Networking and Career:

EMBA students typically seek to advance their career paths with their current employer. However, some EMBA students can leverage these programs to facilitate either a modest change in job function or a shift into an adjacent industry. Full-time, two-year program students are typically interested in making more significant shifts in their professional trajectories.

Career advance for EMBA students is indirect.  There typically aren’t robust, on-campus recruiting programs and employer events that the full-time, 2-year programs offer. EMBA programs do not provide an internship option.

SBC Consultant Jordana shared:

Career support at the EMBA level is different than in full-time MBA programs, and for good reason. EMBA candidates usually have significant work experience in a variety of industries, roles and locations.

It is impossible to offer a “one size fits all” approach to such a diverse group of people. So, schools tend to work with EMBA students on an individual basis to offer them coaching, workshops, and networking opportunities.

EMBA students who take advantage of these offerings tend to achieve the best results in terms of career advancement.

EMBA program students considering a potential job switch outside of their employer may need to network with peers at the program. They can count on the EMBA program’s brand value on their resume, and benefit from ad hoc career coaching,  programming, and subject matter coursework the EMBA program offers.

Curious if the EMBA is right for you? Request a free analysis of your EMBA candidacy here

EMBA Program Evaluation

The first consideration for an EMBA candidate is their level of professional experience. The EMBA team at Stacy Blackman Consulting recommends that applicants first think through the following fundamental questions.

  • Have they managed people, either directly or indirectly?
  • Do they control budgets?
  • Have they earned promotions within their organizations into managerial or director-level roles?

Upon evaluating these aspects, our EMBA experts will guide applicants through other factors, such as if the candidate has the time flexibility to attend a program that meets on alternating weekends or monthly for the next two to three years. Financing, potential ROI, and geographical location are other criteria to consider.

Our EMBA specialists evaluate many variables when recommending programs for our clients:

  • What is the nature of your business?
  • What industry are you involved in?
  • What are your near-term and longer-range post-MBA professional goals?
  • What kind of professional association or community engagement have you done in the past?
  • How do you work in a team environment?
  • Do you have plans to attempt any standardized testing (GMAT, GRE, or EA)?

While EMBA programs might appear similar at first glance, they all have subtle personality differences. The key to proper school selection is to get the best personality fit between candidate and program. That’s because the long-term relationship provides as much (some say more) value as the program’s educational aspects.

We aggregate feedback from EMBA students around curriculum, quality peer group/ student cohort, and network-friendly environment to guide our clients around school choice.

Curious if the EMBA is right for you? Request a free analysis of your EMBA candidacy here


SchoolLocationExecutive or Part-Time OptionTest Requirement for EMBA
Harvard HBSCambridge, MAHarvard HBS – Program for Leadership Development.* No PT or EMBANo EMBA program option
WhartonPhiladelphia, PAWharton – EMBA in PA and CA. No PTGMAT, GRE, or EA
Stanford GSBStanford, CAStanford GSB No PT or EMBA. Stanford MSx (FT senior executive program – not an MBA but an MS)No EMBA program option
Chicago BoothChicago, ILChicago Booth – EMBA and PT MBA (Saturday program or Evenings and Weekends)Not required
MIT SloanCambridge, MAMIT Sloan – EMBA program. MIT Sloan Fellows program (full time senior executive program – not an MBA but an MS)  No PTNot required
Northwestern KelloggEvanston, ILNorthwestern Kellogg – PT (Saturday program or Evenings and Weekends) and EMBANot required
Berkeley HaasBerkeley, CABerkeley Haas – PT MBA and EMBAGMAT, GRE, or EA
Columbia (CBS)New York, NYColumbia – EMBA program no PTGMAT, GRE, or EA
Dartmouth TuckHanover, NHDartmouth Tuck – Executive Education Program. No EMBANo EMBA program option
NYU SternNew York, NYNYU Stern – PT MBA and EMBANot required
University of Michigan RossAnn Arbor, MIUniversity of Michigan Ross – PT and EMBANot required
University of Virginia DardenCharlottesville, VAUniversity of Virginia Darden – EMBA and GEMBA (distance learning)EA, GMAT, GRE, MCAT, LSAT, or waiver
Yale SOMNew Haven, CTYale SOM – EMBAGMAT, GRE, or EA
Duke University FuquaDurham, NCDuke University Fuqua – Cross Continent MBA (distance learning for younger professionals) GEMBA (distance learning for older professionals), EMBA (every other week classroom). No on-campus PT MBAGMAT, GRE, EA, or waiver
University of Texas—Austin McCombsAustin, TXUniversity of Texas—Austin McCombs – Evening PT MBA, EMBAGMAT, GRE, EA, or waiver
UCLA AndersonLos Angeles, CAUCLA Anderson – PT and EMBAoptional: GMAT/GRE/EA score
Cornell JohnsonIthaca, NYCornell Johnson – No PT MBA. Cornell – Queens EMBA (distance learning) and Cornell EMBA (classroom, every other weekend)Not required
Carnegie Mellon University TepperPittsburgh, PACarnegie Mellon University Tepper – Evening PT MBA (FlexTime), EMBANot required
University of North Carolina—Chapel Hill, Kenan-FlaglerChapel Hill, NCUniversity of North Carolina—Chapel Hill, Kenan-Flagler – PT MBA (evenings) PT MBA (weekends), EMBANot required
Emory University, GoizuetaAtlanta, GAEmory University, Goizueta – PT MBA (evening) and EMBANot required
INSEADFrance, Singapore, and Abu DhabiINSEAD – EMBANot required
London Business School (LBS)LondonLBS – EMBA and EMBA Global (distance learning), LBS Sloan Fellows (FT senior executive program – not an MBA but an MS)GMAT, GRE, EA, or waiver
Oxford SaidLondonOxford – EMBANot required

*A fast-track alternative to the executive MBA (EMBA), the Harvard PLD program features two on-campus and two virtual, self-paced modules.

Request a free consultation with a Principal
on our SBC team to assess school fit and admit chances.

2022 US News ranking data for top 12 EMBA programs can be found at the chart below. Full ranking data can be found here.

RankSchool Name
1University of Chicago (Booth) (IL)
2University of Pennsylvania (Wharton)
3Northwestern University (Kellogg) (IL)
4Columbia University (NY)
5University of Michigan–Ann Arbor (Ross)
6New York University (Stern)
7Duke University (Fuqua) (NC)
8University of California–Berkeley (Haas)
9Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Sloan)
10University of California–Los Angeles (Anderson)
11University of Texas–Austin (McCombs)
12Cornell University (Johnson) (NY)
13Santa Clara University (Leavey) (CA)