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Online Executive MBA degrees (Executive Master’s in Business Administration or EMBA) are common among mid-career professionals who want to continue working full-time while furthering their education. These programs geared toward industry leaders with several years of work experience help students develop the leadership skills they need to succeed in their careers. EMBA programs prime business executives and leaders to adapt to an ever-expanding, evolving, and innovative business world. Unlike the many concentrations in an MBA, such as finance, marketing, supply chain management, human resources, or project management, and Execute, MBA is more general in its approach and rather rigid in its maneuvering into distinct areas. Read on to know all about the Executive MBA – what it entails, the curriculum and coursework, specializations, certifications, timelines, admission requirements, and of course – the best and most affordable colleges to pursue this program.
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Online EMBA programs can be hard to choose from, with hundreds of business schools across the United States offering them. Although Executive MBA rankings by certain organizations can help shortlist a few good programs, confusion can still prevail. The best online Executive MBA programs are created considering criteria such as the college’s infrastructure, the quality and experience of teaching staff, student support services, accreditation, the structure of the program, courses offered, and cost-effectiveness. OnlineMastersColleges (OMC) has drawn up a list of the best Executive MBA programs, based on these criteria, and more:
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The best value Executive MBA program should strike a balance between affordability and overall quality. While students look for affordable programs, they should not place cost over other important factors. After all, programs that are cheap or economical do not necessarily pass key benchmarks. Here are some of the most affordable online Executive MBA programs that do not compromise on quality, delivery, and instruction but are super value-propositions:
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While the traditional MBA program is built on the fundamentals of business, the Executive MBA, on the other hand, provides students of the program with a better understanding of the many nuances of business. This program focuses on tools, technologies, methodologies, research, and data, to help graduates make informed and strategic business decisions, improving profitability. This can be achieved by leveraging and building on the work experience Executive MBA students would already have at the start of their program (Executive MBA students are expected to have considerable prior work experience).
With fewer electives to choose from, the Executive MBA differs slightly from the traditional MBA, which offers many electives and combinations of coursework. An Executive MBA also makes it possible for students to align their personal, educational, and professional experience with their career objectives and goals. The program’s main aim is to develop student’s analytical, critical, and problem-solving skills and prepare them for changes, disruptions, competition, challenges, and issues in the business world. With this degree, experienced professionals can take on greater responsibility, improve their career prospects, take on new leadership roles, or earn higher salaries.
Executive MBA Degree Formats
The format of online Executive MBA programs differs according to college and the type of program. Business schools put together EMBA programs that aim to suit working professionals who may already be pressed for time, have work-related stress, and families to attend to. Students can choose between full-time Executive MBA vs. part-time Execute MBA programs, which can take anywhere from 18 to 60 months to complete, depending on the format. And while some Universities deliver their courses entirely online, others take a hybrid route and require students to meet on-campus at least once or twice a week. A few also expect students to attend a two-week on-campus practicum towards the end of their program.
Another common format some colleges follow is the cohort-based Executive MBA program – in which all students begin the program at the same time, attend the same classes, and go through the entire program with the same group of people right up to graduation.
Weekly synchronous sessions with high-quality video and audio for optimal interaction, recorded sessions for subsequent viewing, delivery of courses entirely through online sessions, and weekly or periodic on-campus meetings are various formats of delivery of an Executive MBA.
Courses in the EMBA program are evenly distributed across semesters and sequenced to assure continuity in learning through synchronous, asynchronous, or hybrid delivery systems.
Executive MBA vs MBA
A lot of people get confused and battle the dilemma of Executive MBA vs. MBA. In general, a traditional MBA benefits younger, less-experienced students by allowing them to complete their studies over a longer period and seek jobs in the business world. Executive MBA programs are designed for professionals in their mid-career who need to complete their education in a shorter time and advance their careers. So, what are the other differences between MBA and Executive MBA? Here is a snapshot of both programs to compare:
Traditional or Professional MBA (PMBA)
Executive MBA (EMBA)
Targets younger students who may have little to no work experience
Targets working professionals who already have considerable work experience (5 to 10 years)
Typically requires about 24 months to complete (full-time) and up to a maximum of 60 months (part-time)
Typically requires 18 to 24 months to complete
Offers more courses and electives
Offers few courses and even fewer electives
Offers more options for specializations
Offers few options for specializations
May follow a traditional semester system/calendar
May follow different delivery formats
Almost always requires GMAT or GRE scores for admission
Sometimes requires GMAT or GRE scores for admission
Now, to address the question – EMBA vs. MBA, which is better? – it all depends on an individual’s personal and professional goals. Those who are yet to pitch themselves on an upward career trajectory and/or may have just a couple of years of work experience can consider the professional MBA program. On the other hand, those who have 5 to 10 years of experience and wish to enhance their knowledge, hone their skills, advance their careers, seek promotions with their organization, or look for better paychecks, are prime candidates for an Executive MBA. Another point to note is that an MBA teaches the fundamentals of several aspects of a business. At the same time, an EMBA builds on them by combining advanced coursework and the student’s professional experience.
In conclusion, one is not better than the other; they serve two different objectives.
Specializations in Executive MBA Programs
Business school students who pursue an MBA concentration usually pursue more specialized career paths after graduation. For some concentrations, salary and opportunities increase significantly, depending on the industry. Specializations also convey to and assure employers that the candidate has in-depth knowledge and unique skills related to the subject. Here are a few specializations/concentrations that online Executive MBA applicants can consider:
Executive MBA Healthcare Online
Executive MBA in Finance
Executive MBA for Engineers
Executive MBA in Accounting
Executive MBA in Human Resources Online
Information Systems Executive MBA
Executive MBA in Marketing
Executive MBA in International Business Online
Executive MBA in Supply Chain Management
Business Analytics Executive MBA
Executive MBA in Innovation and Entrepreneurship Online
Retail Industry Executive MBA
Executive MBA in Innovation Management
Executive MBA in Information Technology
Curriculum and Skills Gained in Online Executive MBA Programs
The EMBA syllabus is largely the same across concentrations and programs. The curricula of most programs overlap, and courses are often based on the basics of business and administration, such as marketing, finance, accounting, operations, human resources, etc. Some of the common courses students can expect in an online Executive MBA are:
International Business Management
Managerial Leadership and Productivity
Professional Ethics and Practice in Business
Exploring Regional Markets
Entering New Markets
Executing In Global Markets
Corporate Global Strategy
Financial Accounting & Analysis
Leadership and Change Management
Statistics for Business Decision Making
Basic Accounting for Managerial and Financial Control
Supply Chain Management
Legal Environment of Business
Finance and Economics
Leadership and Teams
Marketing Strategy and Planning
Strategy and Innovation
Business Economics for the World Market
Managing Human Capital
Data Analytics and Statistics for Business
Digital Transformation with Information Systems and Technology
Micro and Macro Economic Foundations for Managers
Management Information Systems
Integrative Analysis in Management
Statistical Applications in Research and Management
Accounting for Managerial Decisions
Ethical and Societal Issues in Business
Supply Chain Strategy and Practice
Ethnographic Research Methods
Globalization and the Arts
Managing Communities of Work
Shared History of Slavery and Capitalism
Analytical Tools for Strategic Decision-Making
Career Planning and Development
Strategic Marketing Analysis and Concepts
Business Law and Negotiations
Business Policy and Strategy
Statistical Methods in Business and Economics
Working professionals with an Executive MBA will demonstrate the ability to manage and drive business functions at advanced or higher levels. Additionally, graduates of the program will:
have a better understanding of the fundamentals of business policy, operations, finance, and administration;
use data and integrate business information with business goals and strategies;
understand organizational behavior and managerial responses to channel human resources effectively;
solve problems and make decisions in a variety of business situations by understanding and applying critical and analytical thinking;
effectively use managerial economics and financial management to strengthen margins and drive profitability;
incorporate information systems for managerial decision-making as well as analytical tools and technology for organizational support;
oversee business operations in a global environment, and can effectively manage supply chains;
understand and factor ethical and social perspectives that could influence decision-making and business outcomes;
effectively use marketing management in cross-functional and marketing-oriented businesses; and
formulate policy and improve strategic development to help the organization meet its goals and objectives.
Accreditation for Online Executive MBA Programs
Accredited Executive MBA programs continuously meet certain established quality standards determined by accrediting bodies in academics, assessment, faculty qualifications, and student services. Accreditation is also an endorsement that an Executive MBA program imparts the required education and skills to prepare graduates for professional careers in the business world and trains them to tackle complex real-world problems in business. There are broadly two types of accreditations for Executive MBA – programmatic, in which a program is recognized and accredited, and regional, in which a college that is offering the Executive MBA program is accredited. Some such accrediting organizations are:
The Accreditation Guide contains detailed information on the many advantages of accreditation and its importance.
Timeline for graduation from Online Executive MBA Programs
The Executive MBA time commitment depends solely on the structure and delivery of the program. Delivery can be in synchronous, asynchronous, or hybrid forms, bearing on the duration of a program. Commonly, online Executive MBA students will require 18 to 24 months to finish, with the option of completing the degree within a maximum of 5 years (which very few do).
Online Executive MBA Programs Admission Requirements
Executive MBA qualifications and eligibility criteria are unlike those of other Master’s programs. Many business schools will require students to have at least two years of professional experience, but some ask for 7 to 10 years, of which about 5 to 7 years should be in managerial or leadership roles. Some other schools may ask the applicant to show support from their employer, either financially, timewise, or both. In general, however, Executive MBA admission requirements are as follows:
An undergraduate degree from a regionally accredited college or University.
A cumulative Grade Point Average (GPA) of 3.0 or higher is recommended but not required.
Important Points to Note:
(a) Some candidates may have to attend a Personal Interview.
(b) Executive MBA programs generally require applicants to submit standardized test scores of GMAT or GRE. However, some schools either completely waive this requirement or do so under certain conditions. For example, a school may waive the GMAT/GRE score requirement if the applicant has a prior Master’s Degree, a Professional Degree (JD, MD, DVM). Some schools also waive this requirement for students that have an active Professional License [Certified Public Accountant (CPA), Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA), Certified Medical Assistant (CMA), or Professional Engineer (PE)].
Caution: Many websites and search results will mention colleges that have 1-year Executive MBA programs. A quick check will discover that these are misleading because the highlighted colleges offer 1-year traditional or accelerated MBA programs, not Executive MBA programs. Be careful to make this distinction.
Online Executive MBA No Bachelors
Increasingly, many students are on the lookout for ‘Executive MBA No Bachelors Required’ programs. Some business schools accept candidates who tend to have strong real-time work experience behind them but are looking to complement that with business theory. For such candidates, the admission requirements are largely the same as those for applicants with an undergraduate degree, with the difference of special attention given to their writing ability and synthesis. The EMBA program by the MIT Sloan School of Management, for example, does not require a Bachelor’s Degree if the applicant can “demonstrate exceptional capabilities through other endeavors”. Similarly, the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, although it generally requires a Bachelor’ Degree, makes exceptions for applicants who display an impressive professional and/or personal track record. However, applicants without a Bachelor’s Degree must take the GMAT to be considered for admission in this case.
Free Online Executive MBA Programs
With MBA programs costing the proverbial arm and leg, free online Executive MBA programs are much sought after. Unfortunately, there aren’t any online portals and institutions that offer free MBA programs, except one – the University of the People. While the MBA program by this University provides students with the many advantages of a traditional (and paid) MBA program but without the cost, it may not be well recognized by the job market (accreditation could not be confirmed). A search online will bring up several free MBA courses, none of which will lead to credible EMBA degrees, but could nevertheless help interested MBA students and graduates. Some examples are:
EdX EdX has a collection of paid and free online executive education courses created by the Boston University, Wharton University of Pennsylvania, and Harvard University.
MOOCs Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) are a repository of free programs in various disciplines. In business education, MOOC offers MicroMasters Programs and Professional Certificates by leading Universities in the country.
Coursera Coursera lists a total of 93 MBA-related courses and specializations across four learner levels. Topics include International Business Essentials, Fundamentals of Finance, Value Creation Through Innovation, and others.
Free online MBA
University of the People Except for an application fee and an assessment fee for every end-of-course examination, the University of the People provides an online Master of Business Administration degree and does not charge students for their educational instruction, course materials, or annual enrollment. It is worth noting that this program is not an EMBA program but a traditional MBA and is perhaps the only such complete degree that is free and online.
How to Pay for Online Executive MBA Programs
The Executive MBA cost is considerably higher than that of other Master’s programs. In some cases, a program is known to cost an eye-watering $200,000 over two years! Generally, personal funds or income from a salary alone may be insufficient to pay for the Executive MBA fees, and this and the ever-rising cost of Master’s programs are why other funding mechanisms need to be explored, such as:
Scholarships are often given to students who have excelled academically. Sometimes families, small enterprises, non-profit, cultural, or religious organizations offer them to students who meet their specific eligibility criteria. However, in the context of an Executive MBA, few such organizations or even universities offer Scholarships. Large corporations commonly give them out to deserving professionals who have considerable experience, have contributed to the business, or have an impressive track record. In certain cases, Disability Scholarships, African American Scholarships, Scholarships for Women, and other such scholarships that cater to certain sections of society, also cover Executive MBA programs. (It is easy to fall prey to Scholarship Scams, so applicants for scholarships should exercise caution).
Grants are typically offered to low-income students to assist them in financing tuition fees and meet educational and student-related expenses such as housing, transportation, books, stationery, etc. Grants are nearly always provided exclusively based on financial necessity. However, Executive MBA aspirants may not qualify for grants unless they can prove that their income is not enough to support themselves (and their family) and pay for tuition.
Many employers allow their employees to work and study simultaneously, and some even sponsor their additional/advanced education under specific circumstances. Applicants to Executive MBA programs should check with their employers to see if they offer sponsorship.
Executive MBA aspirants may be eligible to apply for federal, bank, or private loans to pay for their tuition. Working professionals who take this funding route should find it easy to obtain a loan and repay it on time.
Some colleges allow students to pay for their tuition over a longer period through equated or incremental payments instead of as a lump sum at the beginning of the term. This could prove to be beneficial for salaried individuals who pursue an Executive MBA.
An Executive MBA is akin to a traditional MBA but is designed more for working professionals who want to advance their careers, take on better, important, and more responsible roles, and improve their earning potential. Executive MBA programs typically have more stringent admission requirements over traditional programs in that they require at least 5 to 10 years of work experience in managerial or leadership roles.
What is eMBA?
EMBA is simply the abbreviation for Executive Master of Business Administration and is similar on many fronts to its counterpart – the traditional Master of Business Administration or MBA.
What is an executive MBA vs. MBA?
While the MBA targets younger students who may have little to no work experience, an Executive MBA targets working professionals who already have considerable work experience (5 to 10 years) in managerial or leadership positions. Other differences are highlighted in the section titled ‘Executive MBA vs. MBA’.
What is the best executive MBA program?
The best Executive MBA program should ideally be taught by qualified and experienced faculty, have a robust structure and format, offer flexibility in pace, be accredited, and of course, cost less, among other things. The list of some of the best Executive MBA programs is available in this article.
How much does an executive MBA cost?
Unconfirmed reports state that the very best of Executive MBA programs from top universities can easily cost in the region a staggering $200,000! However, some of the best programs typically range from as low as $5,500 to well over $56,000, and the average cost is likely to be closer to $25,000.
Is an eMBA as good as an MBA?
Yes, an EMBA is as good as an MBA in that they are equally valuable. It is only a misconception that an EMBA is a superior form of MBA and vice-versa.
Is an Executive MBA worth it?
If the objective of a working professional is to complete an Executive MBA for better prospects, advancement of career, higher paychecks, and better job profiles, then yes – an Executive MBA is certainly worth it! The money one invests in this program can easily be earned back in a few years.
Should I get an executive MBA?
If the feeling of being stifled and stagnant in the present role/job is strong, and if one desires to acquire advanced knowledge and skills in business-related functions, and finally, if one already has considerable work experience, then pursuing an Executive MBA is recommended.
What is the difference between MBA and an executive MBA?
While traditional MBA programs are meant for individuals just starting their careers and say about 2 to 3 years of experience, Executive MBA programs are tailored for professionals in the business who already have at least 5 to 10 years’ experience under their belt. MBA programs also tend to have more concentrations and elective courses, whereas Executive MBA programs offer fewer options in both.
Is executive MBA beneficial?
The Executive MBA can prove invaluable and beneficial for working professionals because they will be able to put what they learn into practice right away. The combination of work experience and advanced knowledge and skills is hugely rewarding.
Is an executive MBA equivalent to a full-time MBA?
In its importance, both the Executive MBA and full-time MBA are almost equivalent. But in terms of structure, format, delivery, and purpose, they differ. From the job-market perspective, both degrees are equally recognized and welcomed.
Is an executive MBA worth doing?
An Executive MBA will almost certainly translate to better job prospects, promotions, and higher salaries, especially for those who attend a prestigious university with a proven track record. So yes, an Executive MBA is worth doing.
Should I get an eMBA?
An EMBA can be of immense value to those who desire to improve their skills, enhance their knowledge, advance in their careers, or even make a career change. If any or all of these are objectives, then pursuing an EMBA is a good choice.
Why executive MBA?
The Executive MBA degree is excellent for seasoned professionals who are serious about becoming executives or leaders in business. This program encourages networking and professional development and presents an opportunity to rub shoulders with captains of industry – potential company directors, vice presidents, etc., at a reputed college, of course.
What is the value of an executive MBA?
An Executive MBA offers working professionals the opportunity to catapult their careers by becoming executives or business leaders. Graduates of this program are primed to take on challenging roles, shoulder more responsibility, and make strategic decisions, all of which are of immense value in the world of business.
Careers and Salary Outlook for Executive MBA Graduates
Promotions, high-profile jobs, and fat paychecks are some of the many benefits of the Executive MBA program. There are many roles that graduates of an online Executive MBA can take up in several sectors, such as automobiles, food and beverage, information technology, biotechnology, aviation, commodity trading, insurance, social media, digital marketing, advertising, branding, and a whole lot more. Although job titles may vary by company and sector, here are some common ones EMBA graduates can step into:
Chief Executive Offer
Chief Financial Officer
Chief Information Officer
Business Operations Manager
Director of Marketing
At the start of a program, most incoming Executive MBA students may already be earning in six figures, but this can, in certain cases, potentially double after graduation.
The 2020 EMBAC Student Exit Survey, carried out by the Executive MBA Council (EMBAC), revealed that EMBA graduates received a 14.1% increase in compensation after program completion. The report also states that 39%of students who completed the survey received a promotion during the program, and 53% reported increased responsibilities. At the commencement of the EMBA program, the average salary and bonus package was $169,269, which rose to $193,200 by the end of it.
Elsewhere, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the median pay in 2020 for top executives was $107,680, that of chief executives was $185,950, and of general and operations managers was $103,650. It is worth noting that salaries, titles, roles, and responsibilities are disproportionate across business sectors, the scope and scale of organizations, and the institute’s reputation from which one has graduated.
Certifications and Licensing for Executive MBA Graduates
Certifications acknowledge and endorse the level and depth of a graduate’s knowledge and skills, adding value to a Professional Résumé. Adding extra credentials can prove to be beneficial in certain work settings and improve career prospects in general. Although there aren’t any specific certifications tailored for online Executive MBA graduates, the ones applicable to traditional MBA graduates will do just as well. Some such certifications for EMBA graduates to consider include:
Executive MBA graduates usually do not require any licensure. But in certain circumstances, jobs in accounting, for example, the certification, leads to automatic licensure (such as the CFA and CPA).
Additional Resources for Executive MBA Professionals
In the business world, networking holds the key to endless possibilities. By connecting and collaborating with peers, EMBA graduates can consolidate business knowledge, expand their network, and broaden their perspective, stretching well beyond their current industry. Tapping into networks and resources can also enhance one’s skill set to reach the next level of success in one’s career. Here are some ideal ways for online Executive MBA students and graduates to get started:
MBA Depot MBA Depot is an excellent resource that offers business insight for MBAs and Managers. The site hosts books, case studies, articles, and videos and has a community for learners and professionals.
Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) is mainly an accrediting organization that connects educators, learners, and businesses to create the next generation of leaders. The organization also conducts events, conferences, webinars, and seminars and provides insights, data trends, and research reports in business and business education.
LinkedIn LinkedIn is to business, what Facebook is to people in general. LinkedIn is arguably the best place to connect with industry professionals, job-seekers, recruiters, and project partners. Members can manage their professional identity, engage with a growing network of peers, and easily access knowledge, insights, and opportunities.
Executive MBA Council (EMBAC) Like the AACSB, the Executive MBA Council (EMBAC) is also an accrediting organization, particularly for EMBA programs. The council periodically conducts market research and surveys, meetings, and webinars. With its presence in 35 countries and 300 members of EMBA programs, this site is a great way to stay up to date with the latest in the world of EMBA.
Association of MBAs (AMBA) The Association of MBAs (AMBA) is home to several resources for both students and graduates of EMBA. This site has much to offer, from a development network to a book club to commercial opportunities and insights.
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