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Difference Between MBA and Executive MBA

An Executive MBA, or EMBA is a rarely recent phenomenon that gained traction around the turn of the millennium. The main difference between the traditional MBA and the Executive MBA is that people enrolled in Executive programs continue to work full time compared to most traditional programs where students are not able to continue their employment.

When EMBAs first hit the scene they were lightly regarded with some thinking of them as sort of an MBA-lite, but according to students and experts that is not the case. Executive MBA programs are very rigorous and have robust curriculums just like their traditional counterparts.

Executive MBA Program Overview

Students interested in the Executive MBA need not fear – the Executive MBA is a high quality Master’s degree. But as previously mentioned, Executive MBA programs differ in several ways from full time and part time MBA programs. Let’s take a look at what makes the Executive MBA unique:

  • Format – Executive MBA programs are typically completed in two years or less and allow the student to continue working full time. The curriculum delivery options vary from program to program with many choosing to have all day courses once a week along with a myriad of variations. According to industry data, about one-third of students meet for classes once a week with another one-third meeting every two weeks.
  • Start – The majority of Executive MBA programs commence in August, while other popular start times include September and January. International Executive MBA programs typically start in September and October.
  • Cohort Based – The industry standard for EMBA programs is to have a group of students matriculate at the same time and then stick with each other through the entire program until graduation. This strengthens the learning environment and allows students to develop deep rooted relationships and networks of contacts.
  • Student Services – Executive MBA students lead very busy lives between work, school and family. To help compensate for their schedules and to maximize their learning experience, EMBA programs offer a wide variety of services not typically offered in traditional MBA programs. These services often include taking care of registration, providing meals during classes, and even supplying text books.
  • Peer to Peer Learning – Most executive MBA programs are filled with company “rock stars” that have shown great promise as potential leaders. Most Executive MBA program matriculants are required to have at least five years of management experience and show great potential. It’s common for the student’s organization to pay for the entire program.

mba-and-executive-mbaBecause these programs are filled with talented business leaders from all sectors of the economy, the learning environment is quite dynamic. Students push and encourage one another to supersede their limits. Cohorts of students end up making lifelong connections with one another which leads to excellent networks that they can leverage their entire career.

Executive MBA Curriculum Overview

EMBAs cover the traditional business functions that MBA programs cover such as finance, accounting, management, marketing and so on. These courses are critical in building a strong foundation in business fundamentals.

It’s the electives that make the greatest difference. EMBAs offer a myriad of elective programs that allow students to really drill down into a specific area of interest. These areas of interest are often known as concentration areas. To fulfill a concentration area, students take specific courses, attend seminars and workshops, and enroll in short courses. It’s all part of the executive MBA experience.

Common concentration areas include:

• Strategy
• Public Policy
• Business Law
• Communications
• Ethics
• Operations Management
• Information Systems
• Leadership

The majority of students who graduate from Executive MBA programs are short-listed for high level positions within their organizations in which they work. EMBA programs are offered at the most prestigious B-schools including Yale, Harvard, Columbia and Penn.

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