Executive MBA VS Traditional MBA

By Ronald Kimmons. May 7th 2016

An MBA – or [|]Master of Business Administration[:|] – is an advanced degree that is designed specifically for the purpose of training its students to become business managers and executives. Given that there are various types of management that go on in the business world and various types of entities in need of managing, there are various types of MBA programs out there. MBA programs differ according to the focus of the curriculum – such as finance versus global management – and according to the structure of the class – such as part-time, full-time, online, and blended. An EMBA – or Executive Master of Business Administration – is one of the many types of programs widely offered. For some aspiring professionals, the choice between MBA and EMBA is an important one. Read on for helpful information about how to choose between an executive MBA and a traditional MBA program.

Career Level

One of the main ways in which MBA and EMBA programs differ lies in the types of students to which they generally appeal and where they stand in their respective career tracks. A traditional MBA program focuses on preparing its students to become managers. For this reason, students accepted into MBA programs usually have between 0 and 5 years of full-time work experience upon application. They tend to be single and they are generally still in the beginning phases of their careers. Conversely, applicants to EMBA programs tend to have between 5 and 10 years of full-time experience and many of them have family and career obligations that make full-time university study difficult.

Program Structure

Normal MBA programs are generally intensive, requiring students to commit to a rigorous study schedule. If students work, they often do so in the evenings or early mornings. EMBA programs, on the other hand, are usually not so intensive. While they are designed to push their students, their structure and scheduling is still formed under the assumption that the students are working full-time during normal working hours. For this reason, EMBA programs tend to consist of fewer hours per week and classes tend to be in the evenings and on the weekends. Because of the thinner classroom commitment per week, EMBA programs tend to last longer than normal MBA programs.

Test Requirements

Most legitimate business school programs require their applicants to take a standardized test such as the [|]GMAT[:|]. The scores applicants obtain on these tests constitute an important part of the application process. For EMBA applicants, however, standardized test scores are less of an issue. When deciding on whether or not to admit applicants to the program, EMBA administrators tend to look more at work experience. Minimum GMAT score requirements are generally lower – and may not exist at all.

Focus And Benefit

MBA programs tend to have a more general focus or they focus on the stated major or concentration such as finance, accounting or global management. The idea is to prepare students for career tracks that could result in hopping from one company or industry to another. They are designed under the assumption that their students’ career tracks are not yet set in stone. EMBA programs, on the other hand, tend to focus more on helping students to become executives within the career tracks that they have already established. This is one reason why EMBA programs do not require as much class time. The programs assume that students have already learned many things about how to lead within the frameworks of their respective companies and training for circumstances outside of this scope is often seen as unnecessary. Because of this, while getting an EMBA may lead to better professional opportunities under one’s current employer, it will likely not be as useful as an MBA after leaving that employer.


MBA programs and EMBA programs tend to come at different costs. Because MBA programs are more intensive, they also tend to eat up more of business schools’ resources and therefore cost more than the slimmer EMBA programs. However, this is not necessarily going to be the case in every situation as some business schools (such as Brigham Young University) charge more for EMBA tuition than for MBA tuition. Additionally, an EMBA program at a more prestigious business school is often going to cost more than an MBA program at a less prestigious business school.


MBA students typically finance their tuition through the normal channels: personal savings and [|]student loans[:|]. EMBA students, on the other hand, often do not have to worry about this. It is very common for EMBA students to have much or all of their tuition covered by their employers, as the purpose of the EMBA is to prepare current employees to move up in the corporate ranks and become top-level managers and executives. For this reason, when companies sponsor their employees for EMBA programs, they tend to do so on the condition that their employees agree to continue working for them for a certain number of years.

Making The Choice

If you are eligible for an EMBA program, the benefits of going that direction instead of going through another MBA program lie primarily in the lower financial and personal stress. They also interfere less with busy schedules. However, the career opportunities that MBA programs produce are generally broader. The bottom line is that there are trade-offs between the two programs. Doing your homework ahead of time will help you to make the best decision for your situation.


More in category

Related Content