As a prospective MBA student, you have the responsibility to research hundreds of programs to find the one that best suites your needs and career goals. As traditional and online MBA programs keep increasing, so are specializations and concentrations, as well as other specialty master's programs. Among the available choices is the Executive MBA (EMBA).
But what is an EMBA?
An EMBA is simply an MBA with a specific focus on executive management and leadership for experienced professionals and managers. Both the MBA and EMBA programs include coursework that is very important to business managers. Although, EMBA programs are specifically designed for the mid-to-high-level manager with aspirations for a C-suite career, and thus have created a curriculum and format that meets their unique needs.
But what does that mean? Let's look at EMBA students and curriculum to figure that out.
The Executive MBA
According to the Executive MBA Council, the median age for EMBA students is 37.3, with over 13 years of work experience and over eight years of management experience. These seasoned managers are less focused on learning the fundamental principles of business and more on applying business concepts to be effective leaders and executives. An EMBA must go beyond the regular MBA content, and therefore does not include the foundational business framework courses.
The Harvard Business Review found that the most important skills needed to thrive in the C-suite are: leadership, strategic thinking and execution, technical and technology skills, team- and relationship-building, communication and presentation, change-management, integrity, and a global outlook. This is the main difference between the average MBA student and EMBA student. Most traditional MBA students are looking to transition from a technical role to a management role, and they need MBA programs to focus on a wide range of business skills such as financial management, organizational management, and communication. Most EMBA students are looking to transition from management to an executive role. This type of career move requires people to excel in strategic thinking and decision-making. Whether in the boardroom with executive teams or in a conference room with investors, executive leaders need to be able to confidently and competently make complex decisions. Thus, EMBA programs include courses such as Strategy Formulation and Organizational Design, Managerial Leadership and Productivity, Leadership Through Big Data Analytics, and Managing Risks in Global Environments.
Forbes states that a leader's choices and decisions can make or break them, and that "senior executives who rise to the C-suite do so largely based upon their ability to consistently make sound decisions." They further explain, "understanding how to make great decisions is learning how to synthesize the overwhelming amount incoming information leaders must deal with on a daily basis." Having a program, like an EMBA, can speak directly into the decision making process and the strategic role that an executive has within a company.
Return on Investment
EMBA programs offer many tangible and intangible benefits. The top tangible benefit when gaining the skills and credibility to transition from a manager to an executive will be the potential salary increase. According to PayScale.com, Business Managers have an average salary of $58,000 per year with the highest salary reaching right around $100,000 per year. A CEO has an average yearly salary reaching to $160,000 with the highest over the $300,000 mark. These salaries are dependent on the companies and the city of residence, but as you can see, there is a big jump in average salary between the two.
Another great benefit in an EMBA program is the caliber of peers that students are surrounded by in the classroom. This network of business leaders can be valuable inside the classroom and outside. Inside the classroom, students can learn and glean from the mistakes and successes of other leaders from various industries. It can be a time to gain new perspectives and a global outlook to be more knowledgeable decision-makers. Also, this network of senior executives and managers can be valuable when looking for contacts with hiring capabilities or with which to build partnerships.
Seasoned managers are generally working full-time and not wanting to take two years away to finish a traditional MBA degree. Thus, most executive programs are built with a more flexible schedule needed from mid-to-high level managers. Comparing a part-time on-campus EMBA program to an online or hybrid EMBA is actually not much of a leap.
The Executive MBA Council talks about a term named, the disappearing classroom. This term refers to the fact that classrooms are no longer being defined by location. They explain that the time between acquiring knowledge and using it is rapidly decreasing. Michael Desiderio, executive director of the Executive MBA Council explains that the disappearing classroom is "one that is bounded less by geography, expanded by technology, based in immediate relevance and in the personal and professional transformations that strengthen the ability of business leaders to respond to rapidly changing times—is here to stay."
Executives are in a position where the demand is increasing for them to strategize and implement systems that are changing as fast as our business world. The online schedule allows for optimal flexibility, gives the student more training in dealing in a highly virtual business world, and allows student to immediately implementing what they are learning. The argument against an online format of an EMBA is the same that you get with other programs. The argument is "why trade the experience of the intimate in-person interaction with your peers with an online classroom?" And the answer is basically the same as well; the online environment mirrors the virtual environment with which we already find ourselves in every day and requires no big shift in our daily interpersonal routine. We are already saturated with a virtual business and personal world and virtual relationships are not new to navigate nor going away any time soon.
Fortune shares the stories of some of the most successful EMBA graduates of the year. These graduates include the business woman who is the Senior VP of Research and Strategic Initiatives at the National Retail Federation who coined the phrase, "Cyber Monday." With our business and our executives being so invested with the function of virtual systems inside and outside our companies, a program that expands and leverages the systems used can only be a benefit. These online programs can actually equip leaders with the practical skills and knowledge on navigating this online and virtual communication in a healthy and productive manner. And this is beyond the obvious benefit of optimal flexibility that allows school work to happen in between meetings or after the kids go to sleep. An online or hybrid EMBA is the ideal program for a busy executive. Programs that are designed for the busy professional allow students to navigate the system in a natural manner, instead of struggling to find a way to include a traditional program into their already overly committed schedule.
How to choose an EMBA program
If you have decided that an EMBA program is in your future, the next step is to start research on which EMBA programs will be the best fit. The Executive MBA Council conducted research on what was most important to prospective EMBA students. What they found was that most students were selecting programs based on: quality of faculty, location, program format, reputation of school, and the quality of classmates. One way to make this vetting process a little easier is looking at executive MBA rankings. Rankings can automatically narrow down the more prestigious schools, quality faculty, and quality classmates. Check out our latest ranking of online EMBA programs, US News and World Report EMBA programs ranking, and the Economist's Global Executive MBA Ranking.
Based on our latestranking of Online EMBA programs, here are two of the top 100% online EMBA programs available:
If you are a mid-to-high level manager interested in an Executive Master of Business Administration program, it's time to narrow down your search and find the program for you. Check out the three rankings listed in this article and narrow down the list with the programs that meet your criteria for accreditation and format. Once you have your list of your top EMBA programs, start checking on application requirements and deadlines and get to work!