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MBA vs. Executive MBA (EMBA): What’s the Difference?


MBA vs. Executive MBA (EMBA): Answers to some important questions, to help you make the best decision for your career and family.

If you’re looking to advance your career, it might be time to get a Master’s Degree in Business Administration. But what’s better, an MBA or an EMBA (Executive MBA)?

Here are the answers to some of the most common questions, to help you make the best decision.

MBA vs. EMBA: Who is This For?

Some MBA programs require students to have 3 years of work or managerial experience, but many don’t require you to have any work experience at all. In the U.S. you need to complete a relevant bachelor’s degree and take the GMAT test.

An EMBA has “Executive” in the headline for a reason. Students need to have a minimum of five years’ experience in managerial positions. Therefore, you often don’t need a GMAT or as high grades as you would for an MBA.

However, take into consideration that there aren’t as many EMBA programs as there are MBA programs, so many of the students that get accepted have even more experience than that – sometimes 10-15 years of experience leading teams and companies.

MBA vs. EMBA: How Long Does it Take?

It usually takes two years to complete an MBA, though some programs let you complete it within one year. Alternatively, if you need to make more time to work than a usual MBA program allows you to do, some universities let you stretch your degree to 3 or 4 years.

An Executive MBA usually lasts two years, but sometimes can be stretched to three.

MBA vs. EMBA: What Are My Funding Options?

Both an MBA and an EMBA offer scholarships. However, employers are much more likely to help you pay for an Executive MBA degree because the return on investment for them is usually greater. Companies that pay their employees’ EMBA tuition – in full or in part – usually choose to do that for employees who have been with the company for a while, and have proven they can drive results.

These companies want to provide their star employees with additional tools, to help them step up their already successful game, so they can aid the companies to reach new heights. It’s usually employees that companies see advancing to the c-suite – the highest positions in the company.

In exchange, companies that fund (or help fund) your EMBA expect you to stay with the company for at least several years after completing your degree.

But if that’s not an option for you and scholarships aren’t covering enough of your tuition, consider choosing an MBA program at a tuition-free university.

MBA vs. EMBA: Can I Choose My Courses and Specialization?

EMBA programs are much more focused and faster paced, with fewer course choices than regular MBAs. If a specialization (like marketing or finance) matters to you, choose your program carefully. Pretty much all MBA programs allow you to specialize, but not all EMBA programs allow you to do the same.

MBA vs. EMBA: What’s the Average Student Age Range and Work Experience?

The average MBA student is usually in their mid-late twenties and early thirties. Some have no work or managerial experience, and some have a few years of experience.

EMBA students are required to have a minimum of five years of experience, but many have ten to fifteen. The average age of an EMBA student is mid-late thirties.

These are usually executives with a high level of expertise, who are chosen carefully so they can challenge their fellow students intellectually. EMBAs are considered networking hubs for executives looking to move up the corporate ladder to senior leadership positions.

MBA vs. EMBA: How Much Money Will I Make After Graduation?

According to Stevens Institute of Technology, the average starting annual salary of an MBA graduate in the United States is $90,000. The average starting annual salary of an Executive MBA graduate in the United States is $164,845 average annual starting salary.

MBA vs. Executive MBA: Which One Should I Choose?

If you have the experience necessary for an EMBA (or you don’t intend to pursue your master’s degree until you do), write down the most important goals you have for this degree.

Both options will give you plenty of skills and networking possibilities, but what works in one company or industry might not work in another. You can talk to people who already hold the type of positions you’d like to hold in your company or industry before making your final decision.