What Are Executive MBAs? (With Benefits and EMBA vs. MBA)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published June 14, 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Graduate degrees offer candidates an opportunity to become specialized in specific fields and improve their career trajectory. An Executive Master of Business Administration (EMBA) program offers similar benefits to experienced professionals looking to acquire additional business skills and pursue advanced business opportunities. Understanding what the EMBA program offers and how it differs from a regular MBA program can help you determine if it suits your needs. In this article, we explore what executive MBAs are, compare them with an MBA, discuss the EMBA's benefits, and examine factors to consider when choosing an EMBA program.

What are executive MBAs?

Executive MBAs are two or three-year graduate programs that aim to accommodate the busy schedules of business executives. The business executives who usually enroll in this program have over five years of managerial experience. The program's flexibility allows these professionals to combine their pursuit of knowledge with a full-time role. This flexibility also typically makes the EMBA program the primary consideration of business leaders and high-level executives looking to improve their performance in their roles.

An EMBA degree offers learning and growth opportunities through vital business courses, electives, and practical opportunities for application. By enrolling in this program, you can familiarize yourself with unique approaches to managerial issues. You can also use the knowledge you gain to anticipate issues or introduce industry trends into your workplace. The EMBA addresses fundamentals through courses like marketing, business law and ethics, operations management, economics, and public policy.

Executive MBA vs. MBA

Here are some of the areas to consider when making comparisons between the EMBA and MBA programs:


The EMBA and MBA program covers the same course material. With these programs, you can acquire a similar knowledge of business management fundamentals. The distinction in the curriculum of these courses comes with the structure. The structure of the MBA is more immersive, as it functions as a general management degree. This immersive structure makes it more applicable to graduate students looking to broaden their experience or prepare for career changes.

Conversely, the EMBA is a more specialized degree, which makes it more suitable for experienced executives looking to apply their knowledge in practical work realities. The curriculum of the EMBA is also less immersive, as it aims to accommodate the schedule of high-level executives. This flexibility allows you to combine the EMBA degree with a full-time role while improving your capacity for such a role.


The EMBA and MBA programs have similar durations, although they can vary with the institution offering the program. The duration of the program is usually two years and can extend to three years in some institutions. In those two or three years, EMBA students may have fewer options for electives.


The EMBA and MBA programs are very distinct in their requirements for graduate students, as they aim for different groups of professionals. The EMBA requires five years or more of work experience. With this experience, the EMBA rarely requires a graduate management admission test (GMAT) or graduate record examination (GRE) score, as the bachelor's in a relevant field covers this. Conversely, MBA students apply with less than five years of experience and a set GMAT or GRE score. As the MBA program is more immersive, the presence of candidates is also compulsory.

Related: Tips for Writing a Personal Statement for Graduate School


The EMBA program is usually more costly than the MBA program. Beyond this, the payment for the MBA tuition is usually your responsibility as the candidate. Conversely, if you consider enrolling in an EMBA program, making the payment is your employer's responsibility. An employer can fund the program entirely, partially, or offer tuition reimbursements for you to enrol in the EMBA program.

Benefits of executive MBAs

Here are some of the benefits you can enjoy from completing an EMBA:

Fast-paced and specialized learning

An EMBA allows you to gain specialized knowledge in your field of interest. This results in a faster-paced learning experience, as you reduce your interactions with electives and focus on your interests. An EMBA program aims to be flexible, which also makes it more efficient with the few hours available for learning. With this compressed learning, you can improve your understanding of theory and core courses without relearning familiar concepts.

Personal and professional networking opportunities

EMBAs form a diverse cohort of professionals, which can serve as a significant networking opportunity. The connections you make with the high-level executives that double as your classmates in this program can bring professional benefits. You can learn practical tips from them, as they interact with similar objectives and responsibilities in their roles. The smaller size of these programs can also allow you to maintain substantial and enduring relationships.

Read more: Top 5 Networking Skills and How to Develop Them

Diversified interests

The structure of the EMBA exposes you to diverse interests and perspectives for functioning in your role. This diversity allows you to approach your role with new insights or finish the program with new interests. For instance, you can decide to establish a start-up to effect the changes you project for your industry. The fast pace of learning also contributes to self-development. With this, you can trust your capacity for new experiences and opportunities.

Improved leadership skills

Flexibility and creative problem solving are some of the key characteristics of an effective leader. Undergoing an EMBA improves these skills and many others, as it broadens your perspective on issues. The program's pace and diversity also allow you to improve your analytical thinking, team building, and confidence. The range of professionals in your EMBA program can also help you sharpen your leadership skills through interactions and networking.

Related: Guidelines on Effective Leadership in the Workplace

Flexibility and sponsorship opportunity

The flexibility that EMBA programs offer makes it apt for improving yourself while performing your professional responsibilities. Handling this level of flexibility as you engage with learning can also improve your approach to scheduling and time management. You can also use the EMBA program as an ample opportunity to get full or partial sponsorship from an employer.

Career growth

Completing your EMBA program provides opportunities for career growth. For instance, you can negotiate for a better salary and improve your overall earning potential with the program. Completing an EMBA also makes you more attractive to potential clients if you decide to change careers or take on new responsibilities. The program's new experiences and expertise typically give you better chances of success with professional opportunities.

Related: How to Grow Professionally in Your Career (With Tips and FAQ)

What to consider when determining if an EMBA is right for you

Here are a few factors to consider when determining if an EMBA program is the right fit for you:


One of the core features of an EMBA program is its flexibility. This makes it an important factor to consider when deciding on an EMBA program. For instance, some programs offer self-paced coursework to study while meeting work requirements. You can also consider the structure of course units and when major classes are held to determine how the program fits into your schedule. For instance, some programs offer evening classes through the workweek, while others offer full weekend classes. Some programs require physical attendance, while others rely on virtual interactions to fulfill course requirements.

Admission requirements and process

While experience requirements are usually similar across programs, the EMBA test can vary. For instance, some programs develop unique tests, while others use standardized tests in their admission process. Considering these factors can help you determine if you're comfortable with the length or cost of a program's admission process. You can also use this factor to narrow your shortlist of programs or schools.

Personal and professional goals

When improving your career prospects, it's important to consider your goals. You can apply this consideration to EMBA programs by evaluating their strengths, structure, and objectives. For instance, if you aim to improve your professional expertise, you can select a program that focuses on real-world applications. You can also consider the specialization of a program's faculty and their reputation in your professional circle.


The location of the school can determine its flexibility and convenience. For instance, choosing a program within your vicinity can help you make physical appearances easily and spend less on commuting. The location of a program also has significant implications for your objectives. For instance, enrolling in a school close to tech start-ups can help you improve your application of the program's knowledge into information technology.

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