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What is an executive MBA? (EMBA) Complete guide

Interested in an MBA that’s designed to fit your work schedule? Find out how an executive MBA could unlock the next stages of your career in this guide.

Office workers

f you’re looking to further your career with an MBA degree but want to continue working full-time, an executive MBA (EMBA) could be the ticket to your success. Designed with flexibility in mind and for those already working at an executive or managerial level, an EMBA can help develop your leadership skills at a pace that suits your busy schedule. 

This guide will delve into everything you need to know about an executive MBA to help you understand if it’s the right choice for you. 

What is an executive MBA? 

An EMBA is a graduate-level business programme designed for those who are further along in their career and want to gain a qualification while continuing to work. Because of this, EMBA students are typically older than those who choose a traditional MBA.

Unlike MBAs, EMBAs are structured to accommodate working professionals, offering flexible schedules such as weekend or evening classes. Online EMBAs are certainly leading the way in popularity and accessibility, giving interested students more opportunities to commence study at a range of times throughout the year – and within different time zones.

The core curriculum covers areas such as finance, marketing, and operations and aims to enhance your career prospects and leadership capabilities. Professionals from all disciplines join EMBAs but some key industries include healthcare, technology, financial services, and manufacturing. 

There are different entry requirements for an EMBA depending on the institution, so it’s important to check how many years of work experience you need before you enrol, to make sure you find the right place for you.

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  • 1 year+
  • postgraduate
  • Flexible Learning
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Executive MBA vs MBA 

How else is an EMBA different to a traditional MBA?

Work life and study

An EMBA qualification offers part-time study to allow you to continue to work, unlike the MBA which is designed to be studied full-time. Typically, an individual working towards the EMBA qualification will complete the course through a mix of evening, online, or weekend classes, tutorials, and workshops. 

Aimed at corporate executives and senior managers already in the workplace, EMBAs differ from MBAs which are usually studied to show interest in a particular industry. With the EMBA, your experience already confirms the commitment. 

Course specialisations

Many MBAs require certain specialisations to enrol, such as economics, finance, marketing, healthcare, operations, accounting, or strategy. 

EMBAs, however, tend to offer limited elective options that enable students to build their own specialisation. There is a significant focus on how to build knowledge, leadership opportunities, operations, and networking skills which can be directly implemented in the role each student has been working in for some time. 

Understanding the EMBA programme 

Whether you want to advance in your role, change direction in your current career field, or switch careers completely, an EMBA can help you stand out from the competition. You can fill knowledge gaps, delve into strategic management, and earn a master’s degree all while continuing to work in your full-time role. 

By engaging with intensive modular classes to reinforce your expertise and improve leadership within a discipline, as well as completing core coursework in fields such as finance and accounting, operations management, marketing, human resources and more, you’ll finish your EMBA with an enhanced bank of professional skills. You’ll also be able to apply these best practice techniques to real-life scenarios at your day-to-day job to gain invaluable experience.

Is an executive MBA right for me? 

It’s important to weigh up the pros and cons of taking an executive MBA to understand if it’s right for you. 

First is the time commitment. A typical EMBA takes around 2 years to complete, which needs to be considered when thinking about studying alongside working full-time. Take a critical look at your current role and your personal life to determine how evening and weekend classes will fit into your schedule.

The second is the cost. This can vary hugely depending on the institution so it’s important to look at the different options on offer. 

Another important factor is the impact it could have on your work responsibilities. Say you need to attend an important meeting, close a significant deal, have to stay later in the office, or work online far longer than anticipated, would you be able to complete EMBA work in addition to these established commitments without it impacting the quality of your work?

The availability of the EMBA course

With the growing popularity of EMBAs, there are many different opportunities to enrol. In the UK alone, there are currently 30+ EMBA providers in-person, offering options for those interested up and down the country. 

Online is really dominating, however, when it comes to the EMBA. With 56+ providers around the world offering this programme, online EMBAs offer even more opportunities for you to start. 

Look at start dates, price, entry requirements, and length of study of each programme to help you make your decision.

EMBA job prospects and salary improvements 

For a seasoned professional, an EMBA can help you gain a different perspective on your role and career trajectory as well as expand your skills. Armed with an EMBA, you could increase your job prospects and salary:

  • According to research conducted by the Executive MBA Council (EMBAC), 39% of students will receive a promotion after their EMBA graduation – even into c-suite roles such as CEO, CFO, or CMO. 
  • If you have always wanted to be a budding entrepreneur, the EMBA can set you off in the right direction with the leadership and networking skills you need to launch your business.
  • Though the salaries of EMBA graduates depend on many factors, research from EMBAC shows that in 2020, those who had acquired the EMBA qualification saw salary increases of around 14.1%, despite the onset of the COVID pandemic. EMBAC also reported that graduate salaries went from £135,000 before the EMBA to £154,000 upon completion, highlighting the high return on investment the degree provides.
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Distance Learning MBA

  • 2.5 years part-time
  • postgraduate
  • Flexible Learning
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Key points of an EMBA

We’ve covered what an EMBA is, how it can help your career, and what you can expect to learn. Let’s take a look at the key points:

  • An EMBA is primarily designed for those who have been working in a particular industry for a number of years and reached corporate executive or senior manager level.
  • It will provide grounding and real-life practical information on building knowledge, management, operations, leadership, and strategic skills.
  • Typically, a student enrolled on the EMBA programme will continue to work full-time in their job and be able to take the course on a part-time basis, for up to 2 years. Teaching consists of a combination of online, evening, and weekend tutorials and workshops. 
  • EMBAs can take time, cost money, and do require some time away from the office eventually, but the job prospects and salaries on offer post-completion can be remarkably rewarding.

>> Explore our collection of online MBA degrees

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