Executive MBA Vs Part Time MBA : Which Ones to Opt For?

Home » Executive MBA Vs Part Time MBA : Which Ones to Opt For?

Looking at the EMBA and Part-time MBA

If you are over 30 and are looking to update your skills with an MBA degree, there’s good news! The 30s are the new 20s and this is because people with a decade or more of work experience are now relooking at how they can become more relevant in their work place or push their careers up a notch! There are several top Business Schools that offer both Executive and Part-time MBA programs, which will not only serve the purpose of an Education but will tap into your experience and network to offer you something that is relevant and valuable. Thus, to understand the relative benefits of each, let us look at Executive MBA vs Part Time MBA programs more closely in terms of features.

So, if we were to define an Executive MBA program, then the key features would be:

  • The group that generally signs up ranges between 30-42 years of age. While there are many EMBA programs which run part-time, for this article, we will look at only those programs requiring 10-15 years of work experience.
  • It is generally seen that high-flying executives seeking to enhance their leadership and Administrative skills look for such Executive programs.
  • The price tag that these programs come with is quite high and this is generally because such programs are sponsored by the candidate’s employer (partially or whole). Options for scholarships are non-existent.

A part-time MBA program, on the other hand, can be identified by the following:

  • The target group for such programs is in the ages of 24-35.
  • These courses which run during the evening or weekends generally share the same faculty as their full-time counterparts.
  • Getting scholarships for Part-time courses is not unheard of but many seek aid from the organization they are employed with.
  • There are several programs offered by reputed universities such as the IIM which Are called an Executive MBA program but on a closer look reveal smaller time frames or can only be considered as post-graduate programs.

So, to make things easier, we will consider a program part-time where the course happens over an extended period and sessions are conducted in the evenings or weekends.

What the EMBA entails:

Executive MBA courses are suited for working professionals looking to “up their game” or seeking promotions.

These programs are not easy in the pocket and therefore people applying look for a return on their investment. This could be in the form of higher responsibilities at the existing organization or better salary and position in a new set-up.

Most top B-Schools offer wonderful EMBA courses. However, under no circumstances is the admission process easy. If you are considering one of the courses in reputed schools where there are a limited number of seats, the number of people competing can be quite high.

For instance, the TRIUM Global EMBA program offers an Executive Program to senior executives at global corporations.

While they expect the applicants to have 15 years of experience, GMAT and TOEFL scores will be needed where you do not have the experience required. Further, responsibilities you have handled and recommendations, written essays will be looked at before finalizing the list of candidates (which is limited to 65 per session).

So, what are the considerations to keep in mind for an Executive MBA?

  • Age: Generally, you will find that people who apply for such courses fall in the age group of 30-40. This implies that people who are in the middle stage of their careers are the ones looking to go up the ladder and are looking for that edge which will allow them to move higher in their careers.
  • Fees: Executive MBA’s are not in anyways more affordable than the full-time courses. This is because it is assumed that executive MBA courses are sponsored by the organization you are working with. As a result, you will find that most of these courses come with a large sticker price. Further, since these courses are built in such a way as to give you the experience of learning from several places around the world, the price quickly adds up. For instance, the fees for the two-year EMBA course at Kellogg University, Chicago stands at about $200,000. This course gives you the experience of using their various campuses all over the US.
  • Networking: Networking benefits and the time commitment are key factors that push people to consider such a course. Not only do you benefit from the network that you will develop amongst a diverse student and alumni community, but the experienced faculty exposes them to wide ranging issues that will help them to make connections that will help further/switch their careers. For instance, Stanford does not have Executive MBA programs, but they offer an 11-week program for executives aiming to become leaders. As part of this program, they offer a lifetime membership in their alumni association providing exposure and interaction with the alumni.


The Top Executive MBA Programs Ranking

#1: University of Pennsylvania- Wharton: The EMBA course here is unmatched for its ability to offer an intensive management course while giving you a wide range of electives to choose from.

The course itself lasts for 2 years, meets weekends and offers a 1-week global experience as well. Angel Saad Gomez is a venture partner at Oak Investment Partners, who is currently pursuing the EMBA course here.

He says there is such a cross-pollination of ideas, thanks to his classmates who not only have a post graduate degree/Ph.D. degree already but are leaders of their companies. This course costs $ 198,600.

#2: University of Chicago, Booth: The university which offers the course is a 21-month program, and is credited with being the first to create an Executive MBA program in the US.

They have permanent campuses in Asia, Europe and North America making it a truly global experience. The course costs $184,000 which covers fees and apart from others, accommodation in all three locations as mentioned.

#3 Northwestern University, Kellogg: The EMBA course here at Kellogg provides you with opportunities to experience their campuses worldwide. Experiencing parts of the course in a different part of the world exposes you to the global markets which will enrich your experience.

For instance, their Schulich School of Business based out of Toronto focusses on Mergers and acquisitions, Governance and Leadership etc. So, if this is one of your electives, studying the subject in Canada will offer a different perspective. (The fee for this program is mentioned earlier in the article)

#4 Duke University (Fuqua), Durham, NC: Developing advanced analytical, strategic and leadership skills should be at the core of an EMBA program and this is what the Duke EMBA delivers.

Ranked no.4 on the list of top programs, this program helps you to revamp your business and adds value to your organization. To be eligible, you need to have a minimum of 10 years’ experience and will cost you about $158,000.

#5 New York University, Stern: The focus in NYU- Stern has always been to develop skills which will help in managing your career life-long. With classes held every weekend, the course lasts for 22 months.

Global study tours conducted along with a world-class faculty that ensures that your learning is relevant to your experience and need. This course costs $189,200.

What Part-Time MBA Programs Entail

The ability to work and pay for your education is one of the biggest reasons why people opt for a Part-time MBA. Considering that not all prospective students are eligible for scholarships or possess the kind of finances you need to complete the degree; part time MBA’s offer a convenient alternative to the regular MBA’s.

Further, while many consider it a risky affair to quit a job when the economic conditions seem shaky, others find it difficult to leave familiar circumstances and people to relocate for an education.

Addressing some of the concerns, Kara Norcutt, Director of Admissions for Evening and Weekend MBA at the University of Chicago- Booth says that most people worry that the part-time MBA is a somewhat inferior version of the Full-time MBA.

However, she assures that they not only have a similar curriculum but they even are taught by the same faculty.

Highlights of Part Time MBA programs

Online: Many part-time MBA’s offer online versions of their program, allowing candidates to use their time adequately and complete the course while staying in a job.

Many students during the course can make career moves or choices based on their experiences. The Faculty, Classmates, and Alumni contribute adequately to help you grow and learn. The key here is to be self-motivated and disciplined.

Age: There is not much difference between Executive MBA programs and Part time MBA programs as far as the age of the applicants is concerned. So, we are again looking at the late twenties to late thirties.

The reason for this is that most applicants have a job and have had time to save up some money and are still at the age where they are looking to move ahead in their careers.

The plus side for such people is that they have valuable experience of working and it works to their advantage when they seek admission.

Duration: The duration of such courses can vary depending on the kind of flexibility you are looking at. While some candidates have the approval of the organization and hence can complete the course within 1-2 years, some other not-so-fortunate ones’ struggle with the demanding schedules and workload extending them to even 5 years in some instances.

Most of the reputed business schools such as University of California, Berkeley conducts classes for their part-time MBA programs in the evenings and weekends. Students in these programs generally earn their degree in three years.

These Business Schools, however, stress that the course is as rigorous and intensive as a full-time and offers similar value to that of a full-time course.

Fees: Generally, the fees charged are like the Executive MBA programs. However, on a closer look, you will find that Part-time MBA’s are slightly lower than Executive Programs.

For instance, The Kellogg Evening and Weekend MBA program will cost about $150,000 which is lower compared to their Executive MBA program (costs about $ 200,000).

The advantage of these programs is that many employers will support the fee in full or in part depending on the performance or the value add that such programs will eventually have to their organizations.

The Top Part-Time MBA Programs:

#1 University of California (Berkeley Haas): This evening and weekend program has been designed to support working professionals. It is intended to be completed in 3 years and combines both off-campus and on campus schedules.

This program also includes options to spend a semester abroad, helping as consultants, offers a choice to focus on a specific area such as Finance, marketing etc. Career management groups or advisors are present to advise students on career choices.

The courses alternate between virtual and in-person sessions making them flexible and helping you achieve a balance between work and learning.

For example, Jeff Alvarez, an engineer from Naia Health Redwood City, California felt that his business skills were severely lacking and hence signed up for the two-year part-time MBA program.

The student clubs and events, especially health care club contributed extensively to build his experience in the area. This course will cost you $133,098.

#2 University of Chicago- Booth: Here, the evening MBA as it is popularly called is taught by the same faculty and are offered the same facilities as the regular MBA. Just as in regular programs, international opportunities are also provided which could last from two weeks up to a full semester.

Therefore, the academic experience is similar, Joanne a student of this program, has been able to collaborate with several of her classmates while applying the learnings at work the following day. The tuition fees for this course will set you back by about $137,080.

#3 UCLA Anderson- TIE: Their part time MBA program called the Fully Employed MBA(FEMBA) is considered one of the best due to a couple of reasons and one of those is that they see a 23%-34% increase in their salary (Bloomberg Businessweek Survey*).

For instance, ****Shilpy Gupta who graduated in 2014, says she was really pleased to see the offers backing up by the time she finished her graduation with UCLA. This course will cost you about $160,000.

#3 NYU-  Stern- TIE: Working full-time while studying to get an MBA degree is quite a challenge but it is doable if you choose the right program for you. For instance, ***Gabriela Martinez found that she did not have the option of quitting her job but she knew she wanted to pursue an MBA.

The part-time MBA at NYU Stern which is ranked no. 3, seemed to check off all the boxes on her list. Stern’s excellent reputation coupled with the exposure she got in the program, helped to move up in her organization quite quickly. The part-time course in this university will cost about $130,000.

#5 Kellogg:   Kellogg’s has a very good part-time MBA program which is primarily designed for those who would like to move forward in their careers without really taking a break from work.

What this program does is to help you master skills and build a network which will certainly propel your career in the right direction. You have the option of choosing classes in the evening or over the weekend, giving you the flexibility to determine the pace. For instance, **Susan Wang chose Kellogg for its culture and rigorous educational curriculum.

She firmly believes that this course has helped her to think creatively while being an effective leader in this constantly evolving world.

An MBA program whether Executive or Part-time is designed to aid students who are unable to follow the rigors of a regular program either due to constraints of time, money or place.

While the name part-time conjures up images of a much slower or a lazier program, they are not smaller by way of money, focus or curriculum.

Considering that most people who sign up for such programs have experience in the business world, you will benefit and learn far more in the company of such people.

Therefore, when looking at Executive MBA vs Part Time MBA programs, one should choose an option based on convenience and a complete understanding of the different programs.

However, we cannot complete this article without a word also on top Executive MBA vs Part Time MBA programs in India. As it turns out, Indian School of Business (ISB) offers a program in each genre, and each is excellent. Have a look at the ISB PGPMAX and the PGPPRO as well.


* UCLA Anderson School of Management

** Northwestern Kellogg

*** NYU Stern

**** UCLA Anderson School of Management’s stories 

# Best Executive MBA Programs


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