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emba vs mba


What are the differences between an EMBA vs MBA? An MBA is a Masters of Business Administration. It is a general management degree which provides graduate students with the knowledge to excel in their business careers. Whether that be running their own business or working as an executive. An EMBA program is much the same, providing you with the same qualifications and level of education, but is tailored towards a different group of people.

What is an executive MBA?

An executive MBA or EMBA is quite similar to a normal MBA. It provides you with the same level of qualifications but the logistics of how you obtain the degree is slightly different. Having an EMBA is no more significant or prestigious than having a normal MBA. However, the program designs are for different people. 

For example, an individual in a normal MBA program likely has significantly less experience in the industry, or sometimes none at all. They are likely fresh out of undergraduate school, or only worked for a few years and are looking to move up in the corporate world. Most MBA programs require completion of internships for this exact reason. However, it makes no sense to put someone who has years of experience in business into an internship. Therefore, EMBA’s are more tailored towards individuals with experience and those who have a current full-time job. 

According to the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, the average work experience for an individual applying for an EMBA is 14 years whereas for an MBA, it is only 4. 

emba vs mba

What is the difference between an EMBA vs MBA?

There are several differences between an EMBA and MBA program:

What stays the same: 

  • The total credit units: An individual doing an EMBA program vs a MBA program will usually have the exact same amount of credits required to graduate.
  • Material/Topics covered: The topics are essentially the same however EMBAs usually skim over some of the more basic business concepts. The key point here is that the quality and substance of the education you receive with either program will be the same. As we mentioned before, one is no more prestigious than the other.

Purpose of degree: Both degrees aim to offer a general management degree.

emba vs mba

What is different:

  • Timeline: An EMBA program was developed for individuals who have a full time job. Therefore, the classes will usually take place during Fridays or the weekends. This allows those individuals to keep their full time jobs. Because of this, an EMBA program can take between 2-4 years to complete. An MBA program usually takes 1-2 years.
  • Cost: In some cases, an EMBA may cost more than an MBA program. This is to help cover instruction over a longer period of time. However, it is not uncommon to see companies pay for their employees to attend an executive MBA program as it benefits them to have higher educated and skilled workers.
  • Work-life balance: A student taking an MBA program will likely have little to no time for a job. They will usually take more classes in a semester, thus increasing their workload. An EMBA student takes classes on Fridays or the weekends thus increasing their capacity to have a full time job. However they, will find that their classes are faster-paced.

Age group: According to the Executive MBA Council, the average age of an EMBA student is 38. You will likely be surrounded by older students who have more experience in the workforce. Further, you will generally complete a majority of your classes with the same group of people. This is great for networking!

What is the right choice for me?

Deciding to enter a program will prove helpful no matter if you choose an EMBA or MBA program. However, EMBA programs are more tailored to individuals who have been in business longer than those who join a MBA program. Some programs will even have requirements that prevent someone with less than ‘x’ amount of work experience from applying. We always recommend to contact your schools of interest to find out more about their requirements to determine which program is best for you. Have more questions? Check out our other blogs for information on all things MBA!