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A master's in business administration can translate into expanded career and income growth opportunities. Today, top colleges and universities offer various ways for students to earn this advanced degree. The best option may depend upon your work experience, schedule, and career goals.

For instance, an executive MBA primarily differs from a traditional MBA because of the typical type of students it attracts and its course design. If you're considering an advanced degree in business administration, take a few minutes to find out if an executive MBA or a traditional MBA program will work best for you.

Executive MBA Vs MBA: What's the Difference?

An executive MBA, often called an EMBA, and a traditional MBA will offer similar basic coursework and admissions standards. With either program, students graduate with an impressive master's degree in business administration to add to their resume. Primarily, one of these two formats may appeal to students with different goals and work histories.

Typical Students

As the name executive MBA implies, schools design these programs for students who have already established themselves in leadership roles. Thus, an EMBA may tend to attract somewhat older and more experienced students. According to The Princeton Review, average EMBA students begin these programs around their mid-thirties, but most MBA students have not yet turned 30 when they start their coursework.

Some MBA programs require work experience, but most do not. An executive MBA program typically expects students to have worked long enough to reach a management position, and that's often an admissions requirement. Otherwise, schools generally have similar entrance requirements, including minimum college GPAs. At the same time, EMBA admissions counselors may weigh professional experience more heavily than grades and test scores.

Course Design

Traditional MBA programs can vary between schools. Some colleges offer flexible MBA schedules, with evening, weekend, or even 100-percent online classes. However, some require a significant amount of on-campus coursework. Thus, students might need to plan to live near the campus for at least part of the program.

An executive MBA might also require on-campus courses. Still, schools recognize that older students may have obligations that make it impossible to move near the campus or attend classes during typical work weeks. Generally, the school will hold on-campus classes on weekends to accommodate their typical students' busy schedules. The program might also supplement in-person classes with online courses and additional activities.

Admission Requirements

Standards for undergraduate grades and score requirements may not differ much when comparing admissions requirements for an EMBA with a traditional MBA. Some universities may require company sponsorship for acceptance into an executive MBA program. They may also look for students with minimum years of work experience and leadership titles. In contrast, students might enter a traditional MBA program with little or even no career experience.

Chosen Career Paths

Typically, candidates for an executive MBA program have already reached leadership positions in their careers. They may decide to pursue an advanced degree to further accelerate career development into the executive suite or higher management.

In contrast, less experienced students may see a traditional MBA program as a steppingstone to their first management jobs or complementing a non-business undergraduate degree. For instance, a degreed engineer who wants to advance into management might seek an MBA.

The Cost of an MBA Vs EMBA Program

Naturally, costs associated with earning a master's in business administration can vary wildly. Still, executive MBAs tend to cost more than traditional ones. Some of the reasons include:

  • Colleges may assume that EBMA students have employers that contribute to the cost. Since these MBA candidates already have leadership positions, colleges may also believe that applicants have comfortable incomes and access to credit for loans.
  • Fewer available EMBA programs make these courses scarcer. Scarcity and competition for seats in high-quality programs can lead to higher costs.
  • Some executive MBA programs may require expensive extras, like international trips or domestic networking events. The students must account for travel expenses as part of the program's cost.

At top schools, an MBA can cost a lot of money too. At the same time, students can find good MBA programs that cost much less than a typical EMBA program. Students may qualify for financial aid for either type of program through grants, loans, and other programs. Besides tuition, students should factor in travel and living expenses when determining the total program cost.

Program Focus

Traditional MBA programs may offer various tracks. Some examples could include choosing a concentration in marketing, accounting, entrepreneurship, human resources, or project management. These features make many MBA programs similar to an extension or replacement for a business administration bachelor's degree. In that way, many students choose these programs to set the direction of their future careers.

In contrast, an executive MBA program already assumes that the student has advanced in their chosen career and achieved a leadership position. Thus, these programs focus more on providing managerial and executive skills than job skills for specific departments.

Is an Executive MBA or a Traditional MBA Best?

As with other educational choices, whether an executive MBA or an MBA is the best choice depends upon the student's background, aptitude, resources, and goals. Either path results in a prestigious and valuable advanced degree in business administration. Nobody can say if an EMBA or MBA offers a better experience for every student. However, certain types of students may benefit from one program over another.

Primary Benefits of an Executive MBA Program

An executive MBA best suits the needs of current business leaders who hope to advance in their managerial or executive careers. That's precisely the type of student these programs accept, hope to attract, and design their coursework to accommodate.

Employers may contribute financially to help pay tuition and fees. In particular, many programs require the student's current company to formally sponsor their studies. Besides chipping in to help pay for tuition and other costs, employers may also agree to ensure students have time off if they need to attend in-person courses or events.

Many students find that the networking opportunities offered by these programs provide great value in addition to the educational opportunities. For instance, some EMBA programs have week-long international trips or domestic networking events. Professors and other students can also provide valuable resources through experiences, connections, and broader perspectives. These relationships can offer value long after the degree program ends.

Who Might Benefit from a Typical MBA Program?

A typical MBA program won't only accept students with management experience, though demonstrating leadership in business or even volunteer work can prove beneficial. Many students enter these programs soon after finishing their undergraduate degrees to increase their chances of obtaining a management role.

Full-time MBA programs expect students to live near campus to attend in-person classes. At the same time, many universities offer online or hybrid programs that might not have on-campus study requirements. Many schools also offer part-time, flexible schedules, so students can study and earn an income simultaneously.

The admissions departments won't require companies to sponsor traditional MBA students because some students choose full-time programs and don't necessarily need employment during their coursework. These programs may also offer opportunities for internships to help students improve their real-world knowledge and resume. Most schools also help students obtain financial aid through grants, scholarships, and loans.

Career Paths for MBA Vs Executive MBA Programs

An MBA or an EMBA program both offer the same essential outcome. Either course of study results in a master's degree in business administration. Thus, graduates of both programs could pursue a leadership position in such fields as entrepreneurship, accounting, finance, etc.

These two educational paths most differ in their focus. For instance:

  • ¬†Maximizing the Potential of Current Leaders:

Typically, candidates pursue an executive MBA to gain insights, perspective, and guidance that will help them become more effective leaders. Students get the chance to learn and grow through formal education and connections with talented teachers and other students.

  • Developing the Potential of Future Leaders:

A traditional MBA offers many of the same opportunities. Mostly, business schools design MBA coursework with future leaders in mind. In contrast, universities and colleges develop EBMA coursework focusing on the needs of current leaders.

How to Find the Best EMBA or MBA Program

The "E" in EMBA doesn't mean that an executive MBA offers a superior education to an MBA. They're simply different formats, and the best choice will depend upon your current situation and goals.

If you've decided that an executive MBA program suits you, consider the unique opportunity offered by the executive MBA degree program at University of the Cumberlands. We also offer an online MBA program, which can suit the needs of students who want to move up into leadership, start their own business, or find a better job.

Request more information today to learn more about our MBA degrees. Our admissions counselors will guide you to make the best MBA choice to further your education, enhance your career, and achieve your goals.