If you already have an undergraduate degree and a decent amount of work experience under your belt, an executive MBA program could be an excellent way to take your career to the next level without the need to give up your day job. These days, more schools are offering executive MBAs to help experienced business professionals obtain the advanced degrees they need to become more effective and confident leaders. 

So, what exactly is an executive MBA (EMBA), and what does this kind of degree program entail? Likewise, how does it compare to a "traditional" Master of Business Administration (MBA) program? By answering these common questions, you can make a better-informed decision regarding whether this type of advanced degree program is right for you. 

What Is an Executive MBA? 

An executive MBA is a specialized MBA program designed to be completed in a part-time format. This type of business administration program typically offers courses on evenings and weekends (rather than during the workday) as longer, more condensed class sessions that meet during the course of the program. 

The purpose of an EMBA is to prepare students for successful leadership or managerial roles. An EMBA is also a go-to option for anyone interested in launching their own businesses. 

Who Is an Executive MBA For? 

In general, an executive MBA is designed for those further along in their careers than a "typical" MBA student. Usually, these are professionals who have already been working for 10 to 15 years and decided they want to pursue a more advanced business degree. 

Because an executive MBA generally offers weekend and evening classes, it is an ideal way for working professionals to pursue their MBAs without having to quit their jobs or miss out on other life events and obligations. 

What is the Difference Between an Executive MBA and an MBA? 

Both executive MBAs and MBAs are similar in the sense that their curriculums are designed to prepare students for roles as leaders, managers, and even business owners. The main difference between an EMBA and an MBA is the format and path toward earning the degree. 

For example, a traditional MBA is more designed for young professionals who may have little or no formal work experience. Oftentimes, students in MBA programs have enrolled shortly after completing their undergraduate degrees. As a result, they might not have full-time jobs or other major obligations and can thus enroll on a full-time basis—attending classes daily throughout most of the week. 

An executive MBA, on the other hand, is designed for students who may have completed their undergraduate degrees a decade (or more) ago and have been working in their respective fields for about the same amount of time. These are more experienced professionals who cannot leave their jobs and commit to attending classes five days per week. 

To accommodate these learners, an executive MBA program offers classes on evenings, weekends, and even in online and seminar formats to provide the same quality education as an MBA degree without the in-person time commitment. 

Exploring the Types of Executive MBA Programs 

Just as there are many different types of MBA programs, there are various types of executive MBA programs as well. Typically, these are reflected in different "concentrations" that students can pursue with their degree, which allows them to focus on a specialization or area of study that most interests them. 

What Makes Each Kind of MBA Unique? 

Some standard concentrations you may find available as part of an executive MBA program include: 

  • Accounting 
  • Project management 
  • Strategic management 
  • Entrepreneurship 
  • Healthcare administration 
  • Marketing 

While no two programs are exactly alike, most concentrations require about 15 credit hours of electives (which works out to approximately half of the curriculum). These classes are specifically focused on topics related to your concentration. 

For example, if you want to open your own business and choose an entrepreneurship concentration with your EMBA, your electives may include courses on sales and customer relationship management, strategic leadership, and entrepreneurial strategy. 

Diving Into the Executive MBA Courses and Curriculum 

What exactly can you expect from an executive MBA curriculum? Ultimately, this will depend on the particular program and school you've chosen. However, it is common for an EMBA program to include a blend of both online and in-person classes. Rather than meeting five days a week, though, in-person classes may only meet on weekends or in the evening. In some cases, classes may only meet for a few days in larger time increments—compressing more coursework into a smaller timeframe. 

Because EMBA students also tend to have more work experience, the makeup of these classes may differ from that of a traditional MBA program. For example, EMBA classes tend to be more condensed in their structure, so lessons may be focused on packing more information into a class where students have already entered with some experience. This, in turn, can lead to higher-level discussions and an overall better learning experience for working professionals who have been in their respective fields for some time. 

How Does It Equip Professionals for Leadership Roles? 

One of the best things about an executive MBA program (especially compared to a traditional MBA program) is that students can learn concepts and skills they can immediately apply in their workplaces the next day, with lessons being more practical and hands-on. That's because these classes are designed and formatted with the existing experience of a working professional in mind. 

At the same time, EMBA programs cover the same concepts and topics as a conventional MBA program, so students are well-prepared to take on leadership roles after graduating. Specifically, EMBA students can expect to take classes on such topics as economics, finance, marketing, human resources, and managerial accounting. These are all areas where business leaders are expected to hold substantial knowledge and expertise. 

Job Prospects After an Executive MBA 

What can you do with an executive MBA degree? With this type of advanced degree, you'll qualify for the same kinds of jobs for which you would qualify with a conventional MBA. This includes leadership and management roles, executive roles, and more. With the knowledge and expertise gained during an EMBA program, you could even start your own business. 

In today's business world, the demand for professionals with advanced degrees (like EMBAs) is quite high, so this degree could improve your career prospects, whether you're hoping to work your way up the ladder at your current company or explore other opportunities. 

Analyzing the Executive MBA Salary Trends 

Many professionals pursue an MBA or EMBA to expand their career prospects and optimize their earning potential. Let's look at some of the salary trends for EMBA graduates so you can get a better feel of what to expect. 

What Can You Expect to Earn? 

Many factors go into the earnings of someone with an EMBA, including the specialization they have pursued and the specific job they're working. However, the average MBA salary in the United States reached $138,000 in 2020. Some professionals with bonuses and previous work experience even earn upwards of $230,000 per year after completing an EMBA. 

What Kind of Career Growth Can You Expect? 

An EMBA program is focused on teaching students the concepts and skills they need to become more effective, successful leaders. If you've set your sights on a promotion to a leadership or management position within your current company, an EMBA can help you achieve those goals. Likewise, having an EMBA on your resume can help you stand out from other job applicants if you pursue employment elsewhere. 

Is an Executive MBA Worth the Investment? 

If you're interested in taking your career to the next level in a leadership or managerial role, then an EMBA is absolutely worth the investment. An EMBA program prepares you for the realities of this type of work without the timing and scheduling conflicts that often accompany a traditional MBA. From a cost perspective, an EMBA program does tend to cost more than a conventional MBA. However, considering that you can keep working your full-time job and not have to relocate to live on campus, when all is said and done, many would agree the additional costs associated with an EMBA pay off many times over. 

Navigating Through Executive MBA Admissions 

Compared to a regular MBA, there are some different admissions requirements you'll want to be aware of if you're thinking about applying for an executive MBA. 

How Difficult is It to Get Into an Executive MBA Program? 

Remember that EMBA programs are designed for students with significant work experience under their belts already. While you may not be required to submit letters of recommendation or take a standardized test to be considered for an EMBA program, you likely will need to prove your relevant work experience to be admitted. Depending on the program for which you're applying, you may still be required to submit GMAT scores as well. 

Still, if you have at least a decade of work experience and are willing to take the GMAT if needed, you shouldn't be too worried about the admissions requirements for an EMBA program. The most important thing is to research the exact requirements of the school you wish to attend to ensure you meet all the criteria before applying. 

Learn More About Our Executive MBA Program 

In short, an executive MBA program can be a great way to earn your advanced business degree if you've worked in the field for some time and want to apply your individual career experience to a graduate degree program. With an EMBA, you could pursue any number of leadership and management roles or even launch your own business—and an EMBA from an accredited business school carries no less clout than a traditional MBA. 

If you're looking for an executive MBA program to further your education while continuing your current work, University of the Cumberlands is here to help. Specifically, our Executive Master of Business Administration is offered as a hybrid program that includes both in-person and online classes. This program consists of 31 credit hours and is available with concentrations such as accounting, project management, healthcare administration, and many others. 

Request more information about University of the Cumberlands' EMBA program or start your online application today!