How Executive MBA Programs Work

Who Attends EMBA Programs?

Executive MBA programs are designed to serve a particular kind of student. This student is experienced, successful and looking for an education that will broaden his or her knowledge base in order to manage more effectively. Executive MBA programs are not for students fresh out of college or even for young professionals with only a couple of years of work experience.

Executive MBA programs are tailored for full-time executives -- not business managers who have been laid off or people looking to transition to business from another career. Those students would be better served by a traditional MBA or part-time MBA program. Some of the top executive MBA programs, including Kellogg, require that students have full-time employment before applying.

How experienced is the typical EMBA student? The average age of an executive MBA student is 36.3 years old with an average of 12.7 years of professional work experience [source: Executive MBA Council]. At the UCLA Anderson School of Management, for example, the age range of executive MBA students runs from the late 20s to late 40s.

In their admissions criteria, many of the top executive MBA programs require at least five to eight years of professional business experience and several years of managerial experience.

According to current enrollment statistics, the students enrolled at executive MBA programs are roughly 80 percent men and 20 percent women; students of color make up 10 to 20 percent of the students. In some of the top programs, 40 percent of students already hold an advanced degree in addition to their undergraduate diploma.

Executive MBA students choose to enroll for many reasons, starting with career advancement and salary increase. According to the Executive MBA Council, the mean salary of entering executive MBA students in 2007 was $107,097. Upon graduation, the mean salary rose 21 percent to $130,056 [source: Executive MBA Council].

An MBA degree eases the transition from middle management to a general manager position. As a middle manager, you rely heavily on your job experience to manage people with similar responsibilities. To rise to a general manager position, you need to acquire a breadth of business knowledge outside your core job experience [source: Hang]. Executive MBA programs provide that breadth.

Students also enroll in executive MBA programs to build a strong network of successful professionals from diverse business backgrounds. After completing the program, students can tap into these networks for resources and potential partners.

Now let's look at the typical curriculum of an executive MBA program.