Executive MBA vs. MBA: Which one is right for you?

Many professionals consider higher education as a way to further career options or expand business skills. Often, they seek to earn a Master of Business Administration. Earning an MBA, whether through a full-time, on-campus program or an online MBA, can come with considerable benefits for students as well as working professionals.

However, there are a wide variety of choices and learning paths under the MBA umbrella. One main option to consider is an Executive Master of Business Administration, or EMBA. Both MBA and EMBA programs can provide students with the knowledge needed to advance their career goals, but it’s important to understand the differences between these programs to decide which is best for you.

Master of Business Administration

An MBA program, such as the University of Alabama Collat School of Business online MBA, has a robust curriculum that includes a balance of emerging, modern management strategies and traditional, foundational business principles. The MBA is an ideal choice for recent graduates continuing their education, or for members of the workforce seeking to advance their credentials. Most programs require students to take the GMAT as part of the admissions process, according to Investopedia.

Students can choose from a wide variety of concentrations, including those that explore finance, marketing, management information systems, health services, or a general track. Depending on the chosen concentration, students will take courses in accounting and finance, marketing and management strategies, economics, quantitative analysis, cost analysis, information technology, corporate finance, supply chain management, and more. With an online program, courses can be completed remotely, and students can graduate in as few as two years.

There are an array of career paths that graduates can work toward with their MBA, including roles like chief marketing officer, chief information officer, chief financial officer, logistics director, and more. With as many as 2.5 million management positions projected to become available through 2024, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, an MBA can be highly beneficial.

EMBA degree: What’s the difference between an MBA and an EMBA?

Students and working professionals may also want to consider the Executive Master of Business Administration, which differs in its requirements and overall pace.

Within an EMBA program, studies are generally aimed at working professionals with a considerable amount of experience in the industry. In fact, as U.S. News & World Report notes, many EMBA programs require students to have at least five years of work experience following their graduation from a baccalaureate program.

Graduates wearing caps and gowns, with a close up on an older man.

Often, EMBA students have been identified by their employers as potential leaders within their organizations, and thus seek the degree to improve their current job role, according to U.S. News & World Report. In these cases, some employers may help offset tuition costs, or potentially reimburse professionals for their EMBA degree. As some EMBA programs can cost over $100,000, according to Forbes, this path represents a significant investment.

Because an EMBA program is geared toward working professionals, it is typically designed to enable students to graduate in two years while still holding full-time jobs. As Investopedia notes, this means professionals usually opt for a more flexible online program, or an on-campus program where classes are held on Fridays or weekends. In addition, while the curriculum of an EMBA is very similar to that explored in an MBA, EMBA programs are faster-paced and usually include fewer elective options.

However, as EMBA degree holder Deang Parikh told U.S. News & World Report, a faster-paced program doesn’t mean the EMBA is any less prestigious than the MBA.  “I didn’t want to choose a program that shortened my time in class or cut corners. I wanted the full experience, and I’ve gotten that,” Parikh said of his EMBA program.

Students who have already graduated from a baccalaureate program and have several years of work experience may be best suited for the EMBA. On the other hand, professionals who may not have yet accrued this experience, or who are looking to further explore their chosen MBA concentration with more elective opportunities should consider an MBA degree.

Making a choice for the future: Online MBA

Online MBA programs offer students the ability to select their concentration and build their decision-making skills, as well as their competency in critical areas like business strategy, operations, supply chain management, marketing, information technology, and more.

If you’re ready to learn more about the benefits of an online MBA program, including the potential career paths and courses included in the curriculum, check out our website and connect with one of our enrollment advisors today.


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Investopedia, MBA vs. Executive MBA: What’s the Difference?

Forbes, Are Executive MBAs Worth It?

U.S. News & World Report, What an Executive MBA Is and Reasons to Get One