The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts a six percent employment growth rate for top executives for the 2014-2024 decade. This is as fast as average for all occupations and translates to 147,000 new jobs in the coming years. Executive MBA (EMBA) graduates often become top executives, working in nearly every industry, for small and large businesses, ranging from companies with just a few employees to those with thousands of employees. Those on the chief executive path work in nearly every industry as well, but with a few major differences. Compensation is one.
According to the BLS, the median pay for top executives was around $103,950 in 2016. Chief executives averaged $181,210. Add bonus and benefits packages that are often offered with most top or chief executive positions and earnings could be even higher. Just think, the CEO's of America's 500 biggest companies earned total compensation of $5.2 billion in 2016. That’s an average of $10.5 million apiece. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
To get there, it will take a lot of hard work, years of experience, and for many—a top EMBA program. Fortunately, online and hybrid formats have become more popular over the years, so professionals don’t have to worry about interrupting their careers to attend classes. True, many traditional EMBA programs allow students to complete the program in the evening and/or on weekends, but hybrid EMBA‘s offer even greater flexibility. Programs that are delivered entirely online offer ultimate flexibility.
Online programs allow students to complete the degree anytime and anywhere, so the Online EMBA is fast becoming the top choice for executives, managers, entrepreneurs, and other business leaders looking to continue advancing their careers, while earning this highly specialized degree. Though online EMBA programs are becoming more common, some have already moved ahead of the pack in terms of reputation among top companies and popularity overall.
We’ve gathered 10 top online EMBA programs across the U.S. to give you an idea of what some of the best programs look like. One thing they have in common is accreditation by America’s most prestigious accrediting body for business schools. Please note that the schools are not ranked. Here you go.
1. Fuqua School of Business at Duke University, Durham, North Carolina
Fuqua School of Business at Duke University offers a unique Global EMBA that combines distance learning with residencies at four locations around the globe. Global residency locations may include Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America or the Middle East. The curriculum includes General Management with eight core classes, three multi-term courses, optional electives and optional concentrations or certificate. Concentrations include Energy and Environment, Entrepreneurship and Innovation, Finance, Marketing or Strategy. Certificate options include Health Sector Management (HSM).
Two distance-learning periods take place during each term. During this time, students will continue their coursework, complete team projects, and apply what they learn at work. Average class size for the program is 40-60 students, and the average age of students is 40. Students in the program typically have 15 years of work experience and 32 percent have advanced degrees. The program takes 16 months to complete and there is no GMAT requirement
The cost for the Fuqua Duke Global MBA is $158,000. This includes tuition, fees, and supplies. Students who choose a concentration will have to complete a sixth term. Fuqua School of Business is accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB), the highest level of accreditation attainable in business education.
2. Darden School of Business at University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia
Darden School of Business at University of Virginia offers a hybrid EMBA and a hybrid Global EMBA (GEMBA) that combine monthly residencies in Charlottesville or the D.C. area (students’ choice) with distance learning and at least one international residency for EMBA students and four global residencies for GEMBA students. The global and international experiences are one week and include study in places such as South Africa, India, Brazil, Europe, and China.
Approximately one-third of the Darden EMBA and GEMBA curriculum is delivered via distance learning. Both programs highlight “case method” EMBA classes that “mirror the way business is done—across functional units within the firm, across firms within the value chain, and around the globe.” Sample courses include Decision Analysis, Business Ethics, Global Economies and Markets, Leading Organizations, Management Communication, Operations Management, and Strategic Thinking and Action.
Both EMBA and GEMBA students may choose from a range of unique electives to enhance their degree. Just a few options include Excelling at Innovation & Leading Innovation Teams, Entrepreneurial Thinking, Leading Strategic Change, Starting New Ventures, and Creativity and Design Thinking. In addition to these electives, students may take advantage of Darden: Worldwide Courses and Case Writing and Venturing Darden Business Projects.
The Darden EMBA and GEMBA programs are AACSB accredited and the Graduate Management Admissions Test (GMAT), GRE or Executive Assessment (EA) is required for admission. Developed by the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC), expressly for executive MBA applicants with the demands of executive MBA programs in mind, the EA is a graduate admissions test that requires less preparation time than the GMAT. The test can be taken in 90 minutes. Darden is one of only seven global business schools currently accepting the EA.
Total tuition and fees for the Darden EMBA program is $155,000 for domestic students (Virginia and Non-Virginia Residents) and $155,240 for international students.
3. Lubin School of Business at Pace University, New York, New York
Lubin School of Business at Pace University offers an AACSB accredited hybrid EMBA designed for experienced managers and professionals looking to earn their degree in less than 24 months. The program provides the opportunity to immerse in 20 months of experiential, project-based work. Per the school, “the cohort-based program is designed with maximum flexibility so you can complete the degree while working full-time. It combines online instruction with weekend residencies conveniently held in New York City every ten weeks.” The total on-campus time commitment is just 34 days.
Students in the Pace Lubin EMBA program will complete eight courses structured in nine modules that include “individual assignments and highly collaborative, team-based projects that require students to solve contemporary large-scale business problems utilizing a holistic, cross-disciplinary approach. Students also apply what they learn to specific consulting projects for actual companies.” The capstone course “combines a business simulation experience with an individual student-proposed project, which may be a real business problem the student is facing or a new business idea the student wishes to explore.”
Sample courses include Corporation Diversification Strategy, Corporate Finance, Public Policy, Comprehensive Business Strategy, and Operations Management. Per the school, graduates will emerge from the program with the “crucial skills and knowledge needed to succeed in their fields.” Though the GMAT is not required for admission to the program, applicants must have at least five years of professional business experience and responsibility, they must demonstrate career progression and accomplishments, work well on high-performance teams, and have the potential to contribute effectively to the program. The total cost for the Pace Lubin EMBA is $78,000.
4. Saunders College of Business at Rochester Institute of Technology, Rochester, New York
Saunders College of Business at Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) offers an AACSB accredited EMBA designed for “mid-to-upper level professionals wishing to hone their business and leadership skills in order to enhance their performance, assume greater responsibilities, and effectively position themselves for future opportunities.” The 17-month, four-semester program is cohort based and students take two courses every six weeks. Classes are delivered via weekly synchronous sessions offering high quality video and audio functionality for optimal interaction. With the exception of a three-day on-campus residency session prior to the start of classes, the 24 course, 47 credit-hour program may be completed entirely online.
A few sample course for the program include Team Building and Ethics, Power and Influence, Strategic Thinking, Leadership, Valuation and Capital Budgeting, Executive Leadership, Managing New Product Commercialization, and International Leadership. In addition, students will have the opportunity to “discuss, argue, compete and collaborate with other seasoned managers on strategic and topical issues and projects” which RIT says “is an essential feature of a strong EMBA program, and one that has direct and immediate applicability” to the student’s “own professional development.”
The GMAT is not required for admission to the Saunders RIT EMBA. However, the school places emphasis on career experience (applicants must have a minimum of six years professional work experience), undergraduate performance, résumé, recommendations, and the interview. The program values “talented and driven individuals who can significantly contribute to” their fellow students’ EMBA experience. Tuition for the RIT Saunders EMBA program is $70,000, all-inclusive.
5. Carson College of Business at Washington State University, Pullman, Washington
Carson College of Business at Washington State University (WSU) offers an AACSB accredited EMBA that may be completed in as few as 18 months. The program, which is offered entirely online, features an optional international field study and optional leadership conference in Seattle. Past field study trips include Shanghai, Beijing, and Xian in China “to get an inside look at businesses such as Nike, Boeing, Porsche, Baosteel, Han Kun Law Offices, and Careers International.”
The Carson EMBA consists of 44 credit hours, “emphasizing strategy, innovation, and leadership” to help graduates “emerge as stronger” business leaders. Topics covered include International Business, Operations Management, Maximization of Productivity, Administrative Policy, Strategic Leadership, and Global Business. The program ends with a capstone project (in-depth analysis of a strategic opportunity or problem) and a final presentation (leveraging work in Capstone A to create a business plan). The final graduation requirement is the completion of a business plan.
Around seventy-five percent of the EMBA online student body in the Carson EMBA program has more than 10 years of management experience. And according to WSU Carson, ninety-five percent of employers that hire WSU MBA/EMBA graduates and are familiar with the programs are satisfied or very satisfied with the overall quality of the programs. Finally, ninety-six percent of employers say the program helped their employee(s) become more engaged in achieving performance targets.
The total cost for the Carson WSU EMBA is $34,828 per academic year for residents and $50,236 for non-residents. The GMAT is not required for qualified applicants.
6. Sam M. Walton College of Business at University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, Arkansas
Sam M. Walton College of Business at University of Arkansas offers an AACSB accredited EMBA designed for working professionals with a minimum of two years previous work experience. The 38 credit hour program is part-time, and includes six hours of coursework per semester, and class sessions just one Saturday per month for two years. In addition to minimal classroom visits and online learning activities, the Walton EMBA highlights interactive team-based problem solving and an innovative curriculum that focuses on “applications-based learning through cases and projects that can be quickly applied to your current workplace,” says the school. “By organizing around the value chain, the Walton EMBA blends theory with analysis of real-world business solutions.”
Sample courses for this hybrid program include Accounting Boot Camp, Global Business, Analytics and Visualization, Leadership and Managing Behavior in Organizations, Financial Statement Analysis for Executives, Corporate Financial Management, Marketing Ideas, Products and Services, and Quantitative Methods and Decision Making. Students will “enhance their understanding of the business and cultural environments of prominent emerging markets through overseas projects in Global Business.” Students will also participate in the Walton entrepreneurship program, professional development with industry experts, and networking with “extraordinary” corporate connections.
The GMAT or GRE is required for admission to the Walton EMBA program. However, candidates with five years of experience may qualify for a GMAT/GRE waiver. Tuition and program costs total $43,000 for all students, regardless of residency status.
Please note that Walton College of Business offers a hybrid Healthcare EMBA that also requires just one Saturday meeting per month. The 44 credit hour program takes 26 months to complete and the total for tuition and program costs is $49,789, regardless of residency status.
7. College of Business at Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado
The College of Business at Colorado State University (CSU) offers an AACSB accredited EMBA program that is delivered 40 percent online. The hybrid program requires meetings in downtown Denver every other Saturday. Between meetings, students learn online at their own pace. The program, which consists of 42 credit hours, offers six certificates to enhance the degree. Options include Accounting Ethics and Auditing, Applied Finance, Business Information Systems, Business Intelligence, Information Technology Project Management, and Marketing Management.
Each cohort consists of 25 students and the program takes 21 months (five semesters) to complete. Per CSU, graduates leave the program “with the confidence to inspire teams and thrive in leadership roles across industry and around the world.” There is no GMAT requirement and total tuition for the program is $72,492.
8. College of Business at University of North Alabama, Florence, Alabama
The College of Business at University of North Alabama (UNA) offers an AACSB accredited EMBA designed for rising managers and career professionals with at least six to eight years of business experience who “have the desire to develop the management skills and knowledge that will advance their careers.” The program, which is available on-campus or online, consists of 34 credit hours of study including a 22 credit hour EMBA Core and 12 credit hours of electives. Students can expect to take courses such as Management Policy, Enterprise Systems Analysis and Design, Corporate Governance, Legal, Social, Ethical Environment of Global Business, and International Business Dynamics.
The UNA College of Business EMBA concludes with an applied capstone project where students can apply what they have learned in an actual business setting. The GMAT is not required for admission to the program. Tuition for the UNA EMBA is $425.00 per credit hour + $75 per course distance learning fee. So, tuition is less than $20,000.
9. College of Business at University of Nevada – Reno, Reno, Nevada
The College of Business at University of Nevada – Reno offers an AACSB accredited online EMBA that consists of 12 courses offered as a two-year cohort program. Per the school, “this allows students in each cohort to begin the program at the same point, move through the curriculum together, and build supportive working relationships in a stimulating online environment. Courses in the EMBA program are sequenced to assure continuity in learning.” All coursework is completed online and each class runs for 12 weeks.
Students will take core courses (21 credits) such as Production/Operations Management, Economics of the Firm, and Statistics for Decision Making, and well as breadth courses such as Personal Branding, Strategic Management for Executives, and Managing Organizations in a Global Economy. The GMAT is required for admission to the program and the total cost for tuition and fees is $30,000.
10. College of Business at California State University – Monterey Bay, Marina, California
The College of Business at California State University – Monterey Bay (CSUMB) offers an online MBA Executive Track “designed for experienced business executives with a curriculum focused on sharp–edged technology, corporate leadership, entrepreneurship, and global business acumen.” Students are current executives with seven years or more of business experience, with three in a managerial role. Developed for “ambitious professionals” looking for the tools, knowledge, and flexibility to take their careers to the next level, the CSUMB online EMBA highlights ethical reasoning, critical thinking, understanding and incorporating diversity, effective communication, problem identification and analysis, decision making and execution, and systems thinking.
The “no GMAT required” program consists of 48 credits delivered in eight, six-credit terms, each lasting 10 weeks. Students take one course at any one time with their cohort. Individual courses are six units and 10 weeks long or three units and five weeks long. Courses are scheduled such that students take two, three-unit classes sequentially in the same 10 week term. Students may complete the program in 24 months.
Tuition for the Cal State Monterey Bay online EMBA is $5,200 per term. Estimated total tuition for the two-year program, including books, is $41,600. CSUMB initiated AACSB accreditation as a “top strategic priority” for its business programs in early 2014.
Note: Information for the EMBA programs in this article was obtained from each school’s official website. All information, including tuition costs, was accurate at the time this article was published. For information about EMBA programs in your area, find a school here.
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