EMBA vs MBA: The Best Degree for Your Growth

There are hundreds of business degree programs offered globally. Navigating the business school landscape is challenging. There are tons of options.

This article will put you on the right path. 

At Quantic School of Business and Technology, we understand how big this decision is. After all, picking the right MBA or Executive MBA will propel your career forward

To help equip you with the information you need to make an informed decision, we’ve developed  a program comparison guide. 

Use it as a tool to determine which program is best suited to your unique situation and desired career outcomes. 

MBA Programs

MBA (Master of Business Administration) programs are most commonly suited to those with less work experience — often, those who have recently graduated. These are people who require more introductory courses in business administration. 

Therefore, MBA candidates are commonly required to maintain a heavier workload and a more demanding schedule during their full-time studies. 

By working on a full-time schedule, MBA programs tend to offer more freedom within the denser school schedule. For instance, selecting electives or choosing a subject specialization or “track.” (Although this is not entirely uncharacteristic of Executive MBA programs, it’s rarer.)

EMBA Programs

Executive MBA (Executive Master of Business Administration) programs are developed with working professionals in mind. Those who want to keep working full time, while advancing their skills.

This is frequently done on a part-time basis. Some schools offer specializations in industries like healthcare and technology; the Quantic Executive MBA’s award-winning curriculum offers elective specializations in management, leadership, entrepreneurship and advanced strategy.

MBA and EMBA Statistics

A good approach to researching which type of program is right for you is by looking at MBA and Executive MBA programs by the numbers—or in business terms, through a cost-benefit analysis. 

Cost of an MBA vs. an EMBA

Approaching your selection of a program through a financial lens is one of the most common methods of analysis. Pursuing  an MBA or Executive MBA costs time and money — it’s a commitment that’s worth taking the time to think about in-depth. 

The key lies in determining which type of program is best suited for where you are in your career, and which stands to be of most benefit to you in terms of career growth. one major difference between Executive MBA and MBA programs is the format of their delivery and associated costs. 

Executive MBA programs, mostly delivered part time, allow students to keep their jobs. This means that Executive MBA candidates can bring in a steady income while they study, thus increasing the ROI of their EMBA degree by reducing its overall cost. 

MBA programs, on the other hand, are most commonly delivered in a full-time format, requiring candidates to put income-earning on hold. They may also require students to incur additional living costs (like room and board), if they have to relocate to pursue the degree. 

Average Age

Executive MBA programs typically attract more mature professionals (with the average EMBA applicant age being 38), with greater work experience. They have competitive résumés and are poised to move into more senior leadership roles with their current employer, change industries, or perhaps, branch out on their own to start a new company. 

MBA applicants, by contrast, tend to be younger (with the average MBA applicant age being 28) and have their applications reviewed on the basis of academic credentials. That said, many programs, including Quantic’s MBA, value unique and sometimes less traditional backgrounds. 

With either program, there are always outliers so one of the most useful ways to determine which program is best for you, is to consider the kind of peers you stand to gain. Will learning alongside those who are just starting out in their careers challenge you? Will you be able to contribute to your cohort in a way that’s valuable and challenges others? These are the types of questions that can help you choose a program that stands to benefit you the most.

Work Experience

Each type of program is delivered with a unique purpose and student needs in mind. 

Executive MBA candidates often compete for admission on the basis of their work experience rather than academic scores. And they are typically required to apply with a minimum of five years’ work experience (though their average work experience is 14 years) and demonstrated managerial or leadership roles. 

MBA applicants, on the other hand, typically compete on their GMAT and academic credentials, as well as their work experience to-date. Quantic’s MBA and Executive MBA, however, do not require students take the GMAT. Both programs require a bachelor’s degree. 

Program Duration

How long an MBA takes to complete depends on the type of program you choose. Executive MBA programs are typically part-time programs that run on weekends and weeknights and vary in duration (between 18 and 24 months, though some take as few as 12 months, like the Quantic Executive MBA); more traditional MBA programs, by comparison, usually take more time, often requiring 4 semesters of full-time study (following a typical university schedule), amounting to two years total (24 months). 

Some online MBA programs are shorter; for instance, the Quantic MBA takes 10 months to complete. Though, this is not an indication of a lighter curriculum — Quantic’s program length is a direct result of its proprietary pedagogy that uses Active Learning to teach. They’ve done away with time-consuming lectures entirely and deliver content via fast-paced, interactive, and personalized modules. Plus, shorter programs  mean you can start earning faster. Quantic’s MBA also has the added benefit of a built-in career network, too, so you’re likely to put your skills to use immediately.

Fees

Whether you choose a traditional MBA or Executive MBA program, the cost of tuition, plus any additional expenses, tends to be substantial. 

As per EMBAC’s 2019 Membership Program Survey, the average executive EMBA cost runs at just under $83,000 (US), though higher tuition costs are not uncommon; many ranked MBA and EMBA programs’ tuition can easily exceed $100,000, and the most prestigious business schools can cost double that (upwards of $200,000). 

MBA programs, on the other hand, while costing somewhat less in tuition (on average $60,000), quickly add up in day-to-day living costs that aren’t offset until graduates return to regular employment. 

Quantic offer’s a hyper-competitive free MBA. How is it free? Tuition is subsidized by the built-in career network, Smartly Talent. Employers pay to recruit from the school’s high-caliber student and alumni network, thus, shifting the burden of tuition costs from student to employer. The Executive MBA, while not free, is just 5% the cost of a traditional program. 

Company Sponsorship

Another stark contrast between the two program formats is funding. 

It’s far more common for Executive MBA candidates to be funded by their employers, while MBAs are typically self-funded. 

This creates a landscape in which MBA students often have more options for applying for scholarship funding, should they invest their time in this additional research and application process. 

It should be stated, though, that over the years schools have begun  to offer more Executive MBA scholarships in response to a changing trend whereby EMBAs are seeing less employer sponsorship and need to be self-funded. Quantic’s Executive MBA offers candidates pathways and resources for employer-funded tuition reimbursement. 

And of course, even for students who are company-funded, conditions may apply, such as requiring that Executive MBA graduates complete a term of employment with the sponsoring company after graduation. Additionally, most require that the school is accredited (Quantic is accredited).

Lifestyle

A student’s lifestyle is heavily influenced by the program they choose to undertake. 

Since Executive MBA candidates tend to have significant and continual work obligations alongside their academic pursuits, course schedules will typically run outside the usual 9-to-5, during what many working professionals consider to be their leisure or personal/family time. This, of course, will also have significant social implications—although course attendance and networking with their newfound community can help fill that social gap. The latter is true for MBA candidates too, who will undoubtedly spend much more time in person with classmates, whether in the classroom, in the library or at networking and MBA events on evenings and weekends.

Because Quantic’s programs are entirely online, it enables both Executive MBA and MBA students to learn on their own schedule, with most students spending between 5-15 hours a week on course work. And with group projects, virtual classrooms for discussion and debate, and optional in-person meet-ups and conferences, there are plenty of opportunities for networking and connecting with fellow peers.

Executive MBA Benefits

Learning Experience

The “E” in EMBA often has prospective students mistaking the EMBA as a more “elite” form of study in comparison to the “more basic” MBA program.

The reality is the two programs are simply designed to suit different kinds of students. They offer different curricula and educational experiences. While much of the core curriculum is shared between the MBA and EMBA, Executive MBAs offer more in the way of advanced courses in C-level management, strategy, and leadership.

MBA programs tend to include more introductory courses for those with less managerial experience with the option to specialize in more focused courses, similar to those seen in an EMBA curriculum. 

Due to constraints on EMBA candidates’ schedules, EMBA programs also offer more classes on the weekends, on some weeknights, and in more condensed formats. 

This results in a program that tends to offer fewer elective options than a typical MBA. However, EMBA cohorts tend to have students from all kinds of backgrounds who bring different experiences, perspectives, and knowledge to the table, which massively enhances the learning experience in its own unique way

Salary Increase?

A Master in Business Administration program offers candidates significant monetary returns upon graduation. 

While salary increases vary by candidate and industry, according to the 2019 Executive MBA Council Survey, EMBA graduates saw an average salary boost of 13.5%. 

While this number is lower compared to MBAs (who by virtue of being younger and earlier in their careers have more to gain in terms of earning potential), the same survey also saw 53% of EMBA candidates reporting that they received more responsibilities, with 40% of those surveyed reporting that they received a promotion during the program. 

There’s no doubt that a degree of either type is well worth pursuing.

Skills Acquired

The skills acquired during study vary by program, depending on the specialties and concentrations  chosen, as well as the type of program. 

The primary skills gained from an EMBA degree are those related to effective leadership, strategy and corporate governance. 

According to the 2019 Executive MBA Council Survey, EMBA graduates reported learning skills that included strategic thinking, decision-making and leadership, in addition to gaining insight into economic factors affecting businesses today, as well as accounting skills and financial acuity. Such skills can help candidates who wish to take their consulting work to the next level, as well as those wanting to move into executive leadership roles and the C-suite within an organization. 

The Quantic School of Business and Technology EMBA prepares students to meet a variety of career aspirations and goals by developing advanced strategy skills, skills in leadership. Watch one student describe their experience here.

Full-Time Job Placement 

The most competitive degrees have gained that reputation by way of the opportunities they afford their graduates, the network and career support. Programs with a strong career network offer candidates avenues to new jobs as well as mentorship opportunities. These are particularly beneficial to students who are hoping to change industry

MBA and Executive MBA Admission Requirements

Because MBA and EMBA programs tend to attract candidates at different stages of their careers, they often differ in their requirements for admission. For instance, most MBA programs require a bachelor’s degree at a minimum. Whereas EMBA programs require more work experience (typically 10 to 15 years).

Since most Executive MBA candidates already have a strong foundation of business experience,, standardized tests like the GMAT (Graduate Management Assessment Test) are less commonly required for admission. 

Conversely, most MBA programs put more emphasis on GMAT scores when reviewing candidates’ eligibility, and, though some programs do waive it, it’s important to know whether you need a GMAT for the MBA as well as the minimum score required to apply. While many Quantic students have taken the GMAT (and scored on par with students at top schools!), it’s not a requirement for admission. 

In the MBA world, application essays are also weighted quite heavily in admissions and some applicants might vie for a spot through more creative approaches (some schools even require video essays). And though most global programs are offered in English, students who aren’t native English speakers are often required to get a minimum score on a standardized language test, such as the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language). 

In terms of recommendation letters, both the MBA and EMBA programs often require at least one, if not several. For the Executive MBA, where work-life balance is important, candidates are also required to supply written proof that their current employer actually supports their pursuing the degree. This is true for EMBA applicants who are being sponsored by their employer to study, as well as for those who aren’t, because chances are that candidates will have to do some coordinating with their company (including potentially taking some time off) to complete the program. Quantic’s employer-funded tuition reimbursement program makes this conversation easy with a downloadable guide.

Choosing the Right Program for Your Lifestyle Goals 

The delivery format of a business degree can have huge implications for the success of a candidate during their studies as well as beyond graduation.

In-person programs provide the traditional grounding of an academic environment, but this comes at a premium — higher tuition costs, relocation, and putting a budding career on hold to attend full time

Luckily, competitive online programs are on the rise. They are changing the landscape and reducing the barriers to entry.  Some programs even incorporate cutting edge technology into their Learning Management Systems. For some candidates this is a better option. It increases their competitiveness in the job market,but doesn’t involve a massive investment of time and money. . 

Traditional (On-Campus) MBA/EMBA Programs

Residential programs are a suitable choice for students who wish to be more fully immersed in campus culture. 

On-campus programs also offer candidates more opportunities to network and socialize with their cohort, professors, and the wider academic community outside of their structured MBA or EMBA schedule.

Part-Time MBA/EMBA Programs

A part-time program, whether an EMBA or MBA, is best suited to students who wish to continue working while earning their degrees. Coursework for these programs is most often scheduled on weekends and weeknights. Of course, those choosing this option may find they require a high level of discipline, as their “free time” will be largely occupied by coursework. 

Those with children or other personal commitments and responsibilities may have to assess their priorities during their course of study to ensure they stay organized.

Online MBA/EMBA Programs 

More non-traditional programs, like those delivered online, are gaining popularity, as they offer more flexible schedules and learning environments for the modern student—and with much lower financial barriers. 

By removing overhead costs, these programs can offer a valuable curriculum, experienced faculty, and deep industry expertise at a fraction of the cost of an in-person program (and sometimes even free). 

By virtue of not being overseen by large regulatory bodies, the curriculum of these programs is often more customized and responsive to the changing needs of industry, and not simply academia. 

For example, Quantic EMBA cohorts follow a guided sequence of coursework especially developed by a team of specialists who collaborate with professors from top elite business schools to bring the program to life. Students are offered bite-size lessons and individualized feedback (every eight seconds!) so that they feel supported throughout the course of their studies, in addition to online and in-person group work and networking opportunities that round out the program.

Today’s business professionals are already seeing the signs of a growing remote workforce, heightened interconnectivity, more collaborative tools, and changing operational structures that are altering how we do business globally. 

More flexible online-first programs can be seen as an extension of these wider trends and can, simply by virtue of their delivery format, offer candidates unique insights into the evolving contexts of work as well as the skills necessary to succeed as leaders in this changing environment.

Summary: Choose the Right Degree for Your Career Growth

Is a particular MBA or EMBA program right for you?

That’s the fundamental question. 

To answer it accurately, you need to look at your own eligibility first and foremost (e.g. career maturity, academic experience and work experience). 

After that… you should evaluate your own ability and desire to commit to it.

If you still want to do one, then the delivery format is important. 

You now have the choice of online MBA’s, as well as more traditional full time and part time options. 

Pick one that works for you. 

Your own learning style, lifestyle habits and personal responsibilities and commitments — these things play a large role in what you get out of whatever format you choose. 

Not everyone is primed for success right out of the gate.

So do your due diligence and learn from those who did it right

That way, you can select the program that will give you the highest chance of success. 

The business degree landscape is full of success stories. 

Will you be next? READ THE CASE STUDY.