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Difference Between Executive MBA vs. Traditional MBA

The Master of Business Administration (MBA) program is a popular master’s degree. It is a great program for advancing your opportunities in the business world. However, when looking to advance your education and expand your possibilities, it is important to understand which MBA program is right for you.

There are different types of MBA programs, such as full-time, part-time, online, executive, and global MBA varieties. Each MBA program has a purpose, but we will focus on the full-time (traditional) MBA and the executive MBA. To know which program is the right fit, it’s important to describe each program along with the differences between the MBA and EMBA.

Traditional MBA

The traditional MBA is an advanced degree focused on teaching the knowledge necessary for high-level corporate management. Typically, people pursuing a Master of Business Administration are seeking to improve their job prospects for the future.

There are numerous business-related areas in which an MBA focuses, including accounting, business management, economics, entrepreneurship, finance, leadership, marketing, and operations management. Because of this versatility, the MBA is an overarching business degree that covers the topics needed to operate in top-tier corporate environments.

The typical MBA program can take anywhere from two to four years to complete. The course load for an MBA is dense, as the MBA is one of the most extensive master’s programs. Due to this demanding amount of material, it is often difficult to continue working while taking the courses.

For this reason, MBA students are typically fresh graduates who are looking to pursue advanced degrees or young professionals who have only been in their career for a few years. Some programs estimate the average age of MBA students is 31 years old with six years of experience in their field.

Executive MBA

So, is an executive MBA the same as an MBA? The simple answer is no. However, the executive MBA (EMBA) does cover some of the same topics as a traditional MBA. Executive MBAs are designed for mid-career executive professionals. Students pursuing an executive MBA generally have a significant amount of experience in their current field and are looking to advance their station in that field.

The executive MBA is a focused program with an emphasis on executive level management. It covers topics like financing, marketing, accounting, and management. These classes are often focused on a specific area of study as well. This focus allows prospective students to tailor the executive MBA program they take to their desired field.

The standard time frame for an EMBA program is approximately two years. This is the same amount of time as some traditional MBA courses; however, the coursework is generally taken part-time and is less rigorous. Typically, students enrolled in an EMBA program are also maintaining a full-time job.

Classes in EMBA programs are often only a couple days a week or are offered on nights and weekends to accommodate the work schedules of their students. This makes the EMBA perfect for individuals currently in the workforce that are looking to advance to the higher levels of their managerial structure. Some estimate the average EMBA student is 37 years old with 14 years of professional experience.

Difference Between MBA and EMBA

Now that we have outlined the basic structure of the MBA and executive MBA, we can proceed to more specific differences between the MBA and the EMBA. Both the MBA and executive MBA are programs designed to increase their students’ knowledge and skills in upper-level business management. They both cover a wide variety of areas of business and are used to boost the potential job prospects of prospective students.

However, MBA programs are far-reaching and cover a large variety of topics. They require a full-time commitment and take years to complete. The executive MBA is a much less immersive program. This does not mean that an EMBA is a watered-down version of the MBA. Rather, the executive MBA is a more specific form of the traditional MBA. It offers less elective courses, allowing students to focus on specific areas of study.

The makeup of the student body in MBA courses compared to EMBA is significantly different. The MBA requires a considerable time commitment, so it is better suited to younger professionals that can commit the time. MBA students generally don’t work full-time and can engage in the larger program.

The executive MBA is more geared towards older professionals. The EMBA is only a part-time investment specifically structured around the standard work week. Those taking EMBA courses are likely already executives looking to improve their standing further.

As with the variation in job experience, the average age of students taking an MBA versus an executive MBA is different. MBA students are typically younger, in their late 20s to early 30s. Executive MBA students are older, averaging in the late 30s, and are more invested in their current field.

Does an EMBA Have the Same Value as a Full-Time MBA?

When deciding between an MBA and an EMBA, there are many variables to consider. Two considerations to address are the inherent value of each program, and if one program is better than the other.

It’s essential to discuss the cost of each program and how that correlates to your return on investment. MBA programs generally cost less than an EMBA. With that lower cost, you are also covering a more extensive branch of topics.

While EMBAs cost more, there is often more financial assistance available to EMBA students. EMBA students are typically already employed, and many companies will often offer partial or full tuition assistance. After all, they are also benefiting from the education being received.

However, the current employment of EMBA students may impose a limitation. EMBA students are usually limited in where they can attend EMBA programs. If they are tied to a specific employer, there is a geographic restriction on where they can receive an EMBA. MBA students do not have this limiting factor, allowing a much wider scope of institutions offering MBA programs.

The final variable to consider is job prospects. MBAs offer a wider variety of knowledge and thus have a wider availability of job prospects. If you’re looking to change careers down the line, having an MBA increases your marketability across more potential careers. Executive MBAs are more focused and can help you increase your standing in your current career, but may not be as well-suited towards switching careers.

The Bottom Line about MBAs versus EMBAs

When comparing the MBA versus the EMBA, the context and intention of your career can help determine which is a better fit for you. If you’re aiming to improve your overall job prospects and open the most opportunities, the MBA is likely the best fit. If you’re currently employed and hope to move up in your current position and field, an executive MBA is a strong choice. A program’s practical value to you is based upon your career goals.

Contact business professionals at Augsburg University or request specific MBA program information to determine which program is best for you.