P&Q’s 2016 Ranking Of The Best American EMBA Programs

by Jeff Schmitt on

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  • Max

    Georgia, Rice, Seattle rank above USC and Virginia, I think this is a joke. P&Q ranking will lose all its credit in EMBA ranking.

    • David__D

      Both are NR in two of the three rankings, how does that make the P&Q ranking a joke?

      Have you really though about eMBA programs? They are heavily driven by the local market, as are part time/professional MBAs. Who would go to Charlottesville for one weekend a month? Do you know how many flights actually go to Charlottesville?

      No clue what’s happening at USC but maybe all the top people are going to UCLA for eMBA.

      Unless you actually know the programs in question or have some specific disagreement with the data that you can note, there’s no evidence at all that this is a joke.

      • Nathaniel Ayer

        UVA Darden undoubtedly has a great program, but unfortunately the location probably does bring it down a bit. Charlottesville is beautiful, but it is a bit out of the way. However, this year Darden is opening a new EMBA campus just across the Potomac from Washington DC, making the school much more accessible. I’m guessing that the ranking can only go up as a result.

        • David__D

          I’m sure it will. I’ve only ever heard amazing things about Charlottesville but when I was looking at full time programs my wife and I checked flights because she travels a lot for work. Getting to the west coast or Texas would have been disastrous so unfortunately that nixed Darden. Sad because I love case based programs.

          Opening a DC campus absolutely makes sense, that should definitely help their rankings.

        • Anan Sarabhai

          Darden seems a great metro EMBA option. Sadly (for me, that is), it requires GMAT.

    • Research Geek

      Max – P & Q posts this composite ranking along with an explanation about the strengths and weaknesses of each ranking, which is highly valuable. If you care about inputs and outputs, use the Economist and Financial Times. If you care what deans think about other programs, use U.S. News. What is surprising to me is that U.S. News requires no criteria for schools to qualify for its Executive MBA ranking…they don’t even need to submit job placement or program statistics (go to the U.S. News EMBA ranking and look at all the N/As). Even the PT MBA rankings require performance stats. It’s a little suspect that several of the schools at the top of the EMBA rankings in U.S. News aren’t even ranked among nearly 100 full-time MBA programs. I agree with SillyReally – check U.S. News’ much more rigorous Full-time MBA rankings for stronger indicators of school performance.

  • SillyReally

    I posted the following regarding the recent article on the new USN eMBA rankings and I believe it is equally relevant in the context of this ranking. Although, it must be stated that the P&Q ranking merely aggregates rankings from other sources to smooth out ranking anomalies and achieve a more accurate set of numbers. In other words, my comments are not at all an indictment of P&Q, but instead a deeper questioning of the need to rank eMBA programs at all with a separate ranking. P&Q results merely the insanity of eMBA rankings in general.
    My prior post:
    “Rankings for eMBA programs are really unnecessary and a bit silly in my opinion, especially when they are based upon simple popularity contests like USN. And then the European rankings often include partnership programs which makes everything even nuttier to evaluate. As an eMBA graduate, the truth is that most US based eMBA consumers rely on the full-time MBA rankings to make their decisions. After all, the MBA degree granted from any top eMBA program is the same MBA degree granted to the full-time students. Degree equivalency is what is touted by all of the schools, and the “e” for executive is only to designate the format and targeted consumer. There is nothing on the actual MBA degree diploma granted to an eMBA program graduate to denote “executive”. The degree diploma is 100% identical in its appearance to the MBA degree received by the full-time graduates. eMBA rankings are as a result not overly useful. They would be much more significant if different diplomas were granted.”

    • hp17b

      If you were to evaluate a “Senior Citizen Tour” with a major cruise ship operator would you not care about the reviews of the Senior tour as well as the general reputation of the operator? If the cruise operator had a stellar reputation but the tour that you desired to book had awful reviews would you book the trip? Clearly, both are important.

      • SillyReally

        Your point absolutely rings true and I would fully agree – if the reviews were indeed reasonable. However, as P&Q and others point out, the reviews (rankings in this case) are severely flawed and not at all credible. So why should they really matter or influence someone? Using your own argument, you would not consider or underwrite well known crappy advice for your Senior Citizen Tour, or for your investments either for that matter – correct? The USN ranking has no methodology at all and is merely a popularity contest amongst deans who do not have an impartial role to play. The European rankings include partnership programs that BusinessWeek did not and USN do not include and so there is no reasonable method of review/ranking out there purely with respect to eMBAs. And P&Q is the most reasonable since it is a composite BUT it is a composite of junky underlying data and so is not truly a strong source either.
        So yes of course you should consider the reviews but again I would pay attention to the full-time rankings since that is your degree and they have more reasonable and real methodologies behind them.

  • Santa’s Helper

    John (and anyone else),
    i have been investigating a number of executive MBA programs for myself and wanted to know if you and other experts believe that the Harvard PLD non-degree certificate granting program is a real and viable alternative to an actual MBA degree granting program? In forums from past years, I see that a number of debates broke out with most concluding that the PLD was not at all equivalent and did not offer the same depth or breadth as a real MBA degree program. Is this still a valid consensus opinion. I am currently leaning towards the Michigan, Cornell, or USC EMBA programs.

    • hp17b

      You’ll acquire a certain amount of specific knowledge in the certificate program which may prove useful to you. However, a certificate is not a substitute for a degree. Given the schools that you mentioned, I’d chose Michigan.

      • Santa’s Helper

        Thank you. I am ruling out the PLD based upon my view of not actually earning a degree and after talking to some career mentors. Also it is very expensive when you divide tuition against actual time in the program. Currently, I am favoring Michigan and Cornell. Both would be great potential fits for me. Although, I am particularly interested in both the International Business project and New Venture projects in the Cornell programs. We shall see…

        • Rik

          Both are great choices. I’d choose Cornel but it’d be safe to go with Michigan

  • Darren Young

    Wharton # 10? Trust me, a Wharton MBA is much more prestigious than an MBA from booth, kelloog or columbia. The people at those programs, if they could get accepted to Wharton, they would go to Wharton instead of those programs. When P&Q ranks nyu, um, ucla, smu, cornell & texas ahead of Wharton, it’s obvious these rankings are non-sense.

    • blakjedi

      Your opinion while valid isn’t necessarily true. As a New Yorker living overseas I chose Booth over Columbia and Wharton. Education, cohort (London and Hong Kong), (faculty recent Nobel winners) makes Booth stand out. I also know and like the admission and academic staff at EMBA Wharton and wouldnt not have had any reason to not choose that program except that Booth is a better fit for me with at least as much rigor and prestige.

      • Affirmation

        Do not let comments like that bother you from trolls – Booth is outstanding. Booth, Wharton, Kellogg, Columbia, Cornell, NYU, Virginia, Michigan, UCLA, Haas, etc…They are all outstanding and all painfully rigorous to anyone has actually completed one . Like you did, people should pick the program that best suits/fits them and go for it. Do not worry about rankings fluctuations over any few years. Trust in the underlying value of the institution you are attending.

        • Fred

          I couldn’t have said it better myself.

      • Rik

        I agree… and I actually like booth.

    • Kekao Matsumoto

      I agree Darren. You’re not a troll for having an honest opinion. Trolls are guys like “affirmation” below who doesn’t have the balls to even put his name down when “attempting” and the key word is attempting, to put you down. Wharton is the best EMBA program hands down from the caliber of students they admit to their professors and of course their alumni’s. U.S News & FT ranks it # 1 & # 2 respectively and they get an NR from the Economist? Please! Darren, you’re absolutely correct. If people have a choice between booth, kelloog, columbia and Wharton, they would pick Wharton!

      • Affirmation

        Wow! I had not realized that I was so offensive in complementing Wharton and a bunch of other great programs. Still, there is No reason to troll by anyone with such great programs being discussed and that includes by you kekao. People will choose the best program that fits their needs when they are 30 or 40 somethings. Simply not as concerned at 40 with what USN says anymore – at all! Glad you are though. Cheers!

        • Kekoa Matsumoto

          affirmation, you made no valid points whatsoever. You just like to argue just to argue. Now go and apply to whatever emba program will accept you. Give me a break. Get a life.

      • Rik

        Well i actually would choose, Kellog over wharton because i know what goes on internally. I’d also choose booth and Cornell over wharton. UCLA emba is a bit over rated.

      • xp

        I know several people who were accepted to both Wharton and Chicago Booth Executive MBA programs and selected Chicago Booth. I also know several who did the opposite. As a Chicago alumnus, I can assure you that at decision time school selection is a highly personal decision.

  • Kurt Deaton

    Just finished an EMBA program. I was supposed to be local, but ended up commutiong for the first 9 months due to work, then finally was able to live near my school. Unlike a Full Time MBA, you need to choose a school which is near where you live. It is challenging enough to juggle personal life, work, and an MBA. The commuting every other week was not that big of a deal. I actually enjoyed being isolated from work, where I was not within easy reach. However, the vast amount of group work you have to do outside of class is not easily done by video conferencing. Unless you meet face to face with your cohort, you are robbing yourself and your classmates of a significant chunk of the experience.

  • pete

    how can Stanford not be even listed??!!

    • JohnAByrne

      Stanford does not have an Executive MBA program.

  • I do find it a bit surprising that Berkeley Haas is at the bottom of this table. I’ve never even heard of Texas Christian but it must be pretty impressive. Nice to see that Ross ascended a bit in the rankings, for my west coast clients. Can anyone explain what happened with Wharton, though? Did they forget to send in paperwork like NYU?

  • Anan Sarabhai

    Love to attend EMBA. The top schools require GRE or GMAT. Thus, I have not applied. I wait for the day when top EMBA schools all have: No GRE or GMAT required.

    • Anan – actually, that is not the case. Many top schools do not require a GMAT score, and many of them only require a GMAT if you have no other proof of quantitative aptitude. The best EMBA programs that do not require a GMAT include Kellogg, Stern, Ross and Cornell. All fantastic schools. This link might be helpful to you and others: http://www.metromba.com/mba-programs-dont-require-gmat/

      • Anan Sarabhai

        Thanks MBA Coach. My problem is that I have no GMAT or GRE scores and I do not like structured testing. Thus, I am interested in a top-ranked EMBA that goes out of the way to accept applicant experience + prior education but does not require GMAT/GRE scores. I find it a bit amusing that Booth, Wharton, or others are so fixated in GMAT/GRE that they are not opening up to candidates with diverse experiences. Already many top schools in their UG applications – UG, not Grad – are staying away from SAT or ACT. Why are top-ranked EMBA still living in the past then? That’s my question. I long to apply but have not yet applied because of this test score requirement.

        • Hi Anan, Ross is in the top 5 for EMBA and Kellogg is ostensibly #1…for finance professionals, Stern is an excellent choice. Yes, Wharton has a halo effect but their program is ranked lower than the non-GMAT choices. So I honestly *do not* see the GMAT standing in your way from achieving your goal of a top EMBA.

          Schools are always looking for candidates with diverse experiences; GMAT is necessary but not sufficient, students with high scores are turned away in droves if their application and the rest of their profile doesn’t add value to the class.

          I’m not defending their choice to make the GMAT as part of their criteria, but here’s their rationale.

          1.) it is a way to compare applicant intellectual “horse power” using a level playing field, it is known to be an accurate predictor of quant abilities.

          For many candidates who come from a non-quant background, this is the only way they can prove they have the quantitative chops to excel in class.

          2.) it is an accurate predictor of first year grades, so they can sidestep people flunking out or dropping out – which protects their reputation

          3.) It is used for recruitment by MBB and IB, so it filters candidates which increases the value proposition for MBA program recruiters, who pour immense amounts of money into MBA recruiting.

          I realize you want to start a revolution here, but see no reason to avoid getting in EMBA from a top school just because the GMAT is required at some top schools.

          – Farrell

          • Anan Sarabhai

            Thank you, Coach Farrell. I will check the three EMBAs you mention: Kellogg (Northwestern), Stern (NYU), and Ross (Michigan). I just do not want to apply for the sake of applying. I want to apply where i have a reasonable shot at getting into top (such as ivy) school without having to take GRE or GMAT. I was hoping to apply to Wharton or Yale, but it seems the tests are required, actually, mandatory. I am guessing that all top-ranked schools will get better, really better candidates with amazing and diverse candidates, if they simply accepted that this is 2016 and test scores are not that relevant. No one is really bad at quants but tests can be barriers. Ergo, many top-UG schools do not take these tests into consideration that much. So, why do these EMBAs? Food for thought.

          • Rik

            The EMBA’s really cater to “executive” level demographics. They may not require test scores but they require at least 8-10 consistent years of leadership work experience. There’s a on campus interview that is required. The price also keeps a lot of people away from entering. When i had my interview with NYU, The EMBA recruiter told me the price was at $177K pricetag and both cornell and northwestern were higher in price. These EMBA last anywhere from 15-24 months some meet one weekend a month or every saturday or every other weekend.
            They don’t accept everybody and spaces are very very limited. So imagine 450 people applying for 75 seat spot. It’s also one of the MBA where you’re not really going to “learn” but rather network making a contributing effort and bringing something to the table. In other words you better come knowing something and listen to other interesting leaders share their thoughts and learn from each other. Yes, there’s homework and other stuff but very different from standard.

            I ended up choosing an online MBA “OMBA” because EMBA was too expensive of a cost if you don’t have a company sponsor. The top business schools are not dabbling in such at the moment and some think it would ruin “the brand” but give it a few more years and you’ll see…. Temple is currently #1 and tied with others such as UNC which also has a great online MBA program that requires NO GRE/GMAT and has great resources and complete the program as little as 15 months and you have campus access. Temple does the same.

  • Ravi Uppal

    Hi coach , I have got through the UNC eMBA however looking at theses rankings now i am unsure if I should go ahead with it, please advise what are my options ?


    • Hi Ravi, I would not freak out right away. Berkeley is number 25 or something, however their previous PQ ranking, and US News & World Report ranking is far different. I see UNC as a somewhat similar situation, where the other two numbers are high. If the program was back in the top 10 next year would you be kicking yourself? The question is, did you get into the best program possible. If you can get into a higher ranked program, why not do it. The fact that Kellogg, Ross, and Stern and MIT no longer require the GMAT really opens things up a great deal. Another option might be to do a hybrid program like IE, if that makes sense for you. I don’t really advise eMBA for career switchers because career services can often be very very limited. Make sure to investigate that fully before signing on the line. If you are concerned about the rankings because of how recruiters might see them, I really recommend that you go directly to the source. In my opinion, It’s stupid for anyone to buy something that you MUST sell to recruiters…if you don’t know who you’re going to sell it to. Whoever you plan to sell this MBA to, get in touch with them. MBA recruiters, corporate recruiters, executive recruiters…email them asking if UNC EMBA would get a second look, or if it needs to be another program. Before you develop a new product you need to hold focus groups 🙂 hope this helps.

  • SivaPuvvada

    Hi Coach – I got acceptance from Georgia Tech EMBA. Ranking for this program makes me think again. What would you recommend?

  • Ravi


    I have admitted to both Notre Dame and Kellogg EMBA program. I am a PhD with 15 years of professional experience with over 3 years of business and 9 years of managerial experience. I do not plan to change my career track after finishing EMBA and I will be committed to my employer for 3 years after finishing degree. For Notre Dame my tuition is fully paid by my employer but for Kellogg I have to pay 35% of my tuition out of pocket. I am debating between the two schools. My ultimate career goal is “C” position or career progression in the same field I am in. Advise/suggestions/thoughts? Highly appreciated.

    • Affirmation

      Congratulations! Two excellent schools/opportunities and a great “problem” to have! Conventional wisdom says go to Kellogg because it has consistently been a leading business school in the rankings over so many years. However, since you indicate that you are not looking to change your career track then the savings of not paying any tuition at Notre Dame sounds truly compelling. If you were looking for a career change I would advise to go for Kellogg – however in this case I think it is legitimately a question.
      At the end of the day, they are both great brands and you cannot make a bad choice. Which one excites you more (cost aside)? That is what would ultimately guide me…

      • Ravi

        Hi Affirmation,
        Thank you. Personally I like the environment of Kellogg and in past I attended their 1 wk exec ed program. But again I think of leveraging Kellogg name after 3-5 years completing commitment with my current employer. Not sure at that point, although I would think, my 18+ years of experience and having both PhD + MBA would hold more value vs. just an elite school.
        Happy holidays,

    • JohnAByrne

      Your short-term goals would clearly argue in favor of the Notre Dame program, but your long-term goals favor Kellogg. It’s just a bigger brand in the space and the credential would “travel” better in and outside the U.S. Plus, Kellogg has a unique global angle with its partnership agreements with other schools and Kellogg administrators have worked hard in recent years to leverage these partnerships to the benefit of the U.S. students.

      You’ll also find that person to person, Kellogg will tend to attract better students. Much of the learning in an EMBA program is peer-to-peer so the quality of your classmates is super important. There’s another reason why that is crucial: Kelogg’s alumni network is more global and more connected and that alumni network is something you will takeaway from the program besides your core education. If you only have to pay 35% of the tuition, that is a very small price to pay for the Kellogg degree. I’d say you are getting a real bargain there.

      All that said, Notre Dame is a very good school and has a very good program. So none of this is meant to diminish the Notre Dame experience, and Notre Dame has an intensely loyal alumni network, though one without the national or global scope of Kellogg. Bottom line: You are lucky to choose between two fantastic EMBA programs at two very good schools.

      • Ravi

        Hi John,
        Thank you for your detailed insight. I appreciate it!
        I do understand that Kellogg is a global outreach. However, from my point of view, when I complete my commitment to current employer and in the market again, I would be presenting myself with over 18 years of experience and having PhD + MBA degree. As I don’t plan on changing my field I would think at that point would it really matter if I am from Kellogg or Notre Dame? I would think at that point my professional expeirence and just having both degrees would hold greater value. Again I appreciate your insight. Happy Holidays!

  • Steven Lee


    I have been recently admitted to SMU Cox EMBA program. I’ve also interviewed with Case Western, Auburn and waiting for Villanova. I am currently 27 years old without a bachelors degree (110 credit hours taken with 1 more semester until my undergrad degree), withdrew from doctor of pharmacy program after 2 years and pursued business shortly after. I have about 8 years of experience (part U.S Army, Walgreens as an intern pharmacist, and entrepreneurship of owning a business).

    For those who already finished the program, what do you think of younger classmates who are in the same cohort? And how has other students leveraged their lack of experience during the program?

    If there is any feedback or if you want to part with some knowledge on what to prepare for, that would be awesome! Thank you.

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