Our New Ranking of the Best Executive MBA Programs in North America

Students of the Wharton Executive MBA program in San Francisco meet in one of the rooms used for study groups in the historic Folger Building. (Photo by Jakob Masur.)

That old cliché, “you get what you pay for,” may well ring true in a new ranking by Poets&Quants of the business schools in North America with the best Executive MBA programs. At the top of the heap is the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, which boasts two EMBA programs that have the highest MBA price tags in the world. Wharton’s West Coast program, based in San Francisco, costs a whopping $172,200, while its EMBA at Penn’s home campus in Philadelphia is priced at $162,300.

Both programs, however, are world-class educational experiences. They have the same tough admission criteria as Wharton’s full-time MBA program, the same academic content and degree requirements, and the same high grading standards. “Our students are taught by the same Wharton faculty who hold them to the same standards of performance and intellectual rigor,” says Anjani Jain, Wharton’s vice dean of MBA Program for Executives.

And what about those sky high costs, some $64,200 more than the tuition and fees for Wharton’s regular MBA? Jain insists the premium is worth it. Once you include the room and board during the program’s alternating Friday-Saturday sessions included in the fees, Jain says the cost is “actually comparable to that of peer institutions. Many other EMBA programs have substantially fewer contact hours, or don’t include room and board in the base tuition.”

The other schools at the top of the heap aren’t exactly bargains, either. Wharton is closely followed in the new ranking by Chicago’s Booth School of Business ($142,000 in tuition and fees), Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management ($153,900), Columbia Business School ($148,320), and New York University’s Stern School of Business ($144,000).

To find a high-ranked school offering one of these executive MBAs for under six-figures, you have to reach down to the No. 9th ranked University of Texas at Austin which has an EMBA program for a bargain rate of $80,169–less than half the cost of either Wharton program (See the full list of the top 50 Executive MBA programs in North America on the next page).