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).

  • John A. Byrne

    In another day or so, we’ll publish our list of the best Executive MBA programs outside North America. So watch for that.

    • Gary

      Heh, where’s Long Island University?
      On a more serious note, Fordham University’s main campus is located in the Bronx (on Fordham Road), rather than New York, NY. Perhaps their MBA Program is held at the Manhattan satellite campus though.

    • Michael

      I’d like to see a ranking that aggregates eMBA programs regardless of location, similar to that published by the FT. This would be especially useful given the absence of any coherent level-check against the FT’s reporting.

      • John A. Byrne


        Great idea!

    • David

      Was this list of top 50 EMBAs outside N.A. published?

  • Chris

    Your rankings do not make sense. If the scores for each are equally weighted, how did USC get rated ahead of Duke and UNC? How was the NR factored vs. the ST?

    • Danny

      To echo Chris’s question: how does ST and NR figure into your “equal” weighting? At least in the case of NR it seems that this shouldn’t even be included yet the quick drop-off in the index suggests that an NR has a very negative impact.

      • John A. Byrne

        The methodology favors programs that are ranked by as many of the four major sources as possible. What you’re ideally looking for is widespread recognition that a school’s quality merits a ranking. If all four sources rank a school, rather than one or two, I think that means something worth capturing in a ranking system. As a result, schools that are ranked by only one or two of the four are at a natural disadvantage against those ranked by three or four sources. As for second tier schools in BusinessWeek’s ranking, all of the 25 programs are given the same score–the sum total of points from 26 to 50 divided by 25. So just to be clear, a school ranked 1st would receive 100 points. A school ranked 26th would get 75 points. Hope this helps to explain it.

        • Danny

          Thank you, John, for your explanation.

          There is a problem with this approach that impacts the two partnership programs that you include in your list (Berkeley/Columbia; Cornell/Queen’s). The reason that they are both shown as “NR” for BusinessWeek is that partnership programs are ineligible for inclusion in the BW EMBA rankings.

          Your explanation suggests that being omitted from a ranking is a reflection of a specific program’s merit. In this case, however, it is a reflection of a general policy, a policy not adopted by all other ranking publications.

          I suggest that your meta-ranking methodology is questionable when you mix the assessment of the merit of programs with basic eligibility criteria.

          • John A. Byrne

            Alas….you have identified one of many drawbacks in a ranking. As you know. the Financial Times requires that a program be in operation for a minimum of five graduating classes before it can be ranked. As you note, BusinessWeek excludes all partnership programs from its ranking because it believes assessing a one school EMBA to one delivered by multiple schools is like comparing apples and oranges. BW’s rule does prevent some of the more innovative programs from making its list. On the other hand, it’s much more difficult to control the quality of a program when responsibilities are shared across schools. It’s one reason why Chicago put its own campuses in London and Singapore and has not partnered with any other school. The same is true of Wharton. Nonetheless, I prefer not to adjust for these and other “rules” because those adjustments could be endless and would be far more subjective than simply combining the results from the four major sources of rankings. I don’t envy your job trying to promote the Cornell/Queen’s program when it remains unranked by both BW and the FT.

          • Danny

            Thanks for your response John.

            I appreciate that making adjustments to the ranking data produced by these four publications is a Pandora’s Box and can lead to a lengthy discussion of what sort of adjustments should be applied.

            I also appreciate that you confirm that the issue I highlighted does represent a drawback of your ranking. All ranking processes include potential drawbacks as well as the choices and values made by the ranking publication. I suppose it is wishful thinking on my part that consumers of this ranking data ensured they were aware of these drawbacks and choices before they allow this information to shape their opinions.

  • Aarbe

    Thank you for the EMBA rankings…It’s always an pleasure to read your in-depth and thorough review.

    I have two questions:

    1. How would the new EMBA Program offered by MIT Sloan feet into these rankings?
    I know it is new but as I am currently considering an EMBA and have gone through in-depth review of EMBA from Wharton, NYU, Columbia and Sloan ..and actually narrowed it down to Wharton and Sloan based on my strong technology background…
    I understand that Sloan’s EMBA ranking was compiled based on the BusinessWeek, The Wall Street Journal, The Financial Times, and U.S. News & World Report rankings which do not list MIT was not might not be covered, but would like to get your view on this.

    2.This ranking seems to be of exclusively of EMBAs.
    Have you considered joint global EMBAs such as Columbia-London Business School, Trium Global EMBA, etc. that are offered through schools in US or are they excluded from this rankings?
    For someone considering an EMBA these are also definitely an exciting options and I think it might be good if these are also included in the list as well..

    Your insight is highly appreciated.
    Thank you

    • John A. Byrne

      I think the MIT Sloan program will be an exceptionally strong one. I would not choose it over Wharton, but I also would have no hesitation whatsoever going to Sloan. As for the global programs, I’m now working on a ranking of non-American EMBA programs and will publish it shortly. Good luck!

      • R

        Thank you John for the reply…

        I posted my comments / questions in hurry and later on realized that I had few typos and errors. It would be good it we have a ‘edit’ button after a comment is posted for someone like me.


        • John A. Byrne


          Agree. I’ll check with my web developer to see if that can be implemented.

      • John, compared toI EMBA offered by either Columbia or NYU Stern, how do you see MIT’s EMBA ranked?

        Thanks, seriously considering it.

        • John A. Byrne

          I wouldn’t worry much about MIT’s rank. It’s a world-class, premier educational brand. Everything MIT does is first rate. Go for it.

  • Alex

    You need a rating of only Global EMBA.

    • John A. Byrne

      Working on that now.

    • At last! Someone who understands! Thanks for posting!

  • Steve


    Why is UVA Darden’s MBA for Executives not rated by some of the sources as well as your ranking? Is it too new of a program?


  • Mike

    Hi. Thanks for the weighted rankings and the additional info and exposure to top national EMBA programs. It appears some of your facts may be off, however, or maybe I’m missing something. You state in your chart above that USC is #24 in the WSJ ranking and #22 in the USNews ranking. It’s actually #4 in the WSJ:
    and I believe it’s about #12 on the USNews rankings, but I’m not currently subscribed to view USNews expanded ranking access. Can you explain the significant difference?

    • John A. Byrne

      Thanks very much. You’re absolutely right. I went back to my rankings worksheet and USC is, in fact, credited with with a rank of 4 in the Wall Street Journal rating and a rank of 12 in U.S. News. Somehow, the numbers in the table were incorrectly entered. They’re now correct. The U.S. News ranking is based entirely on a poll of b-school deans and MBA directors–people who have little if any knowledge of EMBA programs, especially those at other schools. The WSJ uses a completely different methodology: surveying corporate executives and recent EMBA grads. Of course, the problem with a survey of company executives is similar to the U.S. news problem: execs know pretty much nothing about these programs so the survey tends to reinforce whatever perceptions they have in their heads when they fill out the surveys.

  • Mike

    Yeah, all the rankings are a bit different. But now that you’ve corrected SC from #24 & #12 in the WSJ & USNews rankings, should not its index score also be corrected? Would SC have fallen out in a different spot had you caught the errors a couple days ago before the chart was posted? It’s an awesome program recognized by BW and WSJ appears to be misrepresented here. …just my opinion 🙂

  • Mike

    …previous post should have read “….from #24 and #22…”

  • John A. Byrne

    This was just an error in inserting numbers in a very big table–not an error in calculating the actual ranking. It is an awesome program and that’s why it is ranked so highly–in the top ten.

  • Alberto

    Jhon , Im Alberto Loyola from Peru- Latin America, Im planning to enter to the US Market and Im interesting to apply to DARDEN Executive MBA, but a notice that is not in the EMBA Rankings, something wrong with the program?
    I really appreciate your feedback

  • MBA 13

    Darden is not ranked yet since it is a newbie.

  • John A. Byrne


    Darden is a relative newbie to the EMBA game. That’s why it is not yet ranked. However, this is a superb school and it’s also more importantly the only EMBA program in the world where you can get a Harvard Business School-like experience. That’s because it is 100% case study taught by professors who live and breathe the case study process. As you probably know, Harvard does not have an EMBA. So Darden is the only other 100% case study school offering this degree.

    • Gad

      Hi John, just a correction re the case method and Darden’s uniqueness. The University of Western Ontario (Ivey School of Business) EMBA and regular MBA I believe is 100% case method and has been for many years.

      • John A. Byrne

        Right you are. I forgot that but will make the point.

  • Alberto

    Dear John thank you so much for your feedback, I have a Human Resources background and this is my career path, Im considering to apply to Cornell EMBA too…Please what is your opinion about it? Im looking for a general managment curriclum (and if I have the chance to take human resources course it would be great). Im not looking for a Quantitive Program, in your opinion which EMBA do not have quantitive focus?
    Thank you

  • EMBA Aspirant

    I was considering the Krannert IMM Program at Purdue University. It seems to have wide International exposure. Additionally, you earn a dual MBA degree – one from Purdue and the other from one of the partner schools in Europe. However, I was a bit disappointed to see it ranked very low. Why do you feel this is the case? Should I reconsider?

  • The comment & reply of Mr.Byrne is significant & appreciated the same.Course fees should not be the one of the aspect for selecting the ranking. To me Quality, ROI & the product(After passing the EMBA) will be the most concern thing to judge the ranking of any Institution. Actually what types of contribution will pay back to the Naion as well as World is more concerned fact to me.

  • The comment & reply of Mr.Byrne most significant & apprciated. The course fees should not be the one of the aspect to judge the ranking of any Institution.To me Quality,ROI & product(After passing the EMBA) is to be main concern to select the ranking. Actually measure the contribution(Passed EMBA aspirant) to the Nation as well as World.

  • Vijay

    The program cost for the UT-Austin EMBA has been raised for the year 2011-12 to $85,000 (and their webpage projects an increase next year too). In addition to this there is an out of state extra fee. And, the program does not cover international travel seminar.

  • Alberto

    I would like to recieved your feedback about SMU – COX -EMBA Program. Im fron Latin America and Im planning to move to Texas and look for a job as a Human Resources Manager there.
    What are your thoughts?

    • John A. Byrne


      I think it’s an excellent program. I don’t think you would be disappointed. Good luck to you.

  • vic


    Could you please comment further on Thunderbird’s ranking. Specifically for someone who might stay state side in the Healthcare industry, but has an international background…


  • HI there, thank you so much for the ranking!
    as an MBA Student in England i have to say this is a bit overwhelming, i mean the prices are going up and for an international student to come and get an MBA in the US is almost impossible.

  • EMBA_guy

    Hello John,

    Can you or anybody else pls. give some comparative opinions on two top southern california EMBA programs, USC and UCLA ?

    Strengths and weakness of each….

  • Sam R


    Do you have rankings for online EMBA programs? Are they worth it?


    • John A. Byrne


      We don’t rank online MBA programs and I don’t believe there are any credible rankings of online programs. There are a few notable online programs: at UNC, Indiana University, and Duke (which is more of a hybrid). Otherwise, I would pretty much avoid the online route.


      • Liberty Tsighis

        John, what about Thunderbird School of Global Management? Curious to here your thoughts, they have several MBA programs (full-time, EMBA, and online cert programs) and receive decent rankings in niche areas of International Business Schools, thoughts?

  • Denise M

    I Would recommend The University of Texas @ Arlington Executive MBA program. I am considering this program due to the international studies in China, and you will also receive a Graduate Certificate in Asian Business studies. http://www.emba.uta.edu/

    This is one of the few programs of this kind. Also when you research this through China’s information UT@Arlington is one of their top schools.

  • Michael

    I’m interested to know the thinking behind the considerable gap separating
    Columbia’s two ranked programs, EMBA New York and Berkeley-Columbia. The program with Berkeley yields full MBA credentials and alumni access to both schools. Presumably this is intended to be a good thing. P&Qs ranking begs the question whether joint programs offered by top caliber schools offer expanded experience, options and credibility, or if the practical result is a CV that calls attention to the fact that the candidate participated in an eMBA program, and that this is perceived to be of less value in some regard to a traditional program from a single institution?

  • John A. Byrne

    Very good question. In general, the downside of joint programs is that they can lack full integration. One school it’s thing. Another school does it’s thing. The profs of each of the schools have only scant knowledge of what each school’s faculty is teaching. And as you say, it makes it more obvious that the degree is an EMBA earned over alternating weekends and not a full-time MBA earned over two years. That said, partnership programs have become very popular and many of the world’s best business schools have them. The Berkeley-Columbia program is, without doubt, one of the best in the world. And I also don’t believe that an EMBA, especially when granted by a very good school, is inferior to an MBA in the eyes of employers. Rankings are greatly flawed and fail to capture all the strengths of these various programs.

  • Erin

    How does a school go about getting an error in the individual data and ranking corrected? I have tried contacting Poets and Quants via normal channels so far with no luck.

    • John A. Byrne


      What seems to be the error? I think I may know what the problem is. For this ranking–which was published when the site went live back on March 1–some eight months ago. At that time, we used U.S. News’ 2010 ranking for EMBA programs because the 2011 list wasn’t yet out. That list contains different rankings for EMBA programs than the previous list. We are in the process, however, of updating the EMBA rankings and will probably do so by the end of the month.


  • Ruby Pandit


    what are your thoughts about Emory’s Goizueta Business school?

    • John A. Byrne


      I think it’s a great school: very good brand, strong faculty and students. I would highly recommend it.

  • IT_Manager

    Hi John,

    This is a great analysis of EMBA rankings.A question – where would you rank Stanford’s sloan and MIT’s Fellow program among these? I know these have different format than EMBA and these are one year full time programs however both of these are for mid-career managers/executives like EMBA.
    Are there any ranking where these programs have been evaluated and ranked? How would you rate Stanford’s Sloan and MIT’s Fellow programs against any Top EMBA such as Wharton, Booth or Kellogg?

    Also when you rank global EMBA, will you include LOndon Busines School sloan as well?


    • John A. Byrne


      I’d put Stanford and MIT’s Sloan programs way up there on a level with the EMBAs at Wharton, Columbia, Booth and Kellogg, for sure. Stanford and MIT have delivered these programs over a long stretch of time and that means there’s a strong alumni network behind them. The quality of the faculty and the students is nothing less than superb. And, of course, Stanford and MIT are among the absolute best business school brands in the world. On some level, you might even go the Sloan Fellow route over a traditional EMBA because it’s pretty special. I feel the same way about London Business School.

      Hope that helps.


  • IT_Manager

    Thanks John! This really helps. I wonder why these programs have never been ranked in any ranking system neither in EMBA nor in Full time 1 year (accelerated) rankings?

    Also while MIT offers a choice of MBA, SM or SM in Technology-management for degree, Stanford sloan offers only Masters in management and instead of MBA. But I beleive that should not matter much.

  • John A. Byrne

    Agree. It doesn’t really matter at all. Good luck to you!

  • Birchtree


    What is your sense of timing for the new P&Q EMBA Rankings release?

    Thank you!

  • John A. Byrne


    Trying to crank that out within the next two weeks. Just about finished now with our full-time MBA ranking and that should be published within days.

    • Birchtree


      Great and thank you! I will stay tuned for both…much appreciated…

  • exec guy

    John – any update on the P&Q EMBA rankings for 2011?

  • IT_Manager

    Hi John,

    Thank you for the EMBA rankings and all other in-depth reviews on this site.

    I wanted to know why Yale’s EMBA (MBAe – MBA for executives) program is not listed here. Where do you think Yale MBAe program fits in comparision to these top 50 programs.

    IT Manager

  • random

    John – any update on the Exec MBA rankings?

  • b-school guy

    My prediction for the top 7 – no change in the top 5 but Michigan and UCLA will trade places

    2012 2011
    1 1. Pennsylvania (Wharton) Philadelphia, PA & San Francisco, CA
    2 2. Chicago (Booth) Chicago, IL, London & Singapore
    3 3. Northwestern (Kellogg) Evanston, IL
    4 4. Columbia Business School New York, NY
    5 5. New York (Stern) New York, NY
    6 7. UCLA (Anderson) Los Angeles, CA
    7 6. Michigan (Ross) Ann Arbor, MI

  • Birchtree

    b-school guy,

    I think you are probably right in your proposed predictions…UCLA made a nice positive move in the BW rankings recently which could push it up a spot in the weighted P&Q rankings. Cornell University’s EMBA may also make a move? It moved in the BW rankings from “ST” (Second Tier) to #21 which should also give it some potential traction for a spot move…we’ll see…looking forward to reviewing the new list!

  • Applying now

    You don’t have a link to Duke in the rankings the way you do with the other programs – is there a reason or just a website glitch?  How would you compare Wharton vs. Duke vs. Berkeley-Columbia? In your opinion, what are the biggest things I should think about when comparing these 3?

    • Anonymous

      It was just a glitch. We’re just a few days away from publishing our new 2012 ranking of the best EMBA programs and there will be a Duke link in that story. Those three programs you cite are all excellent. There is no doubt that Wharton is the established leader in the field of EMBA education. The school gets the best applicants, has the lowest acceptance rate, and puts its best faculty into the program. It is the gold standard. Comparing Duke vs. Berkeley-Columbia is a bit more difficult. First off, Duke really has three programs–the weekend MBA which is the more traditional EMBA program and then two global programs, one of younger managers and one for executives. So I think this all comes down to preference. If you go by brand, I would go Wharton.

      • krsn1

        Hi John,
        Many thanks for your insightful answers throughout this discussion…I was wondering if you have the new 2012 ranking of EMBA programs out yet.

    • new guy

      I got into Duke Cross-Continent EMBA and Columbia EMBA. Didn’t have a chance to apply to Wharton due to the deadline — chose Columbia for a variety of reasons. I can chat with you if post your e-mail or phone #

    • Anonymous

      I graduated from Duke Cross-Continent in 2010. Loved the experience. Primarily chose it because of it’s strong sense of international focus and it’s fairly large global footprint. I’m kind of betting that their aggressive global emphasis will pay off in the next 5-10 years. Assuming that you get in to all of them, I think the main deciding factor  for you will be your career goals. All the schools you’ve referenced are good, but they’ve all got very different cultures, specialties, and reputations in various fields. You’ll want to choose the school that aligns best with where you want to be in the future.

  • Anonymous

    Is an EMBA worth the time and expense?  I’m a 43 year old attorney looking to change careers/profession and have been looking at different MBA programs and also looking at EMBAs.  My general research tells me that most top schools aren’t receptive to applicants over the age of 30, regardless of your credentials.  Is an EMBA the only route for us older applicants? And by pursuing an EMBA does it  cut off opportunities for traditional networking and summer internships? Any advise is welcomed.

    • Anonymous

      Unfortunately, there is a natural bias against older candidates in full-time MBA programs. Some older applicants do get through the screen, but they are far and few between (see “Am I Too Old To Get An MBA?” 


      The available research strongly supports the value of an EMBA. A return-on-investment analysis done by The Wall Street Journal a few years ago showed that even second-tier business school programs showed the degree was worth the time and expense. The top three schools in that report were Texas A&M with a five-year ROI of 243%, the University of Florida with an ROI of 212%, and Ohio State University with an ROI of 170%.

      The Executive MBA Council, a group that is obviously self-interested in promoting the degree, also has more recent data (2010) on the returns According to its research, EMBA students say they received an 11.4% increase in salary and bonus after completing the program. Salaries rose to $142,534 from an average of $127,955 when they entered the program. The Council also reported that 37% of the EMBA students were promoted, while 68% received new responsibilities during their time in the program.

      For you, a presumed career switcher, it may be important to note that most of the top EMBA programs have dedicated staffers in their career development offices to help EMBA grads land new jobs and to transition. While you lost the internship possibility–which is an important way to switch careers in a full-time program–many EMBA offerings now have consulting projects as part of the curriculum. So you can get to know an industry, a company and contacts that way.

      Good luck to you!

      • Anonymous

        Thanks for taking the time to respond to my questions.  It seems like I just may be better off shooting for an EMBA than a traditional one.

      • We completely agree with JohnAByrne on this one.  Our EMBA program has been around for 36 years and we welcome students with experience.  We do include an “integrative project” (consulting) in our curriculum where our students work with local small businesses and Not-for-Profit organizations.   We often learn that our students, some with 25+ years of professional experience are “re-careering” and are looking for a broad business foundation and network for taking on a new business (often an entrepreneurial venture or small business purchase) after a satisfying “corporate career”. 

    • Roth

      I am an attorney (a few years older than you are) and finally took the plunge and am finishing my EMBA at Columbia Business School in a few months.  It has been a phenomenal experience, and I will truly miss it once it ends.  My advice is that even if you do have opportunities to enter into a “full time” MBA program (a misnomer since the EMBA program is just as many hours within the same time period, only the hours are clustered differently), definitely go for the EMBA program.  The level of discussion in EMBA programs is so much higher than in full-time programs since your classmates will, like you, already have substantive experience.  My classmates and I have had opportunities to take or sit in on MBA classes, and most of our professors simultaneously teach the same class in both programs, and it’s unanimous that the class dynamic reflects our broader-based experience.  Good luck!!

  • Tech applicant

    Hi John, 

    Thank you for all the great material. Poets and Quants is really the best place to get the latest news on EMBA’s. I am an entrepreneur in the digital media and tech space and have recently decided to apply for an EMBA at a school that broaden my management, operations and finance expertise. I would like to attend a school with a strong focus on tech. I currently live in New York but my long term 5 year goal is to live in San Francisco to be close to family and work at a VC firm. I have applied to MIT Sloan’s new EMBA program but I am also considering Columbia-Berkeley’s EMBA program, Wharton’s San Franscisco EMBA program and Stanford Fellowes program. Do you have a preference in terms of the curriculum of these schools and the alumni network that they have? Does it make sense to go to MIT if I ultimately would like to settle in the West Coast? 

    • John A. Byrne

      I really would use the EMBA to help you transition to the West Coast. So you’ve identified your best options already: Wharton S.F., Berkeley/Columbia, and the Stanford Sloan Fellows program. As you know, the Stanford program is not technically an EMBA program so it would require you to leave your job. Wharton is an interesting option for you because you could take some courses in Philly and some in San Fran.

      But the key thing for you is to get close to and network with the colleagues you meet on the West Coast to help with your transition. That’s why I wouldn’t hesitate to simply enroll in either the Wharton or Berkeley programs and then do the commute. It’s not that bad–I did it for five years when I was in a bi-coastal relationship. I came out here every month for five years straight, often twice a month, just as you would for two years.

      • Tech applicant

        Thanks John! Much appreciated. I would think the MIT alum also has some strong ties to San Franscisco as well? I did miss the application deadline for the other schools. It’s easy to want to go to school if you get accepted but its a big commitment in terms of time and money. So even if get into MIT Sloan I assume in the overall scheme of things it might make sense to postpone the EMBA one year and apply to the other schools to broaden my options since my goal is to live in San Fran?  

        • InterestedParty

          Tech applicant,

          I appreciate the post. Good luck in your EMBA endeavors. You have obviously listed great prospective choices! I am starting this July in the Cornell-Queen’s EMBA Program and thought I would mention that they have San Francisco Bay Area Boardroom locations, in addition to LA and San Diego locations among others in CA. It may be worth looking into in addition to the excellent choices you already mentioned. Cornell also is on rolling admissions -so it is still possible to apply.
          Thanks and good luck.

  • Anonymous

    Northwestern EMBA or Cornell EMBA?  Which would you go to and why?  

    • Birchtree

      On a pure rankings basis Northwestern gets the nod in all the publications. When I applied to EMBA programs, I was admitted to several programs and happily chose one of the Cornell EMBAs (starting this July) even though I was admitted to a few higher ranked schools. For me, Cornell was the by far the best fit and they were very proactive in getting me enthusiastic about the strengths of their programs. I am not looking to change careers, jobs, or change companies – and so whether a program is ranked #3, #7, #12, or #20 just did not make as much a difference as where I felt most comfortable and excited to attend.
      They are both excellent schools with top students and resources. I do not believe that you could make a bad choice between either. I would judge them based upon your goals, personal fit, logistics, and program particulars. Again, I do not think you could go wrong either way. Many will feel strongly one way or the other but I believe at the executive level, program fit is also critical. Good luck to you.

      • Nanuel

        Birchtree, thanks your your insightful response.  It was very helpful.  Good luck to you at Cornell this July!

  • kaygee

    John – I got admitted to Darden Executive MBA and Georgetown Evening MBA in R1 for Fall 2012. Now, I am in dilemma where to go. Please help me decide!!My background is in wireless telecommunication (10+ years including 4+ years in management) and want to go into technology strategy /management consulting in the short term, and technology based enterpreneurship in the long term. I live in northern VA, so commute is not a big differentiator. Which program has better ROI in 5 year term?
    US News came out with #11 ranking for Darden EMBA (strong debut). While Darden EMBA is a good fit for general management and enterpreneurship, Is it a good fit for strategy/consulting career?

    • Birchtree


      Congratulations on being admitted to two world class schools. I am not able to specifically advise on strategy/consulting, but the Virginia-Darden brand seems to be universally more highly regarded as top tier over Georgetown…not taking anything away from Georgetown of course because it is a terrific school also. I am not an expert in MBAs at all, just someone who is also set to start an EMBA program this July (one of the Cornell programs).
      In the end though, I would pick Darden, because I do believe it is more highly regarded and it’s network and brand would serve you better in the long run. Two great choices to have though…contests again!!

  • I’m looking into an EMBA program and am wondering if the school chosen makes a big difference.  I can’t afford one of the top tier schools.  My undergrad is from Texas Tech, and I was looking at several schools (Texas A&m-Commerce, University of North Texas, Texas Tech, University of Phoenix).  I’ve always looked down on the UofP option, but didn’t know how others view it.  I’m leaning toward Texas A&M-Commerce due to cost, but I’m unsure of their reputation as a business school.  Thoughts?

    • JohnAByrne

      I think it does, though I certainly appreciate your situation. I would definitely go with Texas A&M over the other two options you mention. But I also would suggest that you look into several UT options which should cost not that much more and have greater prestige and networking upside. EMBA programs are not nearly as selective as full-time MBA programs so your chances of a UT program are high. It’s worth whatever additional travel you will have to do to get there. Don’t pick the easy option due to geography. Pick the best option available to you.

      • Cburton1978

        Your thoughts on Ohio State & Pitt? I’m from Ohio & looking to branch out. Ohio state is ranked higher, larger network, but more $ & the relationship I’ve built with the Pitt faculty is extraordinary. Feels like home. thoughts?

  • Tanmay Lal

    I am considering an eMBA at Case this fall. I wanted to know its general ranking and also, is it going to be beneficial for someone like me ? I am a physician looking to change careers and becoming an entrepreneur and opening my own surgery center.
    Any advice will be appreciated.

  • Rizvifarah


    I recently got admitted to Cornell Executive MBA program. I am very confuse between their NewYork city program and one in which I got admitted which is in Ithaca. The group size is 7 with a board learning methodology via video conferencing. The other one is in New York with a commute of 5 hours . Which one looks more appealing between the two.


    • birchtree


      I appreciate your questions..,and Congratulations!  Cornell is a great university and brand in my opinion.  I was admitted to both the Cornell Execitive MBA Program, which is based just outside of NYC, and the Cornell-Queen’s Executive MBA Program, which earns graduates two MBA degrees, one from Cornell and one from Queen’s in Canada.  Both programs are excellent, in my opinion, and both programs lead to earning the exact same MBA from Cornell University’s Johnson School.  The Cornell-Queen’s Program was a better logistical fit for me as the Chief Investment Officer for a publicly traded REIT, where travelling every other weekend or month would be challenging.  The Cornell-Queen’s program has boardrooms in a number of cities accross the USA (I will be in the Salem, NH Boardroom) and in Canada.  Each Boardroom typically has 5-10 students in it.  The Boardrooms meet an average of 3 Saturdays a month for live-interactive video conferencing class sessions which enable the respective boardrooms/students to interact directly via such technology with each other and the professor teaching the class.  Additionally, there are 3 residential sessions which bring all of the Boardrooms together on campus at both Cornell University and Queens for approximately 10-15 days at a time that encompass roughly 40% of total class time. 

      I really liked the international perspective offered by both Cornell and Queen’s and the global reputations of each.  Businessweek recently ranked Queen’s as the #2 business school in the world outside of the United States and Cornell has been consistently ranked as a top 15 school over many many years.

      Anyway, congratulations and in my opinion both of Cornell’s executive MBA choices are excellent – pick the one that logistically fits best with your life and work…

    • Nikki’s

      I’m applying to the program this up coming spring.. The group size of 7? I thought it was a class size if 70? Which is one of the reason in why I’m applying.. Can you clear this up?

      • Birchtree

        @ Nikki’s,
        I saw your question and thought I could help out on this one…
        The class size of 70 is accurate – as I assume you are applying to the Cornell Executive MBA Program (CEMBA) based outside of NYC at the Palisades Center. When Rizvifarah mentioned a group size of 7 – I believe he was describing a Boardroom Learning Team (BLT) for the other Executive MBA Program that Cornell also offers – the Cornell-Queen’s Executive MBA (CQEMBA), which is a seperate program from the CEMBA version.
        Both Programs lead to the exact same MBA from Cornell University/Johnson – Cornell only grants one MBA degree and offers 4 ways to achieve it.
        The class size of approx 70 is with respect to the Palisades based CEMBA program.
        The CQEMBA program, for which I am currently enrolled and am VERY much a proponent of, has approximately 160 class members based accross the Country and Canada, as well as in two locations in Latin America. Each City in which the Program operates is divided into Boardrooms, sometimes more than one for larger Cities, and your individual team typically has between 5-8 members, which is what Rizvifarah was likely speaking about…
        They are both fantastic programs, and I wish you luck in your application/exploration process!

  • leadpathfinder

    Hi John, I am currently in discussions with three schools in Canada for an EMBA and want some thoughts. I am looking for a career transition (probably a new industry) and have more than 15 years work experience (3 years in senior management of a large MNC).

    I am evaluating Schulich-Kelloggs, Richard Ivey and Queens Business School. I intend to settle in Canada and need a Canada focused MBA. 

    Have heard a lot about the loose selection process of Shulich which brings in suboptimal students but understand this program is ranked top in EMBA in FT. Ivey has a very good reputation and Queens boardroom learning makes it feel like I am settling for less after paying the same price. 

    In terms of employers perception, school’s reputation and curriculum, which one would you recommend. 

    Any thoughts will be greatly appreciated. 


  • PhrogLoop

    John, thanks for all the great info available.  I am in the process of applying to both Anderson’s EMBA and the new Ross EMBA-LA.  I feel that both programs have great reputations and they both will be affordable to me using the Post 9-11 GI Bill.  I would like to start my EMBA now so that I can graduate before going back on deployable status in late 2014.  Upon retirement from Active Duty service in 2018, I’d like to go into management consulting based out of Southern California.  Which program, Anderson or Ross, has the brand/reputation/network advantage to help me attain my goal? 

    • Birchtree

      Great schools and choices. Not sure about management consulting specifically but both schools have terrific brands. Also, consider the Cornell-Queen’s EMBA program which has a LA location – it is a great brand and program as well – same with USC.
      Thanks and good luck!

  • R Craig Coulter

    John,I am currently attending the MIT EMBA program and have kept a blog detailing the experience since my admission. I thought it might be a useful resource for others considering applying to the program. You can find it at: esloanie.wordpress.com Best regards,-R.

  • Rishi4you

    Hi John,
    I am a working as part of middle management group in a large IT consulting firm and want to hone my business skills and considering an eMBA. I am based in New York,with most of my clients(IBanks) in NY. Iam admitted to Chicago Booth,which was first choice, and have also interviewed with NYU Stern. Considering the fact that I wish to work in NY in near future, I was thinking whether it is worth to apply to Columbia and NYU, wherein I will get a chance to network more and learn about the companies based in NY,so that I can make my next career move.

    What will you suggest.?

    • JohnAByrne

      Without question, Chicago offers one of the best EMBA programs in the world. It will help you wherever you end up working. That said, if your goal is to work in New York, iy would make sense to explore NYU and Columbia. Those two NYC schools also are world class and have very strong New York alumni networks. There is no question that you would get both broader and deeper coverage of New York area companies at NYU and Columbia than you could possibly get at Booth.

  • Mr J

    Struggling to make a decision between Pitt & Ohio State. OSU is ranked higher though Pitt is in the bottom 1st – 2nd tier. I am an Ohio native & I’m thinking exposure outside of Ohio makes sense. OSU has that incredible alumni network & Pitt features 2 other schools located in Europe & Brazil. Your thoughts please.

    • JohnAByrne

      Mr. J,

      First off, congrats on being accepted into two very good programs. I honestly don’t think you can make a bad choice here. One question I would ask myself is where you intend to work once you complete the degree. If it’s still Ohio, I would tend to favor Ohio State, if only because the power of that alumni network will be concentrated in your home state. 

      You might also look at the specifics of the academic experience. The Katz program, for example, features three weeklong immersion sessions in Prague, Sao Paulo, and Pittsburgh. And those sessions are with classmates from all three sites, giving this program a more global flair.

      Ohio State also features a global integration course with a required international experience, but not quite like the Katz offering. On the other hand, a compelling part of the Ohio State program is that you’ll get to work on projects that directly relate to your current business problems and you’ll prepare a business plan and get feedback on it from experts.Bottom line: Here’s what I would do. If you can, invest a day in each program. Go and spend a day with the current class at Ohio State and at Katz. That will give you enough first hand information to make the right choice for you. Good luck!


  • MBA2b

    Hi Im attracted to Duke’s Cross continent MBA program for the international flavor and their expansive worldwide alumni network. What is your take on their program?

  • SP

    John, I am debating between Duke (Fuqua school of business) and UNC (Kenan-Flagler Business school). How would you compare these two and according to you which one is better?

  • Max

    I’m 40 now, and plan to study EMBA next year.
    If to choose from Marshall EMBA and Olin EMBA, which one will you choose?
    Which B-school got a better reputation in US and more highly ranked?
    I’m looking for career transition to other industries, somewhat relaetd to finance, like M&A, PE etc.

    • JohnAByrne

      I would lean toward Marshall for two primary reasons: 1) the strength and loyalty of its alumni network, and 2) it’s location in an economy that is stronger and more suited to your interests in finance. One cautionary thought here: it’s not a slam dunk to use an EMBA to transition to a new career because you don’t have an internship to pivot to a new industry. So I would be asking tough questions going in on what you can pro-actively do to allow you to make that transition. Good luck.

  • MBA Seeker

    How is EMBA degree at Georgia State (Robinson) Atlanta?

  • Dejilo

    I am currently in the Oil & Energy Sector and I am looking at the available EMBA options in Houston” University of Houston, Texas A&M, University of Texas, Rice. I am leaning towards the University of Houston Global Energy Program given that I would like to stay in the Oil & Energy Sector. Any thoughts?

  • Robertm76

    I am looking at commuting across the continent( East to West coast) for a global EMBA progam that is not at brand name school but it has a decent decent reputation in California. I would have to go to class for four days a month. ( Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday). which means flying out on Wednesday afternoon then flying back on Monday morning.

    I notice that some students are “super commuting” to the top tier schools. Do you recommend commuting to a mid tier school?

    • JohnAByrne

      i would not commute across the continent for a mid-tier school. I would think that if you are willing to do a super commute, you can do much better than a mid-tier school. On the other hand, I don’t know what you would consider mid-tier. Generally, it is not nearly as difficult to get into EMBA programs than full-time MBAs so if you are going to get the degree and are willing to travel you should get in the best school possible.

  • Nik_Emba

    Hi John, I recently got accepted for Cornell Queens EMBA for this year but I am still unsure about the ROI of this program. I am a project manager in IT having 10 years of work exp and looking for a big jump in my career. Can you shed some light on this program and also if you are aware of the boardroom learning pattern offered by CQEMBA.

    • Birchtree

      @ Nik_Emba,

      Congratulations on your acceptance into the Cornell-Queen’s EMBA Program! I know you wrote to John, as I did as well when I was grappling with decision-making and he will no doubt provide expert opinion to you.

      However, as a current participant in the CQEMBA Program, I thought I could shed some light for you as well. I confess upfront that I am a HUGE fan and advocate of the Program – I am certainly biased in favor of both Cornell and the Program! In my opinion it offers an outstanding ROI and value proposition.

      The Boardroom Learning system is outstanding -it works incredibly well and I and many others fully prefer it to the on-campus residential sessions, which now account now account for over 40% of class time. The Boardroom environment allows you to discuss problems, cases, concepts, etc. with your Team while not interrupting the entire Class. It also allows you to refine your thoughts carefully before raising your hand and asking a question, which is nice. When we are on campus in residency – you can feel more compelled to just say something because you think you should say something. For example: “Building on what my colleague said…..”

      Lastly, the Boardroom learning model makes you feel like you are in a one-on-one discussion with the Professor instead of a face in a crowd.

      If you have not visited a Boardroom – I encourage you to do so…you will (I believe) see what I mean.

      Having just returned from Ithaca for our Second 2 week residential session, I can tell you that from an ROI perspective, many top companies truly believe in this program and the value it generates and send their talented managers. A partial list of who was represented includes:

      Google, Johnson & Johnson, Apple, Halliburton, Juniper Networks, Dell Computer, JP Morgan, TD Bank, Disney, SalesForce, Microsoft, Biogen, Mercer, Keurig, Analog Devices, Oracle, Ernst & Young, Deloitte, PWC…etc.

      As for myself, I am the Chief Investment Officer of a publicly traded company.

      Many people already have advanced degrees already.

      All of the people I have met were attracted to the Cornell global brand, as well as the recent surge of Johnson. Cornell Johnson has a new Dean – Dutta, formerly of INSEAD. Dean Dutta is very impressive and is focused on expanding Johnson into NYC on the new Cornell NYC campus and leveraging Cornell’s global brand and Ivy League heritage. He is also a huge proponent of global collaboration. Accordingly, he Queen’s University component adds a very interesting perspective of international focus. Queen’s is an outstanding business school. BW just ranked Cornell Johnson #7 in the US and Queen’s as # 4 outside of the US. Two terrific ranked programs.

      Finally, I believe Cornell set this Program up correctly to maximize value and ROI by making it a DUAL Degree Program instead of a Joint Degree. Dual degree gives you two full MBAs (for the price of one). No need trying to explain what it means to have one MBA with 2 school seals stamped on it. In CQEMBA, you will earn the Cornell Johnson MBA – the only MBA degree they grant. And you will also earn the Queen’s School of Business MBA degree as well, the only MBA degree they grant. You will have access to all the resources of each University, including Career services. It is a terrific pairing and a great value.

      The courses and professors have been outstanding and the cohort of students is very impressive. Be prepared to work VERY hard though – but it is worth it!

      Best of luck and best wishes. Cheers!

  • Ani

    Hi John,
    Ross school of management is offering EMBA at Los Angeles as well. What is your view on this program? Is it comparable with UCLA? Will Los Angeles program be able to offer Ross Michigan EMBA experience? Please advise.

    • JohnAByrne

      We’ve written a few times about this new program already. I think it will be a very good EMBA and Ross will especially deliver a world class experience in L.A. as it tries to establish a strong foothold in the market.

      • Ani

        Thanks John. I was wondering which program to choose from for my EMBA
        1. UCI
        2. Ross
        3. UCLA

        Only thing is – I will have to prepare for my GMAT to get into UCLA.

        I have attended UCI admission event and I like the program but the ranking of UCI is low and hence I am getting confused. I am in a strategic planning group and was looking for a program which will enhance my skills in this domain.

        Do you have any suggestions foe me?

        Thanks for your time

  • Militaryguy


    I’m in the Houston area and currently in the market for EMBAs. I’m applying to all the local programs (Texas A&M, Tulane, Rice, University of Houston). I’m leaning toward Tulane right now because I think it has a quality brand, heavy on finance, has a manageable price tag, has a better timeline with a 18 month program, and starts in Jan where others start in July/Aug (its Sept and I’m anxious to get started. One drawback to choosing Tulane is the lack of networking over some of the local schools. Tulane is close, so the networking is not non-exsistent. Thoughts? Are the other programs on this list worth waiting until Aug? With Tulane, I would graduate Spring 15. With the other programs, I wouldn’t graduate until Spring 16.

    • EMBAAspirant

      Consider the Cornell-Queens EMBA in Houston – great brand and convenient 16 month time-frame…

      • Shane

        Thanks for the recommendation. I had no idea Cornell was here in Houston. Are you in that program? If so, could you tell me about it?

        • EMBAAspirant

          I am currently in the Program. Cornell has been an incredible experience for me and I cannot more highly recommend a program than the Cornell-Queen’s EMBA. Incidentally, the Houston Team (I am not in Houston) for my class of 2014 cohort has incredibly talented and sucessful participants that I have gotten to know well during my enrollment. The entire cohort is extremely impressive with executives from many of the world’s finest companies represented. Cornell Johnson’s admissions team was excellent to work with and made me feel really wanted. The program works wonderfully and the professors and technology are fantastic. The residential sessions are truly special and you will develop deep bonds/friendships. The coursework and academics are what you would expect from any top quality program, ie brutal, intense, hectic, and very demanding – but also extrememly rewarding/gratifying.

          Uniquely, this is a Dual Degree Program. So upon completion, you will earn an MBA degree from Cornell University – the only MBA they grant. Additionally, you will also earn a second MBA degree from Queen’s University in Ontario Canada, and also the only MBA degree they grant. So two MBA degrees for the price of one. The Queen’s component has actually been a a phenomonal bonus to this Cornell EMBA program. As you may be aware BW ranks Queen’s University as the 4th best business school in the world, outside of the US. Incidentally, BW also ranked Cornell as the 7th best business school in the US. But rankings are always debatable and full of personal judgements. But my point is that you are dealing with two top business schools. You will also gain access to two top alumni networks for the price of one. Additionally, the teaching quality and professors at Queen’s have been outstanding, as they have also been at Cornell.

          My advice is to consider many programs and find the one(s) that best fits your criteria/needs and excite(s) you the most. For me brand and logistics were key. The Cornell brand, with its Ivy League heritage had value to me (just personally), as well as the close-knit Cornell Johnson School environment. That combined with the logistics of the Cornell-Queen’s EMBA program for work and family requirements made it a very easy choice for me. Additionally, the program is over faster than most, which it makes it quite intense but the speed also had value to me.

          Very pleased with the decision! Good luck to you!


    My EMBA at a top 5 is paid for entirely by the VA. Price of admission? 3 combat deployments and a bum leg.

  • lance

    Hi and thank you for all of the information. I have been planning and looking forward to a part time MBA program to do at night while I work. I am 36 years old, and didn’t think a full time program was right, however I am now a little concerned that I will be older and more experienced than my cohorts. I am contemplating switching gears to an EMBA so that my age/experience will be more inline with those around me. Any advice on whether or not that’s something I should worry about? I may be a little younger and less accomplished than those in an EMBA, so I guess I fall in between. Thank you

  • sujoy dey

    Hi, Could you please provide your inputs for SMU Cox EMBA. It is $120K now and they claim that the program rank within top 10. I am considering for the program. I would like to hear pros and cons of this program, brand value and recognition.