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

The new ranking by Poets&Quants, measures the overall reputation of these programs by combining the four latest ratings on EMBA programs from BusinessWeek, The Wall Street Journal, The Financial Times, and U.S. News & World Report. By blending these rankings into a composite list, the methodology tends to diminish common anomalies in any one rating system. It also takes into account a vast array of metrics to measure the quality of the programs, from surveys of student satisfaction to rises in income attributed to the degree. Each of the four major rankings are equally weighted in this new survey of the best.

These executive versions of the MBA degree, of course, attract an older, more seasoned group of students. Typically, EMBA candidates bring more than a dozen years of work experience and more than eight years of management experience to a program. Usually, executives can bring challenges at work into the classrooms for help from faculty and fellow classmates.


And these days there’s an extraordinarily rich diversity of people studying for the degree, from doctors and lawyers to politicians and entrepreneurs. At Columbia Business School in New York, Ari Harkov spent the better part of his adult life as an aspiring and professional opera singer, touring and singing in London, Italy, France, and the U.S. At Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business, John Sampson balances his business studies with his full-time job as a brain surgeon at Duke University Medical Center. Mick Cornett, a second year EMBA student at New York University’s Stern School, is commuting from Oklahoma where he serves as mayor of Oklahoma City.

For Harkov, who quit his professional life as an opera singer in favor of real estate, the executive version of the MBA became an attractive alternative to a full-time program. “The idea of taking two years off from work for a full-time program wasn’t practical or appealing to me,” he says. “Yet pursuing a part-time program meant I would have to sacrifice the camaraderie and networking of a full-time cohort. I found the Executive MBA to be the perfect solution in terms of the blend of coursework and networking.”

Generally, the people who opt to balance their current work lives with advanced study do so to help them transition into a new career or opportunity. “Personal growth was the key factor in deciding to pursue an Executive MBA,” explains Oklahoma City Mayor Cornett. “That, coupled by the fact that I won’t be mayor forever. I tend to think that whatever chapter is next, this will lead me to something I can’t imagine today.” Adds surgeon Sampson: “Medicine teaches you how the body works, but when it comes to things such as business, there are specific ways in which the world works that medicine doesn’t help you with. It’s why I’m getting an EMBA.”


Despite the costs, studies have consistently shown that graduates of these programs tend to be more than satisfied. Some 97% of graduating EMBAs say the programs met or exceeded their expectations for impact on their careers and their organizations. A third of the grads won promotions at work, while 44% received additional job responsibilities.

About The Author

John A. Byrne is the founder and editor-in-chief of C-Change Media, publishers of Poets&Quants and four other higher education websites. He has authored or co-authored more than ten books, including two New York Times bestsellers. John is the former executive editor of Businessweek, editor-in-chief of Businessweek. com, editor-in-chief of Fast Company, and the creator of the first regularly published rankings of business schools. As the co-founder of CentreCourt MBA Festivals, he hopes to meet you at the next MBA event in-person or online.