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


Even though the latest study was done in the midst of the most severe recession since the Great Depression, graduating EMBAs last year reported an average 11.4% increase in salary and bonus, to $142,534 from their an average of $127,955 at the start of the program. “Despite the difficult economy, the data is still very positive,” says Michael Desiderio, executive director of the Executive MBA Council. The council’s student exit survey reflects the view of more than 3,674 students from 116 programs.

What’s more, these Executive MBAs tend to be among the most innovative of all the MBA programs, a fertile place for imaginative partnerships among business schools and for novel experimentation. One new example is a unique joint venture between IE Business School in Madrid and Brown University, which does not even have a business school and has never granted an MBA degree. In this relationship, Brown is the poet, with faculty slated to deliver liberal arts courses in such topics as medical anthropology and international politics. IE is the quant, carrying the bread-and-butter MBA classes.

The upshot: a 15-month EMBA program that will likely be more Einstein and Tolstoy than Welch and Gates. “Many of the leadership challenges confronting global executives arise in the social, political, cultural, and philosophical context that we all know matters, but that usually gets sidestepped in conventional MBA programs,” explains David Bach, dean of programs at IE Business School, and academic director of the IE Brown Executive MBA.

Wharton’s programs now feature a set of new, globally oriented courses in eight different locations around the world. They range from Healthcare Innovation in India taught in Hyderabad and Managing in Emerging Economies in Rio de Janeiro to High Technology Entrepreneurship in Israel and Understanding and Marketing to the Chinese Consumer in Beijing. “The premise behind this initiative is that both the students’ learning and the faculty’s understanding of the contextual nuances is uniquely enhanced by travelling to the region,” says Wharton’s Jain.

Every June, the executive MBA program at Chicago’s Booth School of Business admits 90 mid-to-upper level executives on each of three campuses: a downtown center in Chicago as well as satellite campuses in London and Singapore. All 270 incoming students kickoff the program by spending a week at Chicago’s Hyde Park campus, ending the residency with a cruise on Lake Michigan.

Then, they return to their home campuses for study—until the following summer when each cohort of 90 rotates to the other satellites. Chicago students go to study in London and then in Singapore for a week. The London students go to Chicago and Singapore, while the Singapore students trek to Chicago and London. The objective: to give the execs a true global learning experience.

Those kind of global excursions help to drive the costs of these programs up. But no one expects the fancy meals, overnight lodging, cruises, and international residencies of many of the premium programs to go away.

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.