The ABCs of Executive MBA Programs

Which eMBA program is right for you?

The 320 eMBA programs worldwide vary far more than you might realize. You can earn the degree in 13 months or as long as 24 (the average is 20 months). You can do it online or in person, regularly travel to multiple campuses worldwide or stay close to home,  pay $162,000 or as little as $71,000.

The greatest variety in eMBA programs may be found in the people who’ll sit next to you. For example, Columbia’s eMBA program attracts a far higher percentage (31%) of students from finance functional roles than Kellogg’s (12%). Similarly, at Columbia your average classmate will be a sprightly 32, at Duke a long-in-the-tooth 39. Michigan will give you an intimate 110-student learning environment; Columbia will welcome you to an 825-member throng. Eighty-eight percent of your classmates at UCLA will be from North America; at I.E. only 14%. At Columbia, 35% of your class will be female (about the same as at full-time programs); at SMU Cox a modest 14%. At UCLA, fully a third of your classmates will hail from relatively small (100 employees or less) organizations versus only 5% at USC. Nineteen percent of your classmates at SMU will have advanced degrees; at I.E. they all will.

Which of these learning environments and student bodies is best for you? Don’t go until you know.

Can I get in?

While eMBAs are less rigorous than full-time MBAs in terms of intellectual credentials (most do not even require a GMAT score, let alone a high one), they do have higher standards in terms of work experience and management experience. eMBAs programs have traditionally been populated by  middle managers. While the minimum work experience required by most eMBA programs is only 6.5 years, the average of matriculating students is 13.3 years. Moreover, schools require on average 3.6 years of management experience, and the average matriculating student has 8.4. If you’ve never formally led a team professionally you need to ask yourself whether you’re ready.

The good news? At even most highly ranked eMBA programs you’ll be hard-pressed to find a selectivity rate lower than 50%. But with eMBA programs that eager to have you, make sure you know exactly what you’re getting into.

Paul Bodine is an MBA admissions consultant and the author of Great Applications for Business School, Perfect Phrases for Business School, Perfect Phrases for Letters of Recommendation. He can be reached at Paul Bodine Consulting,