Wharton Tops Our 2012 Ranking of EMBA Programs

The University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School pricey Executive MBA program maintained its gold standard status in a new 2012 ranking by PoetsandQuantsforExecs.com. The prestige program–available at Wharton’s home campus in Philadelphia for $167,160 and the school’s West Coast campus in San Francisco for $173,940–again came in first among the best EMBA programs worldwide.

It’s not hard to see why Wharton has kept its lead. The school reports one of the lowest acceptance rates of any top EMBA program, accepting only four of every ten applicants. While half the top 20 EMBA programs don’t even require candidates to take the Graduate Management Admission Test, Wharton not only requires the exam–its enrolled EMBA students boast the highest GMAT score of any school–700 out of a maximum score of 800. Wharton’s students, moreover, already earn an average $186,988 per year in their jobs, while four out of ten (more than any other top EMBA program) already hold an advanced degree.

A familar cast of B-school characters are right behind Wharton: No. 2 Chicago Booth, No. 3 Northwestern Kellogg, No. 4 Columbia Business School, and No. 5 New York University Stern.

There were only relatively small changes among the top ten rated programs. No. 6 UCLA and No. 10 Duke gained one place each over last year, while No 7 Michigan and No. 11 USC lost one spot each. The bigger changes occurred elsewhere on the list. The Thunderbird School of Management’s EMBA program, for instance, rose six places to finish 12th, while the University of Maryland’s EMBA program had a seven-place gain so that its EMBA program came in at 18th.

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 anomalies that often show up in any one rating system. The new ranking 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 2012 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. Executives in the top 20 programs, an analysis shows, already have median base salaries of  earn $142,000, ranging from a high of $197,465 for executives in the Kellogg School’s EMBA programs to a low of $107,409 for execs in Vanderbilt University’s EMBA program (see below). Usually, executives can bring challenges at work into the classrooms for help from faculty and fellow classmates.


SchoolSalaryGMATAcceptanceAdvanced DegreeC-SuiteWithin 45 milesInt’lFemale
  1. Wharton$186,98870044%40%NA43%31%24%
  2. ChicagoNANANA20%NA30%8%22%
  3. Kellogg$197,465NANA38%11%34%32%24%
  4. Columbia$118,351NANA28%2%86%21%37%
  5. NYUNANRNA35%NA76%27%27%
  6. UCLA$123,00066467%32%8%55%8%26%
  7. Michigan$160,381NRNA35%11%28%15%20%
  8. CornellNANRNA19%5%0%27%17%
  9. Texas-AustinNA63874%39%5%NA25%19%
10. Duke$142,203NRNA26%6%4%34%28%
11. USC$172,000NR73%24%8%75%14%16%
12. Thunderbird$130,000NR98%28%20%81%23%18%
13. UNC$110,09657788%26%9%43%15%17%
14. IE$145,000NR57%NA3%6%83%17%
15. Washington$140,000NRNA35%11%70%15%26%
16. Berkeley/Col$142,000NANA35%6%59%30%28%
17. Emory$141,16059990%28%14%91%16%25%
18. Maryland$125,508NR83%27%5%82%8%23%
19. SMU$172,017NR60%21%6%90%4%21%
20. Vanderbilt$107,40959073%25%0%75%7%29%

Source: Business schools reporting to Bllomberg BusinessWeek

  • liberals have low iq’s

    give me a non arrogant mba student from a local university any day over a clown who went to a so called top 20 school!

    • Guest

       why – did you have a bad experience?

    • Bocephus

      Yeah screw edumacation and liberals! You tell em, Jethro!

  • InterestedParty


    I appreciate the P&Q EMBA rankings very much.  I believe that it is a very useful tool to aid in evaluating the many EMBA Programs that exist.  I think the methodology involved is fair and reasonable.  That said, as a upcoming participant in a dual degree Partnership EMBA Program, (Cornell-Queen’s), I do feel slightly frustrated that such Programs will always be disadvantaged by virture of their being unranked by BW.  Any shot of a P&Q Partnership EMBA ranking list?   Although, even I admit that seems unreasonable/unecessary?  Any pearls of wisdom to those pursuing partnership programs that also want a highly ranked and regarded program?  Thank you 

    • Guest

      John – that’s one of the main reasons why I didn’t apply to partnership programs. It’s easier to explain that you just went to 1 school versus 2. Some partnerships offer two separate degrees upon graduation — I’ve seen students simply say that they went to one of the two schools while explaining their MBA degree.

      • InterestedParty

        Guest…I understand your not wanting to explain two schools.  That was not a concern to me personally…but like I said, I understand.  For me personally, the more daunting proposition, were the programs offering “Joint Degrees”.  I wanted to know that I had the MBA degree from the school in question and not a hybrid diploma with two schools named.  For some, this does not bother them and so I know it is an individual concern as much as it may or may not be a market concern.  In the end I felt much better about a dual degree program (Cornell-Queen’s) where graduates recieve an MBA from each university and as you pointed out can decide how they wish to portray it on their resume afterwards…

        • Guest

          Understood – in that case – you definitely have a degree from a highly ranked and regarded program.

  • Desi Balak

    Hi John,

    Thank you for the 2012 EMBA rankings.  I wanted to know why Yale’s EMBA (MBAe – MBA for executives) program is not listed here. Its NOT a partnership/dual degree program and it is older than 5 years. Where do you think Yale MBAe program fits in comparision to these top 50 programs?Thanks, IT Manager

  • Anonymous

    Hi John,

    While I inherently like your approach in creating a “meta-ranking” based on four other publication’s analyses, I think your own methodology includes a flaw that you can address.

    Each of the four publications you use for your data collection have created a ranking system based on their own assessment of EMBA program characteristics. Each tends to focus on some aspects of the programs and potentially under-weights some other characteristics. By putting the four together in your approach, you can implicitly be broader than any one publication. So far, so good.

    Many of the source publications do not include some programs for their own, technical reasons. For example, BW will not rank partnership programs; the publications have different levels for program maturity (i.e., number of classes graduated) in order to be ranked. When those publications choose not to include schools for a technical reason, it is wrong for you to give that same school a zero ranking in your process as if it was actually evaluated by the source publication.

    The solution, John, it to create an eligibility criterion of your own. I suggest that in order for a program to be included in the P&Q EMBA ranking it must have been evaluated by all four of the source publications. Only in this way will the program you list all be on a level playing field.

    This is a small change in your methodology and one which would add greatly to the validity of your rankings. Please consider this recommendation.


    Danny Szpiro
    Associate Dean for Executive Education
    Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management
    Cornell University

    • Anonymous


      I hear what you’re saying because as I point out in the story the greater the number of sources for the ranking, the more reliable is the outcome. Instead of being able to include 55 schools (offering at least a little more guidance to readers), a methodology that only included schools ranked by all four sources would mean we would produce a list of only 10 programs. That just wouldn’t be as helpful to people who can’t get to just ten schools. As it is, readers can essentially apply their own “discount” to a ranking by clearly seeing how many sources rank a specific program. They also can decide to give one ranking greater cred than another and also adjust accordingly.

  • Guest

    Hi John,
    You mentioned earlier that you are going to add Stanford Sloan programs in this list (Masters in Management Science). Didn’t see that.

    • Anonymous

      The problem is that this is a composite ranking which means it is derivative of other existing rankings published by BusinessWeek, U.S. News, The Financial Times, and The Wall Street Journal. Stanford’s Sloan program, however prestigious, is not an Executive MBA program that can be taken by a working professional. The Sloan experience is by necessity a full-time, one-year accelerated degree program. 

      • Guest_2

        There are 2 other Sloan programs for Mid career executives as 1 year full time. MIT Fellow and London Business School Sloan program. While these are full time one year programs but from class profiles and objective perspective they are similar to EMBA.

  • Jim

    Can you explain what caused Fordham to drop from 27 to 42?

    • JohnAByrne

      When a school drops, it’s usually because its MBA program has fallen in one or more of the major rankings that our list is based on. I would have to look at this more closely to see exactly why Fordham lost ground.

      • Sariah

        I too would like to know why Fordham dropped 15 spots ?

      • We work closely with Fordham University, and have found their MBA offering (inclusive of the EMBA) to improve year on year. In fact, they have recently added further international study trips, and have a value-added approach to their offering, looking at how they can increase the ‘value’ of the programme for students inside and outside of the classroom (there is an article in our latest issue written by the Associate Dean, Francis Petit, where you can read more about this). I would consider them to be a very strong option for high-potentials, and a 15 place drop seems unjustly high.

  • Will

    Point to note about wharton is it’s intake of students lacks the general 14yrs or more of average work experience that the other top 3 EMBA programs have.  i beg your pardon but I can’t help but think that this is wharton’s way of acknowledging their weakness (their inability to attract more experienced candidates/senior executives than say Kellogg or Chicago whose intakes never have less than 13yrs of work experience on average and their students hold very senior positions in global 500 companies) Not having GMAT doesn’t mean the other top ranked EMBA programs accept students of lower calibre. It makes sense not to over-emphasize on the GMAT as EMBA programs are generally not meant for people with the profiles of full-time MBAs candidates who are usually 30 or below and have less than 10yrs work experience.  It is evident that wharton’s EMBA candidates are much younger (equal less senior at work) than say Kellogg/Chicago and most have the typical/similar profile of full-time MBA candidates rather than that of an EMBA candidate (13 or more yrs work experience /hold very senior positions at Global 500 companies)!  The question to beg is “why is wharton accepting so many candidates with profiles of a full-time MBA student for their EMBA program?!”   In addition, try taking the GMAT at 39 and as a busy CFO or CEO of a multinational corporation! vs a fledging 29yr-old mid-level manager at a similar or less recognised corporation).  wharton, it seems, is simply replicating it’s full-time MBA programs as a an EMBA program to justify charging higher tuition fees!  No doubt the wharton full-time MBA is highly recognised but it may not and should not be assumed that is the case for the EMBA program simply because it applies the same admission criteria for its EMBA program.  In fact, by applying the same criteria, they are actually lowering the quality of candidates they admit to the EMBA program and really defeats the purpose of having one to begin with.  They could have simply opened a few more “grand/jaw-dropping” campuses across the nation.  In short, what is portrayed as wharton’s strengths here could and are effectively its weaknesses.  

    • WG’11

      Did WEMBA myself, have 2 friends who did Kellogg, one Booth, all EMBA. The experience level is about the same. The C-suite stats are interesting but not that valuable — in our class there were people w/ CxO titles at small firms who I would recruit to come work with me well after classmates who were senior managers in the F100. It’s better to consider the quality of the people in the class holistically, not as a set of summary statistics. I’m biased, so take it with a grain of salt, but my class really was a group of diverse, interesting and wildly accomplished individuals. I’ll also add that I took the GMAT at 42 leading a large business unit for a multinational, traveling almost full-time… 750, evenly split. The test just makes sure professors can move at a material pace without leaving a large chunk of the class behind. By comparison, one of my friends attending one of the aforementioned Chicagoland EMBA programs calls me up with the most facile questions while trying to get through CorpFin… and he gets high passes. (Which is another joke. If your program doesn’t have entrance requirements, tests, curves and actual grades, how challenging is it really going to be week after week over two years with a meaningful day job?)

      • Your comment about people with CxO titles working at small firms is interesting. Entrepreneurial management requires significantly different skills than management at an established firm. I believe that most MBA and EMBA programs probably do an adequate job of providing their students with managerial skills fitting established firms, but few seem to appropriately distinguish between entrepreneurial management and general management. The MIT EMBA does a particularly good job, in my opinion, of educating managers to span the continuum from start-up through growth and into the management of a large firm.

  • Think372

    Ignore Will’s ignorant comments. He has obviously never visited Wharton.

    GMAT is an indication of intellect as well as commitment. If one is, as Will indicates, a senior professional with no time for GMAT, how will this person find time to get through a rigorous two-year program and what does this indicate about their commitment to their classmates? Quality programs are not rubber stamps. They are rigorous and require significant investment of time.

    Wharton student profile http://www.wharton.upenn.edu/mbaexecutive/admissions/program-facts-and-dates.cfm#entering

    There are many good schools- some don’t require GMAT; many of them won’t fail you howsoever poorly you perform at business school. Each person needs to make a choice based on their comfort level and what they perceive as quality education.

    • I’m not sure that I agree that we should ignore Will. The GMAT is a controversial tool at the EMBA stage, where senior executives don’t have time to study for a standardized exam. As you note, there are many good schools that have done away with using the GMAT as part of their admissions process. MIT’s EMBA program, which is far more senior (17 years work experience) and selective (25% vs. 40% admissions) than the Wharton EMBA, is among them. On this point at least, Wharton may be falling behind the times.

  • XYZ

    Question: I’m a partner at a PE fund who have done nothing but finance (buy-side) and I’m looking for more leadership, corp-strategic and operational knowledge. Based in europe and being 30+ which program is the best fit for me?

    • JohnAByrne


      You really have several options, though I would be inclined to try Chicago Booth because of its higher ranking, London cohort, and general reputation in the world.

  • Kaptain

    How is it that Chicago Booth only has 8% international intake, compared to Wharton’s 31% and Kellogg’s 32%, when Booth is the only B-school with international campuses – Singapore and London?

    • online seo

      that’s a great point you make! Yes, I also still get a buzz when people leave comments. I hope I never lose that, because it’s part of what makes blogging enjoyable for me.
      That’s good information to know, especially since I’m considering getting my MBA. I’m not at the level yet where I’d be getting my executive global MBA yet, but maybe in due time I will be. This is where I get stuck, should I do a distance MBA course now in the beginning of my career or wait till I’ve had more experience and then do some kind of executive MBA programs? It would also be best if my employer would pay me to further my education, I’d love to go to Thunderbird and right now I don’t make enough money to pay out of pocket, unless I got a loan. I just need to decide what to do because I do think getting an MBA in the beginning of your career does give you an advantage and an opportunity to learn from others in your field.
      Daniel (

      Radiologic Technologist)

  • Guest

    The salary states for Wharton are off. The base salary + bonus is $150K. http://www.wharton.upenn.edu/mbaexecutive/community/class-profile.cfm

  • Guest

    Typo in my previous post. The salary stats for Wharton are off. As per the following link, Wharton EMBA’s base salary+ bonus is $150K.


  • Mushitu C. Chanda


    • Hola!

      Pregunta: are you getting all of this so-called valuable experience working at an organization that does not furnish their computers with caps lock keys? I think you’ve already taken all the IQ test required to determine which type of program you should attend!

  • Mushitu C.Chanda

    wharton EMBA admissions have to rethink their empahsis on GMAT score if they were to attrack highly succesfull students.Rankings here not enough because they may be biased.The main reason am going for the EMBA is for me to net work of highly experienced classmates who can share with me their sucess stories.

    • Guidance Counselor

      You should skip the EMBA and focus on first attending a few ESL classes at a local community college. After that, maybe a class in basic reasoning at a community college will allow you to express yourself more cogently. As-is, who the hell knows what you’re talking about, but at least you have an internet connection.

  • Mark

    Hi John,

    I did not see UC Irvine in the top 50 ranking.. Do you know why it didn’t make the cut ? I thought they have good EMBA program

    • JohnAByrne

      Not sure why UC-Irvine wouldn’t have made the list except that it failed to show up on the underlying rankings of the best EMBA programs. On the other hand, UC-Irvine DOES show up on our list of the best full-time MBA programs in the U.S. In fact, on our forthcoming list UC-Irvine is among the top 50, ranked 48th this year, up six places from 54th in 2011. And because the full-time MBA program at a business school tends to be the flagship program, it pretty much sets the pace for the overall reputation of the school.

  • J

    2013 Ranking soon?

  • jcrick

    Is there a reason Judge Business does not feature here?