How To Get Into An Elite EMBA Program

MBADo Employers Value Executive MBA Degrees?  / Am I Too Young for an EMBA?

Q: I am thinking of Columbia, Wharton, and Kellogg. I am currently managing a trading desk at a top investment bank, but wanted to broaden my resume to eventually transition to upper management or to be more relevant to other industries as a Senior Manager. I have some issues with a 2.65 GPA, but my GMAT was a 730 (could have done higher, but don’t have time to re-take it) and I am a CFA charterholder. My work experience is strong and recommendations will be healthy, but [my] undergrad grades and a lack of charitable contribution seem like the negatives. I am also 28 years old, so although my responsibilities trump my age I am worried about the years of experience. What school do you think out of the choices makes the most sense, and will be respected?

A: The value employers place on EMBAs varies a lot by industry, and finance is certainly an industry that values the MBA. The EMBA may have lesser value in employers’ eyes, but an EMBA from an elite program like CBS, Wharton, or Kellogg will be highly valued, whether executive or full-time. Of these three schools, I see Kellogg as a challenge for you, because they definitely skew older (average age 38) and you’re not even in their middle 80% range in age. However, you are just inside the lower edge of Columbia and Wharton’s middle 80% in terms of age, so you qualify. Your GMAT offsets your GPA to a large extent, especially if the GPA is attributable to working full-time or other similar explanations. Because you are on the younger side you will need to emphasize that your managerial experience and career pace are significantly ahead of the typical pace. Having some leadership outside of work in an extracurricular would be another way to drive home this message. Top EMBA programs are not nearly as selective as full-time programs, but you might improve your odds by waiting a year and beefing up your extracurricular leadership.

Can an Executive MBA Help Me Break Into Wall Street?

Q: I am a CEO of my own company, a multimillion dollar manufacturing company I started 8 years ago. I have a bachelor of commerce…and have been in management a total of 14 years. I am considering getting an EMBA and then sell my business and pursue a lifelong dream: A Wall Street career. Which of these programs – NYU Stern, Columbia, Trium – should i go into with this in mind? Ideally I will get a chance to meet Wall Street professionals and network to get into a good firm after [I graduate].

A: I think NYU or Columbia would be best. That is a fairly big transition to make from manufacturing to Wall Street. I would sit down with the admissions people at both NYU and Columbia to discuss your career goals at length. Get a feel for how they assess your odds of making the switch. The alumni network is going to be crucial to your ability to pursue your dream. That’s why I would not recommend Trium. It’s too new a program. Both Columbia and NYU have excellent alumni contacts on Wall Street…Breaking into Wall Street at your career stage will be difficult, and Executive MBAs are not the ideal vehicle for making career changes (no internship, for example). I recommend doing some due diligence with people working for the Wall Street firms you’re interested in — get their feedback on your plans. For the purposes of your EMBA application you may want to state more ‘conventional’ post-MBA goals.

  • Kathleen Brennan

    Great article… I start EMBA at MIT next month; valuable advice here for applicants. Thanks

  • chris

    I am 48 years old. I might not start an EMBA until I am 49 or even 50. Am I too old for such a program?

    • JohnAByrne

      Definitely not. You’ll find a good number of people in their late 40s and early 50s in these programs. It’s a great time to think of an EMBA as a way to refresh your career, give yourself a generous gift of new knowledge and friends, and to bring to bear all the wonderful experience you’ve had to date. Go for it.

  • Great article. I work with EMBA clients, helping them get in to the most competitive programs and offer free initial consultations:

  • creatureji

    I am 31 years and currently pursuing EMBA @Kellogg .. My undergrad grades weren’t that great, but I spent significant amount of time starting and selling web businesses..

    I find EMBA @ Kellogg really amazing and so far it allowed me to talk and network with people and put together team to start new venture.

    F/T MBA programs are different from EMBA, and someone with 15+ years of experience shouldn’t quit work to be with F/T MBA students, other then intellectual power F/T students lack experience on what steps required to put together talented people to execute a plan which in returns generate profit.

    My advise for aspiring EMBA candidates is to have flavor of what they want to achieve in life, be laser focused and frame your ideas in structured way. This will help you connect with people who will understand you better and propel to the levels you want.

    Networking is always tricky, believe in what you want to do and don’t shy away of thoughts about what others will think off you… Speak your mind in social gathering and approach people fearlessly.

    • Julio Cardenas

      Hi, Pundit any admission tips for the Kellogg EMBA? That’s the program I intend to apply for. Thank you

      • pundit420

        several tips.. but I narrow down to top 3 from my experience and what I saw in the program..

        1) Do know your future plans and reflect it on your application as how it related to your past, current and program/ people can guide you.. I was more interested in gaining industry perspective from seasoned executives and thoughts about IT in finance.

        You will meet with some of the Top professors in all of US and I was lucky to meet with someone who enabled me start new venture.

        2) References, have your manager write strong reference letter for you, your accomplishment and how you can progress thru the ranks with this EMBA.

        It’s important because (in my opinion) EMBA students are expected to create own career path/find new job and not rely on career centre.. however they will support you

        3) Students love lively debates inside or outside classroom and what surprised me is ability to complete work and get time for outings/social life… I struggled first few months but learned techniques from them.

        You should also reflect on your application on how you can contribute to the class, stories from your experience in travel, projects, social work, entrepreneurship… opportunities…. More important..

        Not sure about other schools,, but most of the students have no ego.. they driven by instincts / intuition developed from years of experience/knowledge or from personal stories. It’s important you share some examples in interview which shows you have no ego and willing to work with someone even you don’t get along with.

        • Julio Cardenas

          Thank you very much for your useful advice. I’ll keep it in mind when I send my application. My best wishes for your endeavors.

  • Paul Davidsung

    Interesting commentary . I am thankful for the specifics , Does someone know if my company could possibly acquire a fillable OPM OF-306 version to type on ?

    • Ava Cueto

      Greetings Paul Davidsung ! my business partner got ahold of a blank OPM OF-306 document with this link