How To Get Into An Elite EMBA Program

An artist's rendering of one of the new Wharton classrooms in San Francisco

An artist’s rendering of one of the new Wharton classrooms in San Francisco

Do I Have a Shot at Wharton?

Q:I’m starting the application process for EMBA programs and I wanted to get a sense of my likelihood of admission. I’m very interested in Wharton’s EMBA program. I’ve been working for about 10 years and currently I’m a senior manager of finance at a fast growing/hyped startup. I report into the CFO. During my career, I’ve worked in both finance and analytics (web/business analytics) at Fortune 500s. I went to an Ivy for undergrad, but my GPA isn’t great. I haven’t taken the GMAT yet, but I’m hitting the mid 600s on my practice tests. Also, I’m a woman and an underrepresented minority…How can I best position myself to increase my odds of admission?

A: It sounds like you should be competitive at Wharton. Your GMAT is solid (698 is their average, so you are in the range), and your undergrad GPA is much less important than your career pace, which as a senior manager seems to be par for the course for Wharton. It would be helpful to know how much responsibility you have in terms of direct reports, P&L authority etc. and whether you have leadership in your community outside of work. But there’s no doubt that being an underrepresented minority woman will help you a great deal at Wharton. Two numbers that should encourage you: almost half of all applicants are admitted to Wharton’s EMBA program and only 17% of Wharton’s EMBA class is female.

As a Foreign Student, Will an Executive MBA Help Me Get a Job in the United States?

Q: I am Canadian Citizen originally from China. I have 7 years work experience as Accounting Supervisor. I am working in Canada right now. I came to Canada from China for better life 7 years ago. I completed an accounting designation from China as well as from Canada [and am] looking for better challenges… I am 43 years old…Do you think it makes sense to shell out $150,000 at this age with no guarantee of clear return in investment and a good job in US? Will US companies recruit from campus after the completion of EMBA? Can I get green card and settle down in US?

A: The placement process at top EMBA programs differs from the full-time MBA’s on-campus recruiting model (which you seem to be alluding to). This is partly because students at most EMBA programs stay in their current roles and most return to it after the degree. Networking and a self-directed job search will therefore be important factors in your placement success, and there are no “guarantees,” especially if you will also be seeking a post-EMBA employer who will be willing to sponsor your green card.

So your question is really two questions: do you have the quality of career progression, responsibility/managerial level, and “branding” to get admitted to a top-tier EMBA, and if you do will that EMBA assure you of a job in the US? To the first question, your age and 7 years of supervisory experience are in range, but I would need to know more. To the second, the answer is “probably, yes” but again “assure” means “high probability,” not “guarantee.”

  • 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