If you live in the New York metro area and you want to get an MBA without quitting your job, you very possibly are in the best location to have your cake and eat it, too. From private to public universities, including two Ivies—Columbia and Cornell—in Manhattan alone, the choices are staggering. And if you just extend the arc of choices to less than a two-hour drive outside of New York City, you pick up another two Ivy League players: the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School and Yale University’s School of Management.
Overall, there are eight business schools in Manhattan with 11 different EMBA options, not counting viable nearby alternatives in New Jersey, Connecticut, and Pennsylvania. Three of the top ten Executive MBAs in the U.S.—Columbia Business School, NYU’s Stern School of Business, and Cornell University’s Johnson Graduate School of Management—are all based in Manhattan. In the New York area, you can get the degree in all kinds of formats, from traditional alternating weekend classes to Saturday- or Sunday-only sessions. Some schools offer hybrid EMBA formats, with face-to-face sessions and online study. Program start times vary from January to May, July, August, and September.
Ranking The Top EMBA Programs In New York
Just five of the nine business schools in the New York metro area are ranked among the best, with Columbia Business School leading the pack of prestige programs, ahead of NYU Stern and Cornell Johnson, whose EMBA programs are tied for second (see Ranking The Best EMBAs In New York for a more detailed rankings analysis).
|NYC Metro Rank||P&Q Overall Rank||U.S. News Rank||FT Rank||Economist Rank|
|1. Columbia Business School||4||4||8||15|
|2. Cornell (Johnson)||6||12||13||11|
|2. NYU (Stern)||6||7||10||19|
|4. Rutgers Business School||24||NR||24||27|
|5. Fordham (Gabelli)||50||NR||NR||36|
Notes: For Poets&Quants’ 2019 ranking, the latest U.S. News, Financial Times and The Economist rankings are equally weighted. The ranks shown for both the Financial Times and The Economist are their U.S. ranks, not the program’s global ranking.
THE MOST COSTLY PROGRAMS ARE AT THE BIG BRAND, PRESTIGE SCHOOLS
There are programs that require a GMAT, GRE or an Executive Assessment test for admission and many that will waive a test based on your professional experience or a previous graduate degree. At Rutgers Business School, for example, only a handful of enrolled students have taken either a GMAT or the EA because the school will waive standardized tests for anyone with a graduate degree or specialized experience. More than 60% of Rutgers EMBA students already have grad degrees.
Another closely followed metric in full-time MBA programs that doesn’t fully apply to EMBA admissions is a program’s acceptance rate. Virtually all the schools do pre-interviews with candidates and those interviews tend to weed out a good number of prospective applicants, making actual acceptance rates less of a valued data point in determining the quality of a program. Out of 220 initial applications at Rutgers in the last admissions cycle, the school discouraged candidates that either lacked enough work experience or didn’t quite fit with the program. After doing interviews with about 120 applicants, the school accepted 65 and enrolled 61.
A more important consideration for most prospective EMBA students is the length of a program and its cost. The best EMBAs in the New York City area run anywhere from 18 months to 24 months, and the cost of a degree in New York ranges from a high of $208,680 at Columbia Business School to a low of $78,000 at Pace University’s Lubin School of Business.
The most costly programs, not surprisingly, are at the big brand, prestige schools that are not only highly ranked but tend to have well-connected alumni networks. Those programs are taught by world-class faculty and commonly draw the most accomplished students from more well-known companies and organizations. They often have more in-residence sessions, higher contact hours with faculty, more one-on-one executive coaching. And are more likely to include global immersions. In general, the more costly programs offer more career development help and personal coaching than the less expensive alternatives. After all, you often get what you pay for.
At the top of the heap in both prestige and price is Columbia Business School’s trio of New York-based EMBAs. Columbia is the world’s largest player in the Executive MBA market, enrolling slightly more than 400 students annually into three different options in New York and a pair of partnership programs in London and Hong Kong. What’s more, Columbia has been one of the early pioneers in executive degree programming, launching its first EMBA in 1966, second only to the University of Chicago’s entry in 1943.
|School||Program||Cost||Start Date||Months||Format||Entry Exam|
The scale of those different programs allows Columbia to teach its core in cohorts, or in CBS’ vernacular, clusters of 30 to 70 students each, after which elective courses can be taken with students from all the EMBA programs, including six international seminars every year in such varied locales as Cape Town, Shanghai, Munich, Buenos Aires, and Tel Avi.
Columbia’s largest program, its 20-month-long alternating Friday-Saturday EMBA that launches every August, brings in 144 students a year. The school’s 24-month-long, Saturday only program with a May start, enrolls 130 students. Launched in 2011, the EMBA NY Saturday option was meant to address waning corporate sponsorship and target up-and-coming high flyers who are largely paying for the degree out of pocket. Today, only 26% of Columbia’s EMBA students are fully sponsored by their employers; a full third are self-sponsored.
Also in Columbia’s New York Executive MBA portfolio is EMBA Americas, a 20-month-long program that kicks off every January and meets once a month during the core curriculum but also features three week-long residencies in year one alone in Seattle, Toronto, and Latin America. It attracts 40 students a year.
All of Columbia’s programs guarantee 36 contact hours per class or a total of 600 contact hours during the course of the program. That’s a high integrity standard, exactly the same number of hours a full-time MBA student spends in class at Columbia. Contact hours can vary widely across programs and not many schools publicly state how much time will be spent with faculty in class. However the contact hours add up, the variety of formats is a plus for busy managers and executives who often endure long commutes and the need to balance their education with professional and personal responsibilities.
‘WE’RE SEEING A FLIGHT TO QUALITY’
At Pace University’s Lubin School of Business, students can earn the degree in just ten Friday-Saturday meetings every ten weeks by compressing a lot of the learning with online study between the in-person sessions. The longest EMBA programs in New York last 24 months and are Columbia’s Saturday option and Yeshiva University’s Sunday option. The shortest? The 17-month-long, Saturday-Sunday videoconferencing option from the Cornell University partnership with Canada’s Queen’s University.
The trends impacting full-time MBA programs, from declining applications to more global competition, is also evident today in the Executive MBA market. “The EMBA space is reflecting what is happening in the full-time space: a flight to quality,” says Kelly Martin Blanco, associate dean of EMBA programs at Columbia. “We are seeing a lot of schools not being able to reach an average of 40 students in a class which is the industry average. Programs are falling way short of that. The strong programs are getting stronger. Students are looking for programs that are larger than the sum of its parts, and they are looking for the insights they get from each other and their professors.”
The most important news in the New York area of late is Cornell University’s decision to move its Executive MBA to the university’s Cornell Tech campus on Roosevelt Island. After holding classes at an IBM conference center in Palisades, N.Y., for nearly two decades, Cornell believes the move, effective with the entering class this year, will make it easier for New York City professionals to take advantage of the program. “This is an opportunity to capitalize on our investment in the Cornell Tech campus,” says Mark Nelson, dean of the Johnson Graduate School. “The convenience of going to Cornell Tech will be higher for those in New York. We anticipate that as a result, we will have a program that is even more selective if anything.”
THE NEW YORK METRO AREA ALSO ADDS MUCH TO STUDENT DIVERSITY IN EMBA PROGRAMS
The location of these programs in New York City offers an advantage in and of itself for the diversity of industry backgrounds and experience that professionals bring to the programs. Much of the learning in an Executive MBA class occurs among peers, with a professor helping to orchestrate a dynamic conversation among students from different disciplines and backgrounds. Crafting a rich mix of backgrounds is relatively easy for the New York programs, with students from tech, consulting, finance, healthcare, media, consumer products, the government, and nonprofits.
Another key variable in evaluating the quality of the program is the years of experience students bring to bear. Rob Salomon, vice dean of NYU Stern’s executive programs, maintains that Stern’s EMBA options in both New York and Washington, D.C., are “executive first, MBA second. Some of these programs tend to be more part-time programs with students that have fewer years of management experience.” In NYU Stern’s Executive MBA program in New York, students average 14 years of work experience. “They are on the cusp between vice president and senior vice president levels or they have founded their own companies and are looking to accelerate the growth of their firms,” adds Salomon. “Sometimes EMBA programs are just a euphemism for part-time MBA programs.”
No matter which program ultimately fits into your budget and time commitment, just consider yourself lucky to live in an area of the world where there are so many different options.