Guide To The Top EMBAs In Chicago Metro Area

Chicago cityscape from Lincoln Park is the backdrop for the top exeucive MBA rankings article.

Among the executive MBA programs in Chicago, who stands above the crowd?

Looking for a top-ranked Executive MBA program in the Chicago metro area? You’re in luck. Two of the very best options in the U.S. are based here, while three are ranked among the top 25. And if you widen your search to just outside a 250-mile radius of the Windy City, you’ll find a total of nine different superb programs.

At the top of the heap, of course, are the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business and Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management. These highly rated programs are nicely differentiated from each other as well, allowing candidates to choose which option is the best fit for them. And in the city itself, you also have the excellent EMBA program from Notre Dame University’s Mendoza College of Business, ranked 21st best in the U.S., and Loyola University’s Quinlan School of Business.

It’s a highly competitive marketplace, one that recently saw the University of Illinois walk from its EMBA program in Chicago. That’s true because of a wide variety of alternatives for students who want to avail themselves of other programs just a car’s drive away in Indianapolis, Ann Arbor, Cleveland, East Lansing, Mich., Lafayette, Ind., or South Bend, Ind., where Notre Dame has an extra EMBA program on a different schedule than its Chicago offering.

In the wider Chicago metro 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. Loyola’s Executive MBA, for example, meets face-to-face every other Saturday over the course of the 20 months of the EMBA but 25% of the class sessions are online and an international immersion is a core part of the program. Program start times vary from January, June, and September.

Ranking The Top EMBA Programs In Chicago

In and around Chicago proper, three of the primary four Executive MBA programs are currently ranked: Chicago, Northwestern, which holds its classes in Evanston, and Notre Dame. Loyola is the only other major option in the city and its EMBA ranked 23rd in the latest U.S. News ranking. Then, you have a bunch of ranked options within a three and one-half hour drive. For a more detailed ranking analysis, see Ranking The Best EMBAs In Chicago.

Chicago Metro RankP&Q Overall RankU.S. News RankFT RankEconomist Rank
1. Chicago (Booth)1133
2. Northwestern (Kellogg)2374
3. Michigan (Ross)6666
4. Notre Dame (Mendoza)2120NR21
5. Michigan State (Broad)26NR2133
6. Case Western (Weatherhead)37NRNR17
7. Loyola (Quinlan)4423NRNR
8. Purdue (Krannert)47NRNR29

Notes: For Poets&Quants’ 2019 ranking, the latest U.S. NewsFinancial 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 expensive program in the core Chicago market is at Kellogg where the current price tag is $213,564 for either the September or January cohort starts. That’s nearly $20K more than the $194,000 cost of the Chicago Booth EMBA which is holding the line on a tuition increase this year for the first time in memory. At Notre Dame’s Chicago or South Bend, Ind., EMBA programs, the cost is considerably cheaper: $133,515, partly the result of a decision to not increase the cost of tuition for three years in a row. The least expensive option, as you would expect, is at Loyola University’s Quinlan School where the current price tag is just under $100K at $92,064.

One recent phenomenon in the EMBA space is that schools are now discounting their sticker prices. Many schools offer scholarships that can significantly bring down the total costs of the degree. “We have been sitting at about 15% of our students getting full tuition sponsorship,” says Patty Keegan, the long-time associate dean of the North American EMBA program at Chicago Booth. “About half of our students pay for it on their own. The remainder gets some type of assistance, and some turn down the assistance because they don’t want to be tied to their employers.”

Of course, there’s a lot of difference between and among these programs other than price. Booth, for example, requires every applicant to take a standardized test: a GMAT, GRE or an Executive Assessment. In the most recent entering class, 75% of the students submitted an EA for admission (and the school offers webinars to help applicants prep for the EA). Booth began requiring the GMAT or GRE with no waivers in 2015 and added the EA as an alternative test in 2016. The average GMAT score for a Booth EMBA student is 683 out of a perfect score of 800, while the average EA score is 153 out of a maximum 200 score. Kellogg and Loyola do not require a standardized test for admission. Notre Dame also does not require the GMAT, though it may sometimes request that a would-be student take either the GMAT or the EA if the school is concerned about a student’s ability to handle the quant portion of the core curriculum.

SchoolProgramCostStartMonthsFormatEntry Exam
Chicago (Booth) EMBA$194,000June22Alternating Friday-Saturdays, with residenciesYes
Northwestern (Kellogg)EMBA$213,564Jan./Sept.18Twice monthly: Friday-SaturdayNo
Michigan (Ross)EMBA$173,500
$168,500 (residents)
August21Monthly: Friday-SaturdayNo
Notre Dame (Mendoza-Chicago)EMBA$133,515January17Alternating Friday & SaturdaysNo
Notre Dame (Mendoza-South Bend)EMBA$133,515August22Monthly: Thursday-SaturdayNo
Loyola (Quinlan)EMBA$92,064August20Alternating Saturdays
(25% online)
Michigan State (Broad)EMBA$85,000July20Alternating Friday-SaturdaysNo
Case Western (Weatherhead)EMBA$106,500August2116 3-day campus visits, Thursday-SaturdayNo
Purdue (Krannert)EMBA$85,000September19Six quarterly residencies, Monday-Saturday, plus onlineNo
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