5 FAQs For The Executive MBA Application Process


One of the first steps in an 
Executive MBA journey is the application process. If you can present yourself well, your chances of admission and finding the right program for you will increase exponentially. For meaningful advice and answers to frequently asked questions, we spoke with Juli Bennett, Executive Director of the Executive MBA Program, and Presley Townsend, Program Coordinator of the Executive MBA Program. 

  1. What is the difference between an MBA and an Executive MBA? 

An MBA program is mainly designed for professionals at the beginning of their career. In contrast, an EMBA program caters mostly to professionals who are mid-career. Successful Executive MBA candidates typically already have had robust work experience and have led within their organizations. The actual degree awarded by schools may vary although at Vanderbilt, graduates of the full-time week-day MBA and Executive MBA earn the same MBA degree. While both programs will help you accelerate your career and lead to exceptional outcomes, the EMBA program provides greater flexibility. While both programs will help you accelerate your career and lead to exceptional outcomes, the EMBA program provides greater flexibility. To learn more about the difference and to determine which is the right fit for you, click here. 

  1. What type of experience is required to be considered for admission?

Applicants should have a minimum of 5 years of post-grad work experience. Ideally, this experience will involve managing a project, handling a budget, or serving in a leadership capacity. As mentioned, the Executive MBA is designed for mid-career professionals, so your experience should reflect your initiative and management success thus far.

“Being in a position of influence is key,” says Bennett. “You have to have been in a position where all eyes are on you. Whether it is a project, budget, or people you are managing, we like to see applicants who have experience in this management capacity,” says Bennett.  

  1. What does the admissions committee expect in the essay?

There is no exact formula for the perfect essay; your goal should be to articulate how an Executive MBA will help you achieve your professional goals and what you will bring to the program. Show how your background might enhance class discussions, how your skills will be invaluable to teamwork, and how your personal goals will enable you to excel.

“The essay is a chance to showcase what you have accomplished in your career and explain how an Executive MBA will enhance your career trajectory,” says Bennett. “We also want to understand what you will contribute to the program. Everyone enrolled in the program is an expert in something, so we want to know what you can bring to the classroom,” she adds.

  1. Is an entrance exam required? Why?

“The reason we require an assessment is because there are quantitative courses in the program, and we want you to be successful and stay on par with your classmates. It is important for you to be able to contribute in the classroom,” says Townsend. 

“We require the assessment of everyone in part because it demonstrates work ethic,” adds Bennett. “We put people on teams that work together for the entirety of the program. If we are going to put you on a team, we want to make sure you are willing to do the work and can add value.”

  1. What type of recommendations are required?

Recommendations offer an opportunity for the admissions committee to hear from someone that has worked with and relied upon you. This is a real chance to demonstrate your leadership and interpersonal skills. Importantly, this should not be an academic reference, but rather should come from someone in your organization who has worked with you in a professional capacity.

“We are looking for someone who has relied on your work. It might be someone who has served on the board for your organization, or someone who has a more peer relationship where they rely on your work, it might even be someone who has worked with you as a client. We really want professional references who have worked with and are aware of how the applicant gets things done and works with others,” says Bennett.

View the application as an opportunity to showcase your skills, experience, background, and level of readiness for the program. To learn more about the application process, click here.


The Vanderbilt Executive MBA program is designed specifically with working professionals in mind. We offer world-class education with an important degree of flexibility that minimizes disruptions to your daily rhythm and time away from personal commitments. Earn a globally recognized MBA—through our Executive Edge or Global Immersion track—that prepares you to make an immediate impact in your organization and a lasting difference in your career. And you can count on our alumni network and career resources to stay with you for life.

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