The Best Chicago Metro Executive MBA Programs

Night time view of Chicago's Gleacher Center, home of Booth's Executive MBA program, known as one of the best EMBA programs in Chicago.

Chicago’s Gleacher Center downtown is the home of Booth’s Executive MBA program.

The windy city can lay claim to having two of the three best executive MBA programs in the world and four globally ranked offerings. The executive version of the MBA programs at the University of Chicago and at Northwestern University are ranked second and third in the world behind only Wharton which offers its EMBA in Philadelphia and San Francisco. Also highly ranked is the University of Notre Dame’s newly revamped EMBA program in downtown Chicago as well as the University of Illinois at Urbana Executive MBA in Chicago.

But there’s plenty of other options in and around Chicago as well. All told, there are at least nine EMBA programs in Chicago that pretty much fit into everyone’s budget and schedule, ranging in cost from less than $50,000 to nearly $160,000 and allowing you to get the degree in as short as 18 months or as long as over two years.  Some programs start in January or June; others in August and September.

Almost all of these programs offer students the opportunity to travel and study abroad. Loyola University’s EMBA program, for example, offers a capstone experience in Rome, Italy, along with an 11-day international trip to one of many locations. Purdue University at Calumet has brought its EMBA students to China and Chile in recent years to work on business projects in those countries. And the University of Illinois has one of the most compelling global adventures: a nine-month consulting project that is capped by a trip abroad during which students defend their recommendations before the senior executives of the client company.

But the University of Chicago’s program is truly unique when it comes to offering a global perspective: three campuses on three continents–downtown Chicago, London, and Singapore, making this a true global adventure that helps you build an enduring international network. The 270 admitted students–90 from each of the three locales–begin the program together in late June at Chicago Hyde Park campus.

“The very first day, we bring them to Rockefeller Chapel, our dean welcomes them, and then we have them envision themselves here in that very same space 21 months later walking down the aisle receiving their degrees,” says Patty Keegan, associate dean of the EMBA program at Chicago. “It’s a terrific ceremony. Then, they go to school. They take a leadership course, financial accounting and microeconomics that week. We end the week with a terrific cruise out on Lake Michigan for bonding until everyone returns to their home campus.”

During the second summer of the program, students from the three campuses work and study together as part of four one-week international exchange sessions. A total of four weeks–25% of the program–is spent working with students from the other two campuses. There are two sessions in Chicago and one each in London and Singapore.

There are a few other options for working professionals in the Chicago area as well. Lake Forest Graduate School of Management, which doesn’t officially have an EMBA program in Chicago, does offer classes on weeknights and Saturdays so that a professional can get his or her MBA on a part-time basis. Several other business schools also boast part-time programs on evening weekdays. Meantime, Illinois State University is starting up a new Corporate MBA program in February of 2012. That program, taught on alternating Friday evenings and all day Saturdays, will reside on the university’s campus in Normal, a two-and-one-half hour ride from Chicago.

Questions about this article? Email us or leave a comment below.