Our 2013 Ranking Of The Best EMBA Programs

That prestige brand doesn’t come cheap. Wharton’s Executive MBA students pay the highest tuition of any EMBA program in the world. The 2012 tuition for the two-year program in San Francisco is $175,678 while the tuition for the Philadelphia program is $171,360. Those costs do not include airfare for a required international trip. The No. 2 EMBA program at the University of Chicago costs $154,000 and includes hotel and meals for two residential weeks in Chicago, a residential week in London and a residential week in Singapore. The least expensive top ten program is the University of Texas’ EMBA program which currently boasts a $89,250 pricetag.


Despite the high costs of such programs, especially at the preeminent business schools, deans predict that executive MBAs will grow in popularity, if only because students in them don’t incur the opportunity costs involved in quitting a job to attend graduate school full-time. “That is why I am a big fan of EMBA programs because the biggest part of the cost of a full-time program isn’t the tuition,” says Columbia Business School Dean Glenn Hubbard. “It’s the foregone income. EMBA solves that. And it has a sense of immediacy. When you are in an EMBA program, you can take what you learned on Saturday and bring it to work on Monday. So there is a real feedback loop you just don’t have in the full-time program.”

Networking in executive programs, moreover, can have immediate payoffs. “The network is much richer for executive students because they are already employed and within five years many of them will reach the next level, often the C-suite,” says Panos Kouvelis, senior associate dean and director of executive programs at Washington University’s Olin School. “So the people in your classroom will be very valuable contacts.”

It helps, too, that as Kouvelis points out, “life long learning has become an expectation” within corporate environments. “You have to keep acquiring new skills because the economy is changing and you never know when opportunities will come,” he says.

The best programs, moreover, offer a wide variety of formats, from the traditional alternating Friday-Saturday schedules to Saturday only classes or monthly three-day sessions. Most EMBA programs feature weeklong residencies on campus and one or more international study tours. For those who want truly global experiences, there are a large number of programs now available that allow for study in North America, Europe and Asia. Washington University’s EMBA programs in St. Louis, Kansas City, and starting this fall, in Denver, include a two-week global immersion in Shanghai, China, where students join their counterparts in the school’s partnership program with Fudan University.


Schools that moved forward in the new 2013 ranking tended to get better ratings in the past year from U.S. News and World Report or The Financial Times. BusinessWeek last ranked EMBA programs in 2011 so its list had the same impact as last year. The same was true of The Wall Street Journal which last ranked such programs in 2010. The schools that had the most dramatic climbs or falls generally fell on or off one of these key lists of the world’s best programs.

Each ranking organization uses a different methodology to measure a school’s Executive MBA program. BusinessWeek, for example, excludes partnership EMBA programs among multiple schools. The Financial Times does not rank programs under five years of age, and BusinessWeek also uses the “age of a program” as a ranking hurdle. Three of the four listed sources rank these programs globally in a single list. U.S. News only ranks U.S. programs.

These differences obviously affect a composite ranking. As a result, some very good programs are excluded from our list or, in the case of some partnership programs, they are ranked lower than they might otherwise have been. Two obvious examples: the Trium EMBA program, a joint venture of NYU’s Stern School, the London School of Economics and HEC Paris, and MIT Sloan’s relatively new EMBA program. The Financial Times ranks the Trium program third best in the world, but it is unranked by BusinessWeek, U.S. News or The Wall Street Journal, whose ranking predates the program. MIT is ranked only by U.S. News at 17th best in the U.S., largely because MIT only graduated its first EMBA class ever last year in 2012. And UC-Berkeley, which ended a years-long joint program with Columbia Business School, enters its first EMBA class into its own program this May. So it’s standing on this ranking is nearly as good as it will or should be.

Only schools whose EMBA programs are already recognized by at least two of the four most influential rankings are included on the PoetsandQuants’ ranking. Imposing this rule eliminates potential anomalies that often appear in a single ranking system due to its methodology. Some 52 programs met this requirement, while another 64 schools were only ranked by one organization and therefore failed to make our list. Because The Financial Times ranks 100 EMBA programs and BusinessWeek ranks 66 programs, those rankings tend to have more influence than U.S. News or The Wall Street Journal which both rank only 25 programs each.

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