Poets&Quants Top Business Schools

University of Chicago Booth School of Business

School Data

Application Deadline: Rolling admissions

This is the granddaddy of all Executive MBA programs, which debuted in the midst of World War II in 1943. Building on that rich history, Chicago’s Booth School of Business offers a world-class program taught by some of the best business academics anywhere. The general management curriculum at Booth, with its emphasis on strategy and leadership, is designed to refresh, expand, and strengthen students’ grounding in the fundamental disciplines of business.

And recently this program had the benefit of a major overhaul after a nine-month faculty review. At a time when many institutions are lightening the workloads of their Executive MBA programs and awarding the degree in shorter timeframes, Chicago continues to have one of the most rigorous and academically challenging programs in the world. The school last year increased the international exchange portion of the program to five weeks from four, doubled the number of required electives so that students can specialize in a discipline, and tossed into the program a full menu of leadership exercises that had long been an entry hallmark of its full-time MBA experience. Booth also added a three-month-long capstone course that provides the opportunity for students to integrate concepts and tools from much of the curriculum in a multi-round simulation culminating in presentations to a panel of investor-judges. The simulation requires competing teams of students to maximize revenue for a fictitious company.

A unique strength of the program is that it boasts three campuses on three continents–downtown Chicago, London, and Hong Kong, 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 21-month program, students take 13 of the 17 courses together with their colleagues. Each student then selects four electives from a limited menu that has included such topics as entrepreneurship, private equity, options and futures, advanced marketing, and creative leadership. Students can specialize by choosing coursework in a particular academic area. Those areas are capital markets, corporate finance, entrepreneurship, strategy, marketing and leadership and management. Previously, specializations were only possible by paying extra to take an optional week of classes at the end of the program. Students now get to choose from among 12 to 18 different elective offerings and take four electives without an additional tuition fee.

During the second summer of the program, students from the three campuses work and study together as part of five one-week international exchange sessions. A total of five weeks is spent working with students from the other two campuses. There are three sessions in Chicago and one each in London and Hong Kong. Don’t think you’ll be on vacation in Europe and Asia. During those sessions, classes meet Monday through Saturday, starting at 9 a.m. and ending at 5 p.m. with a break for lunch and some study time.

At a time when most business schools are forging loose partnerships with other institutions to go global more quickly, Chicago remains committed to its original objective of using the same core faculty, based in Chicago, to deliver the programs in the three locations, a point of distinction recently made by new Booth Dean Sunil Kumar. In an interview with Poets&Quants, the former Stanford B-school professor said, “I completely subscribe to Chicago’s strategy of doing it on its own, not merely because it is a differentiating factor but primarily because the value of this institution has always been that it has had the highest academic standards. In some sense it’s easier to guarantee that by yourself. That does, of course, constrain our scale. It would take quite a bit to move me off this position that maintaining quality goes first.”

Chicago strives to avoid the creation (whether actual or perceived) of three sets of faculty who are specific to any one location. ‘‘As soon as you separate faculty for a long period of time, they no longer operate as ‘one,’ and you see a decrease in both collegiality and collaboration,’’ notes former associate dean Bill Kooser in a recent AACSB report that singled out this program as one of the more innovative global MBA offerings.

Though students in the three locations follow the same classes in consecutive order, slight differences in scheduling enable faculty to travel between the three locations to teach. Chicago students attend class on Friday and Saturday, every other week. Students in both London and Singapore attend class Monday through Saturday roughly once a month. A typical faculty member might spend a week in London, take a week off, spend a week in Singapore, and then return home for four to five weeks before repeating the rotation.

The basic curriculum is the same in all locations. Says Kooser, ‘‘What we teach is at a level that is consistent around the world.’’ While professors may adjust the examples they use in class or use cases that involve regional firms, and while each location may bring in guest speakers to focus on regional issues, no substantial variations are implemented in the program across locations.

In fact, consistency across the campuses extends beyond the faculty and curricula. Kooser reports that a constant challenge for the school is to ensure consistent quality in facilities and technology. ‘‘When students from Singapore visit the Chicago or London campus[es], for example,’’ he says, ‘‘it is only natural for them to compare the facilities and services available in the other locations with what they have experienced at their home campus.’’ This consistency also is important for faculty who travel between the locations so as to ensure that, as they travel from one location to another to deliver a course, they do not have to adapt to unfamiliar technology or processes. This is the kind of attention to detail you get from a world-class business school that has delivered an EMBA program again and again over many years.

While the London and Hong Kong campuses do not have permanent faculty, each has its own set of ‘‘permanent’’ staff (approximately 11.5 and 10.5 full-time equivalency, respectively) that help manage the location’s day-to-day operations. Led by the managing director for each location, staff members manage local marketing and recruitment efforts, on-site registration, catering and A/V needs, and student services such as course registration and materials. In addition, the school’s Career Services Office and Alumni Office both host staff in the two cities to provide program support as needed. Five staff members support the program in Chicago, but the program also relies on other staff members in the business school and university.

Latest Up-to-Date Executive MBA Rankings:

2014 Poets&Quants: 1
2013 BusinessWeek: 2
2014 U.S. News & World Report: 2
2013 Financial Times: 9
2013 The Economist: 9

Rankings Analysis: For the first time in the four years that Poets&Quants has ranked EMBA programs, Chicago rose to the very top of the list in 2014, nosing out Wharton which had won that honor for three consecutive years.

Across every major ranking, Booth does exceptionally well. It ranks second in the latest Bloomberg BusinessWeek and U.S. News & World Report EMBA rankings. And worldwide, it ranks ninth in both The Financial Times and The Economist surveys, which tend to favor non-U.S. business schools.

As a Class of 2013 grad told BusinessWeek: “The instructors are world class. The students are high caliber. The network is powerful. The knowledge is powerful.” Added another enthusiastic graduate: “Our class sourced students from every inhabited continent except for Australia, which I found to be an exceptional opportunity from a North American-based EMBA program. Further, alumni consistently return to the program to participate in EMBA electives week and alumni are also offered to attend three free MBA courses of their choice in the future. There is a nice continuing education and future network aspect to the program that I find very attractive.”

Application Fee: $100
Tuition & Fees: $168,000, including hotel accommodations and many meals

Student Perspectives:

My Story: Balancing a Job as an Eye Surgeon with Going to Booth

Average Months of Work Experience: 152
GMAT Required: No, academic potential is based on prior academic record and work history

Enrollment: 555
International: 8%
Female: 22%
African-American: 11%
Asian-American: 26%
Hispanic/Latino: 2%
Mean Age: 36

Classes Meet: Alternate weekends with occasional week-long sessions
Length of Program: 21 months

Students From These Sectors:

  • Financial Services: 22%
  • Pharmaceutical/Biotechnology/Health Care: 17%
  • Consulting: 13%
  • Petroleum/Energy: 10%
  • Technology: 7%
  • Manufacturing: 7%
  • Government: 4%
  • Media/Entertainment: 2%
  • Real Estate: 1%

Contact Information

450 N. Cityfront Plaza Drive
Chicago, Illinois 60611
Admissions Office:
School Social Media:


The University of Chicago Booth School of Business: Shaping the World of Business

As the second oldest business school in the world and the first and only U.S. business school with permanent campuses on 3 continents, Chicago Booth teaches students the theory they need to shape business practices around the world. Through what is known as the Chicago Approach, students are encouraged to challenge assumptions, analyze everything, and think critically.

Students learn through lectures, case studies, and team projects, from world-class faculty who are regularly sought after to consult in boardrooms, in the media as well as congress and the courts. Not only was Chicago Booth the first business school with a Nobel laureate on its faculty, but it was the first to have 6 Nobel Prize winners. The school offers curricula within Full-Time, Evening, Weekend, and Executive MBA format that all provide the highest quality of education and suit students’ unique needs.

Consistently ranked among the top business schools in the world, Chicago Booth prepares students to solve challenging business problems and lead in global discussions.

Find out more about Chicago Booth School of Business.

Executive MBA Program

The very first EMBA program in the world began at Chicago Booth in 1943. Chicago Booth’s 21-month Executive MBA Program provides managers and directors with an intense professional development experience reflecting the university’s distinctive intellectual culture. Professors with extensive real-world experience and classmates with diverse backgrounds help students take their careers to the next level.

Like Chicago Booth as a whole, the Executive MBA Program continues to be internationally recognized. Recent rankings include:

  • #2 U.S. News and World Report, 2012 and 2011
  • #1 BusinessWeek biennial rankings, 2011
  • #5 Financial Times, 2011 and 2010

Incorporating Chicago Booth’s unique tradition of rigorous analysis, the EMBA Program places high expectations on its students to use what they have learned in their careers to propel them forward to even greater success.

To read about the latest news and events from the EMBA Program, visit the EMBA Evolution blog.


Students can choose from 3 different campuses, all offering the same practical curriculum and international collaboration.

  • Chicago—The North American campus is located in the Gleacher Center in downtown Chicago near the Magnificent Mile.
    • Classes are held every other week on Fridays and Saturdays.
    • Companies with employees recently enrolled in the program on Chicago’s campus include: Chicago Energy Research; Citigroup; Ernst & Young; HSBC; Kraft Foods Inc.; Mount Sinai Hospital; Progressive Insurance; Staples, Inc.
  • London—Students from around the world attend this campus in the Woolgate Exchange, located in London’s financial center.
    • Classes are held Monday through Saturday on class weeks about once a month.
    • Companies with employees recently enrolled in the program on London’s campus include: Barclays; Bristol-Myers Squibb; Channel 4 Television Corporation; Deutsche Bank; KBC Securities; Oracle; Samsung Electronics; Zurich Financial Services.
  • Singapore—Situated in the world’s busiest port city, the Singapore campus is located in the House of Tan Yeok Nee near the U.S. Embassy.
    • Classes are held Monday through Saturday on class weeks about once a month.
    • Companies with employees recently enrolled in the program on Singapore’s campus include: Asian Development Bank; Banyu Pharmaceutical Co Ltd; GE Money; IBM Japan; Microsoft Co.; Ministry of Foreign Affairs; Singapore Economic Development Board; Symantec Corporation.

Regardless of the campus chosen, all EMBA students participate in 4 one-week international sessions, during which all 3 campuses meet to take classes, work in groups, and experience the local culture together. Learn more about the different campus options.

Geographic Diversity

Students come from over 50 countries and from all parts of the world to attend class. For the class entering in 2011, the geographic distribution was as follows:

North America: 32%
South America: 3%
Europe: 30%
Africa: 4%
Asia: 31%


With an emphasis on problem-solving, community, and collaboration, the Executive MBA curriculum helps students prepare for real-world business challenges while allowing them to balance their course work with jobs, family responsibilities, and outside interests.

The 21-month program starts in June on all campuses, and students take 2 courses per quarter. The general management curriculum includes 17 courses: 15 courses on business fundamentals and managerial leadership, 2 electives, and an option concentration.

Required Courses

Competitive Strategy
Corporate Finance for Executives
Entrepreneurial Strategy
Essentials of Effective Leadership
Financial Accounting
Financial Strategy
Global Economics
Managerial Accounting
Managerial Decision Making and Negotiation
Marketing Management I and II
Operations Statistics
Strategic Leadership

Sample Electives

Investment and Finance in China
Marketing Strategy Simulation
Organizational Economics
Power and Influence
Strategies and Processes of Negotiation
Theory and Policy of Modern Finance

Students also have the option to focus on a key area of business by choosing a concentration and taking 2 additional courses. Concentration options are:

  • Finance: Students will learn to evaluate risk and reward through an empirical lens and prepare for business level questions like: Should a company buy or build? How should executives be compensated? How do you evaluate a fund manager? What financial risks carry big rewards?
  • Strategic Management: An interdisciplinary approach involving psychology, sociology, and economics helps students develop analytical frameworks that examine the strategic issues managers face. Strategic management solutions are required to answer questions such as: What products should you make? Which markets should you enter? How should you respond to competitors’ behavior? Which operations should you outsource?
  • Marketing Management: Students will learn about the latest innovations in marketing and receive a solid grounding in fundamental disciplines like psychology, economics, and statistics, so they are prepared to face new challenges that emerge.
  • Entrepreneurship: The leading-edge entrepreneurship curriculum integrates all business areas including marketing, finance, operations, and strategy. Students get the practical tools needed to start, finance, and manage their own business, or to embark into a career in private equity.

Taking advantage of the collaborative spirit of the Chicago Approach and the international diversity of the school, students participate in 2 different study groups throughout the program. The local study group is a 5-7 member group made up of students at their “home” campus. The international study group is made up of 2 Chicago students, 2 London students, and 2 Singapore students.

View the full curriculum.

Career Management

Chicago Booth offers students numerous resources and continued support, whether they are searching for a new position, looking to change industries, or simply taking the next step at their current companies.

Career services available at all 3 campuses include:

  • CareerCast – online, audio recording series with experts discussing a variety of career development topics, including making an industry or function change, managing employees, or taking the entrepreneurial plunge
  • Self-assessment tools – tools to help students define and clarify values, interests, goals, abilities, and styles
  • Community Directory – allows students to find colleagues, locate contacts at a prospective company, or identify peers
  • Workshops and panels on career management – events such as Speed Networking that offer tips on interviewing, improving networking skills, investigating industries, developing a marketing message, writing resumes and cover letters, and negotiating a salary
  • Individualized one-on-one coaching – in person or by telephone, coaches can assist with developing a job search strategy, understanding a job function, or preparing for an important interview

In addition to these services, the Executive MBA Program’s global alumni network consists of over 46,000 alumni in more than 116 countries, offering graduates yet another resource for networking and sharing. 

Is the Executive MBA Program right for you?

Each year, approximately 270 students are admitted to the program, with 90 per campus. Students should be employed full time, and exhibit a strong and logical career progression.

Students come from a variety of industries, including Computer Services, Education, Healthcare, Investment Banking, Manufacturing, Telecommunications, and Venture Capital.

Because of the rigorous and analytical nature of the Executive MBA program, prospective students must submit a GMAT score and demonstrate their career advancement potential, commitment to completing the program, and potential contribution to classmates. Typically, applicants have an average of 13 years of work experience, and the average student age is 37.

Learn more about the Executive MBA Program.