Known as one of the most academically rigorous programs in Los Angeles, UCLA’s Executive MBA program is offered for a fraction of the price of other programs at $83,996.
But this lower tuition cost doesn’t mean the program skimps out on quality content; as one of the oldest EMBAs in the area, this program is for business professionals who have the stamina to study alongside their demanding careers.
“UCLA is a research institute that prides itself on a rigorous curriculum,” says Sarika Thakur, executive director of EMBA admissions. “We are definitely one of the more academically rigorous executive EMBA programs and expect that level of commitment from students.”
‘RARE’ FLEXIBILITY FOR AN EMBA PROGRAM
Gonzalo Freixes, the associate dean of UCLA Anderson School of Management’s executive and part-time MBA programs, says that the program has grown considerably in the last five years; it’s gone from a class of 70 to a class of 177, and from one cohort to three. The growth of the program was due to a couple factors. The option of three delivery models — biweekly, monthly, and biweekly blended — is attractive to students who want to tailor their learning experience to meet the needs of their personal and professional lives. Plus, when covid-19 hit, UCLA was bombarded with so many qualified EMBA applicants that they added a third cohort for the growing class. This fall, they’re expecting roughly 175-200 students.
“The flexibility of our EMBA delivery is rare. If you look at Berkeley, Chicago, Kellogg, Columbia or Wharton, they don’t have that option,” Freixes says.
“The options for different schedules is what sets UCLA’s EMBA apart from other programs,” adds Francesca Baugh, EMBA executive director. “We also offer significantly more electives than other EMBA programs, and students can take these courses outside of the EMBA curriculum.”
Baugh describes the choice of electives as a highlight of the program, as well as the leadership training and study trips, which are included in the tuition. “The study trips are a wonderful bonding experience for the students,” she says.
A TEAM-BASED LEARNING APPROACH
Offered between first and second years, students have the option of studying in one of three countries. Plus, UCLA’s Center for Global Management sponsors exchanges with other EMBA programs around the world at places like London, Melbourne, and Tokyo, providing a well-rounded experience. “We have a really strong, global focus in our program,” says Baugh.
Freixes explains that their program builds community as each cohort goes through all of the core classes together. Plus, the curriculum is focused on a team-based learning approach so that each person’s unique skill sets can compliment the others. Although the program is collaborative in nature, students are also able to explore other areas of interests with different people through their electives, which can be taken with students outside of their cohort, such as with the part-time MBAs. Plus, the diversity of industries in LA and UCLA alike make this an attractive option for candidates.
“Being in Los Angeles, we have so many diverse industries. Often people from the Bay Area want to come down to Los Angeles because they were surrounded by high tech folks. Here, students can learn from different industries,” says Baugh.
On top of core courses and electives, students are also assigned a capstone project, which is like a master’s thesis and is required of all UCLA Anderson students.
“The capstone project is like a consulting study for four real companies or nonprofit organizations where the students do market research and create a written report of recommendations and a final presentation to defend it,” says Freixes. “Now, instead of doing a traditional consulting project, students have the operation to go through our entrepreneurship classes and create a business launch plan.”
PROFS WON’T BE ‘HOLDING BACK’
While students are in the EMBA program, they work extensively with career and executive coaches. With the help of these coaches, they’re able to chart their career path. Friexes advises that students take advantage of these resources while in the program rather than waiting until they graduate. “Work with our career and executive leadership team who are all certified executive coaches while you’re here. Chart out your career path so that you can then make informed decisions,” he says.
When asked who an ideal candidate is for UCLA’s EMBA program, Sarika Thakur explained that it’s someone who has a minimum of 8 years of work experience. However, the average work experience that students have entering into the program is 12-14 years. The school also wants someone with a minimum of five years of management experience, although the average is 10 years. “We want to make sure that people who are in the program are looking to collaborate and move further in their career, but we also want them to be a team with their classmates,” she says.
Thakur has some advice for prospective students, too. “Being clear on your career path is important to us. Other than that, do your homework and figure out why Anderson is the right fit for you.”
Freixes says that prospective students should be ready for the amount of studying, homework, and reading that the program requires. “Just because the students are EMBAs doesn’t mean the professors are going to hold back; they’re going to treat them like full-time students in terms of what they expect of them work-wise,” he says.
Baugh stresses that alumni are UCLA alumni for life; the school offers continuing education for alumni so that they can come back and take audit electives. They also have a full-time dedicated career coach for their alumni, so that if grads are going through a career transition, lose their job, or are negotiating a new salary, they can talk to a career coach.
To gain acceptance into the program, an interview and two essays are required. All other admission information can be found here.