University of California Irvine Paul Merage School of Business’s EMBA program is older than its area peers, having been founded 40 years ago, and has a higher range price tag at $148,000.
“This program was designed for mid to senior executives,” says Jennifer Risner, EMBA director of admissions & recruitment. “They come into the program already very accomplished. On average, our students have 18 years of work experience.”
Compared to other programs, UCI’s EMBA has intimate class sizes. However, the class size is expected to grow; This year, there were 40 people in the class. Next year, they’re expecting 50 with an additional 10 people the following year, too.
CURRICULAR PRESCIENCE PAYS OFF
Not only are small class sizes a bonus for some students, but so is the cutting-edge curriculum. Risner explains that five years ago, the Merage School’s faculty came to the conclusion that their students need to know how to lead in a digital economy.
“Now, every course has been updated from this lens. It’s a completely different world now, and that means different business cases,” she says.
UCI’s EMBA classes are offered in 7 consecutive quarters for 21 months. There are four class weekends per quarter held on Friday and Saturdays. Plus, there are three off-site immersive residential classes such as Thinking Strategically in the Digital Age for Executives, Global Immersion, and Executive Leadership that are said to be a highlight of the program.
The school prides itself on a curriculum that includes core business foundations, immersive experiences, and flexible electives in areas such as accounting, economics, public policy, finance, information systems, interdisciplinary studies, marketing, operations, organization, management, real estate, or strategy that allow students to align their interests with their goals. Students can also choose to specialize in three areas: Digital transformation, innovation and entrepreneurship, or real estate and urban development.
COMMITMENT REQUIRED: ‘THIS IS A VERY RIGOROUS PROGRAM’
Risner says that many people choose an EMBA because they’re at a point in their career where they need a formal business education.
“Most students have lofty goals, and many of them meet those goals because of the EMBA and the network within their peer group.”
The school looks at three factors in potential candidates: their title, professional experience, and management experience.
“We look at each person clearly as an individual, but we need someone who is going to be committed as this is a very rigorous program.”
Risner describes the highlight for the students is the closing residential term and their international experience — the latter currently being postponed due to the pandemic.
DON’T LOOK FOR THE ‘PERFECT TIME’
She has a few words of advice for those considering an EMBA at UC Irvine.
“If the prospective candidate has thought about it for several months, I’d suggest that they don’t look for the ‘perfect’ time to do the program,” she says. “There is no perfect time. Dr. Diana Ramos, who will be doing the commencement speech this summer, always says to students: Just apply. It might not be the right time, but you’ll figure that out through the process. As long as you meet the criteria, have met with admissions staff, and have attended some events, just apply. ”
Risner says that many students are concerned that their undergraduate degree will hinder their success in the program. She advises students to not let their prior degree hold them back.“We see all types of majors: zoology, fine arts, drama, engineering, math. We want a diverse class.
“When an art major believes that they’re not going to have something to contribute, we’ll have five stories to tell them about how somebody with their background made such a difference because of how they look at problem solving.”
To gain acceptance into the program, students must have a 3.0 GPA and an essay and interview are required upon entry. For more admissions information, visit here.