Understanding the Difference Between MBA and Executive MBA Programs

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Earning an advanced degree in business can be a crucial step for anyone interested in career advancement, one that can open doors and increase opportunities for moving up the corporate ladder. While many people pursue a Master of Business Administration (MBA), those with several years of managerial or executive experience also have the option of earning an Executive Master of Business Administration (EMBA). It’s important for prospective students with this experience to understand the difference between MBA and Executive MBA programs, so they can choose the advanced degree best suited for their career goals.

The Purpose of an MBA Program

The primary purpose of pursuing an MBA is to gain a deeper understanding of general business and management concepts. This advanced comprehension is typically honed through a mix of theoretical and practical training scenarios that enable students to improve their competencies as they relate to real-world settings. Ultimately, the skills and knowledge gained through the completion of an MBA program prepares students to obtain advanced management positions in the corporate world.

The typical MBA curriculum consists of core courses designed to examine and teach fundamental business concepts, such as corporate finance, accounting, and technology. Some MBA programs allow students to pursue a degree focused on a specialized aspect of business, such as marketing, finance, or management information systems.

What Is an Executive MBA (EMBA) Program?

An Executive MBA program is an advanced business degree program built specifically for corporate managers and executives. It’s commonly arranged to allow enrollees to continue working in a full-time corporate position as they move toward degree completion. An EMBA is usually an option only for those who have built up considerable experience in the corporate world as either a manager or executive. This threshold is usually set at around five years, although it should be noted the average EMBA enrollee has about 10 to 12 years of work experience under his or her belt.

Differences Between an MBA and an EMBA

The chief difference between an MBA and an EMBA program is the required work experience. Those enrolling in an MBA program do not have to have corporate or managerial experience. An EMBA program, on the other hand, is commonly geared toward those that already have several years of experience.

Both MBA and EMBA programs are typically two-year programs, yet there are a few elements that can produce some differentiation. For example, an MBA program can be lengthened to four years if an enrollee chooses to earn his or her degree on a part-time schedule. An EMBA program usually doesn’t offer that level of flexibility, although the course schedules are built to better accommodate the EMBA student’s work schedule.

There is also variance between the curriculum for an MBA and an EMBA. An MBA program commonly features core courses in essential business-related subjects such as accounting, finance, marketing, and management. The latter subject tends to be particularly emphasized through courses devoted to leadership, organizational behavior, and business strategy. Though an EMBA curriculum may touch on similar subjects, the courses tend to be a little more in-depth. They’re also designed to reaffirm and round out knowledge and expertise on familiar business concepts students may have encountered through their own experiences.

The difference in curriculums further clarifies the level of student that each degree is designed to attract and whether they have an executive or career-progression perspective. MBA programs tend to help students gain a deeper understanding of essential business concepts, and this more refined knowledge can help prepare them to confidently strive for roles in the executive or high-level management realm. EMBA programs, on the other hand, are designed for professionals who have already gained experience at the managerial or executive level and are looking to further strengthen their knowledge base.

Similarities Between an MBA and an EMBA

Even though an MBA and an EMBA program are designed to meet students at different stages of their corporate careers, both programs offer enrollees the opportunity to gain and refine skills that are fundamental to achieving business success, including analytical, problem-solving, and high-level leadership skills.

Both MBA and EMBA degrees also tend to open doors to more employment opportunities, such as management positions in a diverse number of fields like accounting, human resources, and marketing. These positions can lead candidates to find success in a broad range of industries, from healthcare to technology. This chance to broaden job horizons remains one of the prime movers for students seeking an advanced business degree.

A Great Chance to Prepare for Success

It’s important for students to carefully consider the differences between an MBA and an EMBA program. Once they determine which degree path is right for them, enrolling in a program offered by a university like New Jersey Institute of Technology can be a big step toward a satisfying, high-level career.

Learn More:

The online MBA and EMBA programs at New Jersey Institute of Technology are designed to prepare motivated, tech-savvy management professionals with the business expertise and technical knowledge vital for success.

Recommended Reading:

MBA vs. a Master’s in Finance: Which Is Right for You?

Where Sports and Retail Collide

The Benefits of an Online MBA vs. On Campus


Forbes, “Why People Still Want an MBA Degree”

Investopedia, “Executive MBA—EMBA”

Investopedia, “Master of Business Administration—MBA”

Investopedia, “MBA vs. Executive MBA: Which Is Better?”

New Jersey Institute of Technology, Online Master of Business Administration

New Jersey Institute of Technology, Online Executive Master of Business Administration