What Is An Executive MBA? Top Tips For Acceptance

June 8, 2024
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What Is an Executive MBA?How Is an EMBA Different From an MBA?The 10 Best Executive MBA ProgramsHow to Choose Which Executive MBA to Apply toTop Tips for Acceptance to Executive MBA ProgramsFAQs

The best way to present yourself as a strong contender for a promotion is to earn an advanced type of master’s of business administration (MBA) degree: an Executive MBA. 

An Executive MBA is designed for individuals who are in the middle of their career and looking to take their skills to the next level. Executive MBAs focus on developing leaders and equipping them with extensive knowledge of local and international business practices. If you’re wondering, “What is an Executive MBA?”, this guide will tell you everything you need to know, including top tips for acceptance into Executive MBA programs.

What Is an Executive MBA?

An Executive MBA (EMBA) program is geared towards experienced managers seeking expert business knowledge to advance their careers. EMBA programs have some similarities to the traditional MBA; the core educational content is the same, but instead of focusing on the fundamentals of business and management, EMBA programs focus on improving existing skills to help students take their management skills and knowledge to the next level.

How Is an EMBA Different From an MBA? 

When considering an Executive MBA vs. an MBA, there are some key differences that you should be aware of when considering your business school options. 

EMBA programs are for individuals with more professional experience than the average MBA candidate. EMBA programs focus on the more advanced aspects of business since their students have abundant business experience and extensive knowledge of the basics. Many EMBA students are still working full-time during the week, so EMBA classes are typically held on Friday nights and weekends. EMBAs are also typically more expensive than MBAs, but companies are more inclined to pay for your EMBA while you continue working full-time. EMBA courses progress faster, and have fewer electives than MBA.

Conversely, MBA programs are full-time and have far more demanding schedules. Most MBA candidates do not work while pursuing their degree, so candidates have to make a difficult choice to leave their jobs to attend business school. Because of this, MBA students typically need to pay the entire program costs themselves, so before applying for an MBA, it’s a good idea to figure out how you will finance your education.

Learn what Amy Hazen has to say about getting into an EMBA:

“Do a deep dive into what each program looks for. Once you know that an EMBA is the right career move for you, the next step is to start laying groundwork for a successful application. If you're looking to learn more about how each school is different and what each institution expects, Inspira publishes guides on every top business school each year. Visit our website to download them."

The admission requirements for the top EMBA programs in the country are discussed in the following section. These will give you a solid understanding of what it takes to be accepted to an Executive MBA program.

The 10 Best Executive MBA Programs

In this section, read about some top EMBA programs from the US News’ List of Best EMBA Programs.

School U.S. News Ranking
University of Pennsylvania Wharton School of Business 1st Best National University
Northwestern University Kellogg School of Management 2nd Best National University
University of Chicago Booth School of Business 3rd Best National University
Columbia School of Business 4th Best National University
Duke University Fuqua School of Business 5th Best National University
New York University Stern School of Business 6th Best National University
University of California Berkeley-Haas School of Business 7th Best National University
Massachusetts Institute of Technology Sloan School of Management 8th Best National University
University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business 9th Best National University
UCLA Anderson School of Business 10th Best National University

Columbia School of Business

Columbia School of Business
Location New York, NY
U.S. News Ranking 12th (tie) Best National University
Acceptance Rate 20%
Average GMAT Score 730
Average Years of Work Experience 5
Program Duration 20 months
Full Program Tuition Cost $239,880

Columbia’s School of Business strives to educate and foster the development of future business leaders who will add value to society. Columbia’s EMBA program is one of the best in the country, continually ranking in the top 12 of U.S. News rankings. Columbia is also an Ivy League school, which is a group of privately-owned universities that are also among the nation’s most prestigious academic institutions. As a result of all of these elements, it makes it incredibly difficult to get into Columbia’s EMBA program.

The EMBA program is primarily run through the Graduate School of Business’ main campus in Manhattan. You can choose from two options to earn your EMBA: the EMBA-New York Friday/Saturday or EMBA-New York Saturday. The Friday/Saturday option meets every other week except on holidays or scheduled breaks. The program runs for 20 months, and this option requires your employer to sponsor your time.

In the Saturday-only option, you will attend classes every Saturday except on holidays or scheduled breaks. This program takes 24 months to complete.

Both the Friday/Saturday and Saturday-only options begin in August and group students into learning clusters, which they will remain with for the program’s duration. Each cluster will be further broken into learning teams of five or six students, which allows you to work with a diverse, multi-disciplinary group from your first day.

Students in both EMBA program options will also complete their core curriculum requirements prior to taking any electives. The core curriculum includes corporate financing, financial accounting, managerial statistics, managerial economics, strategy formulation, leadership and organizational change, marketing strategy, operations management and strategy, business analytics, and global economics.

For those who do not live in New York City, there are other options to pursue an EMBA from Columbia. The EMBA-Americas option is open to applicants from the United States, Canada, and Latin America and only meets once a month for a week-long in-person session.

In-person classes are typically held in New York City, but week-long meetings in Seattle, Toronto, and Latin America will also occur in your first year of the program.

This program option runs for 20 months, beginning in January. Similar to the New York program options, you will take all of your core curriculum requirements first and do these in the same cohort structure. You will be able to pick your electives from a long list of global options comprising week-long courses, international seminars, and weekend electives.

There is also an EMBA-Global option available to those residing in other parts of the world. This program can be taken through either the London Business School or the University of Hong Kong. At the London location, your monthly classes will alternate between the London and New York locations. You will also earn two MBAs, one from London Business School and one from Columbia. At the Hong Kong location, your monthly classes will mainly be held in Hong Kong, but you will also attend some classes in New York, London, and Shanghai.

Your degree will be conferred by Columbia, the London School of Business, and the University of Hong Kong. To top it off, you’ll receive alumni benefits from all of the schools involved in these EMBA-Global options.

Columbia’s EMBA program is readily available to people worldwide, which also adds to the level of competition to get into the program. Its class profile best demonstrates the competition you’ll be up against when applying.

On average, the new class has nine years of work experience. Incoming classes are dominated by the financial services industry, with approximately 35% of all EMBA students coming from this industry. Other areas of the business world represented in a significant capacity include technology (11%), consulting (8%), healthcare (8%), marketing and media (8%), and retail and wholesale (8%). 

Columbia’s EMBA program has a fairly good balance between men and women in their programs, with women making up 41% of all incoming students. About 50% of incoming students are financially sponsored in full or in part by their current employer, which is important for you to consider when starting your application. This highly selective program admits just 15.2% of all its applicants each year. 

If you want to attend Columbia’s EMBA program, you will need to submit the following documents with your application:

  • A sponsorship form signed by your employer, wherein they agree to minimize your travel time and release you from all work
  • Commitments on scheduled class days. Financial sponsorship is not required.
  • Transcripts from every postsecondary institution you have attended.
  • A 50-character response outlining the goal you have for immediately after you have completed your EMBA.
  • Two letters of recommendation. Ideally, one letter should come from your current manager. Each letter should be no more than 1,000 words in length.
  • A valid GMAT, GRE, or Executive Assessment score from a test taken within the last five years.
  • Three essays, each answering their respective prompt and adhering to the specified word limit.
image sample of essay for executive MBA

If you have any additional details to add that did not fit into any of the other essays, you may use the optional essay to communicate this information to the admissions committee. Columbia states this does not need to be written as a formal essay and can be submitted as bullet points if you so choose. The optional essay can only be a maximum of 500 words.

There is a $250 fee to apply. You will only be invited for an interview if you make it to the next round of consideration. You can expect to receive a decision on your application within a few weeks following your interview.

Duke University Fuqua School of Business

Duke University Fuqua School of Business
Location Durham, NC
U.S. News Ranking 12th (tie) Best National University
Acceptance Rate 21%
Average GMAT Score 718
Average Years of Work Experience 6
Program Duration 21 months
Full Program Tuition Cost $159,700

The Fuqua School of Business is located on the main campus of Duke University in Durham, North Carolina. Fuqua boasts a top-10 Executive MBA program and is on a mission to develop future business executives who lead with compassion and collaboration.

Fuqua offers Global Executive MBA and Weekend Executive MBA programs. In the Global Executive MBA program, you will spend 21 months completing several residencies on different continents to gain a first-hand understanding of how culture influences business practices.

Outside of residency, you will participate in virtual learning to complete core courses and prepare for the next residency. At the end of your studies, you will spend two consecutive weeks at Duke participating in elective residencies, each one week in length.

The Weekend Executive MBA program is a 22-month-long program that, as the name suggests, has in-class sessions solely on weekends. Once a month, you and your class will meet at Fuqua School of Business and participate in a wide range of hands-on, collaborative learning activities throughout the three-day session.

You will also have the ability to select one of five concentrations to focus your studies on in the Weekend Executive MBA program: finance, strategy, marketing, entrepreneurship and innovation, or energy and the environment.

These available concentrations will allow you to take more elective courses in an area that best suits your interests and aspirations. If you’re interested in furthering your career in the healthcare industry, you could pursue the Health Sector Management Certificate alongside your EMBA.

Fuqua’s EMBA programs are a popular choice among individuals looking to take their careers to the next level. However, the Weekend and Global EMBA programs vary significantly by class size and profile. The Weekend EMBA program class profile averages 11 years of professional experience and admits around 188 new students annually. The main industries represented are healthcare (16%), tech (16%), and finance (13%). Though the program is relatively diverse in terms of background, with 37% of students identifying as a minority, only 29% of students identify as women. 

In the Global EMBA program, the incoming class usually enrolls fewer than 100 new students who average around nine years of professional experience. Dominant industries represented by the incoming class include sales and business development (13%), healthcare (11%), and finance (11%). 35% of students identify as women, while 16% possess international citizenship. Both EMBA programs are quite competitive, with roughly 25% of annual applicants receiving an offer of admission.

To apply to either of the EMBA programs, you will need to submit the following documents:

  • Letters of recommendation
  • Current resume or CV, not exceeding one page in length.
  • Transcripts from every postsecondary institution you have attended.
  • A score from a GMAT, GRE, or Executive Assessment taken within the last five years.
  • Responses to the two short-answer questions and one long essay are shown below.
image of Responses to the two short-answer questions

It costs $225 to apply to either the Global Executive MBA or the Weekend Executive MBA. Interviews are also a required part of the application process, and you will have to schedule it yourself after submitting your application. Your interview can be as short as 30 minutes or as long as 60 minutes.

You can expect to pay around $146,000 in tuition fees for the Weekend Executive MBA and $156,000 for the Global Executive MBA. Tuition covers your textbooks, course materials, accommodations, and meals during your on-campus sessions.

If you wish to pursue one of the concentrations, you will have to spend an extra $4,000. The Health Sector Management Certificate will cost you an additional $7,500 if you’re in the Global Executive MBA and $6,000 if you’re in the Weekend Executive MBA.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology Sloan School of Management

Massachusetts Institute of Technology Sloan School of Management
Location Cambridge, MA
U.S. News Ranking 5th Best National University
Acceptance Rate 15%
Average GMAT Score 730
Average Years of Work Experience 5
Program Duration 20 months
Full Program Tuition Cost $208,300

MIT Sloan School of Management also has a top-10 Executive MBA program, according to U.S. News’ rankings. The business school itself is world-renowned for its leading business programs geared towards professionals in the technology sector. Sloan’s mission is to develop the next industry leaders who are creative, solution-oriented individuals who will make positive strides in changing how business management is approached.

The Sloan Executive MBA program is a 20-month, full-time program that will prepare candidates to take on more significant roles and positively impact their organizations. Candidates learn the advanced practices of management and complete hands-on projects to reinforce their theoretical knowledge. At the end of their studies, candidates will be prepared to tackle larger projects in their corporate roles and increase their influence on their organizations.

In the 20 months you spend at Sloan, you will have 26 weekend sessions, which will be held on Fridays and Saturdays. You will also participate in four week-long executive modules. There will also be a one-week international project trip, the final capstone project of the Action Learning part of the EMBA curriculum. Action Learning comprises the lab components of the applied projects and organizations, which are the hands-on assessments you will complete as part of the program. 

Sloan is known for its tight-knit community and emphasis on connections and networking, so you will leave Sloan with life-long connections and an incredible network of fellow industry leaders. 

Sloan’s EMBA class profile averages 17 years of work experience before entering the program, with the average age of candidates being 41 years old. Over half of all incoming students possess advanced degrees. The largest industries represented by EMBA cohorts are healthcare (15%), software and technology (13%), and banking and financial services (13%).

You will need at least 10 years of professional experience to be considered for the program. Other components of the application include:

  • Two letters of recommendation, with the option to submit a third. At least one should be written by someone from your current organization, ideally a current supervisor.
  • A resume highlighting your work experiences and professional achievements.
  • A statement of purpose that outlines your accomplishments, both professional and personal, and states why you wish to pursue an MIT Sloan EMBA at this stage of your career.
  • Transcripts from every postsecondary institution you have attended.
  • An organizational chart that demonstrates your current company’s structure and where you fit into it.
  • A total of three essays, each responding to its specified prompt and adhering to the word limit assigned to it.
image of total of three essays

You must also be fluent in English to attend this EMBA program. This can be proven by providing a TOEFL test score. Once you submit your application through the online portal, it will be approximately two to four weeks before you hear back from the admissions committee regarding your application.

If you are invited to an interview, it will also be about four weeks before you receive an offer of acceptance or rejection. MIT Sloan reviews applications, conducts interviews, and sends out acceptance letters on an ongoing basis, so it is important to keep this in mind when deciding which round you want to apply.

New York University Stern School of Business

New York University Stern School of Business
Location New York, NY
U.S. News Ranking 7th (tie) Best National University
Acceptance Rate 27%
Average GMAT Score 732
Average Years of Work Experience 5
Program Duration 22 months
Full Program Tuition Cost $219,500

The Stern School of Business was founded in 1900 and has been on a mission to shape diverse business leaders capable of solving some of the world’s largest problems ever since. Stern’s EMBA is built around the values of excellence, an equal balance of IQ and EQ, and social responsibility and connection. As a result of Stern’s mission to be extraordinary, they are ranked the #7 EMBA program by U.S. News.

EMBA classes take place on Fridays and Saturdays on a bi-weekly basis for 22 months. Similar to the other EMBA programs outlined earlier, you will complete your core curriculum requirements before taking your elective courses.

The core courses make up your first year of study and cover various topics such as accounting, business ethics, financial skills, economics, management, and marketing. In your second year, you will choose 12 elective courses to take that align with your professional goals.

You will also participate in a Global Study Tour in your first year. This is a one-week, hands-on learning program where you will learn how business is conducted in different parts of the world. You will participate in meetings during your Global Study Tour, where you will meet with political, financial, and industrial leaders.

Upon returning home, you will complete post-trip group projects. Recent tours have taken EMBA students to Argentina, the Czech Republic, and South Korea. The Global Study Tour is a requirement for your first year in the program, but you can also participate in it in your second year.

The Stern EMBA program allows you to specialize in a variety of areas, including entrepreneurship and innovation, brand management, and corporate finance, among many others. You can specialize in a maximum of three areas and will need to complete at least nine credits in each area to achieve the specialization. The ability to specialize is unique to the Stern EMBA program and will help you better achieve the goals you set out to achieve when applying for the EMBA.

Stern’s unique approach to a traditional EMBA makes it a popular choice for those wishing to pursue an EMBA, which also means the competition to get in is quite stiff. The minimum requirements to be considered for admission are a bachelor’s degree and six years of professional experience.

The class profile averages 13 years of professional experience. Stern’s EMBA program is also fairly diverse, with 37% of students identifying as women and 33% of all students having an international background. Roughly 25% of the class also holds an advanced graduate degree. This shows Stern values diversity, academic achievement, and professional success. Stern admits roughly 27% of all its applicants annually.

The NYU Stern Executive MBA application process is different from the other schools outlined in this article. First, you will submit what Stern calls the Pre-Application. For this application, you will upload your updated resume or CV and fill out some fields with your basic personal information. Stern states this will take only 10-15 minutes to complete. There is no fee for submitting the pre-application.

A member of the admissions committee will contact you within five business days after submitting your Pre-Application and set up a time for your interview. All applicants are interviewed as part of Stern’s review process. Stern states the purpose of the 30-45 minute interview is to provide you with more information about their EMBA program and determine if you are the right fit for their program.

Following the interview, you will be asked to submit the following documents for the Formal Application:

  • Two letters of recommendation, with one ideally written by your current supervisor while the other should preferably be written by a former supervisor.
  • An up-to-date resume or CV that includes your title, employers, and the salary you received in each position. There is also an activities section where you will be able to detail any community or volunteer work you have done.
  • Transcripts from every postsecondary institution you have attended.
  • A GMAT, GRE, or Executive Assessment score from within the last five years.
  • Two essays responding to the prompts shown below, no more than 500 words in length.
image of Two essays responding to the prompts

The fee to submit the Formal Application is $175. You will have the option of uploading a completed sponsorship form from your organization. In the event that you cannot submit a letter of recommendation from your current supervisor, Stern advises you to use the optional essay to explain why your current supervisor has not provided a recommendation.

Tuition for this EMBA program is approximately $204,000. This covers your course materials, textbooks, and meals on days when you’re in class. The Global Study Tours are mostly paid for by the program, but you will have to pay for your airfare, some of your meals, any passport or visa fees, and any other expenses while you’re on the study tour.

Northwestern University Kellogg School of Management

Northwestern University Kellogg School of Management
Location Miami, FL
Chicago, IL
U.S. News Ranking 3rd (tie) Best National University
Acceptance Rate 31%
Average GMAT Score 731
Average Years of Work Experience 15
Program Duration 24 months
Full Program Tuition Cost $231,174

Kellogg School of Management opened its doors in 1908 to train and inspire up-and-coming industry leaders. Kellogg has since earned a reputation for excellence in business education and is a U.S. News top 10 business school with a #3 EMBA program. Their EMBA program is available through all of their seven different campus locations, making Kellogg the business school with the most campuses on this list. 

There are two main locations in the United States where you can pursue the Kellogg EMBA: the main campus in Evanston, Illinois, or the Miami, Florida, campus. The Evanston program meets in person twice each month for classes on Friday and Saturday, with the occasional Sunday class. The Miami program meets just once per month, and classes run from Thursday afternoon to Sunday afternoon. Both programs take 24 months to complete.

Kellogg’s EMBA is also offered through the Schulich School of Business at York University in Toronto, Canada; Guanghua School of Management at Peking University Beijing, China; Hong Kong University of Science and Technology School of Management in Hong Kong; Recanati Graduate School of Business at Tel Aviv University in Tel Aviv, Israel; and WHU - Otto Beisheim School of Management in Vallendar, Germany. The wide range of locations makes it easier to plan your EMBA studies at Kellogg regardless of where in the world you live.

Regardless of the campus you choose, you will complete the core, advanced, and elective courses to satisfy the 28-unit requirement. This breaks down to 18.5 required units, 3.5–5.5 advanced units, and 4–8 elective units.

Kellogg understands its students come from a diverse range of industries and have widely different professional goals. Hence, their EMBA program allows you to customize a sizable portion of your studies to get on the right track for meeting your goals. 

You will also participate in a Global Network Week. You will take two elective courses, Negotiation Strategies and Strategic Crisis Management, where you and your peers will simulate negotiations and crisis management with companies based in a wide range of countries. This global opportunity will allow you to meet EMBA students from the other Kellogg campuses and gain hands-on experience in high-pressure business situations.

Due to the prestige of Kellogg’s EMBA, admission to this program is highly competitive. The class profile averages 15 years of professional experience, and 68% of new students hold senior-level titles at their companies.

Students who identify as a minority make up 48% of the class, while students identifying as women represent 32% of the class. The most represented industries are finance/accounting (15%), business development/strategy (14%), and marketing/sales (13%). Kellogg admits roughly 31% of its applicants annually.

When applying to the EMBA program at Kellogg, you will need to submit the following documents:

  • Two letters of recommendation, with one ideally written by your current supervisor. Both letters should address the questions on Kellogg’s website, shown below.
image of Two letters of recommendation
  • A current resume that highlights all of your professional experience. Unlike other business schools, Kellogg does not impose a page limit on the resume or CV.
  • Transcripts from every postsecondary institution you have attended.
  • A GMAT score if you do not possess a bachelor’s degree. You will also need to take the TOEFL if you are not a U.S. permanent resident or citizen.
  • A sponsorship form signed by your company indicating they support the time you will need to take to complete the program.
  • Two essays, no more than 450 words long, responding to the following prompts.
image of Two essays, no more than 450 words long

If you have anything else to include in your application but does not fit anywhere else, you may submit a third optional essay to communicate this information to the admissions committee. Kellogg advises you to use the optional essay to explain gaps in your work history, the absence of a recommendation from your current supervisor, or any inconsistencies in your transcripts. 

There is a $150 fee to apply to the Kellogg EMBA program. Tuition is approximately $109,000 per year and includes all course materials, accommodation, and meals during your in-person sessions, as well as access to Kellogg’s career services and elective courses after you have graduated. Travel to and from campus for in-person sessions is not included.

University of California Berkeley-Haas School of Business

University of California Berkeley-Haas School of Business
Location Berkeley, CA
U.S. News Ranking 7th (tie) Best National University
Acceptance Rate 13.2%
Average GMAT Score 733
Average Years of Work Experience 12
Program Duration 22 months
Full Program Tuition Cost $205,897

The Berkeley-Haas School of Business is the second-oldest business school in the country and is home to another of U.S. News’ top 10 Executive MBA programs. Haas is known for shaping their students’ attitudes and behaviors as much as shaping their knowledge and skills. Haas also believes the best business leaders are lifelong learners and encourage their students to always be curious and open-minded as these fuel innovation.

The Haas EMBA program comprises four key pillars: finance, leadership, strategy, and entrepreneurship. You can expect to graduate with robust knowledge in each of these areas.

The program takes 20 months to complete, and you will meet for an in-person class once a month from Thursday to Saturday. In your first 12 months, you will complete 10 required courses covering topics from economics and finance to strategizing and building meaningful business relationships. 

You will also participate in a field immersion every semester as part of your experiential learning. These hands-on, immersive learning experiences will take you to different cities nationally and abroad and are generally five to seven days long. Each field immersion focuses on a specific topic that corresponds with the destination.

For example, your Public Policy immersion will occur in Washington, DC, while your Entrepreneurship and Innovation immersion will be in Silicon Valley.

Each incoming class is tiny, averaging around 70 new students annually. The class profile is made up of 51% of students coming from outside the Bay Area. In terms of diversity, 37% of new students identify as women and 9% of new students are from underrepresented minorities. The incoming class has an average of 16 years of professional experience.

The main industries represented by incoming students are software (15%) and healthcare (11%). Approximately 20% of all applicants to the Haas EMBA program are admitted each year.

To be considered for the Haas EMBA program, you must submit a completed application containing the following components:

  • Two letters of recommendation, one of which should be from your current supervisor.
  • A resume detailing your professional experience, no more than two pages in length.
  • Transcripts from every postsecondary institution you have attended.
  • A valid GMAT, GRE, or Executive Assessment score from a test taken within the past five years.
  • Two essays responding to the following prompts, no more than 300 words each.
image of two essay no more than 300 words

All applicants will participate in a 30-minute interview as part of the admissions process. You can schedule your interview either before or after you submit your application. Interviews are conducted by an admissions committee member.

The fee to apply is $200. Tuition for the entire program is $205,897, which covers your course materials, accommodations for in-person sessions and field immersions, administrative fees, and most of your meals while attending the in-person sessions and field immersions. 

University of Chicago Booth School of Business

University of Chicago Booth School of Business
Location Chicago, IL
U.S. News Ranking 3rd (tie) Best National University
Acceptance Rate 30%
Average GMAT Score 729
Average Years of Work Experience 5
Program Duration 21 months
Full Program Tuition Cost $181,076

Booth School of Business is a national leader in providing an outstanding experience for its EMBA candidates, with U.S. News consistently ranking Booth as a top-10 business school. Booth was also the first business school in America to offer an EMBA program, with its first cohort entering the program in 1943. Booth knows how to prepare business professionals with the skill set they need to achieve their career goals.

Booth offers its EMBA program at its main campus in Chicago and at its international satellite campuses in London, the U.K., and Hong Kong. Booth was the first American business school with campuses on three different continents, demonstrating its leadership in business education.

The Booth EMBA program takes 21 months to complete, beginning in August of the year you commence your studies. You will take two or three courses per quarter and will take 18 core courses in total. The structure of the live class sessions varies based on the campus where you’re completing your EMBA.

At the Chicago campus, you will attend class every other Friday and Saturday for the entirety of your studies. At the London and Hong Kong campuses, you will spend 16 weeks in class from Monday morning to Saturday afternoon over the 21-month duration of the program.

Booth also requires a total of five weeks of international sessions. Three will be spent in Chicago, and one each in London and Hong Kong. These international sessions are meant to provide EMBA candidates at all campus locations with an opportunity to expand their professional networks and see business practices from a new perspective. 

Booth’s incoming class comprises approximately 220 students annually. Approximately half of each incoming class already possesses an advanced degree. Booth’s class profile has average GMAT scores of 699 and Executive Assistant scores of 154. They average 13 years of professional experience before entering the program.

Booth also has a significant imbalance between men and women in the program, with men making up 68% of the EMBA candidates while just 32% are women. Of the approximately 5,000 applications Booth receives annually, only around 30% receive an offer of admission.

Many industries are represented in Booth’s class profile. Around 14% of candidates come from the tech industry, while 9% are from the energy/oil/utilities sector. In terms of their roles, 10% of EMBA candidates have general management positions.

To be considered for the EMBA program at Booth, you will need to submit an application with the following components:

  • The required essay, no more than two pages in length, explains why you want an EMBA from Booth and what experiences and knowledge you will bring to Booth. There is also an optional essay you can use to tell the admission committee any other information they should know about you. This can only be a maximum of one page. Reapplicants will need to submit an additional one-page essay providing an update on the educational, professional, and community work they have done since their first application.
  • A resume highlighting your professional achievements as they pertain to the Booth EMBA program.
  • Transcripts from every postsecondary institution you have attended.
  • Your test score from either the Executive Assessment, GMAT, or GRE. Booth recommends you take the Executive Assessment but will accept a GMAT or GRE score in its place.

There is a $175 fee to apply to Booth, and you will need to pay this to submit your application. Once your application has been reviewed, you may be invited to an interview. Your interview may be conducted by a member of the admission committee or by a program alumnus. Interviews are 45-60 minutes long. In your interview, you can expect to discuss your professional experiences, why you want to earn an EMBA, and what you do when you’re not at work, including your community involvement.

There are several application deadlines you can consider when completing your Booth EMBA application. There is typically an early submission deadline in October, followed by the first round submission deadline in December. The second round deadline is at the beginning of February, and the final round of submissions closes at the end of April.

To apply, you will need to register for an account by providing your first and last names, date of birth, and email address. Once you’ve set up your account, you will have access to the online application submission portal.

It will cost around $181,076 to pursue your EMBA at Booth’s Chicago campus. This cost is quite comprehensive; it covers your tuition, textbooks, and other course materials, the hotel accommodations for your international sessions, and most of the meals.

Attending Booth through the London and Hong Kong campuses will cost approximately $173,500 and $186,500, respectively. The costs for London and Hong Kong both cover the same items outlined above.

University of Pennsylvania Wharton School of Business

University of Pennsylvania Wharton School of Business
Location Philadelphia, PA
U.S. News Ranking 1st (tie) Best National University
Acceptance Rate 9%
Average GMAT Score 711
Average Years of Work Experience 13
Program Duration 24 months
Full Program Tuition Cost $223,500

The Wharton EMBA program emphasizes connection and innovation, and you will graduate from their EMBA program with an extensive network and wide breadth of business know-how. According to U.S. News, this is yet another top 10 EMBA program and Wharton’s practical approach to business education will allow you to immediately apply what you’ve learned in class to your day job. 

The Wharton EMBA program is 24 months long. In-person classes occur every other weekend at both Wharton’s main campus in Philadelphia and at their satellite campus in San Francisco. Unlike most other EMBA programs, Wharton’s program begins in May as opposed to August. You will take a total of 19 credits, 10 of which will be in the core curriculum, and nine will be elective courses. Core courses will cover the topics of leadership essentials, analytic foundations, and business foundations. 

Wharton also offers you the option to take one of its majors, such as entrepreneurial management, finance, management, marketing, and strategic management. Pursuing one of these majors will allow you to take more elective courses to increase your knowledge in your chosen major.

You will also participate in a one-week Global Business Week. This immersive learning experience will allow you to work with students across all of Wharton’s EMBA programs in a location you’ve selected from a list of a few different destinations. Destinations vary each year, and past locations have included Argentina, China, South Africa, Sweden, Finland, and Cuba. Global Business Week takes place in the first week of your second year of study. 

In addition to this international week, you can also take Global Modular Courses to earn credits. These courses are workshop-based immersive learning that takes place over the course of anywhere from three to seven days. Wharton runs 12 of these courses over the academic year, and they are usually held during school breaks. MBA and undergraduates can also enroll in these courses, so you will be working with a wide range of fellow Wharton students if you take one of these Global Modular Courses. 

Wharton admits just over 220 new students annually to its EMBA program. The class profile indicates that incoming classes average 13 years of experience in the workforce, with 52% of the class possessing an advanced degree. This is also the least diverse school on this list, with just 15% of students being from an underrepresented minority and 34% identifying as women. 

When you apply to the EMBA program at Wharton, you will need to submit the following documents:

  • The online application where you will register for an account by filling out your basic personal information.
  • Two letters of recommendation, with one ideally from your current supervisor, but letters from past and current colleagues or clients will also suffice.
  • A sponsorship letter signed by your employer stating they are aware of and support the time commitment required for the program.
  • Transcripts from every postsecondary institution you have attended.
  • A valid GMAT, GRE, or Executive Assessment score from a test taken within the last five years.
  • Responses to three essay questions, each of which responds to the following prompts.
image of Responses to three essay questions

You can use the optional essay to communicate any additional information you want the admissions committee to know about. This is particularly useful if you have any extenuating circumstances. Upon completing the online application, you can sign up for an interview time slot and complete your interview before submitting the other components of your application.

The interview and your campus visit will give you a good idea of what to include in your application documents. You will need to bring an updated resume to this interview. 

The application fee is $180. In terms of tuition, you should expect to pay $223,500 for the full two-year program. Your tuition covers all your course materials, accommodations and meals during your in-person class sessions, and your accommodation and most meals during your Global Study Week.

University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business

University of Michigan Ross School of Business
Location Ann Arbor, MI
U.S. News Ranking 9th Best National University
Acceptance Rate 28%
Average GMAT Score 719
Average Years of Work Experience 15
Program Duration 21 months
Full Program Tuition Cost $178,500

The Ross School of Business offers an innovative curriculum designed to refine leadership skills, preparing students for present challenges as well as future opportunities. It encourages executive-level thinking by acquiring advanced knowledge and reshaping perceptions of business. This EMBA program positions students for success not only in their current roles but also in preparing them for future career growth. 

The Michigan Ross EMBA Program is 21 months long. With classes meeting only once a month in either Ann Arbor or Los Angeles, the program prioritizes learning and development while minimizing time away from work. Ross’ program begins in August.

Students will complete 47.5 credit hours. The curriculum is made up of 12 core courses and your choice of 14 electives. Each term has a ‘Leadership Development Theme’; these themes consist of Learning and Personal Growth, Leading Change and Innovation, Managing the External Environment, and Defining Your Leadership Vision.

This year’s Michigan Ross EMBA class has a population of 116 students. This student population consists of a 36.6% minority population, 26% women, and 12% international students. 41% of students hold advanced degrees and there are over 30 industries represented.

When you apply to the EMBA program at Ross, you will need to submit the following documents:

  • An updated resume, including any professional certificates.
  • One letter of recommendation.
  • Transcripts from every postsecondary institution you have attended.
  • A statement of corporate support showing that your employer fully supports your attendance in the program
  • GMAT test scores are not required but are highly encouraged. In addition, English-language testing may be asked of international applicants
  • 2 essays and an optional statement, as shown below:

The application fee is $200, but is waived for: members and veterans of the U.S. Military; Peace Corps, AmeriCorps, or Teach for America volunteers; currently enrolled students in a University of Michigan graduate program; citizens of a country on the UN’s list of least-developed countries; and students who submitted an application to Ross EMBA within the past five years. Tuition for the entire 5-term program is $178,500 for Michigan residents and $183,500 for non-residents. The cost of tuition includes all courses and events, textbooks and all other course materials, accommodations, and all dining needs.

UCLA Anderson School of Business

UCLA Anderson School of Business
Location Los Angeles, CA
U.S. News Ranking 1oth) Best National University
Acceptance Rate 38%
Average GMAT Score 710
Average Years of Work Experience 15
Program Duration 22 months
Full Program Tuition Cost $91,776

The UCLA School of Business focuses on challenging students to adopt new ways of thinking and revolutionize leadership capabilities. This program's cutting-edge curriculum centers on the six crucial characteristics of a Transformative Leader: strong industry acumen, innovative, tech-savvy, collaborative and inclusive, analytically adept, and driven, and purposeful. In addition, Anderson offers one-on-one monthly leadership coaching to all EMBA students.

The UCLA Anderson EMBA Program is 22 months long. The program offers flexible schedule options catering to your availability and learning style. The program begins in July and consists of 68 academic units: 44 core courses, 8 capstone thesis, and 16 elective courses. First-year course descriptions include ‘Foundations of Inclusive Leadership,’ ‘Data and Decisions,’ and ‘Organizational Behavior.’

Anderson’s average EMBA class size is 150. This student population consists of a 21% minority population, 30% women, and 25 countries of origin. 26% of students hold advanced degrees and there are over 30 industries represented.

When you apply to the EMBA program at Ross, you will need to submit the following documents:

  • An online application.
  • Transcripts from every postsecondary institution you have attended.
  • English-Language Testing is required of all international applicants except those from a select list of countries.
  • GMAT/ GRE/ EA test scores are optional, but recommended.
  • Updated employment history and resume.
  • Two letters of recommendation, preferably from current or former supervisors.
  • 2 essays responding to the following prompts:

The application fee is $200, and the non-refundable admission enrollment deposit is $2,500. The total cost of tuition for the EMBA program is $183,552. Tuition fees include all courses, mandatory fees, housing, meals, and academic costs such as textbooks. Outside of tuition costs, students are responsible for providing themselves with a laptop, meeting the required specifications, and buying campus parking permits.

How to Choose Which Executive MBA to Apply to

Choosing the right Executive MBA program is a crucial decision in advancing your career and personal development. To begin, figure out your professional goals; then, reflect on the specific skills and knowledge you aim to acquire or enhance through an EMBA program. This self-reflection should act as a guide in selecting programs that align closely with your ambitions.

Next, research and compare different EMBA programs to find the best fit. Program rankings should carry some weight but also investigate the curriculum, faculty expertise, and teaching methodologies. Consider factors such as class format, program duration, schedule flexibility, and networking opportunities. Feel comfortable engaging with current students, alumni, and faculty members to gain firsthand insights into the program's culture, learning environment, and post-graduation support.

Finally, weigh the practical considerations; consider whether you can balance the demands of the program with your professional and personal commitments. Look into scholarship opportunities, employer sponsorship, or company reimbursement policies that could help lighten the financial burden. By carefully evaluating these factors, you can make an informed decision and choose the Executive MBA program that will empower you to achieve your goals.

Top Tips for Acceptance to Executive MBA Programs

Here are the top tips you need to know to get into Executive MBA programs:

1. Make Sure You Meet All Requirements Before Applying

Executive MBA programs are highly selective and they will not consider you if you don’t meet the minimum requirements.

If you need more help deciding which school is right for you, take our two-minute Which MBA School Is Right For Me? Quiz.

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2. Find Strong Recommenders to Write Your Letters of Recommendation

Admissions committees will want detailed insight into your professional skills and abilities, as well as your potential to grow into more demanding leadership roles. Here’s what Former Wharton Director Amy Hazen has to say about choosing the perfect recommenders:

Amy Hazen, Former Director at Wharton, shares what EMBA schools look for in candidates:

“It's important that you choose recommenders that know you well. They will be expected to write about your strengths. Make sure that you coach your recommenders on the EMBA application process. They should be aware of your career goals and the center themes of your essays, so that everything fits together.”

3. Take the Required Standardized Tests Well Ahead of the Application Deadline

This way, your application won’t be held up by waiting for test scores to be sent in. Taking the tests early will also allow you to retake the test if you feel you could improve your score. Most business schools will accept test scores from up to five years prior to applying, so getting the tests done early will take one less thing off your plate when you’re putting together the rest of your application.

4. Begin Your Application Early

Do this to ensure you have enough time to gather all the required documents, touch up your resume or CV, and write compelling and informative admissions essays.

Have a conversation about sponsorship with your employer.

Many schools require a signed sponsorship form indicating your employer’s support of the time commitment an EMBA requires, so it is a good idea to discuss your intent to apply with your employer to gain their support. EMBA programs are costly, so you may want to discuss financial sponsorship as well.

5. Seek Expert Advice‍

Doing this can help strengthen your application and increase your odds of being accepted.

At Inspira Futures, our application consulting supercharges your ability to get accepted at the world’s most competitive business schools. We tailor every aspect of your MBA, deferred MBA, or executive MBA application to ensure we frame your story in a way that truly represents the best version of you. See what Kelly has to say about how Inspira Futures helped her find success during her application process:


Read below for even more insights into getting accepted into your dream EMBA program.

1. Why Should I Get an Executive Mba?

Pursuing an EMBA is an excellent way to gain advanced management knowledge and grow your professional network, both of which will allow you to have a greater impact on your current company. An EMBA will equip you with the tools and know-how required to take your management skills to the next level, resulting in a promotion or salary increase.

The Executive MBA Council also noted that EMBA grads saw their annual salary grow on average 14.1% by the time they completed their studies, and approximately 40% of EMBA grads were offered a promotion upon earning their degree. As you can see, there are significant benefits to obtaining an EMBA.

2. What Do I Need to Do if I’m Reapplying to Executive Mba Programs?

You will need to submit all the same documents as first-time applicants. Individual schools will require different documents, so it is important to check with each school where you’re reapplying. A common task you may be asked to complete is to submit an extra essay detailing what you have done since your initial application and how that makes you a better fit for the Executive MBA program.

3.  I Want to Pursue an Executive Mba, but I Don’t Have Enough Experience Yet. What Should I Do?

If you want to earn an EMBA but don’t yet have enough work experience, you can still begin planning how you want to approach the EMBA application. You can strategize early about how you want to write your letters of recommendation, what you want to write about in your admissions essays, and begin to discuss sponsorship with your employer.

By planning for your EMBA application early, you will be able to consult an expert to help ensure your applications are successful. Once you have enough work experience, you’ll be able to confidently complete your application according to program deadlines.

4. Do I Need Financial Sponsorship From My Company to Apply?

Financial sponsorship is not required for EMBA programs, only sponsorship of time is required, and your employer will need to sign a letter stating their support. It is strongly encouraged that you discuss financial sponsorship with your employer.

As you have seen in the breakdown of the top EMBA programs, it is expensive to pursue an EMBA, so having at least partial financial sponsorship from your employer will help reduce the amount you will have to pay personally. EMBA programs also offer financial assistance and scholarships, and you should check out the options available to you at each school you are considering.

5. How Do I Prepare for the Interview Portion of the Executive MBA Admissions Process?

Some schools, like Wharton, hold online office hours specifically for EMBA applicants where they can answer all your questions regarding the application process, including the interview portion. Each business school conducts its interviews differently, so it’s important to check with each school you want to apply to in order to know what to expect. It is also helpful to do a mock interview ahead of your actual interview to practice answering questions you can expect to come up.

6. What Career Support Can I Get From a Business School After I Complete an Emba Program?

The majority of business schools offer career support to EMBA students long after they graduate, which can help you find new opportunities at other companies or help prepare you to apply for a promotion at your current company. The Career Center for Working Professionals at NYU Stern and the Career Management Group at Berkeley Haas are examples of career support services available to EMBA program graduates after they have ended their formal studies.


Executive MBAs are highly sought-after and competitive academic qualifications, especially at the top business schools. Knowing what admissions committees expect and starting your applications early will help reduce your stress and improve your chances of being accepted. Researching your target schools and planning your applications ahead of time will help you stay on top of deadlines and what you’ll need in your application.

The tips included in this article will allow you to compile a competitive Executive MBA application. Now that you know exactly what an Executive MBA is and can follow along with the advice in this guide, you are on the right track to creating strong and persuasive EMBA applications that will stand out at even the most competitive schools.


Reviewed by:

Alexei Sorokin

Investment Banking and Corporate Development Expert

Reviewed: 6/6/24

About Inspira Futures

At Inspira Futures, our sole focus is to get you accepted at your dream business school. Our team of experts consists of former admission committee members and alums from Harvard Business School, Stanford GSB, and other M7 schools. Our goal is to help you write great essays, ace interviews, and win scholarships. Without any stress or hassle. Our clients have gone on to secure admits at the world's top business schools while also being winners of some of the most prestigious scholarships like Stanford Knight Hennessy, HBS Baker Scholars, and many others.
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