Management takes more than just an analytic mind and a passing knowledge of what goes into business operations. To become an effective leader, you need highly developed collaboration skills, communication skills, and critical thinking skills. You also need a visionary outlook and decisiveness that’s rooted in confidence—in other words, everything that separates supervisors from CEOs.
While there’s no one-way ticket into the C-suite, an Executive Master of Business Administration (EMBA) can help you transition into higher-paying and more prestigious positions. In many ways, it is the must-have degree for aspiring Fortune 500 executives because EMBA programs are more competitive and intensive than traditional graduate programs. Most working professionals can’t quit their current position to enroll in a full-time MBA program, which means employers know that Executive MBA students have the skill sets to juggle full-time jobs with the time commitment of b-school. Of course, that is on top of the leadership skills they’ve developed firsthand through several years of work experience. Because Executive MBA students don’t leave the workforce to complete their graduate degrees, Executive MBA graduates usually out-earn MBAs. Most Executive MBA grads see a 13.5 percent salary increase after graduation, considerably more than the typical annual raise.
It’s hard to top the ROI of an EMBA degree. But what, exactly, is it? And is it right for you? If career advancement is high on your list, keep reading.
What is an Executive MBA?
Executive MBA programs are often shorter and more intensive than traditional MBA programs, but student demographics are the defining features of the EMBA pathway. Executive MBA programs are for seasoned business leaders, and cohorts often include mid-level managers with their sights on top C-suite positions. Students enroll with significant supervisory experience under their belts—usually about ten years’ worth—so core coursework skips over the management fundamentals covered in the traditional MBA curriculum. Classes dive into advanced business concepts, and a lot more work happens outside the classroom. Many programs have cohorts work collaboratively on projects with real-world companies. It’s also common for EMBA programs to include multiple immersion experiences or residencies.
At Howard, our traditional 48-credit Online MBA is geared toward early- to mid-career professionals with two to four years of experience who want to become business leaders. Most students complete the program in about three years, though some finish sooner by taking an accelerated course load. Meanwhile, our 42-credit Online Executive MBA is for experienced business leaders who want to enhance their skills and reach new levels of success. Howard EMBA students graduate in 18 months, though they take almost as many classes as MBA candidates.
Both programs cover business fundamentals, but the Howard Online MBA teaches students how to be influential executives. Our Executive MBA program takes an applied approach to managerial accounting, analytics, finance, marketing, and other topics. Students can leverage their experience in class and as they tackle project work. They also have ample opportunity to work through professional challenges throughout the program.
So, why don’t all schools offer an Executive MBA? Some top business schools may be concerned that launching a separate program could diminish a traditional MBA program’s value. We recognize, however, that business professionals at different points in their careers have different academic needs.
Who gets an Executive MBA?
EMBA students usually have more years of professional experience under their belts than MBA candidates, and they’re also typically older. The average age of Executive MBA students is 38, while students in traditional MBA programs are closer to 30 years old. EMBA students are already managers, directors, and vice presidents, and they usually plan to continue working full time in their positions while going to school.
Executive MBA programs offer these students flexibility. There are plenty of high-impact traditional MBA programs designed for executives, but enrolling in one of these can involve taking a lengthy sabbatical. EMBA programs, with their intensive part-time format, tend to attract experienced business professionals who are comfortable taking on a lot and want to reap the benefits of an MBA without dropping out of the workforce. Live classes in programs for executives often convene on evenings and weekends, and campus and international residencies occur during summer and winter breaks.
Should I get my Executive MBA online?
On-campus Executive MBA programs offer students a degree of flexibility they wouldn’t have in traditional MBA programs. Online EMBA programs give students even more. Classes are usually scheduled outside business hours. Online programs allow students in areas geographically far from the best business schools to attend higher-ranking programs and study with notable faculty. Our Online EMBA students are located worldwide and do a lot of coursework on their own time but have the same opportunities to study abroad and are recruited by the same corporate partners and government agencies as our on-campus learners.
Don’t make the mistake of assuming that an online Executive MBA program will be easier or less intense just because it’s delivered virtually. The online EMBA curriculum at most schools is identical to (or nearly the same as) that of the on-campus EMBA. Pursuing an Executive MBA online can be more challenging than meeting for classes on campus because more autonomous work is involved. You’ll need to be more self-driven and more motivated to succeed and make sure you’re setting aside ample time in your days to complete your coursework.
How do EMBA programs vary?
Executive MBA programs vary in length, focus, and student support. Most EMBA programs have preset curricula, though some let students choose concentrations or specializations like finance or healthcare that influence coursework. Regardless of format, the best Executive MBA programs also offer robust career advisement and support and have extensive and active alumni groups and student-led organizations that organize seminars, courses, and events. Much of the value of an Executive MBA comes from the connections students make before and after graduation.
What makes Howard’s Online EMBA different from other programs?
- Howard University School of Business has been named a top-ranking business school by Bloomberg Businessweek and U.S. News & World Report.
- Our Executive MBA program can be completed almost entirely online, with only one campus visit for the capstone presentation, but the program has a traditional feel.
- The curriculum is delivered via small, intimate classes and breakout sessions—similar to how coursework is delivered in on-campus MBA programs.
- Virtual office hours make Howard’s world-class faculty—a group that includes corporate executives, nonprofit directors, government administrators, and thought leaders—as accessible as they’d be in a traditional program.
- Most importantly, leading national and international corporations, government agencies, and nonprofit organizations recruit our Online EMBA graduates before and after graduation.
- We also have an extensive and proud global alumni network that can open many doors long after you’ve earned this degree.
If you’re wondering if you have what it takes to succeed in our program, keep reading.
Howard Executive MBA admissions requirements
Most Executive MBA programs are smaller and more competitive than traditional programs. They hold applicants to higher standards and accept fewer students. It’s not unusual for EMBA programs to restrict enrollment to professionals with ten or more years of management experience who can show proof of employer support. EMBA candidates at Howard usually have at least seven years of professional experience, including five in leadership or managerial roles, and a career history marked by demonstrable progressive growth. Our students are ambitious and dream of stepping into C-suite roles or developing financially healthy startups. They also want to change the world for the better by leading businesses that benefit humanity.
Howard’s Enrollment Advisors can help you determine if you meet our requirements and answer any questions you have about tuition, financial aid, student loans, and transfer credits. We ask that applicants provide:
- A current resume that demonstrates the required professional experience (at least seven years of professional experience and five years of management/leadership experience)
- Official transcripts showing you graduated from an accredited undergraduate program with a 3.0 GPA or higher
- A personal statement outlining the uniqueness of your character, abilities, and personal and professional experiences, plus your interest in our Online Executive MBA program
- Three letters of recommendation that address your intellectual and personal capabilities
You don’t have to submit GMAT or GRE scores to apply to the program, but if you scored particularly well on either exam, there’s no downside to including your scores with your application materials.
Executive MBA program requirements
Coursework in Executive MBA programs tends to focus on the nuances of management in different areas of business. Most colleges and universities assume incoming EMBA students are comfortable with the basic business concepts, and curricula reflect that. Executive MBA classes often have course titles very similar to those found in MBA programs but dig deeper, and you’ll find that EMBA courses put leadership front and center. Some schools differentiate between EMBA and MBA courses by appending course titles with for Executives, for Managers, or simply Management. Hence, courses have titles like “Accounting for Executives” and “Marketing Management.”
Howard’s Online Executive EMBA curriculum is comprised of 13 core courses:
- Organizational Behavior and Leadership
- Marketing Strategy
- Accounting for Executives
- Managing Technology and Innovation
- Applied Economics for Executives
- Management Consulting
- Financial Management
- Strategic Communications
- Management Statistics and Data Analysis
- Creating Value through Supply Chain
- Legal and Ethical Issues in Business
- Managing the Global Business Environment
Like many EMBA programs, ours includes no electives. Each class’s coursework is specially curated to help business leaders develop skills related to talent mobilization, relationship building, good corporate citizenship, strategic thinking and problem-solving, and innovation.
Our Online EMBA students also complete a strategic management capstone course. For one semester, students work on original business plans that solve complex problems related to long-term planning, policy development, mergers and acquisitions, and other topics. Students visit campus at the end of the course to present their plans before a panel of faculty, the dean of the School of Business, and industry professionals.
What can you do with an Executive MBA?
You might not dream of sitting in the CEO’s chair, but an EMBA may still be the right degree for you. The reality is that executives face stiff competition in today’s job market. Executive MBA graduates are more likely to become high-paid directors, vice presidents, senior managers, CFOs, COOs, CMOs, and CIOs, earning some of the highest salaries. It isn’t that you can’t step into these roles without this degree, but instead that you’ll advance more quickly with it. You might even find that your ascension begins before you graduate. EMBA students can often apply what they’re learning immediately in their current roles, which may be why 40 percent earn a promotion before graduation.
Maybe your goal isn’t to rise through your current organization’s ranks but to make a different kind of move. In that case, Howard’s Online EMBA is still the right choice. You’ll have access to the same career services that on-campus students do, including connections, resources, and information about networking opportunities in the VA/DC/MD region and beyond, to help you transition into a new position. This degree can open a lot of doors—including virtual ones. There are now more remote leadership jobs than ever before, and companies across industries understand the value of effective management.
Regardless of whether you want to stay where you are or make a significant change after getting an EMBA, this degree will boost your earning potential. Executive MBA holders earn the highest salaries of all business school program graduates, with post-graduation salaries higher than $230,000.
How long does it take to earn an Executive MBA?
Traditionally, students would complete on-campus EMBA programs in two to three years but accelerated Executive MBA programs that can be completed in less than 20 months are now standard. Howards’s Online EMBA takes just 18 months to complete—even when students have to manage work and family obligations while studying. Keep in mind that shorter programs like ours cover the same material as more extended programs. Graduating faster usually means working harder.
How much does it cost to earn an Executive MBA?
The average cost of an EMBA falls somewhere between $45,000 and $85,000. The most expensive Executive MBA programs cost upwards of $100,000. Our program falls somewhere in the middle at $1,570 per credit or just over $66,000 (including enrollment fees). That’s a substantial sum, but keep in mind that many Executive MBA graduates who fund their own degrees pay off the loans they take out within two years.
Close to half of all EMBA students are self-funded, and when students do receive financial sponsorship, that assistance typically doesn’t cover the full cost of the program. That’s one reason why Howard stands out among colleges and universities for the amount of financial help it provides students enrolled in the School of Business. There are fellowships, teaching assistantships, research assistantships, and a team of financial aid advisors to help our EMBA students secure internal and external scholarships, Federal and Stafford loans, and other forms of aid. Our goal is to make sure students have the resources they need to invest in themselves.
Is Howard’s Online Executive MBA for you?
Let’s circle back to the question ‘What is an Executive MBA?’ It isn’t a golden ticket into the C-suite because no degree can replace ambition. Earning an EMBA from Howard Online or anywhere else isn’t a guarantee of future career success. We can outline everything that makes our Online Executive MBA program exceptional, but only you can decide whether Howard is where you belong. Our Online EMBA students go on to do great things, but that’s because they tend to be passionate not only about getting a diploma but also about maximizing the value of the degree they earn. Pursuing an Executive MBA online makes earning a degree while employed full-time possible. Still, it may also mean doing more self-directed networking and taking full advantage of all the available career support programs. If you’re ready to do that, we’re prepared to support you in your journey so you reach your full potential in the classroom and when you take your place amongst the corporate elite.