By Eric Owens
If you’ve been thinking about going back to school to get an Executive MBA (EMBA), here are a few points to keep in mind.
1. SCHEDULING:In general, Executive MBA programs tend to have a few essential features. Committing to a garden-variety EMBA program means spending every other Friday or so at school for approximately 20 months. Make sure your boss supports your degree quest (or, at least, agree to your absence every other Friday).
2. ADMISSIONS REQUIREMENTS: It’s fair to say that EMBA programs have less rigorous admissions requirements as several don’t require a GMAT score.
3. COURSELOAD: EMBA programs tend to have lighter curricula and fewer course requirements, but you’ll still be juggling homework with presentations and projects.
4. JOB POTENTIAL: EMBA students have access to fewer internships and general career opportunities, but the networking prospects will be great because of other executives in the program.
5. PROGRAMS: EMBA programs range from finance to entrepreneurship, and everything in between. At some schools, EMBA students rarely see rock-star professors; at other schools, those professors teach many classes. Read up on any school you are considering and ask the admissions staff pointed questions. Poke around at the school, too and sit in on a class if possible. The discourse could be beneath you or totally out of your league.
6. STUDENTS: As you look at various schools, pay attention to the students. Is their level of experience commensurate with yours? Are you comfortable with how young or old they all are? Can you see yourself completing a group project with them? Having a beer with them? These are all important questions.
7. LIFE: Another critical factor is whether you can balance the various components of your life and manage to complete the program. The typical student in these programs have a fairly important full-time job and in their mid 30s or early 40s. Time management will be imperative to find the right stability.
Here are our favorite programs from across the nation.
University of Pennsylvania offers the gold standard for EMBA programs. Perks at Wharton include campuses in San Francisco as well as Philadelphia and unparalleled networking opportunities. However, if you want an Ivy-caliber MBA while living and working the financial capital of the world, Columbia University is the school for you. New York University isn’t in the Ivy League, but it’s every bit the business school that Columbia is and its West Village location is substantially better. Cornell University offers a great classroom experience. Carnegie Mellon University is one of the best family-friendly business schools.
Global business is what everybody talks about at Duke University, and students are conspicuously happy with their classroom experience and just how family friendly the program is. The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill offers three executive MBA options as well as an online option. Chapel Hill is also a nice town. In addition to a basic arrangement of alternating weekends, Emory University offers a distinctive modular format that spreads coursework over 10 concentrated weeklong units. Students at The College of William & Mary are seriously satisfied with their professors and facilities; it’s also a family friendly campus.
The University of Chicago boasts a world-class business school with a reputation for delving deep into theories and concepts. The EMBA program offers coursework in London and Singapore as well as downtown Chicago. Northwestern University (Kellogg) is internationally known, and the school has multiple global partnerships as well as a campus in Miami. Professors at the University of Notre Dame are stellar, and the program is known to be family friendly. You can choose from programs in Chicago, Cincinnati, and South Bend.
WEST AND SOUTHWEST
The EMBA program at the University of California Berkeley is affiliated with Columbia University (though Columbia also has a separate EMBA program). MBA students at Cal boast about their classroom experience. Students also tell us that b-school professors at the University of Texas at Austin may simply be better than you’ll find anywhere else. Also, Texas Venture Labs is a fabulous incubator of real, live, moneymaking businesses. Speaking of which, entrepreneurial-minded Acton School of Business was only founded in 2002, but students tell us their classroom experience ranks right along with NYU and Wharton.
For more information, visit www.PrincetonReview.com or read our book, The Best 294 Business Schools.