The EMBA – What You Need to Know

Thinking about the EMBA? Here is the short course.


First of all, the EMBA is part-time but not a local program like a regular part-time MBA. It can be done from any part of the country, based on your willingness to travel every 2,3, or 4 weeks.


The majority of programs meet biweekly, however the MIT-Sloan EMBA meets every 3 weeks, while the Kellogg-Miami EMBA and Duke-Fuqua have a once-per-month format. Michigan-Ross also meets once per month in both Ann Arbor and Los Angeles.


For most programs, you have “residencies” meaning you and your colleagues stay at the same hotel. There is a lot of distance learning in between; the residencies allow you to deepen your connection with classmates. 


You need to have a job, and keep it the entire time you are studying, which is the key differentiator between the EMBA and the full-time MBA. If you want to take a full year off, check into Stanford MSx or Sloan Fellows, which are full-time one year residency programs.


If you do have a job, you need a good one – your experience is the main thing you are contributing to the class. In a sense, you are the product; professors lead the class, but applicants are just as interested in hearing from their fellow participants. So, in your application, keep in mind you need to add something unique to the class and be willing to talk about it, as well.


The EMBA is best suited for management-level applicants over the age of 33. You need to meet a certain threshold for work experience. Oxford SBS states it is only for top executives, yet only requires 5 years of experience, and Kellogg, 8 years of experience. This is on the low end; most require 10+ years. For TRIUM, the top global EMBA program, the average age is 40. Global modular programs tend to have the oldest applicants.


The GMAT situation varies quite a bit. For TRIUM, a GMAT is required unless you have 15 years of experience. Some EMBA programs do not waiver on the GMAT – Booth, Wharton, Yale and Columbia are among them. The GMAT is waived at NYU, Cornell, Michigan-Ross and Kellogg. Kellogg is the #2 ranked EMBA program nationally by US News & World Report, which makes this quite appealing to a large audience.  Anyone gearing up for the Kellogg EMBA Round 2? June 6 will be here before you know it.


MIT-Sloan waives the GMAT but require demonstration of numeracy (read: MBA Math). For many programs, you can seek a GMAT waiver which is likely to be granted if you have an analytically driven job. Duke Weekend EMBA requires a GMAT but has been known to offer waivers; whereas, if you choose their GEMBA (global EMBA) program, geared for older applicants, there is no GMAT required.


There is an increasing trend for EMBA programs to accept the Executive Assessment – including Cambridge-Judge, Berkeley-Haas EWMBA, and EMBA-Global program which combines the forces of London Business School, Columbia Business School and the University of Hong Kong. Many see this as GMAT lite; whereas others have said it was much harder than anticipated. This might be a good option for you, however, keep in mind that Stanford MSx and Sloan Fellows, both geared towards the mid-career executive types, only accepts the GMAT and GRE.


Global Executive MBA programs almost uniformly waive the GMAT – these are modular MBA programs, with international residencies, where you are basically learning while travelling the world with your colleagues. The average age for these programs skews older; around 39 whereas the average age for evening and weekend EMBA programs hovers around 33. I have only spotted one formal ranking for GEMBA programs: here is the link.


The IESE GEMBA starts in February 2020; the earlier the better, so my recommendation would be to target the Round 2 deadline of July 10. European applicants might leverage their efforts by  applying to the INSEAD GEMBA Round 3 deadline of July 12. And finally, the IMD EMBA might be one of the most jet set programs: the cohort travels to several different continents, maybe more than any other program.


Then, there are global-oriented EMBA programs that are not necessarily traveling programs. Most global MBA and EMBA programs are located in Europe; and now is the season for applying to January intake EMBA programs. The HEC international EMBA in Paris or Qatar starts in January 2020; others include Oxford and ESCP Europe.


At the time I am writing this article, there are still some deadlines left for Fall 2019 intake at schools including Oxford, Cambridge, CEIBS Global, Kellogg-WHU, and the new SDA-Rotman EMBA. ESCP, HEC and IMD are all European MBA programs with no firm deadlines prior to the commencement of class. IMD is a bit unique in that they offer 5 intakes per year. Keep in mind, first come, first serve, however.


Resume review is often a good way to get the ball rolling, offered by nearly all programs. However, you will want to make sure your CV properly represents what you would bring to the table. You send your resume to the admissions committee and they will give you preliminary feedback about your odds. This is a great offering, which allows you to both obtain feedback from the adcom and gather research about the program. Who doesn’t like to walk into a big project with some degree of certainty?


For those of you interested in partnering with me on your applications, this would be a great first step. Click on the contact form at to start the conversation about your candidacy.

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