Executive MBA Programs: How Do They Work?

Aug 13, 2018

An executive MBA is a Master of Business Administration program designed for established business professionals looking to improve their career opportunities. These programs are typically offered on a flexible schedule, including weekend classes, to help meet the needs of busy professionals.

View Popular Schools

Executive MBA: Format & Focus

Executive MBA programs are two-year programs that help build knowledgeability in potential business leaders in various areas of business, domestically and internationally. These programs have high requirements and a heavy coursework load, but those who take them will reap the benefits of extended networking opportunities.

Executive MBA programs may be completed in under two years through night and weekend classes. Most programs focus on developing the knowledge of high-level business leaders who have been working in their fields for about a decade. Students may be able to immediately put the skills they've learned to work in their careers.

Executive MBA programs typically span 19 to 24 months. The program format includes classroom study and possible travel for business seminars on weekends. Students may also complete a global experience abroad for international business practice. The latter part of the program usually allows students to conduct applied research and case studies in order to produce a final capstone thesis for graduation.

Application Requirements

Many programs require a certain number of years as a business professional before a student may apply. Applicants must also already hold a bachelor's degree. Individuals usually need to provide recommendation letters, transcripts, a resume, and a work history statement. Some schools also require applicants to interview with admissions representatives and faculty. According to U.S. News & World Report rankings, the University of Pennsylvania - Wharton has the highest ranking for executive MBA programs in the country. In addition to the requirements listed earlier, the University of Pennsylvania also requires:

  • GMAT test scores
  • Sponsorship letter
  • Completion of an online application
  • Three essay question answers


Courses often focus on the managerial aspects of a variety of business subjects. Within these courses, students learn how to apply their knowledge of the business world from an executive perspective. Most courses are based around management, unlike typical MBA courses where management is a specialization that the student must choose. Some examples of such courses may include managerial economics, operations management, managerial finance, information technology management, and global capital markets.

Networking Opportunities

Because executive MBA programs are built around educating professionals with extensive experience in the business world, executive MBA programs provide an environment that allows students to learn from each others' skills. At the end of the program, students don't just hold knowledge regarding their major within the executive MBA program, they also establish new business contacts with the people they have networked with throughout the program.

As detailed by the University of Pennsylvania - Wharton, services may also be provided to students while undergoing the program. Such services may encompass career advice or workshops where students will be able to network with peers. Schools may also have alumni networking resources for graduates to connect with prior graduates who may be in a position to offer mentorship, advice, or even job opportunities. By using the information provided by the University of Pennsylvania - Wharton, prospective students can see the format and expectations within the executive MBA program, as well as what possible networking services that may available at schools.

Next: View Schools
Created with Sketch. Link to this page

Popular Schools

The listings below may include sponsored content but are popular choices among our users.

Find your perfect school

What is your highest level of education?