Executive MBA Vs MBA: Difference & Salary

Two options for those looking for a graduate degree in business administration are the MBA and Executive MBA. Find out the differences between the two programs and compare the career prospects for each.

View popular schools

A Master of Business Administration (MBA) is one of the most popular graduate degrees for those looking to work in business or finance. It provides advanced financial and economic training and covers a very broad range of topics. The Executive Master of Business Administration (EMBA) degree is also a respected advanced qualification. The courses and topics covered are similar, but the EMBA is generally geared toward students who are already members of the workforce. Most executive MBA programs can be scheduled around your current career.

Graduate Degree Comparison

Both MBA programs cover a vast array of topics and courses, providing a broad base of financial knowledge, although students can choose specialties that allow them to narrow their focus. There are several key differences between the two, including work experience requirements, course selection and scheduling.

Executive Master of Business Administration

Most EMBA programs employ a cohort format. This means that you are joined together with a group of other students throughout, both for courses and to enable peer to peer learning. Most students are mid-level managers or higher with significant experience in the industry. Much of the focus is on increasing your existing knowledge, managerial abilities and leadership skills. Course scheduling is typically evenings and weekends to fit the working professional's schedule.

Master of Business Administration

The traditional MBA program attracts mainly students in the earlier stages of their career or education. It appeals to students looking to transition into the financial industry or further specialize their existing financial expertise. Courses are chosen individually, scheduling is more traditional, and it generally requires a full-time commitment over two to three years.

Career Options

There are many different careers available to those having completed either an Executive MBA or MBA degree program. In most cases, the person with the MBA will receive a slightly higher median salary. However, for some positions, such as operations manager, work experience may factor more highly.

Career EMBA - Median Annual Salary (2018)* MBA - Median Annual Salary (2018)*
Chief Financial Officer (CFO) $142,525 $143,780
Marketing Director $106,288 $112,637
Operations Manager $87,857 $72,209
Senior Financial Analyst $78,014 $80,321
Human Resources Manager $63,716 $68,369

Source: *PayScale.com

Find schools that offer these popular programs

  • Agriculture
  • Architecture
  • Biological and Biomedical Sciences
  • Business
  • Communications and Journalism
  • Computer Sciences
  • Culinary Arts and Personal Services
  • Education
  • Engineering
  • Legal
  • Liberal Arts and Humanities
  • Mechanic and Repair Technologies
  • Medical and Health Professions
  • Physical Sciences
  • Psychology
  • Transportation and Distribution
  • Visual and Performing Arts

Program Admittance Requirements

Executive Master of Business Administration

Most Executive MBA programs are modular and condensed, which allows them to be completed outside normal business hours and over a shorter overall time frame, usually one to two years. Courses follow the standard business school pattern, including economics, business ethics, quantitative finance, marketing, and management skills. For admittance to an EMBA program you will need at least a bachelor's degree and a minimum number of years of relevant work experience, typically six to seven. Unlike a regular MBA program, GRE (Graduate Record Examination) or GMAT (Graduate Management Admission Test) results are not required.

Master of Business Administration

Most MBA programs are completed in two to three years, although some schools offer programs as short as one year. A typical MBA program will cover a very diverse set of financial topics with the option to specialize in one or more areas, featuring courses such as corporate finance, behavioral finance, equity markets, and investment banking. For admission into an MBA program, a bachelor's degree and minimum GPA is typically required. GRE or GMAT results will be necessary for this option, as well as relevant work experience and letters of recommendation.

The MBA program is ideal for students who can commit to a full-time schedule but want more flexibility to choose their own courses and path. It also makes sense for those with limited practical work experience in the field. EMBA programs, on the other hand, offer fewer choices but are scheduled outside normal working hours and structured in groups to allow for additional sharing of expertise between professionals. Therefore, the EMBA is the best choice for working professionals looking to enhance their already strong base of practical knowledge.

Next: View Schools

What is your highest level of education?

Some College
Complete your degree or find the graduate program that's right for you.
High School Diploma
Explore schools that offer bachelor and associate degrees.
Still in High School
Earn your diploma of GED. Plan your undergraduate education.

Schools you may like:

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?