What is the difference between an eMBA vs. MBA?

Interested in the difference between an eMBA vs. MBA? On the surface there is very little difference between an executive MBA program and a traditional MBA program. Both types of programs feature similar curricula and are designed to help prepare students to pursue potential career opportunities as leaders across a wide variety of industries and specializations. The difference between these two types of programs lies in 3 fundamental elements; cohort composition, scheduling, and instruction style.

Generally speaking eMBA programs differ from traditional MBA programs because they are specially designed to capitalize on the collective experience of a specially selected cohort of experienced professionals.

eMBA vs. MBA (Traditional): Cohort Composition

Executive MBA programs usually require applicants to demonstrate a minimum number of years of professional experience in order to be considered for admission. This may result in a professionally mature cohort, many applicants may already have substantial experience as managers or leaders within an organization.

Traditional MBA programs might also require applicants to be able to demonstrate some degree of professional experience in order to be considered for admission, but the number of years of work experience required for applicants to a traditional MBA program is usually considerably less. Some programs do not require applicants to have obtained any professional experience. This may result in a cohort of students that ranges from recent graduates of undergraduate programs to older individuals interested in experiencing the traditional MBA learning experience. Professional backgrounds also tend to vary greatly in traditional MBA programs; traditional MBA student cohorts are less likely to be heavily comprised of individuals with significant management or leadership experience.

eMBA vs. MBA(Traditional): Scheduling

Executive MBA class times are almost exclusively limited to evenings and weekends. This schedule is engineered to accommodate the work schedules of the students as many individuals who choose to enroll in an eMBA program also choose to continue working full time while pursuing their degree.

Traditional MBA programs typically offer a more varied class schedule. Evening and weekend classes may be available to students, but daytime classes are also usually offered. This schedule is designed to meet the more varied needs of the diverse cohort, as many traditional MBA students may not be employed during their studies.

Executive MBA vs. Traditional MBA: Instruction Style

Executive MBA programs assume enrolled students have a certain level of professional experience and expertise in business related activities. Therefore the instruction style of these programs is usually focused on diving deeply into business challenges and calling upon the collective experience of the students in the classroom to discuss solutions that blend practical experience with the theory being taught in the classroom.

Executive MBA programs rarely require students to complete internship or practicum credits, and will often not require students to declare an official concentration. The assumption is that these students are more interested in creating a self-guided course of study.

Traditional MBA programs cannot assume base level knowledge of their enrolled students and therefore will often structure class time on building a foundation of knowledge and then diving deeper into the nuanced elements of business theory and practice. Classroom discussion is an important part of traditional MBA programs, and sharing of professional experience is encouraged, but often discussion is more heavily based on theory rather than experience.

Traditional MBA programs might offer or require enrolled students to participate in internship or practicum programs. Some students may have limited professional experience and might benefit from gaining practical experience while they pursue their degree. Many traditional MBA programs require students to declare a concentration in a specific area of business practice to supplement their foundational education by deeply exploring one aspect of business specialization.


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