Executive MBA vs MBA: which is right for you?

Executive MBA vs MBA: which is right for you?

When deciding what to do with your career, one of the options is whether to do an MBA or an EMBA (Executive MBA).

There are a number of differences between the two, and becoming a student on either type of course can have a great impact on your future career - especially if you want to be a manager or an executive in an international company.

But how do you know which degree to choose? Here's a guide to what separates an MBA and an EMBA to help you make up your mind.

MBA (Master of Business Administration)

What is it?

An MBA is a two-year degree which is aimed at young professionals and new graduates. It is recognised around the globe as a good programme for those who want to go into management, as it gives you a broad range of relevant new skills. You'll learn about areas such as marketing, finance, and strategy.

What does an MBA involve?

You can expect both compulsory and elective modules with an MBA, as well as a dissertation or work experience element. The focus will be on the practical skills you'll need as a professional in the workplace. Most of your programme will probably be done through real examples, group work, and case studies; some even offer work placements.

Who should take an MBA?

This degree is best for a student who already has some work experience, but would like a fast-track to management. Taking an MBA is also useful for a student who wants to have a more global career, as this degree is internationally recognised by employers. On average, an MBA student is in their late twenties.

How flexible is it?

In addition to a full-time MBA, many schools now offer part-time, online, or open learning options because a lot of MBA students want to work while they study. Studying part-time means that you will take three years to graduate instead of two, but it also means that you can study at your own pace.

What are the admission criteria?

In general, there are two ways to gain admission to an MBA degree: through the academic route (i.e. a 2:1 undergraduate degree or an accepted equivalent) or through relevant professional experience. You might also need to take an entrance exam, such as the GMAT (Graduate Management Admission Test), and you will need to prove your English proficiency.

EMBA (Executive MBA)

What is it?

An Executive MBA is aimed at professionals with a few more years' experience than those who would take an MBA. Students still focus on the practical abilities needed for the workplace, but there are no introductory modules and few electives. Instead, the aim is to help you develop better leadership skills for executive roles.

What does an EMBA involve?

You will experience a faster pace of learning than a standard MBA and a more advanced look at the same topics (marketing, strategy, finance, etc.). These programmes are designed to keep the class working together, giving you a better networking experience, helping you to learn more from your fellow students, and emphasising team work.

Who should take an EMBA?

The average EMBA student tends to be a working professional in their late 30s who wants to gain more in-depth skills and can handle a challenging syllabus. Ambitious people who want to become leaders in their field are most likely to benefit from an Executive MBA - especially if their employer offers incentives or can fund the degree.

How flexible is it?

Executive MBAs are usually held on evenings and weekends, as most EMBA students work full-time. This means you won't have to resign or take holiday days to start an EMBA, so you can further your career without interrupting your income or day-to-day work life. You can also graduate in two years, just like the MBA.

What are the admission criteria?

Admission requirements for an Executive MBA can change depending on which school or programme you want to apply for. However, you will need a minimum of a bachelor's degree and five years of experience in a management role. For an EMBA, you might also be asked to attend an interview, give references, or provide a personal statement.


Now you know the differences, you can make the right choice for your career whether you are just starting your journey as a manager or you’re ready for executive level responsibilities. This is an opportunity for real progress and better career opportunities, especially if you want to work on a global level; don't miss it.

Interested in an MBA? LSBF has a Global MBA delivered 100% online - or, if you prefer an intensive four-day experience, you can take our miniMBA Executive Development Programme.

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