MBAs were formally first conferred by Harvard Business School over a century ago. Conventionally, an MBA program is meant to be a two-year program. Over the 70s and 80s, a lot of B-schools in the US, owing to strong infrastructure, larger management body, and faculty, decided to begin catering to candidates who were interested in an MBA degree but could not leave their day jobs for several reasons. Hence, the programme called ‘Executive MBA’ was created, and slowly gained popularity over the decades. 

Navigating through the different types of MBA programs that are offered all over the world can sometimes be difficult. Knowing the differences between two programs and choosing which is right for you can often prove to be a confusing and daunting task. We’re here to help you – in this article, we’re going to talk about how a senior executive program is different from a normal MBA, and help you decide which one is right for you. 

In simple terms, an MBA is a full-time program, whereas an executive MBA is a part-time program. Let us go over some of the differences in detail below:


An MBA differs from an EMBA basis the following parameters:

Work experience: A Senior Executive MBA or an Executive MBA (EMBA) is an MBA program designed for MBA candidates with several years of work experience who cannot quit their jobs and would like to pursue an MBA alongside their job. Regular MBA programs are usually full-time, requiring students to leave their jobs and commit fully to the program. The degree offered is the same to both applicants – only the logistical details differ.

Duration: A regular MBA usually takes about 2 years (20 months) excluding a 3.5-month-long summer break during which students are expected to intern. An executive MBA will take longer (roughly 24 months) with classes running on weekends, Fridays, or otherwise. The executive MBA does not include a summer break, but usually includes a week-long trip abroad, depending on the school one chooses for their EMBA and whether it has the means to offer it. 

Admission Criteria: A regular MBA requires students to have around 2-4 years of experience, but a candidate for the EMBA must have over 10-12  years of experience to be considered for the program. The GMAT/GRE scores for the regular MBA, however, are significantly higher in their range – for example, Wharton’s average GMAT score for the regular MBA is between 570-760. The EMBA, on the other hand, requires an average GMAT score of 640-730.

Class Size: The class size for regular MBA programs is considerably larger than the class size for EMBA programs. Usually, the class size for regular MBA programs is nearly double that of EMBA programs, but this may also be because the applications to the regular MBA programme is much higher.

In a nutshell:

The key differences between the two types of programmes can be summed up as below:

  • A flagship (full-time) MBA programme’s curriculum will focus on career development and organisational behaviour and is meant for young professionals who wish to expand the scope of their opportunities and develop their potential. MBAs are typically rigidly structured throughout the duration of the program.
  • An executive MBA focuses more on individual leadership development and is meant for experienced professionals who want to develop their leadership skills while they continue to advance their careers. EMBAs are equivalent to the duration of an MBA, but with increased flexibility in terms of course format, time and mode of classes, etc. 

Do your research and find out which type of MBA degree is best for you and your requirements. An MBA will have a lasting positive impact on your career, and if you do have the chance to attempt and complete the degree, you will have access to a wide range of professional opportunities and a higher salary package as well. Choose your MBA programme wisely. Good luck!


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