Executive MBA Degrees: Master's & Online Course Info

About this article
Executive Master of Business Administration (MBA) degrees can lead to careers in the highest levels of business management. Get the truth about the requirements, courses, and career options, and find out what you can do with your executive MBA.
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Studying Executive Business Administration: Degrees at a Glance

If you are a mid-career executive who already has some management experience, an executive MBA program can give you the skills and knowledge you need to succeed in senior management. Since courses are typically held in concentrated time blocks, you can continue to work full-time as an executive MBA student. Some companies provide financial support to students pursuing executive MBAs. In return, employees enrolled in executive MBA programs can immediately utilize the skills and knowledge they gain through their studies in the workplace.

Master's
Who is this degree for? Mid-level executives who, with the support of their companies, wish to enhance their management and strategic decision-making skills
Common Career Paths (with approximate median annual salary) - Chief executives ($167,000)*
Time to Completion About 20-24 months
Common Graduation Requirements - Roughly 10-16 courses
- Capstone project
- International study trip
Prerequisites - Bachelor's degree
- About 8-10 years of work experience
- At least 4 years of management-level experience in a decision-making role may be required
Online Availability Yes

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2011 figures)


Executive MBA Degrees

The executive MBA program is unique in that candidates often concurrently hold management positions while they study. If you're a mid-level manager who has achieved success in a functional role in your organization, the executive MBA program can give you the broad strategic and decision-making skills necessary to succeed in executive management roles. Programs are designed so that on-campus class time occurs in concentrated blocks - this can be one week out of every month, every Friday through Sunday, or various other configurations. This is to make it easier to balance school and work commitments. Schools may offer extra support to you, such as registering you for classes or providing books, so that you don't need to take time out of your schedule to deal with pre-enrollment issues.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Completing this program can have a significant impact on your salary. In fact, students who completed an executive MBA in 2010 saw their salary increase over 11% from what it was when they started the program.*
  • Small class sizes allow for deep networking opportunities with your classmates, most of whom are, like you, already in management positions in various companies and industries.
  • Since class time is concentrated, you may have the flexibility to choose a campus that is far from your home and travel to school as needed. Some programs even assist with lodging for these commuting students.

Cons

  • If your company sponsors you for a degree program, you may be required to remain employed with them for a certain period of time or repay any financial assistance they provide. This can limit your career options at least for a while.
  • Programs can be intense and require as much as 30 hours per week of study time outside of class, which can be a challenge to balance with work and personal time.
  • Executive MBA programs can be expensive. They often have higher tuition rate than other master's programs, so if you aren't receiving financial help from your company, you'll want to make sure to budget for tuition as well as transportation, meals, lodging, and any required international trips.

Source: *Executive MBA Council

Courses and Requirements

Unlike traditional MBA programs that focus on day-to-day business operations and allow students to focus on a particular functional area, executive MBA programs cover more general strategic and decision-making coursework. You'll take a few core courses in functional topics, such as marketing and finance, but the bulk of your study will be focused on courses in leadership, strategy, ethics, market competition, crisis management, and negotiation. You'll probably do at least part of your work with a team. You may also be required to complete an international study seminar. Some programs require students to live on campus for brief time periods to facilitate teamwork and networking. Capstone projects that bring together various elements of the program and experiential projects working with actual corporations could also be part of the program.

Online Degree Options

Online executive MBA programs can be a good option for someone who wants more scheduling flexibility. Online degree programs can take between 18 and 24 months to complete, and may have some on-campus residency requirements. Online programs may be less expensive than traditional programs, so they might not require a commitment of sponsorship from your employer.

Stand Out With This Degree

One way for corporate managers who have earned their executive MBAs to gain additional career advantages is to obtain more training. This can be done through in-house development programs or independent certification courses. Large corporations sometimes have formal management training programs that provide promising employees a chance to work in a variety of functions, giving them the exposure and experience that can lead to promotions. If you are at a smaller company, or want additional certification, the Institute of Certified Professional Managers offers a Certified Manager program, which can provide further validation of a manager's knowledge and skills.

Additionally, you can join a professional organization that is specific to top executives. These organizations offer networking and professional development opportunities. Membership in a group like this can also provide you with the latest information and research about current business topics, which can give you another career advantage.

Popular Schools

  • Online Programs Available
    1. Kaplan University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • MBA: Project Management
      • Master: Management/Project Mgmt
      • M.S. in Management
      • Master : Business Admin
      • MBA: Health Care Management
      • MSM in Leadership
  • Online Programs Available
    2. Colorado State University Global

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Project Management
      • MS - Management
      • MS - Organizational Leadership
      • Master of International Management
  • Online Programs Available
    3. American University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Science in Agile Project Management
      • Master of Science in Measurement and Evaluation
  • Online Programs Available
    4. Northcentral University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Business Admin - General Business
      • MS - Organizational Leadership: Project Management
      • MBA - Strategic Management
      • MSTIM - IT Project Management
      • MBA - Management
      • MBA - Project Management
  • Online Programs Available
    5. Johns Hopkins University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • MA in Public Management
      • Master of Science in Government Analytics
      • Master of Science in Research Administration
  • Online Programs Available
    6. Brenau University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Science in Organizational Leadership-Management
      • Master of Science in Organizational Leadership-Project Management
      • Masters in Business Administration - Management
      • Masters in Business Administration - Project Management
      • Master of Science - Entrepreneurship
      • Master of Science in Organizational Leadership-Nonprofit Leadership
  • Campus and Online Programs
    7. Full Sail University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • M.S. - Entertainment Business
      • M.S. - Internet Marketing
  • Online Programs Available
    8. Grand Canyon University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • M.B.A. with an Emphasis in Project Management
      • MBA and MS in Leadership (Dual Degree)
      • MBA: Leadership
      • MS in Leadership
      • MBA
      • Master of Science in Business Analytics
  • Online Programs Available
    9. Saint John's University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Business Administration: Interdisciplinary Business
  • Online Programs Available
    10. Regent University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Business Administration - General Management
      • Master of Business Administration - Innovation Management
      • Master of Arts in Law - Business
      • Master of Arts in Law - Non-Profit Management
      • Master of Arts in Not-for-Profit Leadership
      • Master of Arts in Organizational Leadership - Not-for-Profit Management

Featured Schools

Kaplan University

  • MBA: Project Management
  • Master: Management/Project Mgmt
  • M.S. in Management

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Colorado State University Global

  • Master of Project Management
  • MS - Management
  • MS - Organizational Leadership

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American University

  • Master of Science in Agile Project Management
  • Master of Science in Measurement and Evaluation

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Northcentral University

  • Master of Business Admin - General Business
  • MS - Organizational Leadership: Project Management
  • MBA - Strategic Management

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Johns Hopkins University

  • MA in Public Management
  • Master of Science in Government Analytics
  • Master of Science in Research Administration

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Brenau University

  • Master of Science in Organizational Leadership-Management
  • Master of Science in Organizational Leadership-Project Management
  • Masters in Business Administration - Management

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Full Sail University

  • M.S. - Entertainment Business
  • M.S. - Internet Marketing

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Grand Canyon University

  • M.B.A. with an Emphasis in Project Management
  • MBA and MS in Leadership (Dual Degree)
  • MBA: Leadership

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