kellogg emba

The EMBA - What You Need to Know

Thinking about the EMBA? Round 1 deadlines are just beginning to pass so there’s no time like the present to make a decision. Here are some key points to know in terms of program design, GMAT requirements, and deadlines.


First of all, the key differentiator between the EMBA and the full-time MBA is that you need to have a job and keep it the entire time you’re studying. If you want to take a full year off, check into Stanford MSx or Sloan Fellows, which are full-time one year residency programs.


On top of that, your job needs to be a good one – your experience is the main thing you are contributing to the class. In a sense, you are the product; professors lead the class, but applicants are just as interested in hearing from their fellow participants. In your application, keep in mind you need to add something unique to the class and be willing to talk about it as well.


The other main difference is that the EMBA is part-time, but not a local program like a regular part-time MBA. It can be done from any part of the country, based on your willingness to travel every 2, 3, or 4 weeks. The majority of programs meet biweekly, however the MIT-Sloan EMBA meets every 3 weeks, while the Kellogg-Miami EMBA and Duke-Fuqua have a once-per-month format. Michigan-Ross also meets once per month in both Ann Arbor and Los Angeles.


For most programs, you have “residencies”, meaning you and your colleagues stay at the same hotel. There is a lot of distance learning in between; the residencies allow you to deepen your connection with classmates. 


When considering the EMBA, you should remember that the programs are best suited for management-level applicants over the age of 33. You need to meet a certain threshold for work experience. Oxford SBS states it is only for top executives, yet requires just 5 years of experience, and Kellogg requires 8 years. Those are on the low end, with most schools requiring 10+. TRIUM, the top global EMBA program, has an average applicant age of 40. Global modular programs tend to have the oldest applicants.


Where we find a lot of variability in the requirements is with the GMAT. It’s an important consideration because GMAT prep can take a long time, time you may not have or may not want to spend. Some programs don’t waive the GMAT – Booth, Wharton, Yale, and Columbia to name a few. TRIUM waives it with 15 years of experience. NYU, Cornell, Michigan-Ross, and Kellogg waive it entirely, which makes Kellogg quite appealing considering it’s the #2 ranked EMBA program nationally by US News & World Report. 


MIT-Sloan has yet another twist on the GMAT requirement – it is waived but demonstration of numeracy is needed in its place. For many programs, you can seek a GMAT waiver, which is likely to be granted if you have an analytically driven job. Duke Weekend EMBA requires a GMAT but has been known to offer waivers; whereas if you choose their GEMBA(global EMBA) program, geared for older applicants, there is no GMAT required.


There is an increasing trend for EMBA, and even MBA programs, to accept the Executive Assessment – including Cambridge-Judge, Berkeley-Haas EWMBA, and EMBA-Global program which combines the forces of London Business School, Columbia Business School, and the University of Hong Kong. Reports on its difficulty vary, it’s often seen as GMAT lite, through others have said it was much harder than anticipated. 


Global Executive MBA programs almost uniformly waive the GMAT – these are modular MBA programs, with international residencies, where you are basically learning while travelling the world with your colleagues. The average age for these programs skews older, around 39, compared to around 33 for evening and weekend EMBA programs. I have only spotted one formal ranking for GEMBA programs: here is the link.


The IMD EMBA might be one of the most jet set programs: the cohort travels to several different continents, maybe more than any other program. Then there are global-oriented EMBA programs that are not necessarily traveling programs. Most global MBA and EMBA programs are located in Europe, and now is the season for applying to January intake EMBA programs. The HEC international EMBA in Paris or Qatar starts in January 2021; others include Oxford and ESCP Europe.


Classes start in September/November or January for many programs, including Oxford, Cambridge, CEIBS Global, Kellogg-WHU, and the SDA-Rotman EMBA. ESCP, HEC and IMD are all European MBA programs with no firm deadlines prior to the commencement of class. IMD is a bit unique in that they offer 5 intakes per year. Keep in mind it is first come, first served.


Resume review is offered by nearly all the programs and is usually a good way to get the ball rolling. Don’t just dust it off and send it, make sure your CV properly represents what you will bring to the table. You send your resume to the admissions committee and they will give you preliminary feedback about your odds. This is a great offering, which allows you to both obtain feedback from the adcom and gather research about the program. And who doesn’t like to walk into a big project with some degree of certainty?


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