Damiano Pietroni




United Kingdom




Sep 2018 - May 2020

By Damiano Pietroni

Categories of Executive MBA Programmes

Executive MBA programmes come in many shapes and sizes, as such for an aspiring student it is helpful to understand the options available. The purpose of this article is to provide an overview of some of those options, based on experience of the Oxford EMBA, and on reading up on the topic in general.

The first element of distinction is mode of delivery, where the three key options are on-campus part-time, blended part-time / online, and pure online. Focusing on on-campus part-time, a key point to consider is the frequency of classes. Logic wants that the greater the frequency of classes, the more local the cohort. For example, the Oxford EMBA, with its sixteen-week long modules spaced over twenty-one months, is able to attract a very international cohort, as the number of trips required to complete the programme is only sixteen. A similar programme with an equivalent lapsed time of twenty-one months, but with classes every other weekend, would require circa forty-five trips, making it much more onerous for international travellers, meaning that the cohort may end up being less international.

The second element of distinction is whether the programme is administered by a single university, in the way the Oxford Executive MBA is, or whether it is administered by multiple universities. A key advantage of single university programmes is that a meaningful amount of time is spent engaging with the one university, meaning that EMBAs really feel part of the student body. A key advantage of multiple university of programmes is that they can build curricula to leverage the best elements of each university, for example teaching finance at the university strong for finance, and strategy at the university known for its strategy department.

The third element of distinction is seniority, where three categories may be hypothesized. The first category is the MBA level EMBA, where the level of seniority of Executive MBA students is the same as that of MBA students, and the only difference is that the MBA programme is full time, whereas the Executive MBA is part time. The second category is the Executive MBA where the students are in fact executives at the Manager / Senior Manager / Director level. The third level is the Senior Executive MBA, where students are overwhelmingly C level. Looking at the three-year salary in the Financial Times EMBA ranking provides a good insight as to where each programme fits in the category.

The final element of distinction relates to whether the business school administering the EMBA is part of a wider university, or whether it is a standalone business school. The advantage of doing an EMBA at a business school embedded within a wider university is that EMBAs can engage with students and faculty from different faculties, and at different educational stages. For example, as an Oxford EMBA there are many opportunities to collaborate with graduates and undergraduates from other courses, hugely enriching the experience.

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