Deciding Between an MBA or EMBA Program

June 25, 2013

WASHINGTON – June 25, 2013Each year, a quarter of a million students enroll in a master of business administration (MBA) degree program, and 100,000 MBA degrees are awarded, according to the Graduate Management Admissions Council.  Top reasons for pursuing an MBA include gaining an understanding of high-level business and market strategy, learning how to build and lead dynamic teams, and increasing earning potential. 

But while reasons for pursuing an MBA may be clear, choosing the right program type – a full- or part-time MBA or Executive MBA (EMBA) – may not always be, especially if you are a working adult with limited time and resources.  Learning the key differences and benefits of each option can help you decide the best way to further your knowledge, skills, and ultimately, your career.

“More than ever, there are a wealth of options for working professionals interested in going back to school for an advanced business education, and it is easy to get lost in vast curriculum offerings and program plans,” says Daniel Szpiro, Ph.D., dean of the Jack Welch Management Institute at Strayer University.  “When deciding between an MBA or EMBA program, a key first step is assessing your desired goals, experience level, and learning style.”

Some specific points to consider are:

  • Experience level – In general, full-time MBA programs target candidates with three to five years of experience, while part-time MBA programs target more experienced candidates with 8–12 years of work experience. Executive MBA programs are designed for seasoned managers with 10–20 years of experience.  “The term ‘executive’ can be confusing,” says Szpiro.  “It does not mean that applicants must already possess executive-level experience, but they should have significant management practice.”
  • Goals – Candidates in full-time and part-time MBA programs are often seeking specific functional management knowledge, such as finance or marketing, in order to change careers or advance in their current career. EMBA candidates, on the other hand, are typically aiming to learn general management skills to prepare for a move into upper management.
  • Curriculum – Full-time and part-time MBA programs are typically structured around a wide range of elective courses that allow students to deepen their mastery of a chosen specialty.  These courses have a lighter focus on soft management skills.  In contrast, most EMBA programs offer few or no electives, and instead focus on developing an integrated, big picture view of teams and organizations, with an intensive focus on leadership skills such as team building and communication.
  • Course delivery – The format that courses are delivered in – whether on-campus, online, or a blend of both – are as varied as the different types of MBA programs.  Both part-time MBA programs and EMBA programs are designed to be completed while students continue working and advancing their careers.  In fact, the Jack Welch Management Institute builds the EMBA curriculum around principles and practices that students can immediately apply to their work and gain real-time feedback and results.

“The demand for graduate business education is expected to continue to grow, and I suspect that we will see an increase in diverse programs and program types,” says Dr. Szpiro. “The key is for every interested working professional to be informed and determine what is best for his or her unique situation.”

Dr. Szpiro is dean of Strayer University’s Jack Welch Management Institute, which offers an EMBA program and leadership and management training founded on the principles and practices of former General Electric Chairman and CEO Jack Welch, one of the world’s most respected and celebrated management leaders.  Prior to joining the Jack Welch Management Institute, Dr. Szpiro served as associate dean for executive education at the S.C. Johnson Graduate School of Management at Cornell University and founding director of the Cornell-Queen’s Executive MBA program.  He was previously an associate professor with Queen’s School of Business at Queen’s University in Kingston, Canada, and director of Queen’s National Executive MBA program.

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***MEDIA NOTE: To speak with Daniel Szpiro, please contact Cristina Henley at, work: (703) 561-1913, or cell: (703) 431-3691.


About The Jack Welch Management Institute
The core mission of the Jack Welch Management Institute at Strayer University is to provide students and organizations with the proven methodologies, immediately actionable practices, and respected credentials needed to win in the most demanding global business environments. By teaching the performance and people-driven management canon of Jack Welch and other renowned business leaders, the Jack Welch Management Institute prepares Executive MBA and Executive Certificate program graduates to transform their companies and careers. For more information, please visit

About Strayer University

Strayer University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education and has been in operation since 1892. The University offers undergraduate and graduate degree programs in business administration, accounting, economics, information systems, information technology, human resource management, education, health services administration, public administration, management and criminal justice to working adult students at 100 campuses in 24 states and Washington, D.C., as well as worldwide via the Internet. Strayer University also offers an executive MBA online through its Jack Welch Management Institute. For more information, visit or call 1-888-4-STRAYER (888-478-7293).

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