EMBA Frequently Asked Questions

Originally published September 21, 2016. Updated January 3, 2018.

We hosted our first Facebook Live Q&A from Wharton’s Philadelphia campus to answer questions about our MBA Program for Executives and look at the big picture of the application process. Diane Sharp, director of admissions, and Alicia Rodgers, admissions and events coordinator, fielded live questions from viewers and talked about the program requirements, admission calendar, tuition costs, and more.

Get answers to the 28 most frequently asked questions below.

EMBA SFRequirements

Can an applicant take the GRE instead of the GMAT? — Christopher Y.

Applicants have the option of taking the Graduate Management Admissions Test (GMAT), the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) or the Executive Assessment (EA), if applying as a Traditional applicant.  Fellows applicants must submit GMAT or GRE scores.

I have a master’s degree so do you need transcripts from undergrad as well? Or is the last highest degree transcript sufficient? —Pankur A.

We will need all of your transcripts from all of your undergraduate and graduate school programs. These will help us evaluate your academic potential in the program.

Is there a requirement or “strong guideline” for years of experience? — Alexandra G.

Most of our applicants have around 8–10 years of work experience. However, we do have a Fellows designation for applicants who have demonstrated outstanding leadership potential. There are slightly different application and sponsorship requirements for our Fellows applicants. For more information, please see the Sponsorship section of our website.

When you see the GMAT scores, which sections on the GMAT do you usually weigh more than others? —Farukh A.

We will look most closely at the quantitative portion and IR (integrated reasoning) portion of the test, but you should plan to study for the whole test to get the highest score possible. Our average last year was around 700 (quite high).

What’s the average GMAT score that I need to aim for? — Syed H.

Our class average is typically around 700–710. More importantly, we like to see a minimum quantitative score in the 70th-80th percentile range, as there is a direct correlation between how well someone does on their quantitative section and how well they perform in the program.

I’m a pharma graduate and have 8 years of field experience in India. Can I join this EMBA program through distance learning? — Shouvik S.

Because we value the immersive MBA experience, we do not offer distance learning for an MBA degree. However, you might want to check out the classes taught by our professors on Coursera.org. While these courses do not count toward a degree, they do offer unparalleled access to our outstanding professors and classes.

What is the average GPA required? —  Shireen K.

There is no average GPA requirement. If you were not an outstanding undergraduate student, test results become an important way of demonstrating your academic skills (and therefore might have more weight placed on it).

Tuition & Financial Aid

What type of financial aid in terms of grants, fellowships, scholarships, and loans are available for prospective students? — Shireen K.

Please see the Tuition and Financing section of our website for information on this matter. We also encourage applicants to check out private scholarships. Additionally, you might be interested in Common Bond, an organization started by Wharton students who wanted to offer students more competitive school loans.

Do you have financial aid options for this program? — Edmundo P.

Please see our website for a discussion of financial aid. Also note that accepted students are given access to financial aid counseling prior to deciding to enroll in our program. We do not provide financial aid via the program. Instead, any sponsorship you receive will be negotiated by you and your company. Some companies provide 100% sponsorship to their employees, while others do not sponsor at all. In that instance, you’d be self-funding the program and making use of either federal student loans or private loans, depending on your particular circumstances.

What is the average cost of the program for self-paying applicants? — Sandra N.

The cost of the program for the class of 2019 is $198,600, and that price includes room and board, as well as food and other incidentals while you are on campus on Fridays and Saturdays — as well as hotel costs for a one-week trip our students take together abroad. Transportation is not included in that number (you’re responsible for your own plane/train tickets to and from campus and also for the international trip). Books are also not included in that amount, but tuition, fees, and all other expenses are.

How much is the tuition per semester? — Leah K.

Tuition for the class of 2019 is $198,600 and is billed on a semester-by-semester basis in six installments of $33,100 each.

Visiting Campus

Can I visit during weekdays for interview before hitting “submit” on my application? — Andy L.

Please contact Alicia Rodgers at mbaexec-myapp@wharton.upenn.edu to schedule an interview and class visit. It is not advisable to submit your application before interviewing because we do not start reading completed application until each round deadline (for example, we do not read Round 1 applications until December 6). Plan to schedule and complete your interview before submitting your online application. You never know how your visit might help you complete a specific part of the essay questions.

When are the best days to come in for an on-site visit at the SF location? — Chase Z.

The day you interview is also the best time to sit in on classes and learn more about the application process. Please visit our website for contact information for the San Francisco arm of the program and follow the instructions to schedule an in-person interview / campus visit. It is our preference that candidates do both on the same day. Interviews happen on Fridays and Saturdays when class is in session. To learn more, visit our website and check out the portion that discusses the interview process.

Can you please provide contact information for visits? — Jill J.

To schedule an interview or class visit, please contact us at mbaexec-myapp@wharton.upenn.edu (Philadelphia) or mbaexecwest-admissions@wharton.upenn.edu (San Francisco).


Are there any transitional services (recruitment services) available to students who would like to embark on a new career path or find jobs within their current line of work? — Shireen K.

Both our Philadelphia and San Francisco campuses each have a dedicated Career Management Services director. You can also listen to Dr. Dawn Graham on XM Radio Channel 111.


Is (residency) mandatory even if you stay closer to campus and have family? — Vishal M.

There are no exceptions to the residency requirement. It is a cornerstone of the program and helps facilitate social and intellectual bonds between our students. Friday nights will be packed with class assignment work you will do with your Learning Team (5–6 other students you take all your first-year coursework with), and we expect all students, regardless of where home is, to call campus home on the evenings when the program is in session. There is no bed check, but all students pay for the cost of their rooms regardless of where they are based geographically.

Is housing included in tuition? — Edna C.

It is included, yes. Our students stay in one of two hotels on campus throughout the duration of the program.


Is there a rolling admission? Are there benefits to applying Early Decision or as soon as the application opens? — Jarryd A.

We do not have rolling admissions. Applicants apply in two rounds. Round 1 applications are due by December 6, and Round 2 applications are due February 7. Applicants should apply in the round in which they can build the strongest application possible. Our applicant pool is historically very competitive, so while requesting an Early Decision is possible, applicants should only do so with a compelling professional reason or timeline conflict (e.g., acceptance to another school with a deadline before we release a Round 1 or Round 2 decision). Traditionally, a candidate would have to stand out as exceptional to warrant an Early Decision acceptance by the committee, so requesting an Early Decision simply to know application results more quickly is not advised.

If you apply in Round 1 and the application is rejected, can you apply in Round 2 or do you have to wait another year to apply? — Andrew S.

You would need to apply in the following year if rejected in Round 1 and are still interested in our program.

How many years of experience are needed to apply, and does a candidate need to be at executive level or can an individual contributor can also apply? — Vishal M.

Average years of work experience for students in our program is 11, and it is important to note that if you have fewer years of work experience, you can certainly apply, but that other applicants competing for seats will have more experience than you, so you need to build a strong application and highlight evidence of leadership and management responsibility. If you do not have significant management responsibility and/or direct reports at work, you should likely continue growing your career to include these responsibilities prior to considering applying to the program.

General Program Questions

What is the experience range for candidates (not the average experience)? — Jenny S.

We have students in their mid-30s and students in their 60s — in other words, a wide range of experience. But all of them tend to have management experience of some sort. Our Fellows candidates (who have less than eight years of work experience) tend to have around seven years of work experience, a fast-track career progression at work, and the title of “Manager” or higher.

Will Wharton have an EMBA program in international location? — Van N.

We currently do not have an EMBA program outside the U.S. We are based in Philadelphia and San Francisco.

The program only starts in fall? — Vishal M.

The program does not start in the fall. It starts in May of each year — and only in May — and lasts for six consecutive semesters, finishing in May as well.

What is the percentage of the 120 students that are typically “Fellows” candidates? — Alexandra G.

18% of our Philadelphia Class of 2018 were Fellows applicants, and 12% of our San Francisco Class of 2018 were Fellows applicants.

Can you apply to both the EMBA and full-time MBA program? — David J.

Yes, you can. For more information, please see the page on Managing the Application Process on our website.

Do you have an executive program for a bachelor’s degree? — Alana M.

We do not have an executive bachelor’s degree (only our Executive MBA program, which grants an MBA). You would need to apply to Wharton’s undergraduate program to receive a bachelor’s degree in business from the University of Pennsylvania.

I assume this program is part time. Is it held over weekends or weeknights? — Vishal M.

The program is considered full-time. It happens all day Friday and all day Saturday every two weeks over six consecutive semesters, which results in the same number of contact hours with Wharton faculty as the full-time program. We therefore offer the same MBA as that program. There is no difference in a degree from our program and the full-time program (our graduates earn an MBA from Wharton rather than an EMBA).

Do you feel that any interested physicians would need to be part-time as opposed to full-time to complete the program successfully? — Sandra N.

Full-time work is a requirement of all students in our program, and full-time work must occur throughout a student’s time in our program. Applicants who are not currently working full time would not be competitive when put in contrast with applicants that have a full work schedule and work commitments when applying to the program.

In general, a physician with a full-time work commitment will likely be more competitive than one who works only part time: 99% of our students who work full time — including physicians — are able to complete the program successfully once they begin it. Our program is designed to foster learning opportunities among students who are all working full time and share in the positive and difficult aspects of that format.

It is certainly a difficult time commitment to add alongside work regardless of one’s profession, but it is also part of the identity of our program, which is highly academically rigorous whether practicing medicine or another profession full time. You can expect 15–20 hours of homework and class prep a week beyond the times when you are on campus. If fitting this into your schedule doesn’t seem logistically feasible, this may not be an ideal program to consider.

Still have questions or looking for more information? 

Visit the EMBA Admissions page for details, deadlines, and upcoming events. Also, be sure to like Wharton on Facebook to be the first to know about upcoming Facebook Live Q&As.