Wharton’s Executive MBA Application Process
We work closely with students both during the application process and throughout the program to ensure they fit well within this collaborative and rigorous academic environment. We seek diversity of background and interests, from a wide range of corporations, public institutions, and nonprofit organizations, as well as from professional fields such as engineering, law, and medicine.
Preparing a Successful Application
While there are no fixed requirements regarding age and work experience, class profile averages typically reflect:
- 8 or more years of work experience
- 5 or more years in a managerial position
- A college degree or the equivalent
- Senior management experience or potential
- All applicants must have the written endorsement of their organization, confirming that the organization supports the application and understands the time commitments required to fulfill all class attendance and study. Approximately 70 percent of students receive full or partial financial support from their organization.
Submitting Your Application
You may begin your online application at any time during the admissions process. You can add to and edit any information on your application until you submit the completed application. All information, including any materials you submit in hard copy (e.g., official transcripts, official test scores), should arrive in our office by 5 p.m. on the day of the deadline. The online application can be submitted up until midnight PST.
You can request a deadline extension if you have a compelling reason for needing one by contacting the office to which you’re applying.
The Wharton MBA Program for Executives seeks a diverse and well-rounded class. As such, we do not release decisions on a rolling basis and instead evaluate each round of applicants as a whole. We understand, however, that there can be exceptional cases in which applicants need an answer prior to our decision release date. If you have decided that the Wharton MBA Program for Executives is your top choice, and you believe that your situation warrants consideration for an earlier decision, please contact our office to discuss whether we might be able to accommodate your request.
You shouldn’t wait until you submit an application to schedule a virtual interview. This is a chance for you to have your specific questions answered — and to give us a fuller, more personal explanation of your professional background and interests.
Due to the continued spread of COVID-19, we will not be able to offer on-site interviews or class visits. Interviews will be conducted via Zoom, after which we will offer access to classes virtually.
Preparing for Your Interview
The admissions interview is similar to a job interview in that we will be focusing on your resume but academic information will be discussed to a greater degree. We recommend you review the program website and application requirements beforehand.
Scheduling Your Interview
You should still submit your application by the deadline and you should make your interview appointment as soon as possible.
Interviews are currently being conducted via Zoom by a member of the Admissions Committee. They typically take place from September through February, but we encourage you to schedule an appointment as early as possible. Due to COVID-19, class visits will take place virtually. Shortly after your interview is conducted, you will receive details of your virtual class visit.
Don’t wait until you submit an application to schedule an interview. The interview is a required piece of the application process and an opportunity for you to give us a full, more personal explanation of your professional background and interests.
If you have any questions about your candidacy or the application process, we encourage you to schedule a chat with a member of our admissions team. You can request a phone chat here.
For most applicants, proposing and receiving sponsorship is a crucial part of the application process. While employer endorsement is a requirement for admission, financial sponsorship is at the discretion of the student’s organization. Financial sponsorship can send a strong signal of endorsement for an applicant and can return significant benefits to the sponsoring organization.
Applicants are encouraged to approach their employers early in the application consideration process and make a case for financial sponsorship.
What We Look For
We do not use formulas or ranking systems, or give specific weight to individual sections of the application. Each component of your application should be as strong as possible, and the pieces should fit together to create a complete picture of who you are as a candidate. We then measure each candidate in the context of a large, talented, and diverse applicant pool.
We look at all your academic experiences to get a holistic view of your ability to succeed at Wharton. The academic rigor of your curriculum and the intellectual curiosity you have demonstrated are important. Undergraduate and graduate degrees, as well as professional certifications and continuing education credit in both related and unrelated fields, will be considered.
Standardized test scores also help us evaluate scholarship. We accept the GMAT and GRE, as well as the EA, for those with at least 8 years of work experience. To accommodate applicants taking these tests during the COVID-19 pandemic, we’re now accepting at-home GRE, GMAT, and EA test scores.
We evaluate the overall score and each section of the test. Please see the Application Requirements section to help you decide which test to take or schedule a phone chat with an admissions team member to discuss your best option.
There are no cut-off scores, but we expect higher than average test results. In the most recently admitted class:
- The median overall GMAT score for admitted applicants was 700
- The middle 80% of the class received GMAT scores in the 650-740 range
- We do not have statistics available for the GRE or EA due to the limited quantity we receive.
If you have been out of school for several years, we recommend that you take advantage of test preparation resources and allow enough time to take the test more than once. We’ve found that most people are rustier than they realize.
Professional Development and Goals
The career choices you have made to date are important to the Committee in evaluating your application. Significant attention is given to the length of time spent in a management role, progression in job responsibilities, and total work experience. We also look at how you have distinguished yourself professionally. We do not place value solely on the type of work you have done, but rather on what you have gained from your experiences. Someone who has worked as a museum curator, for example, may be just as strong a candidate as someone who has been in a management role. What you have contributed is more important than the industry, and what you’ve learned from successes and failures is meaningful.
We are very interested in your short- and long-term goals, and why business school — and particularly this Wharton MBA program — represents an important step in achieving your goals. We assess your leadership potential as demonstrated at work, whether you were leading projects, effecting change within a team, or directly managing personnel. Leadership potential can be demonstrated in activities outside of work. We look for evidence of effective interpersonal skills because the Wharton environment emphasizes leadership in the context of teamwork.
The endorsement of your organization is vital to your success in the program. How enthusiastic is your sponsoring supervisor or management about your candidacy? Has careful thought been given to how your MBA experience and degree will fit into your career development within the firm — both during the program and after graduation? Have you thought through the impact of your participation on others in the organization, so that you have the support of your colleagues as well as your supervisors? Please feel free to schedule time to discuss your application with the Director of Admissions.
The Admissions Committee is interested in the whole person. What makes you unique? What can you contribute to the Wharton community?
We look for evidence of personal leadership qualities, such as ethical integrity, self-motivation, empathy, communication skills, and personal style. How have you challenged yourself, how have you reached beyond your comfort zone, how have you effected change in your organization, or led a team through a process?
We consider extracurricular and volunteer leadership because we believe that applicants who get involved beyond what is required are well-rounded and engaged, and want to make a difference in their communities. In addition, candidates should demonstrate a balance between work and outside activities.
Team skills are essential to success in Wharton’s curriculum because of our learning team structure. Students are assigned to teams with a flat hierarchy. Each team is comprised of individuals from multiple industries and with diverse goals. Flexibility, tolerance for difference, and effective communication skills are all required to succeed.
Entrepreneurial spirit does not necessarily mean that you have experience with an entrepreneurial business. Rather, it means you can think and behave in an entrepreneurial manner. This is as important in large international companies as it is in small start-ups. We will therefore look at how you have challenged the status quo and made a difference, regardless of your environment.
All complete applications received by the admissions deadline are thoroughly reviewed by members of the Wharton Executive MBA Admissions Committee. Applications from both the Philadelphia and San Francisco programs are evaluated equally ensuring the same high standards for both campuses. You will meet in person with a member of the Admissions Team during your admissions interview. Please contact us with any questions.
Peggy Bishop Lane, Vice Dean of the MBA Program for Executives
Professor Lane oversees both the Philadelphia and San Francisco programs. Before joining the MBA Program for Executives, she directed the academic experience for the full-time MBA Program as Deputy Vice Dean of Academic Affairs for 11 years. She is based in Philadelphia.
Professor Lane is an Adjunct Professor of Accounting and teaches Financial Accounting to first-year MBA and Executive MBA students. She is the recipient of numerous teaching awards, including “Tough, but we’ll thank you in five years.” Previously, Professor Lane was a member of the faculty at New York University’s Stern School of Business, where she was awarded the Eli Kushel Accounting Education Award for Excellence in Teaching. She currently serves on the board of directors of the Graduate Management Admissions Council.
Bernadette Birt, Executive Director, San Francisco
Bernadette Birt is Executive Director of the Wharton MBA Program for Executives in San Francisco.
Bernadette has been with the program since September 2010. Bernadette’s responsibilities include admissions, operations, student affairs, budget & finance, and alumni affairs. Prior to joining Wharton, Bernadette spent 20 years at Northwestern University, 16 of those years with the Kellogg School Executive MBA Program in which her last role was as Director, Domestic Executive MBA Programs. Bernadette graduated from Northwestern University with a BS in General Studies and a major in Organization Behavior and did graduate coursework in Learning and Organizational Change through the School of Education & Social Policy at Northwestern University.
Diane Sharp, Director of Admissions, Philadelphia
Diane Sharp is the Director of Admissions for the Wharton MBA Program for Executives in Philadelphia.
Diane has been with Wharton’s MBA Program for Executives since September 1998, serving in both admissions and marketing roles. She began her career in human resources and recruiting in the insurance industry. She transitioned to education and worked in Admissions for Wharton’s full-time MBA Program from 1989 to 1991. Diane received a BA in French and Economics from the University of Nebraska and a Master of International Business degree in Human Resources from the University of South Carolina.
Barbara Craft, Director of Admissions, San Francisco
Barbara Craft is the Director of Admissions for the Wharton MBA Program for Executives in San Francisco.
Barbara has been with Wharton’s MBA Program for Executives since January 2002, serving in admissions, marketing and business development roles. Previously she served as Director of Admissions and Marketing at the Paul Merage School of Business, University of California, Irvine and Director of the Executive MBA Program at the Erivan K. Haub School of Business, Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia. Barbara holds a BS in Corporate Training and Development from Indiana University of Pennsylvania and an MS in Organizational Development & Leadership from Saint Joseph’s University.
Laura Nash, Senior Admissions Advisor
Laura joined the Admissions Committee in spring 2009. She received her BS in Nursing from The University of Texas at Austin. She has worked as both a staff nurse and a case manager in neonatal intensive care, working with complex cardiac and surgical patients. While at Primary Children’s Medical Center, she served on the interviewing committee.
Tayla Hotsko, Admissions Advisor
Tayla joined the Admissions Committee in Summer 2019. Prior to joining Wharton, she spent 5 years in the field of education, teaching in California then Texas. She earned a B.A. in Education and a Master’s in Education from California State University San Marcos. Tayla is based in Philadelphia.
Tricia Shaw, Admissions Advisor
Tricia joined the Admissions Committee in 2016. She served approximately 10 years in the U.S. Navy as a Naval Aviator and after receiving her Executive MBA from Wharton she transitioned into investment banking. She has both a B.S. in Economics and MBA from The Wharton School. Tricia is based in San Francisco.
Mae Trieu, Admissions Advisor
Mae joined the Admissions Committee in 2017. Prior to joining Wharton, Mae worked in consumer marketing for one of the country’s largest media companies. She received her BA from the University of Pennsylvania and her MBA from Columbia Business School. Mae is based in Philadelphia.
Wharton accepts simultaneous applications to its executive and traditional MBA programs. In order to apply to both programs during the same admissions cycle, applicants must submit separate and complete applications, following the instructions and deadlines required by each program. Dual applicants must also indicate within both applications that they are applying to the other program and whether a decision has been rendered by the other program and, if so, what that decision is. Admitted students may only matriculate in one program. Acceptance of one admission offer will automatically negate any others.
Wharton EMBA Transfer Policy
While academically the executive MBA and full-time MBA programs are the same, the delivery of the curriculum, the experience profile and near-term career aspirations of students, and the nature of the student experience are substantially different. Therefore, transferring post enrollment is permitted only for extenuating circumstances unrelated to the student’s career aspirations or employment situation.
View admissions decision by logging into your online application account after 5:00 p.m. ET (Philadelphia applicants) and 5:00 p.m. PT (San Francisco applicants) on the decision release date.
- Round 1 applicants will be notified on January 20, 2021.
- Round 2 applicants will be notified on March 24, 2021.
Wharton has a two-year residency requirement. No credit toward the degree can be given to candidates on the basis of work completed in any other program. Students can gain waivers for up to two core courses in which they have considerable experience, allowing them to take more electives.
Wharton does not accept applications that are submitted in anticipation of entrance beyond the next immediate academic year. Accepted applicants who wish to postpone their entrance may, however, request a deferral by writing directly to the Director of Admissions after having received notification of acceptance. Deferrals will, in most cases, be granted for a period of no more than one year. If the deferral request is granted, a deferral deposit will be required to reserve a place in the class; the deposit will be applied to the first semester’s tuition. If the deferral request is denied, the applicant must choose either to matriculate in the class to which admission has been offered or to reapply for admission at a future date.
Evaluating EMBA Programs
MBA Program for Executives Vice Dean Peggy Bishop Lane offers advice and criteria for evaluating executive MBA (EMBA) programs. The factors include academic quality, selectivity, and program format.
How do you get a sense of the quality of an EMBA class?
The selectivity of the school is one factor in determining the skills, abilities, and experience of the peer group you’ll work with throughout your studies. Also, at Wharton we find that diversity is key to dynamic class discussion. Make sure that there are a lot of viewpoints represented. What industries are the students coming from? What geographical areas are they coming from?
The best way to get a sense of the school is to visit. You will be spending a great deal of time with your classmates and professors, and the experience varies widely from program to program. Meet students, alumni, professors, and administrators. Sit in on a class if possible.
What kinds of things should you be looking at when deciding whether to apply to a particular EMBA program?
I’d advise you to look at several factors. First, what is the equivalence of the program to a full-time MBA? How does the curriculum compare? Do you want a very rigorous program or one that is less demanding?
Second, how selective is the school? How many people are applying to the program? Of those who apply, how many are admitted? Does the school require all applicants to take the GMAT? Many executive MBA programs waive that requirement; at Wharton, we hold our EMBA and full-time applicants to the same high standards.
Third, what about the program’s schedule and overall learning environment? How well does it fit with your career needs at this time and your personal learning style?
Also, how big is the alumni network and what do the alumni do? That’s a gauge of the opportunities that your MBA will open for you and a measure of the value of the degree in the marketplace.
What about the class schedule?
Ask yourself whether the program fits your lifestyle and your schedule. Is it offered one day per week, every other weekend, during week-long sessions, or a combination? What kind of support structures are available during residency periods? What kind of group study and individual work are required and supported between class sessions? Are you looking for a local degree, or are you willing to travel farther for a program with a wide geographic reach, broad industry scope, and/or international reputation?
Be sure you consider your learning style as well. Some students find that if classes are too concentrated, it’s difficult for them to absorb the coursework or that they lose momentum if the gaps between sessions are very long. At Wharton, we’ve found that Friday and Saturday classes work best since it is more feasible for students to take the time out to attend. There’s less disruption and they can they see the impact of learning on their ongoing work, creating a better value for the student and employer.
What differentiates the curriculum of various EMBA programs?
Many are “lockstep” programs, in which all students take the same classes, at the same time, throughout the duration of the program. That’s fine when the entire class has exactly the same interests, but otherwise be sure that the electives you need are offered and that courses can be tailored to your career advancement goals. At Wharton, 45 percent of the classes are electives, and each class has the opportunity during the first year to select the electives offered to them in the second year.
If you are interested in senior management roles, make sure the program you choose focuses on helping you improve your leadership style. What kinds of leadership courses does it offer, and how effective are they?
And don’t forget the basics – how many hours will be spent in class? Who teaches the courses? What is the core curriculum and how is it structured?
What other qualities add value to an EMBA?
Many executive programs have differentiators, but be sure what is unique about a program is both relevant to your goals and integrated within the program’s philosophy. Make sure that the international aspect of the program you choose is substantive and carried out in the rest of the curriculum. Ask whether the class has an opportunity to choose the location for the overseas project or residency. Team projects and experiential learning opportunities can also add value, giving students a chance to learn organizational dynamics and leadership while putting the lessons they learn into immediate play.
Any final advice?
I would just reiterate my earlier suggestion that visiting a program is one of the best ways to determine if it is a good fit for you. Pursuing an MBA degree, whether in a full-time or executive experience format, involves a major commitment not only of money, but also of time and personal energy. When it’s the right fit, it can be a life-changing experience. The time you invest up front in researching your choice is well worth the effort.
What about funding?
Funding is often a critical part of the decision-making process, and you will have to weigh your goals for your career, the value of the degree in the job market, and the availability of financial resources, including sponsorship and loans. Many employers are willing to sponsor students in executive MBA programs either fully or partially, and many schools offer loan programs to support students who are not fully sponsored.
Check to see whether the school requires sponsorship, whether admission is contingent upon a student’s receiving employer funding, and what loan opportunities are available for EMBA students. The Wharton MBA Program for Executives does not require financial sponsorship, except for Fellows candidates. Loans are available for qualified self-sponsored students.