Which Program Is Right For You? MBA or EMBA

Difference Between Executive MBA and MBA Programs

What is an EMBA program?

An executive MBA program, also known as an EMBA program, is designed for students who are further along in their careers and want to continue working full-time while in school. Schedules vary among programs, but most offer part-time formats like weekend classes. At Wharton, EMBA students earn the same MBA degree as full-time MBA students.

Comparatively, full-time Master’s in Business Administration (MBA) programs are full-time academic programs for students with fewer years of work experience. Instead of completing a degree in addition to working full-time like EMBA students, MBA students leave their jobs to attend school, have the summer off between the first and second year of the program to participate in internships, and usually have access to on-campus recruiting services for permanent post-graduate positions.

Same Degree, Different Logistics

Wharton offers the same MBA degree in two formats: the traditional, full-time MBA in Philadelphia, or the Executive MBA in either San Francisco, Philadelphia, or via our Global format. Both programs require the same high admissions standards, follow the same rigorous curriculum, and confer the same Wharton MBA degree. The delivery and structure of the programs differ to meet the needs of different student types.

The comparison tables below detail how the two programs are delivered.

Rigorous Curriculum

Total Credit Units19.0 credit units19.0 credit units
Core Curriculum9.5 credit units10.0 credit units
MajorUsually 4.0 in addition to the Core.4.0 credit units - not required.
Electives5.5 credit units9.0 credit units. The Wharton MBA Program for Executives offers 120+ elective course options. Elective courses are driven by student interest and are subject to change each year. This allows students to tailor their learning experience based on their goals and interests. Students will choose from this subset of courses, and have the option to take courses in other WEMBA cohorts (pending space availability and faculty approval).
Majors and Program CustomizationStudents have a choice from 19 majors. Approximately 40% of students complete their degree with a dual major.Students may pursue a formal major (4 additional credit units) or concentration (3.0 additional credit units), but it is not required.
International ExperienceStudents can take part in dual-degree programs, study abroad options, Global Modular Courses, and a Global Immersion Program.A one week international trip (Global Business Week) is required. Students in the Global cohort also attend two required Modular Courses, which are optional for San Francisco and Philadelphia students.

Differences in Curriculum

Students in both the full-time MBA and EMBA programs earn a total of 19 credit units, however, EMBA students are not required to select a major. Executive MBA students vote to determine the electives that will be offered in their second year and they can choose to take electives on the opposite coast for a course or for an entire term. With the largest electives offerings of any EMBA program, Wharton executive MBA students can customize their education to meet their professional interests and goals. To enhance their learning, EMBA students are required to participate in one of four Global Business Week experiences; a required one-week international trip. Students in the Global Cohort also attend two required Modular Courses (optional for Philadelphia and San Francisco students) led by Wharton faculty around the world.

High Admission Standards

Entering Class Size864300 (Philadelphia, San Francisco, and Global total)
Middle 80% GMAT Range570-760680-750
Average Work Experience5 years13 years

Differences in Requirements

Wharton’s full-time MBA and EMBA programs share the same high standards for admission. Both programs require applicants to submit results of a Graduate Management Test (GMAT) or a Graduate Record Examination (GRE), however the EMBA program also accepts results of the Executive Assessment (EA).  Accepted students in the full-time program bring an average of five years of work experience, while students in the EMBA program have an average of 13 years of work experience.

Convenient Schedule for Working Professionals

SCHEDULEMBA PROGRAMMBA PROGRAM FOR EXECUTIVES (Philadelphia & San Francisco)MBA Program for Executives (Global)
Length20 months, including a 3.5 month summer internship (recommended)24 months22 months
Class Session LengthYear 1: August – MayYear 1: May – MayYear 1: May – May
Year 2: September – MayYear 2: June – MayYear 2: June – March
Weekly ScheduleMonday – ThursdayAlternate Friday/Saturday weekends with several extended sessions, plus a one-week orientation in Philadelphia, a one-week international trip (Global Business Week) and a one-week marketing course in San Francisco.Alternate weekend virtual class sessions with several required in-person class sessions including a one-week orientation in Philadelphia, Global Business Week, and two Modular Courses.

Differences in Program Format

The 20-month full-time MBA Program runs Monday through Thursday, with the summer off between the first and second year for internships. The Executive MBA Program is designed for working professionals with options in San Francisco, Philadelphia, and via a Global format. For students in the San Francisco and Philadelphia cohort, the program runs in San Francisco and Philadelphia on alternate Friday/Saturday weekends over 24 months, with several extended sessions, including a one-week orientation class session in Philadelphia, a one-week international trip (Global Business Week) and a one-week marketing course in San Francisco. For students in the Global cohort, the program runs on alternate weekends over 22 months through virtual class sessions, supplemented by several required in-person class sessions including a one-week orientation class session in Philadelphia, a one-week international trip (Global Business Week), and two required Modular Courses.

Program Logistics: Philadelphia and San Francisco

Tuition and Budget$169,748— tuition only ($237,136— estimated total budget for two years)$230,100 for two years
Housing and MealsHousing and meals are not included in the tuition.Tuition includes fees, program-related housing, and meals. Transportation, airfare for Global Business Week, and parking are not included.
Career AdvancementStudents have access to on-campus recruiting services for summer internships and permanent positions. They also have access to MBA Career Management.You have access to career counseling, workshops, and career resources through the Office of Career Management. Internships are not available. Job search services are available for self-sponsored students and others who meet the eligibility requirements.
Company Support/SponsorshipThere are no requirements or formal programs for sponsorship, although some companies do sponsor students.An endorsement from students’ employers is required for time away from work. Financial support from the employer is required for Fellows applicants.
Campus LocationsPhiladelphia, with one semester available in San Francisco by applicationPhiladelphia, San Francisco, and Global

Differences in Cost

The cost of the two-year Wharton EMBA Program is $230,100 (for the class entering in 2024). This includes tuition, student fees, housing and meals on class weekends, a case study room, and housing and ground transportation for Global Business Week and the required Modular Courses. As this program is designed for working professionals, the program handles most of the logistics, such as hotel reservations and the provision of meals and course materials. Room and board for all required class days is provided at the Steinberg Conference Center or the Inn at Penn in Philadelphia, the Hyatt Regency in San Francisco, and comparable facilities in other locations around the globe. For the EMBA Program’s residential components, students are required to stay at the hotel and fully immerse themselves in the experience, regardless of where they live.

The full-time Wharton MBA Program costs $167,748 for two years. Housing and meals are not included in tuition. The estimated total budget is $237,136, including room and board, books and supplies, and other expenses. Students are responsible for their own housing, meals, and course materials.

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Choose Your Executive MBA Journey

Earn the same Wharton MBA degree as full-time students while you work. Talented professionals may join our PhiladelphiaSan Francisco, or our new Global cohort.


Embrace the classic Ivy League experience when you travel to the University of Pennsylvania’s iconic campus.

San Francisco

Travel to Wharton’s West Coast campus,  strategically located in San Francisco's Embarcadero neighborhood


Designed for remote study using state-of-the-art technology that allows you to learn, thrive, and build community regardless of where you’re based.

Same MBA Degree, Same Global Network

Compare the MBA Program for Executives to the Full-time MBA

Same MBA Degree, Same Global Network

Compare the MBA Program for Executives to the Full-time MBA

A Survival Guide For Your First Term in Wharton’s MBA Program for Executives

For California Students

Please read information from the California Bureau for Private Postsecondary Education (BPPE)

Frequently Asked Questions

Find answers to all of your questions for an Executive MBA at Wharton.

Have questions about joining the MBA Program for Executives?

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