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 or Philadelphia. 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.Not required.
Electives5.5 credit units9.0 credit units

Students vote to determine the electives that will be offered for their second year. Second-year students can take electives on either or both campuses.
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, but it is not required. Elective requirements are increased to offer more individualized study options.
Global 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 can also take part in optional Global Modular Courses.

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 global learning, EMBA students are required to participate in one of four Global Business Week experiences; a required one-week international trip. In addition, they have the option of taking Global Modular Courses led by Wharton faculty around the world.

High Admission Standards

Entering Class Size864236 (Philadelphia and San Francisco total)
Middle 80% GMAT Range570-760640-740
Average Work Experience4 years12 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) for applicants with at least 8 years of full-time work experience. Accepted students in the full-time program bring an average of four years of work experience, while students in the EMBA program have an average of 12 years of work experience.

Convenient Schedule for Working Professionals

Length20 months, including a 3.5 month summer internship (recommended)24 months
Class Session LengthYear 1: August – MayYear 1: May – May
Year 2: September – MayYear 2: June – May
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.

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 24-month Executive MBA Program is designed for working professionals and runs in Philadelphia and San Francisco on alternate Friday/Saturday weekends, 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.

Program Logistics: Philadelphia and San Francisco

Tuition and Budget$166,460 — tuition only ($231,000 — estimated total budget for two years)$214,800 for two years
Housing and MealsHousing and meals are not included in the tuition.Tuition includes fees, most materials, and program-related housing and meals. Transportation, airfare for Global Business Week, and parking are not included.
Career ServicesStudents have access to on-campus recruiting services for summer internships and permanent positions. They also have access to MBA Career Management.Students have access to career coaching, workshops, and resources through the dedicated MBA Executive Career Advancement Team. Internships are not permitted and only eligible students are permitted to participate in MBA on-campus recruiting.
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 and San Francisco

Differences in Cost

The cost of the two-year Wharton EMBA Program is $210,900 (for the class entering in 2020). This includes tuition, student fees, course materials, housing and meals on class weekends, a case study room, and housing and ground transportation for Global Business Week. 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, or the Le Meridien Hotel in San Francisco. The EMBA is a residential program where 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 $157,896 for two years. Housing and meals are not included in tuition. The estimated total budget is $223,800, 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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Have additional questions? One of our Admissions Advisors will be happy to help.