Getting An EMBA While Working Full-Time: How To Achieve Work-Life Balance

Can you work full-time while pursuing an EMBA program? Yes! It’s not easy, but EMBA students learn time management skills to balance work and school. Many students juggle additional responsibilities like families, aging parents, and moves. Despite the challenges, an EMBA program is a good choice for students who don’t want to take two years off from work and disrupt their career trajectory. We’ve highlighted tips below from students and alumni on how they made it work.

Openly Communicate

Communication is key. Communicate with your boss and direct reports about what to expect from you during the EMBA program. Make sure they know when you will be away at school and not available for work. Delegate members of your team to step in for you when you are at school. And communicate the value of the program with your organization. In addition to sharing your schedule, consider sharing learnings from classes that will help your coworkers in their roles. Doing an EMBA program goes more smoothly when you have support from your managers and team members.

“The keys to making it work are planning and communication.” — Nick Lupisella, WG’17

Make Your Schedule Far In Advance

Make sure you share your school schedule as far ahead as possible. Wharton makes the full two-year schedule available when you apply to the program. Map out school weekends and full-week sessions for your team. Also, consider when you will study and work on group projects. If possible, block out those times on your schedule to maximize efficiency and make them part of your routine.

“If you’re a parent considering this program, it’s common to hear people talk about the importance of scheduling and getting support in place. Those things are very important, but it’s also critical to remember that you are already an expert at balancing work and home. You know how to prioritize.” — Holly O’Dell, WG’19

Get Support From Your Family

Communication is also important with your family. Make sure that your partner and children know your school schedule in advance. Going back to school is usually a family decision, so make sure everyone is on board and ready to support you. This may mean lining up support for childcare and delegating household responsibilities to ensure that you are able to focus on school and get the most value out of the program.

“Build slack for yourself by figuring out what you can outsource – cleaning, cooking, laundry, food shopping, etc.” — Robert Chen, WG’19. Learn how Chen survived his first term and what advice he has for students balancing work, family, and classes.

“My wife 100 percent supports me in this program because it is an investment not just for our generation, but also an opportunity to show my two children that they can achieve their goals in life, and they should dream big.” — Vinicius (Vinny) Pires, WG’19

Be Ready To Make Some Sacrifices

You may need to set aside a few hobbies and decline some events during the program. Decide what is important and what you can let go — and then try to maintain those boundaries. This is only two years, so assure friends and family that you will return to a normal schedule after graduation.

“I’ve become deliberate with my time. I am comfortable saying no to commitments outside my goal areas.” — Maggie John, WG’18

“You need to learn to create boundaries and be thoughtful about what you can and cannot do.” Akshay Mehta, WG’

Take Care of Yourself

EMBA students don’t have a lot of free time, so make sure to prioritize taking care of yourself. If you usually go to the gym, try to continue making that a priority during the program. Take breaks as needed because nothing is more important than your physical and mental health.

Find A Program That Fits Into Your Life

When you look at EMBA programs, make sure to check out the format. Are the classes remote or in-person? Are they held at night or during the day? Do you stay on campus during class sessions or commute home?

Wharton’s EMBA program is specifically designed for working professionals. For members of the Philadelphia and San Fransisco cohorts, classes are held every other Friday and Saturday with a few one-week sessions throughout the program. On class weekends, all students stay at the same hotel. Our unique residency requirement creates a focused living-and-learning environment that facilitates forming close bonds among students.

Members of the Global cohort are expected to attend synchronous classes and remote classes wherever they are based. This time commitment may come accompanied by long nights or early mornings, depending on the time zone of where the student resides.

A typical Wharton EMBA Weekend

Benefits of the Wharton EMBA Program for Working Professionals

Support for Students

We take care of the logistical details so that your attention is on your studies. Then when you’re home, you can concentrate on work and family. Each cohort has a dedicated class manager who handles the program particulars, while also anticipating the challenges you will face. Your class manager will:

  • Distribute all program materials, including course packs, textbooks and e-books
  • Manage billing and process your tuition payments
  • Act as a liaison between students and faculty
  • Coordinate arrangements for the second-year international trip
  • Create the master schedule for each semester
  • Act as your registrar, enrolling you in your courses for each term
  • Arrange on-campus accommodations and meals
  • Provide moral support as you make your way through the program

“My class manager checked in frequently to see what I needed. She even arranged a larger hotel room for me to share with my mom and baby when I was nursing on school weekends. The staff feel like family who are concerned about me as a person and not just as a student.” — Dr. Marie Laure Romney, WG’18

Continue Your Life

Picnics with jugglers and face painters, baseball games, ice skating, dining at area restaurants, bowling nights, cruises, trips to the aquarium… While you won’t find these listed on the academic calendar, these special events provide partners and families of students with opportunities to become more familiar with the EMBA program.

Visiting campus offers a better understanding of where and how you’re spending every other weekend. Some special programs are planned for the whole family, while others are for partners. Students’ families can also make arrangements to stay with them at the hotel on regular program nights.

“Partners and families of students are always welcome here.” — Alicia Landis, Admissions and Events Coordinator

“Our kids called visits their ‘Wharton Weekends’ and loved exploring the campus while we were in class.” — Dr. Ije Akunyili, WG’20, who attended the program with her husband Aris A. Brou, WG’20.

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