EMBA vs. MBA: What should I choose?

EMBA vs MBA: Close up of hands of man holding pen and writing.

It’s not a news that when it comes to business education, you are spoilt for choice of the degree you may want to pursue. Whether that’s a classical master’s degree like an MA or MSc or slightly more practice-oriented MBA, opportunities are vast. Today, we’ll put a spotlight on the difference between EMBA vs. MBA programs, helping to answer a question that you may have asked yourself: Should I choose an EMBA vs. MBA?


Target Group EMBA vs. MBA

The main difference that distinguishes EMBA and MBA is the target group to which those programs are dedicated. Master of Business Administration (MBA) and its brother Executive Master of Business Administration (EMBA) can be very similar in terms of the content, because at the end of the day, they are the same qualification. The subtle differences one can see between them relate to the program structure or delivered content within specific modules. Whilst we are on the structure, executive MBA (EMBA) has been developed for existing executives meaning many of those are in fact part-time MBA programs. Standard MBA is usually a full-time program with perhaps some overlap and joint courses.

Why then do we distinguish between EMBA vs. MBA? The answer is quite simple. If you compare the target groups, an MBA is more suitable for people who are yet to become executives. At that point, they may seek general knowledge that will help them in securing the next position, possibly an executive one. The needs are therefore fundamentally different, because an EMBA is a qualification aimed at existing executives, who want to upskill and stay abreast with latest knowledge and practices. This is often difficult in hermetic environments of the corporate world. Of course, executive education is a very viable option, open to companies, but may sometimes focus exclusively on a single subject area, where an EMBA is much more general in its scope.

Should I choose EMBA or MBA? It really depends on your personal circumstances. An MBA is an immersive program where as a student you don’t have much time to work full-time. EMBA participants continue in their daily jobs and only complete the program on evenings and weekends. If you can bear the costs of a full-time MBA and living costs, then it is perhaps a more suitable option for you. As a young professional, you will be able to develop your network alongside your studies, and this may be easier on an MBA program because if we take Munich Business School as an example, networking and career events are frequently scattered throughout what for an EMBA student is a working week.

Costs

Another difference that may come to light between the two programs is the cost to you as a student. EMBA participants have usually been able to work for a company for several years in which case they can secure full or partial funding from their employer. By doing so, they usually agree to work certain number of years for that same employer in kind of getting sponsorship. As an MBA, securing funding may be more difficult but not impossible. For example, Munich Business School offers exceptional talents scholarships to cover part of the tuition fee. In such case, at the end of the program you can have the freedom to take up a job at any company, make your scholarship award a proof of talent and a USP for your CV and still get an MBA qualification that’s highly sought on the market.

What should I choose – EMBA vs. MBA? The question is probably easier to answer than at first sight, because the answer depends on your unique circumstances and experience. They are the most important thing to consider when choosing the right program, which at the heart may not differ from the other in terms of content but almost certainly will in terms of structure. In either case, you will surely finish your studies with fresh knowledge straight from the industry and new experience that will shine on your resume, helping you to make that next step in your professional life.

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Maciej Kapron
About Maciej Kapron 24 Articles
Maciej Kapron has been a Study Advisor as well as Program Manager for the MBA programs at Munich Business School since June 2023. Previously, he was also responsible for the DBA program. He holds a BA in Diplomacy with Law and an MSc in International Management from Loughborough University and completed part of his degree at Universidade Catolica Portuguesa in Lisbon. During his MSc degree, he focused on marketing, specifically within the area of brand management and services marketing however, in his thesis he evaluated entry strategies to new markets of a global automotive manufacturer.