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Is an Executive MBA (EMBA) worth it or not?

If you’re ambitious, your career is on the upswing, and you’re looking to turbo-charge your resume, an Executive MBA (EMBA) is something you might want to consider.

Unlike a full-time MBA, where the students are younger and relatively inexperienced, an EMBA program is designed for professionals who have at least six to seven years’ work experience.

Best of all, it’s a flexible program that allows you to keep your full-time job while earning your degree.

In spite of its nomenclature, an EMBA is not aimed at ‘executives’ (i.e. the privileged few perched at the top echelons of the company) at all and is apt for anyone identified by either themselves or their organisation as a future leader.

The degree is aimed at anyone who is driven, keen to develop their managerial acumen, and wants to deepen their knowledge of business.

With a degree like this under your belt, you can go from being, say, a team leader, to someone involved in strategic thinking, leading large initiatives in your firm and becoming a key driver of business at work.

Clearly, the degree paves the way for a huge shift in role in the corporate world.

Typically seen as a career booster by professionals in finance, accounting, marketing and consulting, an EMBA is now sought by candidates looking to up their game in all sorts of domains.

And why look only at the classic corporate paradigm. Many at this stage in their careers plan to turn entrepreneurs, and an EMBA is their ticket to running their own business.

What Are The Costs of an Executive MBA?

But be warned. Earning an EMBA comes at great personal and financial cost. It means juggling a full-time job with a rigorous academic program and, for many, family responsibilities as well.

Simply put, it means making many big sacrifices. It calls for single-minded determination and tough survival skills.

Also, your self-absorption during the course – the only thing that will see you through – will invariably impact on everyone around you, at home and at work.

In fact, this is a topic discussed prominently at EMBA orientation programs, so make sure you’re up for it before you dive in.

Another reason you want to be absolutely sure you’re making the right choice is the cost of the program – think of it as a six-figure price tag for a potential six-figure salary.

Believe it or not but while the average cost of an EMBA from an average business school is around $75,000-85,000, it costs more than twice that from the top business schools:

Cost of top EMBA Programs

Business School Duration EMBA Cost
The Wharton School 24 months $205,200
Booth School of Business 21 months $189,000
Columbia University 24 months $202,080
Haas School of Business 19 months $185,000


As if that weren’t daunting enough, there’s more bad news – employers are not as generous as they once were when reimbursing the cost of your course.

According to the Executive MBA Council, more number of EMBA programs are now providing scholarships for students. In 2017, 61.4% offered scholarships and fellowships. Much higher than the years before.

Still, the EMBA is a very popular business degree but it also means students/professionals are racking up big loans and debts.

What’s The Payoff?

So, in real terms, what is the payoff? With an EMBA under your belt, you can hone your business, managerial and leadership skills; you are likely to skip a few rungs on the corporate ladder on the way up; you will likely get promoted more easily; you will probably be assigned more responsibilities at work, and you can more easily switch career tracks for better prospects.

Bottom line: When signing up for an EMBA, think ‘Return on Investment’ or ‘ROI’.

First, let’s discuss the most tangible payoff – remuneration. Here are the numbers. Wharton and Columbia claim their EMBA programs get students a 60-per cent jump in salary while others, such as the Ross School of Business and Stern School of Business, say their degrees result in a 42-per cent and 35-per cent rise in remuneration, respectively.

According to The Executive MBA Council’s 2017 Student Exit Benchmarking Survey (source), the salary and bonus package jumped up by 14.1%. The average salary and bonus package rose from about $177,000 to about $201,500. In addition 41% reported a promotion and 52% claimed increased responsibilities. Read Executive MBA ROI and salaries in USA, Canada, Asia, Europe, Africa and Australia


EMBA vs Regular MBA

One reason an EMBA scores over a full-time MBA degree is you get the ‘MBA’ tag and all its perks while getting to keep your job.

While some prefer to start over with a new job after a two-year break, to do a more prestigious, full-time MBA, many see a more flexible EMBA program as a way to skirting the issue of job insecurity.

Second, an EMBA could be a valuable bargaining chip even before you get the degree. If your employer values your worth, he or she may up your remuneration anyway, worried you may quit for greener pastures once you get the accreditation.

A more mature way of assessing your value to the company would be to reward you for bringing more to your role due to the enhanced knowledge and perspective.

Third, students in an EMBA class are drawn from diverse industries and have a wealth of experience to contribute to the program.

Therefore, each one contributes to creating a learning environment that encourages growth in every candidate. This can also help you grow your professional network and present some interesting business opportunities as well.

A fourth reason is that you get to apply your classroom learning to your workplace, in real time, which can be incredibly exciting and rewarding. It also adds value to your work, which is something that benefits your employer and team mates.
Read Part-time MBA vs Executive MBA (EMBA) vs Full-time MBA

‘Caution, EMBA Ahead’

Since an EMBA inherently implies balancing a rigorous academic program with a job and the rest of your life, consider every possible scenario very carefully before committing to it.

One, an EMBA is bound to impact your work and your colleagues. It will mean taking time off to attend classes and for study leave, which means your boss needs to be willing to accommodate this. It would be a lot easier if your boss has an MBA and thus sees the merit in the degree.

‘Compromise’ and ‘sacrifice’ are going to be your watchwords during the course of your EMBA program. Since time is not expandable, you will not be able to do it all, like you used to.

You may have to give up a few things because you will not be able to execute all your responsibilities and chores to your satisfaction.

Identify areas you can temporarily assign to the backburner, like hobbies, interests and even the gym. Often times, you may not find the time to hang out with friends or take in a movie.

The idea is, alongside work, you need to make your EMBA a focal point.

What about family? Well, did you know that MBA courses, full-time and otherwise, are tagged as ‘divorce degrees’? Don’t say we didn’t warn you.

Since the EMBA is even more demanding on one’s time than a full-time course, you should discuss this with your spouse or partner lest it have an irrevocable impact your marriage or relationship.

Your academic rigour will require all resources to be diverted to you, placing a huge burden on family for the duration of the course. This is even more relevant of you are raising a family or plan to raise one, the latter being a strict no-no for the duration of the program.

An EMBA is definitely not for the faint-hearted. While the gains are obvious, make sure the program doesn’t cost you more than you bargained for.

Read these related posts:
Best Executive MBA Programs in the world
Executive MBA: How Priti got into Columbia with a 570 GMAT score
Executive MBA in UK: Tanvi’s LBS experience
7 Reasons when an MBA is not worth it
Michigan Ross Executive MBA after MS in USA
Chicago Booth Executive MBA admit for Indian Architect
Best Part-time MBA in California: UCLA Anderson (FEMBA) and Berkeley Haas
ISB PGPpro application story – Executive MBA without GMAT requirement
Executive MBA with scholarship in India with an average over-represented profile
Also, check your EMBA readiness with Executive Assessment (aka mini-GMAT) and a competitive Executive Assessment (EA) Score for EMBA.
Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7,

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Sameer Kamat
About Sameer Kamat
Founder of MBA Crystal Ball. Author of Beyond The MBA Hype & Business Doctors. Here's more about me. Follow me on: Instagram | Linkedin | Youtube

27 thoughts on “Is an Executive MBA (EMBA) worth it or not?”

  1. Hi Sameer,

    I am looking for 1 year executive MBA from the best college in India. I am having 4 years of Work Experience in IT.

    10th -60, 12th -60, Btech -80, SC Category

    Please look at my profile and advice which college I shall target

  2. Hello Sir,
    I am 28yrs. old. I have done BHTMS (Hotel & tourism0 after HSC in 2008 & now want to do Executive MBA of 2 yrs.
    I have the 4-5 years experience in Hotel & Tourism field. Is it the right time to do the MBA ? Can i do the part time MBA ? Do we have scope to do the MBA at this age ? Which field should i do the MBA as per my education & exp. ?

  3. Hi Sameer,

    I wanted some advise in terms of pursuing an executive MBA. I have a full time MBA from Thunderbird which I completed in 2009. I have been in the Consulting/Investment Banking space since then. However, off late I have been feeling to get back into technology in the areas of product management. Overall I have 10+ years of experience, would an executive/working MBA help me at this stage in my career. Also, would it make sense to do an MBA in India where I can continue with my job and go to school over weekends. Any tips on good schools in Mumbai which I can look at.

  4. Sir, I’m an BAMS graduate ,working as a medical officer in a multispeciality hospital since last 9 years n also pursuing PGDM in healthcare from welingkar institute ,Mumbai through distance. I’m interested in doing MBA executive so that I can get a better exposure of the industry n get get a better salary package too. Kindly suggest where to apply as I’m interested in healthcare , consulting and want to be an startup in homecare .

  5. Hi.
    I am planning to go for full time (residential) executive MBA programme after giving GMAT. I have completed B.Tech in Electrical and Electronics branch in 2010 with 62% marks and having 5 years of experience as an electrical engineer in steel industry (JSPL).
    In 10th i got 70% marks and in 12th i got 58% marks (my main concern).
    Am I eligible for good business school (INDIA/USA) if I score 650+ around in GMAT.

  6. Hi Samir,
    I have 4.5 years of work experience in IT. Could you suggest me whether i will go for regular 2 years MBA program or for executive MBA. Referring to few other sources i came to know that for perusing executive MBA, your designation should be either Manager, Zonal heads,etc. Is it true?because my designation as of now is Software Engineer Analyst.
    So will i be able to proceed for executive MBA by focusing on GMAT or to go with 2 year regular MBA with this experience.
    Please let me know.
    Thank You

  7. [General rant: Our suspicion was that folks will read this article and many more that we’ve published on our site, and still continue to incorrectly use the term Executive MBA. Such is life! Ok, moving on to the queries.]

    @Siddesh: Yes, it’s the right time for an international MBA. Try to go for a full-time course, if you want to extract the full value from the degree.

    @Ankit: First of all, thank you for referring to EMBA in the right context. A part-time degree may not give you the ‘escape velocity’ you are looking for. If you already had a technology background before Thunderbird, you could directly approach startups or smaller companies that aren’t as stuck up about qualifications and will look at the knowledge/potential you have.

    @Gaurav: I’m not sure how business schools will look at your distance MBA degree, and whether you’ll be considered a second MBA applicant. Try reaching out to a few admissions officers and ask about your eligibility.

    @Abhishek: 650 will be low. Try to get higher than 700. Most techies who work with us have an average of 720-730.

    @Anish: GMAT MBA would be better than the traditional 2-year Indian MBA. You don’t need to have a formal ‘manager’ designation, but it surely helps to have some managerial and leadership exposure.

  8. Hi Sameer,

    I have completed my BE-Civil Engineering and I have experience of 9 years in the filed of project Management. And I am now thinking of doing Executive MBA (PGPX) at IIMA. Looking at the fees for PGPX ( 27 lakhs at present) will it be beneficial for me as a Civil Engineer to go for such costly executive MBA and can I expect the good package after my completion if so what will be expected package after completion. Considering my present CTC as 9 lakhs per annum.

  9. Hi Sameee Sir.

    I got 65 % in 10 and 58% in 12 and there is one year gap in between.
    After that I have done B.Com (hons)with 58%.
    Currently having 5.8 years of experience.
    Am I eligible for one year executive MBA from IIM INDORE.. If I secured 95+ percentile in CAT.

  10. Hi Sameer,

    I am working as Head of retail sales in Leading apparel firm with regional managers reporting to me. I have done Bachelors in hospitality management and 1 year post graduation in retailing distance learning from annamalai University. Though I have 14 years of experience but still want to do executive Mba while working full time
    Please guide whether this is wise idea n also recommend relevant institute in India.


  11. Hi Sameer,

    I have a B.Tech in Electronics and Telecommunications with a 3.8 years work experience in a good IT firm. I am currently not working and am looking at my options to get a management degree and start a new career after. I seek your kind expert guidance in painting me a clearer picture on the topic, “should I opt for EMBA/MBA? ; if yes for EMBA then what are the good colleges that I can rely on for a good ROI?”

    Looking forward to your reply.

    Thanks and regards,

  12. Hi Sameer,

    I have a working experience of 12+ years in the field of Hospitality, Administration and Operations. I am currently working as General Manager Operations with a private company in Delhi. I am a BHM graduate with 68% aggregate. Which qualification is required for me to boost the current growth rate in terms of both salary and designation. Will EMBA do some good to it ?

  13. Hi Sameer,

    Currently I have 5 years of experiance in IT Company, by the time MBA Program will start in next year my experiance will be 5.4 years.
    I am also an aptitude trainer and teaching students from last 5 years for campus placements. I have started Education based my own company in 2012 and got the contract from Engineering college for training their students in teachnical and aptitude.
    I am now looking for Executive MBA, which experiance I should show my own company or IT company, how can I positively present my experiance in front of some good B schools like IIMs.
    When should I appear for exam?
    Which colleges should be my target ?
    Do I have good experiance to get into IIMs?
    Currently my CTC in IT company is 6lpa what can I expect after MBA.
    I need to run my own company also after MBA with the good salary job, is it possible ?

  14. Hi Sameer,

    I have completed my B.Tech with 73% Working in a normal company as a web developer and having 3 years of experience.

    And I want to do MBA / Executive MBA .I have many confusion that which stream I need to go please suggest me which branch will give better future as well as better college.


  15. Hi Sameer,

    I have done MBA- Mktg & Fin (2 year regular from Sybiosis Institute of Telecom Management,Pune).With exp of 8 years + in Telecom Industry in Relationship Management(6yrs) and now in Sales (2years)..I am looking for options of further studies through Executive MBA.

    What your views on it and secondly which premier institute will be apt to target for.

  16. HI Sameer,

    Hope you are doing great !

    I have 9 years of IT industry experience. I want to do Executive MBA, But My academic percentages are bit low, Am I eligible to get a admission in executive MBA.

    My academic percentages are :

    SSC: 65%
    Intermediate : 49%
    Graduation : 55%
    Post Graduation : 73%

    Kindly advice.

  17. Hi sameer,
    I am a 24 year old woman currently working in an IT firm with around 1 yr experience. A btech passout with a cgpa of 8.04 from kolkata. I have above 80% in 10th and 12th. I want to change my job profile. Is executive mba going to help me or regular 2 year mba??

  18. Hi Samar
    Vaibhav here, I have 3 yrs experience as QA Engineer (Manual). and I am 2013- passout.
    I am looking forward to do some short term management course, which can help me in getting BA type job.
    Plz suggest me what is good for me at this point of time.

  19. Hi folks,

    These posts seem to be very helpful as I gained some insights for pursuing a management post graduate degree for me.

    My question is do Indian colleges provide placements for 1 year executive MBA candidates as they provide for 2 year MBA??

    I am an IT guy having 6 yrs of experience and I am a technical person with no managerial experience.

    Now I feel to switch my role and therefore I am eyeing for GMAT 2017 and preparing currently.

    Secondly What is the difference between regular 1 year MBA and 1 year executive MBA?

    Thanks again,

  20. @Ankit: Here’s a post we wrote on second MBA applicants.

    @Ramana: The low percentages will have an impact for the top programs. Work on highlighting the other components of your application – GMAT score, depth and variety of experience, communication skills, career vision.

    @Parbani: Traditional 2-year MBA will be better since your experience level is low.

    @Vaibhav: Short-term courses won’t help much with a career change, I’m afraid.

    @Arijit: Regular MBA is full-time, Executive MBA is part-time.

  21. Myself pradip, i have done 4 years bachelor degree in hotel management. i have appx 9 years experience and currently working as conference and banqueting manager in international chain hotel in riyadh.I have appx 4 years experience on managerial level I want to do mba/Executive mba.We do not have any good ones in india for hospitality which has very high name. If i try to do normal executive mba will it be effective . For instance, if i want to join other sector/field will i be hired by recruiters.
    To do executive mba(full time) from iim will be the good option for me,

    In hospitality we do have some in europe france like essec and usa(very high tution fee).

  22. Hi Sameer,

    I have 3 Year 6 months experience, though working for a large MNC in India, my ctc is not upto my experience. I got admission from IIM K for Executive PGP( weekends classes ) but I came to know that the value of the part-time degree( though from IIM ) is less in the market. I have only 2 days to decide. Is it better option to go for this IIM K EPGP course or go for a full time PGP through CAT ( not sure whether I have capability now considering office work )

  23. @Aditya: Sorry, wasn’t able to respond earlier. I guess this is not relevant now, but you’ve answered your own query. A part-time degree doesn’t count as much as a full-time course.

    @Pradip: Unlike a Bachelors degree, that has a specificalised focus on one technical area, an MBA is meant to be a degree that provides broad-based management skills.

    Which means an engineer can use it to move up the hierarchy into engineering management roles. And someone from the hospitality industry can use a general management degree to get into a strategic or financial or business development role.

    You can aim to get into the best possible MBA college that your profile allows you to, and don’t get overly worried that it doesn’t have a specific focus on hospitality.

  24. Hello,

    I have been admitted to both Mendoza (Notre Dame) and Kellogg EMBA programs. I am a PhD with 15 years of professional experience with over 3 years of product management/business development and 9 years of R&D managerial experience in specialty chemicals. I do not wish to change my career track (i.e. go in consulting etc.) after finishing EMBA or work outside of the US. For Mendoza my tuition is fully paid whereas for Kellogg it is partially paid (60%) by my current employer. The reason for doing an EMBA is to enhance my viewpoint, business & leadership skills and expand my outreach in commercial/business arena. My ultimate career goal is “C” position or career progression in my current field.

    Couple of years back I did Kellogg’s 1 wk exec ed program, I really liked the collaborative environment and feel! I know that Kellogg has global outreach and highly reputable global brand. However, from my point of view, after completing education if at all I am exploring, I would be presenting myself with over 18 years of experience and having PhD + MBA degree. Would school really matter then? Am I too narrow in thinking, at that point in my career just having both PhD + MBA would hold more value vs. where I did my MBA from?

    Advise/suggestions/thoughts? Highly appreciated.

  25. hi Sameer,
    I have an overall experience of 17 years, out of which 13+ years are into managerial capacity. However, off late I feel glass ceiling and hence was contemplating on EMBA in Mumbai. Have a family to run and look after.
    Do you think it’s a good idea? If yes, please name few better institutes I should check.
    Can I do it for this academic year?

  26. Hi, could you give review of the Smartly Executive MBA Program (Smartly EMBA)? It’s a new program that charges less tuition than normal EMBA programs. I hear a lot about the traditional universities above, but I am not able to move/travel at the moment and want a distance option that I can put on my resume.


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