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Are Executive MBAs easier to get into?

In many ways it is easier to enrol in an Executive MBA programme compared to a conventional MBA. The programme, destined for already experienced professionals, is more flexible and requirements are eased to some extent.

In many ways it is easier to enrol in an Executive MBA programme compared to a conventional MBA. The programme, destined for already experienced professionals, is more flexible and requirements are eased to some extent. Let me explain.

The specific target group for EMBA programmes is working executives and managers who want to enhance their career path. These programmes are for professionals who are already experts in a field or industry and need to boost their general management skills. That is why enrolment is often bound to a new or anticipated promotion.

An EMBA is essentially a part-time MBA, but the average student profile is slightly different. These programmes are aimed at experienced executives who prefer not to leave their well-paid jobs to take a full-time MBA and typically require significant business experience to gain admission.

In order to enrol in an EMBA programme, you need to follow some basic steps that are part of any application process. The steps in general are the same as in the MBA admission procedure. You need a strategy of how to achieve your goals, good planning of your time and also to prepare your resume, write essays, get references and get ready for the interview.
However, there is a difference and the key one is the profile of the prospective candidate. The emphasis is placed on the profile as a combination of work experience, professional achievements and personal characteristics of the EMBA applicant, rather than on other aspects like high test scores. In other words, the personality and experience of the prospective candidate matters the most. The candidate profile is certainly more essential than the performance in the GMAT test, for instance.

Most MBA programmes use a combination of GMAT scores and undergraduate grade averages to evaluate candidates for admission.  Students with undergraduate degrees in non-business fields are often required to successfully complete business ‘core’ requirements before being allowed to enrol in graduate level courses.  

EMBA programmes, in contrast, do not always require candidates to take the GMAT, focusing instead on the professional background of their potential students. Still, many business schools require a high score in a test proving your analytical, numeric and verbal abilities – however, this is not always the GMAT but may be their own school admission test.

What differentiates the EMBA most from the conventional MBA programme is the requirement for substantial professional experience from EMBA applicants. The business schools want their EMBA students to have a long-term career path in most cases.

At HEC Paris Business School, a key requirement to enrol in its EMBA programme is rich and substantial professional experience of at least eight years. This includes international experience. Prospective candidates should also prove a track record of ability to influence their company's strategic decisions.

Substantial postgraduate work experience of at least eight years is a key prerequisite for the EMBA programme at the ESADE Business School. Applicants should be in full-time employment, have a current international job profile and a proven history of leadership. The school also requires EMBA applicants to hold a bachelor's degree from an accredited higher education institution.

EMBA students at the London Business School typically have between five and 22 years of managerial experience, and the majority have experience of working in multi-cultural environments and in different countries around the world.

To sum up, it is crucial to present yourself, your personality, personal achievements, personal targets and personal view while preparing yourself for applying to your chosen EMBA the best possible way. However, nobody is perfect and business schools are absolutely aware of this. As well as your strengths, they also want to see that you are self-aware and realistic, so don't be afraid to reveal yourself even in the form of weaknesses. In fact, this may help your case with the admission committee. A story about how you learned from a failure, improved upon a weakness or faced challenges could actually be your trump card.

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