The Employers' Perspective

A Full-time or an Executive MBA Programme?

It is widely accepted that an MBA from a good school opens many doors to a graduate. Employers know the value of an MBA which makes them willing to fully or partially sponsor their employees. The question is what difference it makes for a manager to hold a traditional and a non-traditional (part-time or executive) MBA while being engaged or sponsored by his or her current employer.

Executive and Part-Time MBA programs are designed for those managers who have significant job experience. This is why companies often sponsor the above mentioned MBA programs. Firstly, these programs are essentially career enhancing rather than career changing. Participants do not typically intend to change jobs after graduation and therefore employers are encouraged to invest in their own company by covering the costs of the MBA degree. Secondly, an Executive MBA is generally the equivalent to the degree offered by "traditional" full-time. Usually EMBA students attend fewer courses than full-time participants. This doesn't diminish the value of Executive MBA programmes as an EMBA students' full-time job can be regarded as "studying" since managers apply newly acquired EMBA knowledge to their work. Employers get immediate benefits from Part-Time and especially, Executive MBA programs, because in class a student can discuss issues relevant to his or her workplace. Executive programs are directly related to delivering "relevant experience" which is exactly what employers are seeking. "Full-time programs tend to be more content-specific because the candidates have a less definite path to follow or immediate need for applying the skill. Executive programs offer the widest variation among MBA program types. They offer a wider range of course. Leadership and innovation are an integral part of the experience of EMBA candidates because executives are seeking skills to be applied to their current working environment", (GMAC, 2005).

In the eyes of recruiters and employers the advantage of studying for an EMBA degree is that by doing so the employee demonstrates a high degree of commitment, motivation and drive. Indeed, it takes courage for an employee to balance family life, MBA studies and a full-time job in a senior position, all for the sake of further perfecting his or her managerial skills and consequently, improving his or her company. Employers do appreciate the determination EMBA participants demonstrate which is why many companies support their employees. A business schools' ability to deliver first-hand experience is not the only factor taken into account by companies who consider sponsoring employees. It is worth remembering that half of what students learn at business school comes from their qualified peers who bring their knowledge into the classroom. EMBA and part-time students possess lots of managerial skills. Due to this, some employers choose programs that accept significant numbers of highly experienced participants.

Finally, one should consider the systems of rankings designed for MBA programmes. Rankings are one of the aspects taken into account by both companies and students when choosing an MBA programme. If we base a full-time/executive dilemma on rankings, surely traditional programs are at an advantage; the rankings for full-time MBAs are well-established and the degree is widely recognized, whereas EMBA programs are relatively new on the MBA market. Nevertheless, separate rankings for Executive MBAs have been introduced which proves the importance of this delivery method within the MBA landscape. At the same time, the recognized accrediting bodies are taking interest in online MBAs. Reportedly, in the near future all types of MBA programmes will have their own ranking systems.

There are pros and cons for both Full-time and Executive MBA programmes. It is important for you to know how both degrees are regarded by employers and recruiters. If you don't know yet which path you are going to take in the business world, the full-time MBA is sure to help you to make a decision. If, on the contrary, your career path has already been determined and you need some very specific knowledge, the Executive MBA is the best choice.

The Masters in Business Administration is immensely popular among students and employers. In the consulting and finance industries the MBA is not only a desirable attribute, but also an essential qualification. If one wishes to advance in these fields, the absence of an MBA degree on one's CV is a significant disadvantage. One needs only to look through the Association of MBAs member's handbook to see that an MBA is required in just about any area of employment. Full-time MBA programs are rarely sponsored by companies. However, a full-time MBA could be your best choice if you wish to completely change your career path or if you want to devote yourself fully to school without the distractions that can be caused by working while attending school. Managers at some small and mid-size companies prefer in-house training to MBA programs. In their view, in-house training is an optimal solution because programs are taught by someone with business experience, rather than by professors who might be removed from the business world and not be fully aware of the constantly changing market. Many full-time MBA students have relatively little work experience and recruiters often seek candidates who possess sufficient career skills in addition to an MBA degree.

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