The Executive MBA programme is essentially a part-time MBA but with a different target group. The EMBA is designed for medium-level or senior-level corporate professionals who want to further advance in their career, reach a C-level post or develop a brand new business idea. These busy professionals can-not afford the luxury of leaving their jobs in order to study. As the programme targets working top-level professionals, its format is very flexible. It is delivered in such a way that the attendees are able to gain the knowledge they need without facing the dilemma “to work or to study”.

All EMBA attendees keep their employment commitments while studying and that’s why there is no EMBA programme that demands all of its attendees’ time. The EMBA learning format varies from school to school. As the EMBA is designed to provide the rigours of a traditional MBA but also accommodate full-time work, so classes are typically held at weekends, monthly or bimonthly, or as several intensive one-week studies over the course of two or three years. 

The learning environment varies from traditional work in class to learning sessions held in executive training centres and corporate boardrooms, study trips, case studies and independent work. For a school to maintain its accreditation, students must receive a certain number of classroom hours per semester. The school administrative board decides how these classes should be organised – during weekends, evenings or as modules lasting several days every two months, for example. 

Modular EMBA

Week-long classes, called modules, are typical for the EMBA programme. The modules usually last from four to six days at a time and are spread out over two years or less, with residential sessions taking place around once every two months. The Modular EMBA enables business executives to continue their employment responsibilities while learning. This makes the EMBA format the preferred choice for those who want to further develop a skill-set that will help them advance a global career without putting their professional responsibilities on hold. 

Such is the Accelerated Development Programme of U.S. University of Chicago Booth School of Business, delivered in the School’s London campus. The programme is designed for executives who are responsible for key organisational activities but who need to develop a wider general management perspective outside their traditional area of responsibility and expertise. It comprises three modules - each five days in length - taught over a three-month period. 

Given its modular format, the Glob-al EMBA Programme of IESE Business School is suited to the needs of busy professionals, so time spent out of the office is minimised. The programme is offered with residential sessions held on a bi-monthly basis – two weeks, residential module every two months. The modules take place across three different continents – Europe, Asia and America, featuring company visits and networking opportunities with senior industry officials. 

On-campus, off-campus

Some majors such as accounting, finance, portfolio management and statistics cannot be held in other than a typical lecture hall setting, but other majors are better located off-campus. EMBA students study practical business issues, and when placed in real situations, knowledge is acquired directly from the source. The EMBA format allows students to meet with corporate leaders across the globe and to participate in global projects, gaining knowledge first hand, while facing real business problems head on.

A typical part of the EMBA programme is the study tours, also called residencies. Residencies are class sessions held away from the regular campus setting and conducted at an educational training centre or other corporate settings away from campus where the traditional MBA classes are delivered. A residency may last a week or more and may be the culmination of the entire study during the semester, usually delivered in the form of a group presentation to the corporate board. When the residency calls for participants’ presence on the actual campus of a corporation, the classroom becomes the corporate boardroom. 

Thanks to the study tours, the Executive MBA programme turns the world into a global campus. Students meet and learn from real- life cases, communicating with corporate officials, politicians and senior members of the corporate world. Courses such as cross-cultural negotiations, critical operational analysis, global communications, corporate leadership, and business strategy are best taught in the boardroom of leading global corporations or in the headquarters of government institutions. 

EMBA on different continents

The EMBA format enables student to live in a university campus for up to a week at a time over a typical period of two to three years. Many top-ranked business schools provide EMBA students with the opportunity to study in different campuses, often located on different continents. This allows students to select their home campus from the several campuses used by the business school. For example, the HEC Executive MBA is delivered at five locations around the world – Paris, Doha in Qatar, Beijing and Shanghai in China and Saint-Petersburg in Russia. Students are required to attend four-day modules every month or eight-day modules every eight weeks. 

The EMBA programmes of Spain’s IESE Business School, France’s INSEAD School of Business and U.S. Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business are more or less structured and organised in the same way as HEC’s programme. 

EMBA on one continent

EMBA programmes can also be delivered in one single campus. These programmes are designed specifically for people who are from that particular continent. The list of schools offering such programmes includes UK’s London Business School, Spain’s IE Business School and France’s HEC. 

Joint programmes

Schools often join efforts in delivering the EMBA, thus creating very attractive programmes. London Business School in the United Kingdom and Columbia Business Schools in the U.S. have launched a joint EMBA-Global programme that is designed for globally-focused executives and managers. The programme has two separate formats – EMBA-Global Americas and Europe, and EMBA-Global Asia. The first has monthly classes alternating between London and New York, as students earn two full MBA degrees from each school. The second is a partnership extended to the University of Hong Kong and the result is that the programme unites three top business schools to deliver the global perspectives and net-work that a successful global career demands. 

Other examples are the Global Executive MBA Programme of U.S. George-town University’s School of Business and Spain’s ESADE Business School, and the Kellogg-WHU Global Executive MBA Programme. The first programme combines the interdisciplinary teaching strengths of Georgetown’s McDonough School of Business and Walsh School of Foreign Service with ESADE’s strengths in entrepreneurship and social innovation. The second programme synthesises American and European management know-how. As part of the Kellogg Global Executive MBA Network, students have the opportunity to gain new perspectives from each major region of the world through intensive participation in global electives held at WHU in Germany, the Chicago and Miami campuses of the Kellogg School of Management at North-western University and prestigious inter-national partner schools including Hong Kong University of Science and Technology in Hong Kong, Guanghua School of Management at Peking University in China, Tel Aviv University in Israel and York University in Canada. 

EMBA and modern technology

All EMBA formats apply innovative e-learning models that incorporate web-based applications into their curricula. Podcasts, mobile connectivity, teleconferencing and academic social media networks have been developed to ease the learning process and to make the programmes meet the busy schedules of working professionals. Most EMBA programmes have platforms linking students, faculty, and administrators in virtual private networks. 

The distance learning part-time Manchester Global MBA programme takes full advantage of modern technology. The programme is highly flexible and mobile, meeting the needs of busy executives and fitting around students’ personal and professional commitments. The Executive MBA of Spain’s IE Business School is another example. The programme’s blended methodology is based on the case study method and team work. The topics in each subject are based on real cases and are analysed and discussed by students in forums and videoconferences under the guidance of the professor. Frequent, almost daily contact between students is fundamental. The programme includes two live videoconferences per month on Saturdays. From Monday to Thursday the programme then continues through the discussion forums, and the student decides when to make his or her contributions to the discussion at a time that suits best, as the Online Campus runs actively 24/7. 

Not all EMBA programmes are the same. The EMBA exists in many shapes and sizes and the particular diversity of the programme makes it easier for attendees to find the best option. Each programme is unique and results in a transformation of some kind for the participant. These transformations may result in a significant change – a promotion at the work place, a transition to a new corporation, starting one’s own business, along with achieving invaluable gains – more confidence, new knowledge and a larger network of contacts.