The EMBA degree typically does not take as long to obtain as a graduate degree, and part-time programmes include 16 modules to be taken over a span of 20-21 months. Almost all executive programmes are part-time so that participants can continue their professional activity while enrolled in the programme.

As the ‘executive’ part of the name of the degree suggests, the EMBA programme requires a more senior attitude towards business and administration. Applicants are required to have several years of experience in managerial roles due to the extensive and advanced subject matter of the EMBA course. Executive MBA students have 12.7 years of working experience, on average.

For example, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) (US) requires at least 10 years of professional work experience for its EMBA programme. The average age of EMBA students at MIT is 40. As you might expect, the average age of EMBA students in general is markedly higher than other academic degrees; the average age of students enrolled in EMBA courses worldwide is 36.3 years old, according to financial expert Dave Ross. The age of the candidates is not as important as their experience, but there are certain things that develop with age, such as flexibility and vision.

Read: How the EMBA Programme Transformed My Career

This is nicely illustrated by Christer Holloman, the former senior business development manager at Glassdoor who, after just four months of studying for an EMBA at Oxford University (UK), left his job to pursue to found his very own company. He claims that the skills he gained in the EMBA programme gave him the courage that he needed to make the final step and go out into the business world alone. His company, Divido, is an online payments business which is gradually growing in size and power thanks to the substantial funding it has received from Seedcamp and other investors. The prestige of Holloman’s EMBA degree was undoubtedly a factor in the successful GBP-1-million funding round.

Enrolling in an EMBA programme usually costs between USD 50,000 and USD 150,000. However, to judge from the return on investment of Holloman and other EMBA students, this amount may turn out to be peanuts in the long run. Holloman also has sponsors among fellow students and teachers at the university. The combined force of venture capitalists and equity partners means that the high enrolment fee could be recouped quickly if the student uses the knowledge and connections he gained from the EMBA programme to good effect.

The EMBA class

Top universities, such as MIT and the London Business School (UK), try to bring together like-minded, driven individuals who can share their wealth of experiences. The average class size is 120, so there is plenty of networking to be done among the EMBA students. Alumni are also able to stay in touch even after the programme has finished and build on what they have discussed and learned together. The clichéd phrase ‘it’s not what you know, but who you know’ rings true in this instance to some extent. The beauty of venturing into business endeavours with people who you know and who share the same wisdom as you is the reduced stress and pressure that would otherwise overwhelm ‘newbie’ entrepreneurs. The mix of professions that can be found in a lecture theatre of an EMBA programme is second to none, heterogeneously speaking, and results in ‘cross-functional perspectives’ and ‘productive collaborations’, according to Ivy Exec, a recruitment service in New York.

A senior management curriculum

During the EMBA programme experience, students learn various soft skills as well as the ‘bigger picture outlook’ according to Clifford Brown, EMBA alumnus at Oxford University and a partner at Rockworth Management Partners. Soft skills integrated into the management setting later constitute the working style of the EMBA graduate. The EMBA degree enhances not only managerial skills but also leadership qualities that can be applied anywhere in the world. In addition, EMBA programmes are based on a fairly balanced framework that aims to limit static online learning and involve more dynamic experiences for students.

Executive MBA programmes offer a mix of research, lectures and practical experience. The University of Edinburgh 's EMBA programme consists of core modules including strategic marketing, leadership and responsibility, creative strategy and modelling business. Apart from that, there is also a strong focus on economics and business theory. The optional modules are limited and are based on similar subjects, so the course is not for those looking for a broad perspective. It is rather designed for those who aim to learn and practise only the vitally important skills and who have a detailed understanding of how certain business or financial models work.

Those taking C-level management (the highest level of management) courses are tasked with coordinating their business and their workers while also maintaining private equity endorsements. CEOs need to be taught how to balance these aspects and many more so that their companies can thrive. If they can’t do that, they are likely to lose control of their workforce and shareholders leading to the collapse of the company. The set modules of the EMBA programme deal with these prominent issues and give advice on how to cope as a leading executive.

Read: The Executive MBA ROI and Benefits Portfolio

While getting an EMBA degree requires dedication, time, and resources, the experience is highly rewarding for mid-level managers that aspire to top executive roles. It can also be an asset to those who are already in high positions, as they can immediately turn theory into practice in their workplace. Equally, for those looking to branch out and try something new, the programme offers a safety net in the form of advice, resources, and connections.

As Janet Dawson, currently studying an EMBA at Oxford University, observes, the EMBA programme enables you to ‘ask better questions as much as it gets you to come up with the answers yourself’.

This article is original content produced by Advent Group and included in the 2016-2017 annual Access MBA, EMBA and Masters Guide under the title “Kings and Queens”. An online version of the Guide is available here.