The Executive MBA is no child’s play. And you’d better not go to business school if you have not honed to perfection the all-important skill of juggling your priorities and managing your time. The good news is that the top Executive MBA programmes are doing their best to help you achieve the right balance between work and study.
The fast-track teaching format
Chicago is the cradle of the EMBA degree, as the first course in executive management was launched there in 1943. By the 1960s, the Chicago style was adopted by many schools which offered fast-track courses that professionals could take while on sabbatical or paid leave.
Today’s business schools stick to this intensive and accommodating teaching model but have modified it considerably. Future EMBAs can now choose between weekend, bi-monthly or just week-long sessions. Many business universities also offer longer, more intensive training sessions that occur less frequently – a ‘once you have them, teach them’ approach. Some of the top business schools have adopted module-based programmes (generally known as Global Executive EMBAs). These modules typically 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 Columbia Business School (US) , for example, boasts a unique executive MBA programme which spans three continents – the result of a partnership between Columbia Business School, London Business School (UK) and the Hong Kong University. The EMBA-Global Asia programme is located in New York, London, Hong Kong, and Shanghai. With most classes taking place in Hong Kong, students earn an MBA conferred jointly by the three schools, as well as full alumni privileges at each school. The EMBA-Global Americas and Europe programme is a yet another alternative for students – monthly classes alternate between two hubs of global business, London, and New York, and students earn two full MBA degrees and alumni privileges from each school.
The miracle of technology
The EMBA has come a long way since that first course in executive management was offered in 1943. With the advance of technological innovation, the physical presence of students and professors has become recommendable, rather than mandatory. In other words, if you can’t make it to class, you can still catch thanks to your computer. Many business schools are adopting e-learning models that incorporate web-based applications into their curricula.
London Business School, for example, has partnered with Genesys Conferencing to provide the school's students with Genesys Meeting Center, a service that allows the executive students to hold interactive coursework study meetings with fellow students anywhere at any time, directly from their computer desktops. With students already well into their management careers with companies across the world and the programme itself based on intensive coursework and weekend tutorials, the new "virtual" study groups will give students greater flexibility to advance in their coursework and balance it with work and family time commitments. The new service also reduces the need for the Executive MBA students to travel to London Business School Regent's Park. In fact, most top business schools are demonstrating innovative uses of technology to connect, deliver, and archive coursework. Podcasts, mobile connectivity, and even academic social media networks are nowadays available in most EMBA programmes. Some universities are building their entire learning EMBA model around computer applications.
However, there are also those who have taken the completely opposite approach and have limited the use of technology to research and assignments only. Don’t panic about it, making the right choice between tradition and technology is easy: just consider how each of the formats fits your expectations and – most importantly – your time schedule.