Part-time and Executive MBA programmes are both designed to meet the needs of experienced professionals who want to gain essential management skills without leaving their full-time job. What are the differences between them?

Education in management first appeared in the United States in the late 19th century, as the country shifted towards industrialisation and a growing need emerged for scientific approaches to management. While the main principles of the MBA, which include in-depth education in accounting, human resources, management and finance, have remained unchanged, the options for obtaining MBAs have expanded from the original two-year full-time degree.

The roots of executive and part-time MBAs

The EMBA programme was first introduced by the University of Chicago in 1943 to serve working managers by means of an advanced graduate business degree. Now more than 180 schools offer EMBA programmes, with three quarters of them based in the United States and the rest spread throughout Europe, Asia and South America. Some 200 000 people have graduated through EMBA programmes and are represented by leaders across all fields in business, medicine, law, and government, according to data from the EMBA Council.

Part-time MBA programmes appeared much later. In fact this management education format is the newest in the market and was introduced to meet the needs of candidates who wish to qualify for a full-time MBA course but cannot afford to take one or two years off work.

Different target groups

The two programmes target different types of specialists. The part-time MBA is designed for working professionals in the middle of successful careers who want to advance further, mostly in their own organisation, without leaving their typically high-earning positions. Part-timers usually need endorsement from their employers in the application process, as they need to take some time away from the office for classes.

The EMBA is designed to meet the needs of those working in higher management. "Executive MBA students are high-calibre managers, executives and entrepreneurs who have the potential and motivation to become truly global, multi-skilled business leaders," according to the London Business School. Most of the students have experience of working in multi-cultural environments and in different countries around the world.

Admission requirements

The admission criteria for part-time and executive MBA students include passing an examination such as GMAT or GRE and at least 3 to 5 years of working experience. EMBA programmes, however, are more flexible and some b-schools have waived the examination requirement, but most of them demand at least 5 years of managerial experience, as candidates are often judged on what they can bring to the programme. EMBA programme participants are usually aged between 33 and 40, while students in part-time programmes are usually younger, with an average age of between 27 and 32.


Both programmes allow students to obtain an MBA while working full-time, as classes may be scheduled on several weekday evenings, after normal working hours or at weekends, which encompass Fridays as well. In both cases students need around 15 hours a week for individual study, preparation and group work. The modular approach includes concentrated campus meetings over a long four-day weekend or an entire week at monthly or two-monthly intervals.

Modular EMBA provides global experience

Many business schools offer modular EMBA programmes taught on a multi-campus basis, allowing students to choose whether to attend classes in Europe, the United States or Asia. The modular EMBA classes attract business executives from all over the world from a variety of backgrounds, cultures, perspectives and industries. Communication with such a wide variety of top executives provides the opportunity to earn global experience, get a grasp of a broad range of business perspectives and benefit from valuable networking opportunities.