There are different types of MBA programmes for different professionals. A full-time MBA programme is usually designed for those who want to change their career path or work abroad. In contrast, a part-time EMBA programme is aimed at mature candidates who want to enrich their careers by sharing best practices with their peers in other industries. These executives have already demonstrated strong analytical ability, emotional maturity, and interpersonal skills. They have the confidence to handle new business challenges, but perhaps lack the recognition from their existing network that they have the potential for more.

By earning a part-time Executive MBA degree, working professionals in middle- and senior-level management can advance their career without having to leave their hard-earned positions for extended periods of time and losing income. In addition, the Part-time EMBAs offer prospective candidates the ability to apply their newly gained knowledge on the job but with a higher level of leadership and management skills.

Part-time EMBAs enjoy the same recognition as full-time MBAs. In choosing a top EMBA programme, you will be expected to work just as hard if not harder than if you choose a full-time MBA. Most executives tend to work long hours, but imagine having to devote an additional 15 hours of study per week to your schedule. This requires a complete commitment to the programme. If you are not convinced of the benefits, you won’t last long.

After applying to the EMBA programmes of their choice, candidates go through a stringent application process. Knowing the stress placed on students who start a part-time EMBA, the admissions committees of most programmes are far more demanding of their candidates than you might expect. They are looking for mature candidates who know the value of the degree and who are convinced of the path they have set out on.

Working from home is like travelling abroad

One of the big advantages of a part-time EMBA is your ability to collaborate with other students on the programme in a range of virtual environments. INSEAD (France), for example, has launched Second Life, its virtual campus where students can collaborate with their classmates and be guided by a professor.

With the rise of Web 2.0 collaboration tools, the old boundaries around locally based part-time EMBA programmes have all but disappeared. This technical breakthrough has benefited students and professors alike as they can now present case studies, hold work group meetings or work on presentations, using tools such as webcams. In addition to live meetings, web-cast guest lectures can be downloaded onto different playback platforms. After adapting to the tools, the students learn how to collaborate with their classmates, who may come from completely different cultures. This experience alone is a big advantage which students can apply in a global environment.

Learn more about MBA programmes at INSEAD by taking a look at this handy school profile.

Having a business school support you

Changes in the real world, whether it be a global economic crisis or a spate of incremental changes in your particular field of expertise, all need to be assessed for their potential to change company culture and your approach to leadership. With a part-time EMBA, you can tailor your coursework to reflect changes in the marketplace.

You can find programmes with flexible sessions and which offer bilingual coursework. The part-time and bilingual Executive MBA at IESE (Spain) is offered in two different formats at the Madrid campus. Students who choose the weekly format attend classes on Friday afternoons and Saturday mornings from mid-September to mid-June. Three intensive week-long sessions take place in the first 12 months of the 20-month programme. Students choosing the twice-a-month format attend classes all day on Friday and Saturday mornings from early September to mid-July. Four intensive week-long sessions take place in the first 12 months of the 20-month programme. The programme in Barcelona offers only the weekly format.

Whereas IESE students do not hop from one Spanish campus to the other, the students on the INSEAD EMBA programme benefit from its “two-campus approach”. A modular programme, the 15-month INSEAD EMBA requires that students take up residency for equal periods of time on the Fontainebleau and Singapore campuses. The on-campus modules, four of one-week and four of two-weeks, are about six weeks apart. This approach has advantages for managers, as it improves the diversity ratio of students, all of whom bring a range of cultural approaches.

Learn more about MBA programmes at IESE by taking a look at this handy school profile.

Learning from world-class faculty

Students on part-time EMBA programmes benefit from the flexible configuration of the coursework which, because of the flexibility, enables business schools to attract top-tier faculty and leading experts to the classroom when it is in session. Faculty members on the Kellogg-WHU EMBA programme, for example, are drawn from the existing Kellogg and WHU global networks, consisting of more than 150 discipline-based, research-oriented scholars who bring the latest in management findings and concepts into the classroom, combining theory and case studies. In addition to academic teaching staff, leading experts from different industries and thought leaders from other areas of the economy are regularly invited to share their knowledge and expertise with EMBA students.

Furthermore, the tendency for part-time EMBA programmes to take a multi-campus approach benefits students. The University of Chicago Booth School of Business runs three campuses across the globe -- in Chicago, London, and Singapore. Hence, the faculty are far more diverse than on many full-time MBA programmes, which rely on locally based professors to carry the teaching load week in and week out.

Expanding choices globally

Part-time EMBA programmes are becoming the degree of choice in Asia, Europe, and North America. INSEAD has developed an EMBA programme in partnership with Tsinghua University in China to keep up with demand in the region. Many Chinese managers cannot afford the high costs associated with fll-time MBA programmes outside of their country, so they prefer to stay in their jobs and study at local business schools.

Business schools in central Europe have also witnessed a spike in demand for part-time EMBAs. The Swiss-based University of St. Gallen, which has a strong reputation in German-speaking countries, had launched a part-time MBA. A 20-month programme taught in four modules, the part-time MBA is delivered at four locations across Germany, Switzerland, and Spain. In fact, the first module is taught in cooperation with ESADE Business School in Spain. Interestingly, part-time MBA students have the option of joining the full-time MBA programme in the fourth module if they want to go either for an exchange or for a double degree abroad. St. Gallen has 40 to 50 places available on the part-time MBA programme.

Learn more about MBA programmes at University of St. Gallen by taking a look at this handy school profile.

Since 1986, the IEDC Bled School of Management in Slovenia has been expanding its range of degree choices for more than 40,000 graduates from 60 countries. IEDC now offers three separate EMBA degrees, a one-year programme, a two-year EMBA, and a three-year President’s MBA. The first two programmes last 17 weeks, with the one-year course organised into four modules and the two year course in seven modules.

EMBA participants at Bled are more senior and experienced than regular MBA students. With nine years' work experience on average and an average age of 34, they are seasoned professionals able to exercise sound business judgment and share worthwhile experience.

Taking control of the costs

According to the Executive MBA Council, the cost of the average EMBA rose from USD 58,000 in 2007 to USD 63,000 in 2008. At the same time, the percentage of companies offering full sponsorship to EMBA students fell to 32% in 2008. Not surprisingly, the number of EMBA students receiving partial reimbursement increased to 36%. A third of all EMBA students entirely pay their own way.

Despite these apparently high costs, prospective MBA candidates know that the return on investment has never been better. Without any sponsorship from his management consulting company, Todd Oken, who graduated from Wharton’s East Coast EMBA programme in 2007, was convinced of the benefits of a Wharton MBA degree. He took on bank loans to pay for the programme, as he already had a mortgage and a growing family to support. He firmly believed the EMBA was a worthwhile investment for his long-term career plans.

Read: Viable MBA Formats

In fact, Todd proved to himself, his family, and his new employer that he was correct in doing the EMBA. Not only has he found a much better job as a vice president of finance for a well-known company, but he will also pay back the full amount of the loans within the next five years.

A simple rule of thumb is that a full-time MBA will cost more than a part-time EMBA. If you calculate the lost earnings, the relocation expenses, and room and board, all of these add up to a much higher commitment than the straightforward EMBA tuition. But it is an investment in your career. Todd said, “Even if I were considering an EMBA programme in the current economic environment, I would still make the same decision without question because the Wharton MBA degree was worth every penny. I knew it would advance my future professional responsibilities and compensation.

In conclusion, the part-time EMBA, with its global reach and international network, has grown in popularity. You can earn an EMBA from a top business school at a fraction of the cost of a full-time MBA. Does this spell the end of the traditional MBA programme? No, because there will always be huge demand from prospective candidates seeking to change their careers and willing to devote 100%of their time to their studies. But the EMBA has definitely come of age. Now is the time to start thinking about what it can do for you.