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  • The Executive MBA (EMBA)

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    If you're a working professional, an Executive MBA (EMBA) program will allow you to earn a business degree without leaving your day job.

    Like traditional MBA students, EMBA students complete their degrees within two years. Part–time programs, on the other hand, typically take three years to complete.

    Because students continue to work while in the program, they have the opportunity to put the new skills they acquire to immediate use. This marriage of coursework and day–to–day experience also exists in part–time MBA programs. But EMBA programs have an added advantage–the collective professional experience of class members.

    Different programs stress different elements within the MBA curriculum. Some are known for being finance–heavy, while others have a reputation for churning out senior–level marketing geniuses. The best way to judge the quality of an EMBA program is to meet with alumni and ask around in your professional circles.

    One thing to consider: most EMBA programs do not offer much in the way of career services, primarily because a large proportion of students are sponsored by their employers. This is changing slowly. Some schools now give non-sponsored students full or limited access to their MBA job listings and recruiting services.

    Who should consider an EMBA?

    Executive MBA programs attract a diverse group of professionals who want to expand their knowledge and skills. Many use their degree to enter a new field or gain expertise in a new area. Some feel stymied in their careers, while others simply want to become better employees or managers.

    Most students have at least ten years of professional experience under their belts by the time they enter a program, with a significant portion of this experience at the managerial level (traditional MBA students usually average three to five years of work experience).

    How are EMBA programs structured?

    While the structure of the EMBA varies from program to program, most are designed to accommodate a full–time work schedule. Some meet one full day per week, alternating Fridays and Saturdays for the length of the program. Others meet on consecutive Fridays and Saturdays every other week. Cornell's EMBA program is divided into four terms, each of which begins with a week in residence in Ithaca. After that, students meet every other weekend for classes outside New York City. Other programs offer weeknight options as well

    How much will an EMBA cost?

    Historically, the majority of EMBA candidates were sponsored by their employers. Nowadays, more companies are asking employees to foot a portion of the bill themselves. Participants who are not sponsored by their employers usually qualify for loans, scholarships and other types of financial aid.

    Remember that any graduate program is an investment, and you'll reap the benefits over the rest of your professional career. In addition, because you'll continue working during the program, the opportunity cost of attending an EMBA program is less than for a traditional full–time MBA program.

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