Is an Executive MBA Worth It?

If you’re aiming to advance your career, an Executive MBA program (EMBA) can be a valuable investment. Prestigious business schools accredited by the Executive MBA council—such as Wharton, MIT Sloan, Chicago Booth, and London Business School—provide some of the top EMBA programs in the US.

Executive MBA programs aim to equip you with the necessary skills and knowledge to succeed at an executive level in your career. Whether an EMBA is worth your time depends on various factors, including your personal and professional goals, financial situation, and current career trajectory. On this page, we’ll help you measure the benefits and drawbacks against your specific situation.

Is an EMBA or a Full-Time MBA Better Suited to my Profile?

Before even considering the benefits of an Executive MBA program, it’s important to determine whether an EMBA or a traditional MBA program would be better suited to your profile.

This can be a challenge. To figure out whether an EMBA is for you, consider your career goals, work experience, and personal circumstances.

Here are the main points of comparison between an EMBA and a full time MBA:

EMBA programsMBA programs
Targeted towards experienced professionals: EMBA programs are designed for mid-career professionals with several years of work experience, looking to progress or start their own business.Designed for early to mid-career professionals: Full-time MBA programs are often geared towards those who are earlier in their careers or looking to make a career switch.
Part-time format: EMBA programs typically have a part-time format, allowing students to continue working while pursuing their degree.Full-time format: Full-time MBA programs usually require students to take a break from work and devote their time to the program.
Cohort-based learning: EMBA programs often use a cohort-based learning model, providing students with opportunities to network with peers and learn from their professional experiences.Diverse student body: Full-time MBA programs often attract students from a wide range of backgrounds, providing opportunities for cultural exchange and exposure to different perspectives.
Focus on practical applications: EMBA programs typically focus on practical applications of business concepts and leadership skills to students’ current roles.Emphasis on career development: Full-time MBA programs often offer career development services, including internships and job placement assistance.

When is an Executive MBA Worth It?

Executive MBA programs are worth pursuing in situations where they’re likely to help you progress in your career or transition into a new industry. However, there are also other advantages to pursuing an EMBA, such as:

Career Progression or Transition

One of the major advantages of getting an EMBA degree is the level of responsibility you are likely to achieve thereafter.

Most Executive MBAs are designed around business professionals in the mid- to late-stages of their careers. In some cases, without the education that an EMBA provides or the degree to back up their experience and business knowledge, potential EMBA applicants find that their careers are reaching a plateau or that they are having difficulty making an interesting career transition.

Pursuing an Executive MBA can help facilitate such a transition or help break through ceilings that can be extremely difficult to transcend otherwise.

One of the major advantages of getting an EMBA degree is the level of responsibility you are likely to achieve thereafter.

Increased Salary

Another of the most tempting benefits of getting an Executive MBA is the improvement in salary that comes with the qualification.

Most Executive MBA programs equip students with management and leadership skills that make them extremely desirable and strengthen their position in the market, earning these EMBA graduates a significant increase in salary post-EMBA.

Networking Opportunities

A powerful network is one of the greatest tools anyone can have in business, and business schools pride themselves on the strength and breadth of the networks built in their Executive MBA programs.

These programs’ alumni networks are also famously active, with many Executive MBA students gaining opportunities and connections from school alumni well into their careers.

Different Executive MBA programs have different methods of relationship building for programs which take place on a part-time basis, but generally, business schools will cultivate opportunities to develop relationships between EMBA students—both inside and outside of the classroom.

Generally, business schools will cultivate opportunities to develop relationships between EMBA students—both inside and outside of the classroom.

Personal Development

Further, one of the most unrecognized benefits of an Executive MBA is the psychological component of completing the degree.

Alongside the knowledge and skills that you acquire throughout an Executive MBA, many EMBA students also feel more confident in their abilities and qualifications for increasingly specialized roles.

After all, completing an Executive MBA degree while fully employed is no mean feat—and doing so at a top EMBA program while building up a robust network and maintaining your personal life is even more impressive.

By completing an Executive MBA program, many EMBA students feel they receive a confidence boost in their own abilities and potential to succeed in the business world.

When is an Executive MBA Not Worth It?

Even considering the above advantages of pursuing an EMBA, prospective students will have to weigh up the cost vs the benefits of the degree.

Several factors could be considered inhibitors to the value of an Executive MBA, including:

Executive MBA Cost

Executive MBA programs are not cheap—with several programs costing upwards of $200,000.

Depending on the stage of your career, pursuing an Executive MBA might not be worth the price of admission when weighed against your pre-EMBA salary, current level of responsibility, and lifestyle outside of work. The following table shows the total program tuition costs for the best Executive MBA programs.

How Much Do Executive MBA Programs Cost?

Best Executive MBA ProgramsTuition Costs
Berkeley Haas EMBA$199,900
Columbia Business School EMBA$239,880
Cornell Johnson EMBAEMBA Americas: $174,636
EMBA Metro NY: $219,688
EMBA Healthcare Leadership: $185,720
Duke Fuqua EMBAGlobal Executive MBA: $159,700
Weekend Executive MBA: $156,250
Georgetown McDonough EMBA$153,414
Michigan Ross EMBAMichigan Residents: $168,500
Michigan Non-Residents: $168,500
MIT Sloan EMBA$197,000
Northwestern Kellogg EMBA$226,638
NYU Stern EMBAEMBA NY Students: $213,100
EMBA DC Students: $181,100
UNC Kenan-Flagler EMBAEvening Executive MBA: $99,000
Weekend Executive MBA: $125,589
Charlotte Executive MBA: $125,589
Wharton EMBA$223, 500
Yale SOM EMBA$208,500
All the above-mentioned tuition costs figures are from the best executive MBA programs official websites.

Time Commitment

Although most Executive MBAs are part-time, this does not mean that fitting it into your schedule will be an easy task.

The average Executive MBA student will continue to work full-time while maintaining personal relationships, and undertaking a business degree is a challenge that not everyone is equipped for. If your wellbeing, personal life, and even your career are likely to suffer over the course of an EMBA program, it might not be worthwhile to commit to a graduate degree.

If your personal life is likely to suffer during your EMBA program, it might not be worthwhile to commit to an EMBA.


An Executive MBA degree, although associated with improvements in salary and career progression, it is not, by itself, a guarantee of success going forward.

Undertaking an Executive MBA can improve the chances of you making an impact at your company, but if the business is unlikely to succeed due to other external factors, an EMBA is unlikely to solve the problem.

Further, most EMBA admissions consultants will tell you that you get out of a degree what you put into it, and if you don’t have the time or energy to invest in an EMBA, then it might not be worth the risk of jeopardizing your career and relationships in the meantime.

How to Decide If an Executive MBA is Worth It—For You

Ultimately, whether an Executive MBA is worth it depends on your specific situation and goals and there is no “Average EMBA student” for whom we can say that an Executive MBA is certainly worth it or certainly not.

It’s essential to consider the potential benefits and drawbacks and weigh them against your personal circumstances and aspirations. Some of the advantages of an EMBA include:

Some of the disadvantages include:

If you are unsure about whether an EMBA would be worth it for you, consider speaking to an Admissions Consultant. A conversation with an expert who understands your profile and your goals can help you understand exactly how an Executive MBA could help advance your career.

Finally, take a look at our expert admissions consultants’ insights into the whole admissions and application process for Executive MBAs.