What's the difference between EMBA and MBA?

The certificate you receive after completing your MBA program is similar to what you'll receive from an Executive MBA program - in that both of them are called "Master's of Business Administration".

But there are a number of important differences that prospective students should take note of when considering between the 2 - these differences are in 1) Program Schedule and 2) Classes and Teaching Style, 3) Level of Service, and 4) Students.

Program schedule

EMBA classes are usually condensed into 2 weeks blocks; some of the students will require time away from work (for example - Chicago, INSEAD, NUS, etc), while others are held outside of office or business hours (University at Buffalo). An example of an EMBA program structure (from INSEAD):

45 - 60 days needed away from work over a period of 14-17 months, depending on your choice of base campus.

EMBA programs are generally shorter in duration and more intensive in nature.

Classes for regular MBA programs are conducted over the course of a semester - these semesters can vary in length, usually from 3 to 4 months. An example MBA program structure (from University of Newcastle)

Programme Structure
This course consists of 12 modules
3 trimesters in a year
4 modules are taught over each trimester by University faculty

Classes and Teaching Style

EMBA class discussions and conversations revolve around leadership, problem solving and strategic thinking (a lot of case studies and group exercises) - relevant to mid to senior level managers who are more involved with business cases at a high level (with focus on a macro view, emphasizing real-world applicability).

Professors serve more as facilitators than lecturers - their objective are to get their students to leverage on their own experience and expertise, while offering guidance and their own perspectives. Professors in EMBA programs usually consists of experts and academics - senior level, PhDs, internationally-recognized industry experts, and award winning teachers.

The class format for regular MBA programs is more similar to that of an undergraduate program. Students will be involved in case-studies and projects; however, classes are conducted in a more lecture based style, where the professors provide students with academic fundamentals and business theory (to provide thorough orientation to the core disciplines of business management). The flow of knowledge is more one sided - from the professors to the students.

Level of Service

Schools offering EMBA programs may also provide students with a high level of service, such as managing their logistics, for example providing all the books, materials, lunches, tea breaks so that all the student needs to do is study.


Students that wish to take up EMBAs are expected to have a significant amount of work experience in the real world -  usually an average of 10 to 15 years. Regular MBA programs might or might not require work experience, those that do usually range from 0 to 3 years.

Consequently, the student composition of the classes are very different. In EMBA, you are not only learning from the Professor but also from everyone in your class; regular MBA classes are populated with a younger and less experienced career adults and even fresh graduates.
Return back to: