Versatile Management Development: Executive MBA vs. MBA

The speed at which businesses can grow and diversify in the 21st century is incredible. An entrepreneur can launch a startup in January, have a product on the market within months, and go international shortly thereafter. In that time, the entrepreneur could secure funding, hire an entire staff, and turn the startup into a profitable company. Within two years, that company could have several C-suite executives and a team of directors, managers, and other staff members overseeing business functions.

Navigating that kind of growth requires education and experience. Business professionals who want to meet the challenges of development often find an advanced degree, especially a Master of Business Administration (MBA), very useful. They may pursue a standard MBA  or an executive MBA (EMBA). Both degree programs offer insight into the high-level demands of business management, but executive MBA and MBA degrees have several distinguishing factors. The differences between an executive MBA and a full-time MBA are important to consider as prospective students plan their futures and research degree programs that suit their needs.

Online MBA student working on an assignment

Executive MBA Overview

Universities design executive MBA programs for working professionals with several years of managing experience who are seeking practical tools to further their careers. Executive MBA programs are always part time, and students take courses on nights and weekends or online. Typically, the program is completed in two years. A regimented curriculum makes EMBA programs efficient and fairly fast-paced.  In general, these degrees are for professionals already working in business who want to advance in their current careers.

What Do Executive MBA Graduates Do?

With an executive MBA degree in hand, business professionals are ready to move up the managerial chain. Rather than managing small teams, they can direct entire departments or serve in executive positions, such as chief executive, president, vice president, or managing director.

Types of careers:

  • Chief executive officer. With sufficient business experience already under their belts, EMBA graduates have the education necessary to earn a promotion to CEO, the highest-ranking executive at a corporation. CEOs are in charge of managing the business as a whole and making big-picture decisions.
  • Vice president of operations. Vice presidents often serve under the CEO or president and are responsible for a single wing of the company. The vice president of operations (VPO) engineers a plan to put the big-picture decisions made by the board, president, or CEO into action while maximizing efficiency and profits.
  • Chief financial officer. Chief financial officers (CFOs) are responsible for the major financial decisions that businesses make, including those pertaining to potential investments, expansions, layoffs, and hiring. They also lead finance and accounting teams and oversee the development of budgets and financial forecasts.
  • Marketing director.

MBA Overview

Master of Business Administration degrees are generally designed for students early in their careers or those seeking a practical and theoretical framework to expand their career opportunities. MBA programs do not always require applicants to have prior work experience, though an undergraduate degree is a necessary foundation to build upon. Many students enroll in an MBA program after filling an entry-level position, but others come straight from their undergraduate studies. These programs often offer different concentration options in areas such as human resource management, information technology, and health administration, and can include tracks that help prepare graduates to sit for certification exams immediately after graduation. Developing specific skills through a degree concentration can be an advantage when graduates look to specialize in their fields, opening doors to careers that EMBA graduates might need further training to pursue.

What Do MBA Graduates Do?

MBA graduates bring a depth of knowledge to the business world that prepares them to enter a wide variety of careers in any number of industries. They can jump into work at startups, guiding them through the early stages of growth, or become lower-level managers in large corporations, assisting with finance, marketing, human resources, or sales.

Types of careers:

  • Marketing manager. Marketing managers understand and analyze markets, studying trends in their industries to identify the best ways to promote a product or service. They guide creative teams to accomplish goals based on that framework.
  • Financial manager. Financial managers oversee the financial state of a business or one aspect of a large corporation. They generate regular reports, such as profit and loss statements, and manage bank and investment accounts, ensuring their companies make sound financial decisions.
  • Training and development manager. Training and development managers are responsible for ensuring all employees adhere to company rules and regulations, including updates to policy or protocol.
  • Entrepreneur. MBA graduates could go on to start their own companies in any number of fields, putting together teams and securing investment funding to launch new products or services. In the initial stages, they may handle everything from accounting to marketing until their companies are successful enough to hire more staff.

Similarities Between an Executive MBA and an MBA

Both executive MBAs and full-time MBAs are postgraduate business degrees that build on concepts that are taught in undergraduate courses and reinforced through on-the-job experience. MBA and EMBA students take many similar courses, such as business ethics, economics, financial analysis, organizational behavior, and accounting. Each program prepares business professionals to rise up the management ladder, expanding their career options and earning potential. Both are typically completed within two years. Additionally, employers may offer to pay for their employees to pursue these degrees, as they then reap the benefits of having highly educated business leaders on staff.

Differences Between Executive MBA and Full-Time MBA Degrees

While both types of MBAs are high-level management degrees, there are several key differences that set them apart. Among these differences are their target audience, the focus and concentrations available within the program, and the professional opportunities they may lead to immediately following graduation.

Course Flexibility

Due to students’ limited availability and work schedules, executive MBA programs typically do not offer much course flexibility or electives. EMBA students generally follow the same curriculum on the same timeline. However, these programs do strive to accommodate the many responsibilities that professionals may be juggling, such as a family or full-time job.

Full-time MBA programs have some required coursework but often allow students to choose a concentration and elective courses during their studies. Maryville University’s online MBA is customizable, enabling students to focus on specific disciplines such as cybersecurity, human resources management, marketing, and project management. Having this specialized knowledge gives Maryville graduates an advantage in the job market.

Career Jumps

Executive MBA students are typically required to have at least five years of managerial experience before they enter their degree programs. By the time they’re finished with the EMBAs, graduates are ready to move up the company ladder, stepping into senior management or executive roles in their current fields.

MBA students are normally earlier in their careers than EMBA candidates. Their education is both theoretical and practical, with opportunities to choose from an array of specialized concentrations that allow them to focus their careers. Through their course of study, they also develop a complete understanding of business management, giving them the advanced skills to pursue managerial or executive positions.

Executive MBA vs. MBA: Which Is Right for You?

Though executive MBA and MBA degrees are both designed for business professionals who want to advance their careers to high-level positions, they appeal to different populations with different requirements for their graduate programs. Students hoping to earn an MBA that includes the flexibility of online study may find that Maryville University’s online Master of Business Administration is the perfect degree for them. Discover how this degree can take your business career to the next level.

Recommended Readings
How to Become an Executive

Six Tips for Conducting International Business

The Future of Business Ideas for 2020 and Beyond: Where Creativity Meets Data Analysis

Forbes, “Are Executive MBAs Worth It?”

Investopedia, “MBA vs. Executive MBA: What’s the Difference?”

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Management Analysts

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Statisticians

U.S. News and World Report, “5 Hot Jobs for MBA Graduates”

U.S. News and World Report, “Best Business Jobs”

Be Brave

Bring us your ambition and we’ll guide you along a personalized path to a quality education that’s designed to change your life.