Develop a broader professional network50%
We’ve compiled some of the most frequently asked questions about EMBA vs. MBA to dispel myths and provide clarity.
If you’re just beginning your MBA research, you will no doubt come across different MBA program formats to choose from, such as full-time or executive MBA. Chicago Booth offers three different MBA formats: the Full-Time MBA Program in Chicago at our Hyde Park campus, the Part-Time MBA Program at the Gleacher Center in downtown Chicago, and the Executive MBA Program at our campuses in Chicago, London, and Hong Kong. In this blog, we’ll go over the key differences between the EMBA and Full-Time MBA Programs.
The key differences between an Executive MBA Program and a Full-Time MBA Program involve timing, location, and career profiles. Executive MBA students are further along in their careers and continue to work while enrolled; Full-Time MBA students are less experienced and take a two-year break from working while studying.
Chicago Booth’s Executive MBA Program is a 22-month part-time program that allows students to participate in classes while remaining in their jobs. It is a global program offered across our campuses in Chicago, London, and Hong Kong. Students select one campus as their “home campus” where they will commute to throughout their study. EMBA students also spend time at each of the three global campuses during the course of the program. Typically, EMBA students are senior professionals with 8-20 years of work experience.
In the Full-Time MBA Program, students take a career break for two years and live in Chicago for their MBA experience. The program lasts 21 months with a summer internship midway through. In addition to their studies on campus, students have opportunities for international travel and can even study abroad for a quarter. Some students expand the scope of their education by doing a joint or dual degree with the University of Chicago’s other graduate programs. Full-Time MBA students are usually earlier in their career with three to seven years of experience.
|Program||Typical Time to Complete||Years of Work Experience
(mid-80 percent range)
|Age in Years
(mid-80 percent range)
|Full-Time MBA||21 months||3–7
|Executive MBA||22 months||8–20
If you're wondering whether an executive MBA degree is equivalent to a full-time MBA degree then the answer is yes! At Chicago Booth, we offer one MBA degree with the same world-class faculty, the same rigorous courses, and the same powerful, global network.
There are some differences in how the courses are delivered. In the Executive MBA Program, students follow a lockstep general management curriculum, taking the same classes at the same time. They also travel across campuses for international session weeks and electives course weeks. The intense amount of time spent with a local campus cohort and global classmates leads to a tight-knit student community.
The Full-Time MBA Program offers a unique flexible curriculum where students can design their own course of study. The ability to select your classes and when you take them allows students to build directly on their existing knowledge and skill sets to achieve their specific goals.
Both programs cover the same core courses including LEAD, an experiential leadership development program that helps students build lifelong connections and gain leadership skills to enhance their interpersonal effectiveness.
A common thread that runs through all Chicago Booth MBA programs, irrespective of the MBA format, is the Chicago Approach™. This approach to business education provides an evidence-based framework rooted in the fundamental scientific disciplines at the heart of business—economics, accounting, psychology, sociology, and statistics—which allows students to define problems, ask better questions, and develop better solutions. This unique and powerful problem-solving methodology is shared by all of our MBA students.
One way to tackle this question is to look at the data. We asked incoming students from 2021 to provide their primary reasons for joining either the Executive MBA Program or the Full-Time MBA Program. Here’s what they had to say:
Develop a broader professional network50%
Develop leadership skills40%
Better career options in the future39%
Gain deeper overall business knowledge31%
–Executive MBA Admitted Student Survey 2021
Better career options in the future45%
Develop a broader professional network37%
Develop new skills and expertise37%
Develop leadership skills30%
–Full-Time MBA Admitted Student Survey 2021
The most striking difference here is around career switching. For full-time students, 43% consider career switching to be the highest-ranked motivator for joining an MBA program; in contrast, the more senior EMBA students are motivated by access to a broader network and developing leadership skills. This difference reflects how career journeys can vary for experienced professionals versus those who are earlier in their careers and looking to make a dramatic change.
There are a number of fundamental differences and similarities between an executive MBA and traditional MBA program formats. If you’re still undecided, start by asking yourself the following questions:
Any of Chicago Booth’s MBA Programs will develop you as a leader and teach you the critical skills needed to lead an organization in an ever-changing and complex global economy. You will be exposed to different ideas and ways of thinking and will join a powerful global alumni network.
The Full-Time MBA Program provides you with freedom: academic freedom, freedom to take risks, and freedom to define your impact in the world.Full-Time MBA Program
To gain a global perspective, you need an MBA from a global school. Earn an MBA from Booth in Chicago, London, or Hong Kong without interrupting your career.Executive MBA Program
Associate Director, Recruitment and Admissions, London
Nadia joined Chicago Booth in October 2018. As an Associate Director of Recruitment and Admissions for the Executive MBA Program in London, Nadia is responsible for the recruitment of students across Europe, Middle East and Africa. In addition to cultivating relationships with corporate sponsors of students on the Executive MBA Program, Nadia also manages a variety of women’s-focused Executive MBA recruitment initiatives. Prior to joining Booth she worked for London Business School’s full time MBA Program in a variety of roles. Nadia earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in European Studies and German from London Metropolitan University.Nadia Ahrazem
Kyle Sweeney, ’21, changed jobs—and welcomed his first child—while earning his Executive MBA. Booth’s Global Career and Leadership Development team was there for him every step of the way.A Significant Transformation
At Booth, we want you to make the best possible decision when you embark on an MBA. Here are some things to consider when it comes to fit.Is Booth the Right EMBA for You?
How do you convince your manager to give you time off for an Executive MBA? Here are tips from one EMBA graduate at Booth.Employer Sponsorship Tips