Executive MBA

75th Anniversary

75 Years at the Forefront of Change

Relive our history through more than seven decades of pathbreaking education, and discover how Booth’s Executive MBA Program accelerated the value of the MBA.

From Chicago to the World

The world’s first Executive MBA program began at the University of Chicago in 1943, with a group of 52 dedicated students. Then, as now, they sought a transformative education that would propel them to lead in a rapidly changing world, all while balancing school with their careers and families. Today, we bring The Chicago Approach to more than 230 Executive MBA Program students on campuses located in Chicago, London, and Hong Kong.

A Milestone Anniversary

Over the course of 2018, we celebrated the 75th anniversary of the program and its unique impact on the industry. Notable highlights can be found below.

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Raised for Executive MBA Scholarships (in USD)

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Candidates referred to the program by alumni

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Social media impressions

Who We Are

Media Type Icon Evolving Human Capital

Evolving Human Capital

University of Chicago economists pioneered research that revealed the links among education, individual welfare, and a thriving national economy. Booth’s Executive MBA Program has pushed senior leaders to further develop their skills and understand how they can inspire those they lead to do the same.

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Media Type Icon Forging a Unique Path in Leadership

Forging a Unique Path in Leadership

At Booth, we encourage seasoned executives to enhance their leadership abilities by improving the action and insight skills critical to effective leadership. Executive MBA students learn to collect data on their experiences, test their own leadership styles and strengthen those skills over a lifetime.

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Media Type Icon Change is in Our DNA

Change is in our DNA

Every Executive MBA Program graduate leaves with one vital skill: the ability to thrive in a business environment of ambiguity, uncertainty, disruption, and change. Explore how our alumni continue to innovate, adapt, disrupt, and thrive—no matter what changes tomorrow brings.

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Executive MBA through the Years

  1. 1943 - Inaugural Class

    The world’s first Executive MBA program enrolls its inaugural class of 52 in a two-year evening program that meets two nights a week at 19 South Michigan Avenue.

    The program is “an immediate success story,” according to UChicago professor Walter David “Bud” Fackler, who would later become director of the program. “There was an important market niche to be served,” Fackler added, “and there was a good product presented by a small but excellent faculty.”

  2. 1944 - GI Bill

    The GI Bill―officially the Servicemen's Readjustment Act of 1944―is enacted, providing tuition benefits that send millions of returning veterans to college and low-cost loans that help them launch businesses.

  3. 1947 - 70% Growth

    As the fifth cohort enters, the program has grown by 70 percent compared to its inaugural class, to a total of 81 students.

  4. 1948 - Executive Program Club

    Alumni launch the Executive Program Club to build on the strong bonds within cohorts and stimulate ongoing learning through enduring events like the Business Forecast Luncheon.

  5. 1952 - Management Conference

    The Executive Program Club organizes the inaugural Management Conference to share new thinking, perspectives, and trends in business with alumni. The event becomes a tradition at the business school that continues today.

  6. 1955 - New Traditions

    The graduating cohort begins a tradition of crowning students in the cohort behind them with propeller beanies and requiring them to adopt a prepared credo.

  7. 1956 - The Chicago Approach

    Newly appointed dean W. Allen Wallis and associate dean James Lorie evaluate the state of the school and business education in general, then revitalize coursework to emphasize theoretical concepts underlying business management. The result becomes known as “The Chicago Approach” to business education, an approach rooted in rigorous inquiry and intense collaboration.

  8. 1963 - First African American Student

    The program enrolls its first African American student in the year’s incoming cohort of students.

  9. 1970 - Walter “Bud” Fackler

    Professor Walter “Bud” Fackler becomes director of the Executive MBA Program, a role he holds until 1987.

  10. 1970 - Black Students Organize National Conference

    African American MBA students at the University of Chicago conceive and organize the first national conference of black students enrolled in MBA programs.

  11. 1975 - Frequent Flyers

    Student Martin Richmond completes his degree after flying an estimated 50,000 miles to attend. He moved to New Jersey mid-program, and commuted by air from New York’s LaGuardia Airport to Chicago for almost a year. Another group of five Wisconsin students fly from Appleton to Chicago’s Meigs Field in a Piper Navajo plane piloted by Timothy E. Hoeksema, arriving at 190 East Delaware in time for 9 a.m. classes.

  12. 1981 - Executive MBA Council

    The Executive MBA Council is founded to share knowledge and best practices among the 50 existing programs. Bud Fackler, who for years had generously advised schools starting up EMBA programs, was a key organizer.

  13. 1987 - Bud Fackler Award

    Bud Fackler receives an inaugural award from the Executive MBA Council. Named in his honor, the award recognizes his contributions to the council and EMBA programs worldwide and is still given today.

  14. 1993 - Fackler Professorship

    Longtime program director Bud Fackler dies, inspiring alumni to raise funds that ultimately funded a professorship in his name in 2007. Nearly 800 contribute to what was then the largest pooled gift in the university’s history.

  15. 1993 - Expanding to Europe

    In June, the business school and Argentaria, a banking and financial services company in Spain, announce the launch of the International Executive MBA Program, based in Barcelona. Deputy dean Harry Davis, a leadership expert, and his successor Robin Hogarth are instrumental in the global expansion to Europe.

  16. 1994 - Downtown Campus Opens

    The program moves into the university’s modern new Downtown Center on the banks of the Chicago River, leaving the facility at 190 East Delaware.

  17. 1994 - First International Cohort

    The first international Executive MBA Program cohort begins classes at the new campus in Barcelona. The curriculum includes 10 modules over 16 months.

  18. 1995 - First Joint International Session

    The European cohort―50 students from 14 nations―travels to Chicago for course modules with their counterparts. The international joint sessions remain a unique component of the program.

  19. 1996 - Gleacher Center Named

    The Downtown Campus is named Gleacher Center in honor of a gift from Eric Gleacher, ’67.

  20. 1999 - Expanding to Asia

    Renovations begin to restore and modernize the historic House of Tan Yeok Nee in Singapore to house the program’s expansion to Asia. Jack Wadsworth, ’63, then chairman of Morgan Stanley Dean Witter Asia Limited and chairman of the W.L.S. Spencer Foundation, and his wife, Bette Sue Pendery-Wadsworth, help defray the cost of modernizing the 115-year-old mansion. Cheng Wai Keung, ’73, chairman and managing director of Wing Tai Holdings Limited, heads the consortium that acquires the building.

  21. 2000 - First Asia Cohort

    The first Asia cohort enrolls in Singapore, making the school the first US institution to offer an Executive MBA Program on three continents taught by its own faculty.

    Along with the new campus and cohort, the school’s long-running Management Conference premieres in Asia. A dinner featuring remarks by US ambassador Steven Green, dean Robert Hamada, and 1993 Nobel laureate Robert W. Fogel is followed by a day of panel sessions and a tour of the House of Tan Yeok Nee.

  22. 2005 - Relocating to London

    The European program relocates from Barcelona to London and a state-of-the-art campus in the City.

  23. 2007 - Hyde Park Angels

    Seven recent graduates from the North American program form the Hyde Park Angels, an early-stage investor group, in cooperation with the Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation.

  24. 2008 - Booth Gift

    The school is named in honor of David Booth, ’71, recognizing his unprecedented $300 million gift.

  25. 2009 - Curriculum Update

    The program adopts concentrations in finance, marketing, and strategy. Students also begin participating in a Global New Venture Challenge competition, a unique platform designed to expand the Edward L. Kaplan, ’71, New Venture Challenge to Executive MBA students on our Chicago, London, and Singapore (and later Hong Kong) campuses.

  26. 2010 - Patty Keegan Honored

    Patty Keegan, associate dean for the Executive MBA North America Program, is honored with the EMBAC Bud Fackler Service Award, recognizing her contributions over 15 years with the program.

  27. 2014 - Relocating to Hong Kong

    The Asia-based program relocates from Singapore to Hong Kong in a move to expand and strengthen the school’s presence and influence across the region.

  28. 2016 - Executive Assessment Test

    The Executive MBA Program partners with the Graduate Management Admissions Council (GMAC) and other leading business schools around the world to create the Executive Assessment Test, an exam developed specifically for EMBA candidates.

  29. 2017 - Rustandy Center Established

    Tandean Rustandy, ’07, establishes the Rustandy Center for Social Sector Innovation with a $20 million gift, endowing Chicago Booth’s hub for research and programming that tackles complex social and environmental problems.

  30. 2018 - Executive MBA Programs Flourish

    The degree program pioneered at UChicago 75 years ago is flourishing worldwide. The industry’s Executive MBA Council reports 300 member programs across more than 30 nations today.

  31. 2018 - New Hong Kong Campus

    The Executive MBA Program in Asia will move into the Chicago Booth campus at the University of Chicago Center in Hong Kong.

Our History by the Numbers

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Percent that the program grew in its first five years

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Industries represented among our students, who represent 46 nationalities

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First and only business school with permanent campuses on three continents

Executive MBA in the News

Media Coverage

Top MBA, “Chicago Booth Celebrates 75 Years at the Forefront of EMBA Teaching” Read article »

Financial Times, “Moving with the Times – 75 Years of the EMBA” Read article »

The Economist, “A Career Changer” Read article »

The Times, “The UK MBA Programme List” Read article »

Forbes, “How Retail Mental Health Could Be Medicine’s Next Frontier” Read article »

Chicago Booth Coverage

Chicago Booth Magazine

“75 Years at the Forefront of Change" Read article »

“How Do You Manage Millennials?” Read article »


Executive MBA Admissions Blog

“Booth’s Impact on the Executive MBA Industry” Read article »

“Amid an Unpredictable Journey, A Steadfast Approach” Read article »

“How Do You Price a Change in Confidence?” Read article »

“Lessons in Leadership: Stare at the Landscape Before You Charge Forward” Read article »


Evening MBA and Weekend MBA Admissions Blog

“5 Things I Learned From an Evening with Harry Davis and Linda Ginzel” Read article »

UChicago Coverage

“World’s First Executive MBA Program Turns 75Read article »

“One of the impacts of the Executive MBA program is that it fast-forwarded the study of business to a larger audience who were able to make use of the techniques in more serious managerial and leadership roles. I think, in fact, it accelerated the value of the MBA.” 

—Harry Davis, Roger L. and Rachel M. Goetz Distinguished Service Professor of Creative Management

A Global Celebration

Check out our Facebook gallery to see photos from some of the 46 events held in 7 cities worldwide to celebrate our 75th anniversary.

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Get to Know Our Program

We invite you to discover how The Chicago Approach continues to prepare senior leaders for the demands of a rapidly changing world. Attend an event, explore stories from our students and alumni, and learn more about the lifelong impact Chicago Booth’s Executive MBA Program creates.

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