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What is the difference between a Professional MBA and an Executive MBA?

As you consider getting an MBA, you’ll need to decide which program best fits your unique situation. There are two part-time options that allow you to study while you work, a professional MBA and an executive MBA. While both degrees are considered MBAs and therefore hold the same weight as a full-time program, they give you additional flexibility with your current work. To decide whether to get a professional or an executive MBA, you will need to clearly understand the difference between the two programs, which we have outlined below.

What is a PMBA?

A professional MBA program is designed for early- to mid-career professionals who want to continue working while earning an MBA degree. At Daniels, our program combines leadership training, quantitative skill development and strategic thinking to drive a student’s career forward.

Anthony Fontana, program director of the Professional Part-Time MBA at the Daniels College of Business, said MBA degrees can give working professionals additional flexibility as they look to take the next step in their careers.

“They’ve hit a spot where they ask themselves, ‘How do I get to the next place where I want to be?’ That’s where the MBA comes in,” he said. “They’re preparing for some sort of shift that they know is going to happen and they want to be ready for it.”

What is an EMBA?

An executive MBA program appeals to a more advanced business leader, helping them gain critical business skills and knowledge and attack the complex, multi-faceted issues they’ll face in today’s business environment. We’ll go into further detail later on the typical candidates, but EMBA students generally have more work experience than PMBA students when they enter the program.

What are the key differences between a Professional MBA and an Executive MBA?

Professional experience

Unlike some programs for recent graduates, both an executive MBA and professional MBA require prior work experience for admission. EMBA students are expected to have more than 10 years of work experience and the average Daniels EMBA student has 16 years. For PMBA students, they should have about three years of work experience, with Daniels students averaging seven years.

Program schedule

Due to the working nature of EMBA and PMBA programs, both offer part-time schedules to meet the needs of modern business professionals. Where the programs differ is in the weekly class schedule.

At Daniels, EMBA students are required to attend one full day of classes per week, alternating between Fridays and Saturdays. For PMBA students, classes take place on Monday and Wednesday nights, plus eight Saturday sessions. Both programs run on Daniels’ quarter-long academic terms.

Length to completion

Despite the part-time schedule for both programs, an EMBA and PMBA can each be completed in less than two years. The EMBA at Daniels takes 18 months, while the PMBA takes slightly longer at 21 months.

Curriculum focus

While both programs provide critical business knowledge to working professionals, an EMBA and PMBA provide a different focus for their students.

Within the Daniels EMBA program, students are encouraged to look at classwork as a business and leadership laboratory. They take a broad core curriculum with the ability to customize through topical short electives that change based on current market needs. Core classes include things like business ethics, financial accounting and global business environment, and are paired with social impact projects and an international experience.

Additionally, the EMBA program at Daniels is focused on utilizing your work experience as a frame for learning, with students workshopping their real-world experiences in the classroom. Conversely, the PMBA program is more focused on the cases that corporate partners provide.

For the PMBA program at Daniels, the curriculum includes a variety of general business courses including managerial finance, marketing concepts and much more. Within the PMBA program, students can choose concentrations including business analytics, finance, real estate and the built environment, and others.

Program cost

An EMBA is a slightly more expensive option, with the program at Daniels carrying a fixed tuition of $99,588 in 2022, which includes books, meals and travel. Conversely, the PMBA program at Daniels costs $82,980 for the 2022 base tuition, including meals and travel. Applicants to both programs are eligible for scholarships and company tuition benefits can be used to subsidize costs.

Which MBA is better for working professionals?

When planning around your work schedule, both degrees offer flexibility for the business professional. If qualified for both programs, applicants should consider their preference for weeknight or weekend courses, as well as the slightly different completion time. Additionally, candidates should look for specific elements of each curriculum that are the best fit for them, such as core courses or electives. Ultimately, both programs will lead you to becoming a more well-rounded business professional.

If you have further questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to the graduate admissions.

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