Best Online Executive MBA Programs

Online executive MBA programs give experienced managers a convenient way to earn a master’s and strengthen their leadership and business skills. Discover the best programs and learn more about what you can expect in this guide.

Are you a mid- or late-career manager looking to break into higher levels of management? Online executive MBA programs (EMBA) can teach you the advanced strategic and leadership skills needed to make you a better manager and continue moving up the ladder. And their flexible format makes attending classes and working full-time possible.

This guide will help you explore today’s best online EMBA programs and find the one that’s right for you. You’ll also learn more about the coursework, how online learning fits in with your work schedule, and what you can expect in terms of program length and cost. Keep reading to take the first step towards your EMBA.

Top 3 Executive MBA Online Programs for 2022

Executive MBA online programs are popular and plentiful. To help you start your search, we’ve identified three standout programs that excel in terms of quality, flexibility, and affordability. Each school is fully accredited by the AACSB. Learn more about each below and see if one meets your needs.

Washington State University

Washington State University’s Executive MBA Online program offers the perfect mix of learning flexibility and networking opportunities. Since most incoming students want to work full-time while earning their MBAs, this AACSB-accredited curriculum is 100% online with no residency or on-campus academic requirements.

Some students feel a distance learning format limits networking potential, though, so the Executive MBA Online program at WSU offers various on-campus events to provide opportunities for creating personal and professional networks with classmates and business leaders. There’s even a study abroad program available for those pursuing a more global perspective. The program consists of 42 credits that can be completed in as little as 16 months. Additionally, the admissions process is streamlined with no GMAT scores required for qualified applicants.

University of Arkansas

The Executive MBA program at the University of Arkansas features a hybrid format where most classes can be completed online. However, students must attend an on-campus interactive gathering for additional learning and networking one Saturday each month.

UA’s Executive MBA curriculum typically takes two years to complete and consists of 38 credit hours. Specialized tracks include Business Analytics, Healthcare Administration, Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Retail, and Supply Chain. Admission requires GMAT or GRE test scores, but this requirement may be waived if an applicant has at least five years of eligible work experience and a compelling academic record.

University of Arizona

The curriculum for the University of Arizona’s Executive MBA is arranged so that the 43 units can be completed in less than two years, and all of the coursework can be completed online except for one weekend every month when students attend class on campus. Students also engage in two immersive, in-person learning experiences, the Global Business Experience and the Innovation Experience.

Program costs can be lowered through many scholarship opportunities, and applicants do not have to submit GRE or GMAT scores. Experience is essential for admission into this program with admissions officers looking for applicants having at least seven years of relevant business management expertise.

What to Expect from an Online Executive MBA Program

Most online executive MBA programs include basic courses in topics like accounting, finance, business operations, information system, ethics, marketing, leadership, and analytics. They also typically offer electives or concentrations in subjects like mergers and acquisitions, international finance, real estate, entrepreneurship, product development, and derivatives. Some programs also require a capstone that involves applying knowledge from all classes to complete a business-related project.

Executive online MBA programs take two major approaches to online learning. One approach involves taking the curriculum entirely online with no in-person requirements or on-campus visits. Classes are offered synchronously, asynchronously, or both. Another approach to online executive MBA programs is a hybrid curriculum where most classes are offered online, but a few must be completed in person and on campus one or two days each month. Both approaches involve synchronous and asynchronous learning in addition to interaction with peers and teachers via online message boards.

Regardless of format, online executive MBA programs include many of the same types of courses with similar content. Below are descriptions of the more common online executive MBA courses to give you an idea of what you can expect your classes to cover.

Common Online EMBA Courses

  • Financial Management

    Since students should already have basic background knowledge of financial concepts, this class takes the next step in applying those principles in a management context. This means using financial theories to make strategic business decisions for situations like mergers and acquisitions, lending policies, and resource management. In addition to classic theory, students also study real-world examples through case studies.

  • Managing Ethics in Organizations

    Politicians, investors, and the public are now placing more emphasis on not just how profitable a company is but also on the way it earns that profit. As a result, the moral and ethical ramifications of how an organization operates are more important than ever. In this class, students learn about concepts like corporate social responsibility and how to make business decisions that are measured not just by financial metrics but also by social impact.

  • E-Commerce

    All aspects of digital business practices are covered in this class. Students learn not only how to complete a business or consumer transaction over the Internet but also about the support services and operations that make it possible. Topics include online marketing strategies, supply chain management, digital communications, and financing.

  • Strategic Management

    Students in this class learn how to develop and apply policies and strategies to bring about organization-wide changes. To achieve these goals, they learn about identifying complex issues that affect the whole organization and then analyze those issues to develop a concrete and actionable plan. Much of the learning takes place by reviewing business case studies that demonstrate key principles and ideas students can apply to their organizations.

  • Business Administration Capstone Project

    Typically the final class students take, a capstone course requires developing a new product or service and moving it along the development cycle from conception to commercialization and sale. Students learn how to plan the development process and present their findings and conclusions in a business plan.

Frequently Asked Questions About Online Executive MBA Programs

What’s the difference between an executive MBA and a standard MBA program?

An executive MBA is typically designed for current managers whereas a standard MBA is intended for aspiring managers. Executive MBA students usually have significant work experience in the business field before enrolling. In contrast, a standard MBA student often has only a few years of real-world experience in a corporate or business setting.

Because of these differences, executive MBA programs tend to be set up for students who also work full-time to progress as a group (i.e., cohort). Standard MBA program curriculums usually give students more flexibility in the courses they take and when they can take them than do executive MBA programs. While both executive and standard MBA programs are available online, the former may offer even more flexible scheduling options to accommodate full-time workers.

What are the admissions requirements for an online executive MBA?

Many online executive MBA programs are very competitive. Even if applicants meet basic admission requirements, there’s no guarantee of acceptance. Each program tailors its admissions standards, but most require the same core elements. Those include:

  • An admission application
  • An application fee
  • Official transcripts showing completion of a bachelor’s degree
  • A resume or curriculum vitae
  • Letter(s) of recommendation
  • A personal statement or admissions essay
  • GMAT or GRE scores
  • Significant work experience

Work experience is where executive MBA programs usually differ from standard MBA programs. An executive MBA program is more likely to require a minimum amount of work experience. Even though standard MBA programs may also require post-baccalaureate work experience, they won’t require as many years. Some programs see work experience as an enhancement to the application while others require it for basic eligibility.

How long does it take to earn an executive MBA?

The length of time it takes to complete an online executive MBA program depends on how many credits are needed and how the program is formatted. The fact that a program is online instead of on-campus usually makes little difference in how long it takes to finish.

Most online executive MBA programs require 36 to 42 credits. The time to complete the program is usually 16 to 24 months. However, shorter programs, such as the one-year online Executive MBA online program at Tennessee State University, do exist. Most executive MBA programs do not provide self-paced learning opportunities since part of the learning comes from sharing experiences with classmates who have spent years in the business world. As a result, executive MBA programs often progress students as a cohort that starts and ends the program at the same time.

Can I earn my executive MBA 100% online or do I need to visit campus?

Some executive MBA programs are 100% online, and students never have to go to campus. Many programs, however, have in-person learning components that require visits to campus one or two days a month. In-person learning reinforces online learning and allows students to interact and get to know each other through networking opportunities that are easier to take advantage of in person as opposed to online.

Costs and Financial Aid for Online EMBA Programs

Earning an executive MBA online is a great way to increase your salary and earning potential. If you’re like most students, though, you’ll need financial aid to help pay for your program. Some of the most desirable funding opportunities include grants and scholarships, which don’t need to be paid back. Other types of financial aid that don’t usually need to be repaid include fellowships and employer tuition assistance programs. Finally, there are private and government student loans that do need to be paid back but often have special terms like low interest rates and deferred payment plans. Learn how these financial aid options work and how to apply for them through our financial aid page.

How Much Your Online EMBA Could Cost

School Name No. of Credits Cost Est. Total Tuition Cost

Texas Southern University

36

$6,000/term

$36,000

University of Nevada, Reno

36

$5,000/semester

$30,000

Tennessee State University

36

$765/credit

$28,000

Accreditation for Executive MBA Master’s Degrees

Accreditation is the process through which an independent organization reviews a school or program and confirms it meets basic levels of academic quality. Academic accreditation occurs at two levels. Regional or institutional accreditation is where the school itself gets accredited, and programmatic accreditation is where a specific program is stated to meet certain standards that are usually industry-based.

Before enrolling in an executive MBA online program, confirm it has programmatic accreditation. The biggest two accrediting bodies for MBA programs are the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) and the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP). Also make sure the school offering the program is accredited, which it likely is if the program has AACSB or ACBSP accreditation.

Learn more about programmatic and regional accreditation, including whether a school and program have either, at the U.S. Department of Education’s Database of Accredited Postsecondary Institutions and Programs.

What You Can Do with an Executive MBA

An MBA is a great way to take the next step in your business career. It teaches how some of the recent developments in the business world –business analytics, data mining, and financial derivatives, for example – work along with management and leadership skills. These skills and knowledge can increase opportunities in your existing job and open new positions for advancement.

Earning an executive MBA usually results in additional responsibility, especially in managing other workers and making major decisions that affect your organization. To get a more concrete picture of what an executive MBA can do for you, consider the following career opportunities available to those with executive MBAs.

Sales Manager

A sales manager oversees the salespeople of an organization. In deciding how to utilize sales personnel, a sales manager must analyze sales data and consider customer needs as well as create company policies and procedures that control how salespeople should operate.

10th Percentile Median Annual Pay 90th Percentile

$61,090

$127,490

$208,000+

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2021

Top Executive

The role of a top executive is to design and implement policies and activities that apply to most or all of an organization. These strategic decisions can affect an entire company, so a solid understanding of business principles and how to manage others is essential.

10th Percentile Median Annual Pay 90th Percentile

$43,260

$97,970

$179,520

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2021

Industrial Production Manager

An industrial production manager ensures the smooth and efficient operation of one or more production lines. They may also review production data to identify potential changes to the process or take directives from higher-level management to improve the production process.

10th Percentile Median Annual Pay 90th Percentile

$64,150

$103,150

$170,470

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2021

Human Resource Manager

Human resource managers work with other executives to oversee the personnel decisions in an organization. Job duties include designing and implementing new recruiting practices and advising others within the organization about employment rules, policies, and laws.

10th Percentile Median Annual Pay 90th Percentile

$75,000

$126,230

$208,000+

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2021

Financial Manager

Financial managers work with financial data to help their organizations achieve certain objectives. This requires preparing and analyzing financial information before making recommendations that are passed on to top executives or other managers within the company.

10th Percentile Median Annual Pay 90th Percentile

$77,040

$131,710

$208,000+

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2021