What is an Executive MBA?

15 January 2024

Experienced business professionals often reach a point in their career where they recognise gaps in their knowledge despite their managerial expertise. To advance their careers, they realise that these gaps must be addressed. This is where the Executive MBA (Master of Business Administration) comes in, a Master’s degree designed specifically for experienced leaders seeking to enhance their skills, broaden their understanding, and propel their professional growth further. 

What is an Executive MBA? 

An Executive MBA, sometimes referred to as EMBA, is a general management qualification aimed at mid-career professionals who are looking to take their career to the next level. It offers a solid foundation in key areas of business, such as financial management, marketing, operations, strategy and leadership, as well as a valuable networking platform. One of the key features of an Executive MBA is that you can pursue your studies without taking a career break due to the part-time nature of the programme.

The Executive MBA at Warwick Business School (WBS) is a flexible, two-year part-time programme. With the option to study either at our Warwick campus or at our London base at The Shard, as well as offering different study schedules, our Executive MBA gives you the flexibility to choose the programme format that works best for you. 

Who is an Executive MBA for? 

The typical Executive MBA candidate is a mid- to senior-level manager, executive or entrepreneur. They come from a diverse range of industries and professions, having already built a strong business foundation through years of professional experience. However, they are now looking to deepen and broaden their existing skill set and knowledge base to progress their career to the next level.

At WBS, the Executive MBA is designed for individuals who have at least four years' management experience and most of our applicants typically have around ten years' professional business experience.

Ola Kotun, Executive MBA (London) alumna, describes her cohort:

The cohort was a melting pot of like-minded professionals, each bringing a unique perspective shaped by their diverse backgrounds.

Types of Executive MBA

Executive MBA

At WBS our Executive MBA is available in three different study formats, so whatever your work and life commitments may be, you can find a study option that works for you.

Warwick campus: Four-day blocks: Both required modules and elective modules are delivered from the Warwick campus in four-day blocks. Required modules are spaced five weeks apart and the timing of elective modules will depend on which modules are selected. The option to choose electives taught online or at The Shard may also be available.

The Shard, London: Weekend: Teaching of required modules is typically carried out on Fridays and Saturdays (9am - 6pm), every other week between September and July whilst modules are running. Electives will be taught in the same weekend format. The option to choose electives taught online or at the Warwick campus may also be available.

The Shard, London: Evening: Teaching is typically delivered on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings (6pm - 9.30pm). Each required module is delivered over a four-week period between September and July. The face-to-face sessions are bookended by an introductory online session and a closing online session. Elective modules will be in the weekend format. The option to choose electives taught online or at the Warwick campus may also be available.

Specialist Executive MBA

While a general Executive MBA will offer you a broad knowledge base in business and management, if you have a particular industry or career path in mind, a specialised MBA programme will enable you to customise your studies to fit your goals and objectives.

WBS first introduced the opportunity to specialise the Executive MBA back in 2016 and our specialisms draw on the insights and expertise of our academics. All three of our delivery formats enable you to specialise your MBA. So, alongside the MBA’s core backbone of building all-round business acumen, you have the option to focus your MBA within social and environmental sustainability, entrepreneurship, or healthcare. This is achieved by selecting certain electives and basing your dissertation within your chosen area. 

Tobias Topf is a current Executive MBA participant at WBS who is specialising his MBA in Social and Environmental Sustainability:

I'm struck by the depth of knowledge I've acquired and the confidence I've gained in tackling pressing sustainability challenges. It's a testament to the effectiveness of a focused education and the power of determination.

What's the difference between an MBA and an Executive MBA?

If you’ve been researching MBA programmes, you’ve no doubt come across both MBA and Executive MBA programmes. At first glance they seem very similar, and you may be wondering exactly what the difference between the two programmes is.

While an Executive MBA is often perceived as superior to an MBA, the two programmes actually share many similarities in terms of content, status, and value to employers. One difference lies in the customisation of programme content to align with participants’ career stages. For instance, an Executive MBA emphasises refining leadership skills, whereas an MBA concentrates more on developing leadership abilities. However, the primary distinctions lie in programme duration, structure and student demographics. To help clarify we’ve outlined the main differences below.

  • Structure of the course

Executive MBA programmes are delivered part-time enabling participants to continue with their full-time jobs whilst studying. This means that classes are typically delivered in the evenings and/or on weekends. On the other hand, MBA students will have full-day, intensive schedules, making it impossible to maintain a full-time job outside the programme.

  • Duration of the course

Due to the part-time nature of the Executive MBA, Executive MBA programmes tend to take longer to complete than full-time MBA programmes. MBA programme lengths vary but an Executive MBA typically takes around two years to complete, versus one year to complete the WBS Full-time MBA. The advantage of an Executive MBA is that it can usually be extended by anything up to five years to help you accommodate any unforeseen circumstances that work, family or life my throw in your direction. 

Rachael Newbold, completed her Executive MBA whilst balancing motherhood and work commitments:

Completing an MBA while managing pregnancy and family commitments is undoubtedly challenging. However, with unwavering support from programme staff, along with options like temporary withdrawal and module rearrangements, it is possible to overcome these challenges and succeed.

  • Student profile

The Executive MBA is designed for students who are further along in their professional journey, where as an MBA programme tends to attract professionals who are earlier on in their careers. At WBS, the average age for our Executive MBA participants is typically around 37, whereas the average age on our Full-time MBA programme is 31.

  • Application requirements

Application requirements vary between business schools and MBA formats, but in general, in the UK you’ll need to have a minimum of three years of work experience to apply for an MBA programme.

You can apply for the WBS Full-time MBA with just three years’ post-graduation professional experience. However, for this MBA format, a GMAT, GRE or Warwick Test score is part the entry criteria.

The Executive MBA is geared towards professionals with more extensive experience. At WBS, many of our Executive MBA applicants will have around ten years' professional experience, which must include at least four years of managerial experience. 

  • Fees

Fees can vary significantly between different business schools and programme formats. Undertaking any MBA is not a cheap option; however, it is an investment in your professional development, and there can be significant returns on that investment, including an increased salary, career mobility, an expanded network and advanced skills. You can view the latest cost of undertaking the different MBA formats at Warwick Business School below:

Full-time MBA

Executive MBA (Warwick)

Executive MBA (London)

Executive MBA frequently asked questions

Do you need a degree to do an Executive MBA?

In short, the answer is ‘no’. Although many candidates do have an undergraduate degree from a UK university or the equivalent from an overseas university, many schools will consider applications from candidates who do not have academic qualifications if they have extensive relevant experience and a proven ability to achieve.       

How much does an Executive MBA cost?

The cost of an Executive MBA can vary significantly depending on the business school and programme due to factors such as location, programme duration, and additional expenses. You can view the latest fees for the WBS Executive MBA below:

Executive MBA (Warwick)

Executive MBA (London)

Who is eligible for Executive MBA in the UK?

Working professionals who have significant professional experience, including management or leadership experience, can apply for an Executive MBA in the UK. Although many applicants will have an undergraduate degree, this is not usually essential if you have sufficient relevant experience.

What is more valuable MBA or EMBA?

At WBS, the answer is ‘neither’, as you earn the same MBA degree regardless of what format you undertake. This means that you can just focus on which format fits your personal circumstances best.

Learn more about our Executive MBA

Explore our Executive MBA based at the Warwick campus

Explore our Executive MBA (London) based at The Shard