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The executive MBA differs from a traditional MBA in that it is geared for business professionals who already have several years of management experience. Therefore, the courses do not include the foundational business administration framework found in a standard MBA program. Instead, classes focus on processes, improved management strategies and direct application in the workplace.

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What Does an Executive MBA Cover?

An online Executive MBA is a rigorous graduate program that typically takes two years of study to complete. Because the program is geared toward full-time mid-level managers looking to move up the corporate ladder, few students complete the program faster, as many are enrolled part time and don’t have room in their busy schedules for accelerated studies. The online Executive MBA provides students with a thorough business administration education in all major areas, such as accounting, finance, marketing, management, statistics, business law and ethics. However, instruction in these courses is tailored for seasoned professionals, rather than those with little to no management experience. The focus of such classes isn’t to prepare students for management roles, but to teach students new ways of applying those business principles in their current place of work. Possible courses might include: Economic Analysis for Business Leaders, Analytical Tools for Decision Making, Bargaining and Negotiations, Strategic Management and Enterprise Risk Management. Some online Executive MBA programs give students the option to complete an international residency. Online Executive MBA programs usually do not require internships between the first and second years as standard MBA programs often do, because students are already employed in the business world where they can directly apply what they learn in class. Such programs also do not generally offer opportunities for specialization. Online Executive MBA programs capitalize on the collective business experience present in the classroom and thus often require group work in which students collaborate on projects.

Getting Into an Online Executive MBA Program

To get into an online Executive MBA program, all applicants must fulfill several requirements, such as holding an undergraduate bachelor’s degree with a grade point average of 3.0 or higher. Students are not required to have majored in business during their undergraduate studies but should have proficiency in algebra-level mathematics. Those who lack mathematics skills can complete an algebra class before applying to an Executive MBA program. Some schools will also require GMAT scores. For example, the University of Pennsylvania requires that all applicants submit them, though there is no minimum score requirement.

Why Should I Get an AACSB Accredited Executive MBA?

Make sure that the school you select is accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business. The AACSB is a nonprofit membership organization dedicated to the advancement of quality management education and serves as an accreditor for undergraduate, master’s and doctoral programs in business and accounting. When online executive MBA schools are accredited, you can rest assured that you will receive a quality business education there and avoid wasting your money at a school that offers you classes that are too easy in exchange for a worthless degree.

Who Should Pursue an Online Executive MBA?

Many different types of people benefit from enrolling in online Executive MBA programs, particularly older individuals in mid-level management who are looking to sharpen their business skills and retrain for work in a modern business environment, brushing up on areas such as e-commerce, information technology and international business that have gained precedence in the last 15 years. The program provides key training for those who want to continue to climb the corporate ladder. The online Executive MBA program is also beneficial to high-level employees who want to polish their business skills to qualify for similar positions at other corporations. The online Executive MBA equips you with the practical skills and knowledge you need to make a career transition at the top.

What Jobs Can an Online Executive MBA Get Me?

  • CEO (Chief Executive Officer): The head of the company, the CEO establishes its goals and policies. He or she meets regularly with other top executives to ensure that the company is moving in the right direction and that its board of directors is satisfied. Most CEOs also have a hand in monitoring the company’s budget and making sure that it is being utilized to its full extent. In larger companies, CEOs may delegate some of their responsibilities to other executives and managers; in smaller firms, they may take on all of these roles as well as some other management-related ones.
  • General and Operations Manager: These managers are responsible for planning and coordinating the company’s operations. They work with top executives and mid-level managers to create policies, deal with day-to-day activities and plan how to use various departments. Most of these managers deal broadly with all branches of a company rather than just working in one division. This way, they can coordinate all departments to better help the company meet its general goals.
  • Sales Manager: Most sales managers work with retail companies and can be in charge of an entire region. These managers oversee sales employees and ensure that their branch is meeting the quota set forth by the company headquarters. Sales managers work closely with teams to provide satisfactory customer service and products. Many also devise ways to increase sales through promotions or advertising. In large companies, sales managers can tackle budgeting, employee reviews and training; at smaller firms, they may conduct sales calls themselves in addition to their other responsibilities.

Top Earning Industries for Jobs


  • Software Applications: $122,524-$251,611
  • Retail/Wholesale Distribution: $91,422-$244,936

Regional Sales Manager:

  • Chemical Manufacturing: $66,384-$100,901
  • Food Manufacturing: $60,099-$95,719

General Operations Manager:

  • Manufacturing and Distribution: $53,072-$94,542
  • Construction: $52,060-$91,762

How Do I Find Online Executive MBA Programs?

Since Executive MBAs are geared toward working business professionals, a large proportion of these programs are available fully or partially online. The best place to start searching for online Executive MBA programs is the AACSB website. Rest your cursor over the “accreditation” tab and click on “accredited institutions” to browse a complete list of such schools. For rankings check out:

Online schools listed on the database are ranked on metrics such as graduation and retention rates and student-to-faculty ratio.

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