Top Online Executive MBA Programs 2024

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Updated June 19, 2024

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EMBAs have grown in popularity since their inception less than 100 years ago. Discover the best executive MBA programs, along with admission requirements and common courses.

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Executive master of business administration (EMBA) degrees teach leadership, business, and financial skills to accomplished professionals. These programs recruit managerial-level employees and entrepreneurs who want to learn while working full time. Attendees may prefer EMBAs over MBAs for their networking opportunities and flexibility options.

Institutions started offering EMBA programs in the 1940s and have since grown in popularity and availability. According to the Executive MBA Council (EMBAC), the number of applicants per EMBA program rose by 17% in the 2020-2021 academic year.

Applicants' interest in EMBAs may be partially attributed to the 17.7% average salary increase of graduates, according to a survey by EMBAC. Individuals looking to pursue EMBAs should consider each prospective program's reputation, curriculum, and cost. This helpful guide covers the top EMBA programs, including available benefits and tuition estimates.

Popular Online Programs

Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.

Top Online EMBA Programs

#1 Top Online Executive MBA Programs 2024

California Institute of Advanced Management

  • Alhambra, CA
  • 4 years
  • Campus

Programmatic Accreditation: Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs

Cost per Credit:
In-State | $667
Out-of-State | $667

Credits to Graduate: 36

CIAM's two-year executive management MBA can prepare current leaders to make business decisions that improve humanity. In this program, students explore poverty, unemployment, and climate change alongside responsible business principles. 

Courses include ethical leadership, global business concepts, and accounting for decision-making. Students learn through online and in-person classes. After graduation, graduates can design sustainable market-based solutions to pressing social and human problems.

Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
Not provided
Out-of-state
Not provided
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
Not provided
Out-of-state
Not provided
Retention Rate
Not provided
Acceptance Rate
Not provided
Students Enrolled
215
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
100% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission

#2 Top Online Executive MBA Programs 2024

California State University-San Bernardino

  • San Bernardino, CA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Programmatic Accreditation: Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business

Total Cost:
In-State | $36,000
Out-of-State | $36,000

Credits to Graduate: 30

Offered through the Jack H. Brown College of Business and Public Administration, CSUSB's online MBA for executives can equip students with the practical skills and conceptual knowledge to lead responsibly in business. This 21-month track offers both a cohort-based and a flexible learning model.  

Each new student completes a bootcamp followed by a series of courses, concluding with a comprehensive exam and a portfolio. Courses include marketing management, overseeing supply chains, and corporate strategy in a global economy. 

Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$5,742
Out-of-state
$17,622
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
$7,176
Out-of-state
$16,680
Retention Rate
80%
Acceptance Rate
91%
Students Enrolled
19,467
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
79% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission

#3 Top Online Executive MBA Programs 2024

James Madison University

  • Harrisonburg, VA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Programmatic Accreditation: Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business

Cost per Credit:
In-State | $1,000
Out-of-State | $1,000

Credits to Graduate: 42

Located in Harrisonburg, Virginia, JMU's MBA with an executive leadership concentration emphasizes the hard and soft leadership skills students need to transfer from middle management to an executive role. The curriculum includes courses in crisis management, supply chain challenges, leading change, and stakeholder leadership.

Each student can participate in 1:1 coaching sessions with mentors. The university reports that more than 75% of the program's alumni said they received a raise or changed employers after graduation. 

Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$7,460
Out-of-state
$23,800
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
$11,184
Out-of-state
$27,888
Retention Rate
91%
Acceptance Rate
86%
Students Enrolled
22,166
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
35% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

#4 Top Online Executive MBA Programs 2024

University of New Mexico

  • Albuquerque, NM
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Programmatic Accreditation: Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business

Cost per Credit:
In-State | $1,163
Out-of-State | $1,163

Credits to Graduate: 43

Offered through the Anderson School of Management, UNM's online executive MBA is a cohort-based program that features live online Saturday classes and two weeklong immersive experiences. The final week of immersion can occur at an international location or a domestic setting focused on policy and public affairs.

Courses include global and diversity leadership and statistical analysis for management decisions. The program concludes with a capstone seminar. Each applicant should hold five or more years of experience and a GPA of 3.0 or better.

Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$6,605
Out-of-state
$23,942
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
$6,050
Out-of-state
$19,422
Retention Rate
68%
Acceptance Rate
97%
Students Enrolled
22,139
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
53% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

#5 Top Online Executive MBA Programs 2024

University of the Southwest

  • Hobbs, NM
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Programmatic Accreditation: International Accreditation Council for Business Education

Cost per Credit:
In-State | $649
Out-of-State | $649

Credits to Graduate: 30

This four-year Christian university, located in Hobbs, New Mexico, USW offers an online MBA with nine possible concentrations. USW's executive track MBA focuses on understanding, analyzing, and creatively solving complex business problems. Courses include sustainability management, information technology for managers, and business analytics and econometrics.

Students complete the program at their own pace. USW's tuition is comprehensive, so books, fees, and other costs are all covered by tuition payments. Graduates can count up to 12 credits toward USW's DBA program.

Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$16,000
Out-of-state
$16,000
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
$22,500
Out-of-state
$22,500
Retention Rate
69%
Acceptance Rate
45%
Students Enrolled
1,064
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
100% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

How We Choose Programs

At OnlineMBA.com, we rely on reputable sources to rank the best MBA programs. We use trusted sources like the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) and Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) to find standout programs. We consider four metrics: affordability, reputation, academics, and program availability.

This ranking is from 2024. Visit our rankings methodology page to learn more about how we rank programs.

Why Get an Online Executive MBA Degree?

  • Networking: Online executive MBA students come from various backgrounds and have years of working experience. Attendees can network with other professionals to find connections, partners, and lifelong friends. Programs may encourage networking by offering events, meetups, and group projects.
  • Work While Learning: Executive MBA programs usually encourage attendees to continue working while studying. Enrollees can advance their careers and knowledge simultaneously. Executives may learn new principles related to leadership, negotiations, and modeling, immediately applying them to their professional work.
  • Future Advancement: Employers understand the value of executive MBA programs, offering advancement opportunities and higher salaries to graduates. According to Payscale, EMBA graduates earned an average base salary of $129,000 as of May 2024. Individuals who wish to pursue further education or certifications may also benefit from an executive MBA.

What to Expect From an EMBA Program

EMBA programs help enrollees advance their knowledge while networking with professionals around the world. Curricula focus on developing leadership, entrepreneurship, finance, and strategy skills. Students can typically complete online executive MBA programs in 12-22 months.

Course requirements vary, but curricula may comprise 30-40 credit hours. Students typically need to complete core, elective, and capstone courses. Schools may allow enthusiastic learners to take additional elective courses. Classes may offer flexibility options, including biweekly, monthly, and asynchronous delivery.

Students must usually complete their courses within the EMBA program. Many institutions prohibit attendees from transferring credits from other schools. Accredited MBA institutions that allow transfer credits may only allow elective credit transfers.

Degree and Format Options

Institutions may offer executive MBAs, MBAs with a concentration in executive leadership, and MBAs in leadership. While program names sound similar, curricula and admission requirements may vary.

  • EMBA: This type of program suits working executives and typically requires experience for admission.
  • MBA With a Concentration in Executive Leadership: This MBA provides a similar curriculum to EMBA programs but may not require applicants to have executive working experience.
  • MBA in Leadership: MBA in leadership programs relate closer to MBAs than EMBA programs. Admission may not require any working experience.

EMBA programs may offer different characteristics, including learning environments and flexibility. Programs can offer courses through online, in-person, or hybrid methods. Additionally, enrollees can complete online courses synchronously or asynchronously, depending on the program.

Admissions Process

Online executive MBA programs have various applicant requirements. The list below details the most common prerequisites and application procedures.

  • Prerequisites
    • Bachelor's degree-holder
    • Multiple years of work experience (including in a managerial position)
    • Current full-time employment
  • Requirements
    • Online application (many require a fee)
    • Official transcripts
    • Letters of recommendation, possibly from their current employer
    • Resume highlighting work experience and how it relates to an executive MBA program
    • Essay questions
    • Standardized test scores, such as the GMAT, GRE, or EA

Popular Executive MBA Courses

Executive MBA programs offer curricula with various focuses, including management, strategic thinking, and leadership. Schools may allow professionals with relevant work experience to replace core courses with additional elective classes.

  • Corporate Finance: This course discusses important financial tools and theories, including discounted cash flows, capital asset pricing, and option models. Students can use these skills to assess investment opportunities and identify risks. Attendees also learn different financing methods for corporate investments.
  • Leadership: Executives directly oversee employees and teams, which requires leadership skills and knowledge. Leadership courses emphasize how to build coherent teams, empower team members, and manage conflicts. Enrollees may need to complete team projects, exercises, or case studies to gain hands-on teamwork experience.
  • Entrepreneurship: Executive MBA students may already have entrepreneurial experience or ambitions. Entrepreneurship classes discuss the framework of formulating, planning, and developing new businesses. Courses may require attendees to develop new businesses, discuss value-added services, and identify profitability avenues. Students may also study potential difficulties, including raising capital and managing budgets.
  • Consulting Capstone Project: Learners can complete consulting projects with their current employers or other corporations in these experiences. The businesses may provide project topics or allow attendees to identify key issues. Consultants may work alone or within teams. Attendees work to solve issues by gathering data, applying relevant theories, and projecting costs.

How Much Do EMBA Programs Cost?

EMBA total tuition can range from about $17,000-$230,000. Program tuition differs due to school reputation, class sizes, networking opportunities, and more. Out-of-state students may pay more than their in-state counterparts.

Attendees may incur additional costs for textbooks, transportation, and networking events. Enrollees can reduce their financial burden through the following financial aid opportunities.

  • Scholarships: This form of financial aid, provided by schools and independent organizations, may have prerequisites but does not require repayment.
  • Grants: Grants usually come from public funds, which do not need to be repaid.
  • Loans: Students can seek public and private loans, which require repayment with interest.

The following links provide additional resources for students to learn about existing financial aid systems.

Should You Get an Executive MBA or a General MBA?

Executive and general MBA programs aim to teach students the soft and hard skills necessary to become business leaders. Applicants may be conflicted in determining which program best suits their needs.

Students may consider applying for MBA programs early in their careers. General MBAs can offer additional concentration options, allowing enrollees to tailor their education to their career goals.

EMBAs focus on recruiting advanced working professionals with additional experience. Enrollees who wish to meet other accomplished professionals may also benefit from pursuing EMBAs.

Comparing Executive MBAs and General MBAs
Key Factor Executive MBA General MBA
Course Load 30-36 credits 30-36 credits
Concentrations Fewer opportunities compared to MBA programs; choices include business analytics and healthcare management Accounting, entrepreneurship, finance, healthcare, project management, and more
Capstone Requirement EMBA programs usually require a consulting or entrepreneurial capstone project MBA programs may require a capstone project; many programs do not have this requirement
Admission Requirements MBA requirements plus 5-8 years of work experience Bachelor's degree, letters of recommendation, and resume
Flexibility Online and weekend programs Online, evening, and weekend programs
Sources: Prairie View A&M University, California State University-San Bernardino, Carlow University

Selecting the Right Concentration

Applicants must consider many variables when choosing their MBA programs. Future attendees should examine each program's curriculum, specialization options, and personal career goals. The following list highlights essential items to compare among similar programs.

  • Career Aspirations: Online executive MBA students may already have years of experience and specific career ambitions. Applicants should consider how a program can help them achieve their personal and professional goals.
  • Accreditation: Accreditation agencies evaluate entire institutions, along with their programs, to certify they meet certain standards. Students should ensure their school has received accreditation, which is required for credit transfer and federal financial aid.
  • Required Admission Material: EMBA programs may require various admission materials. Applicants who do not meet prerequisites for one school may qualify for other programs.
  • Alumni Network: Attendees may choose EMBA programs to network with other professional executives.

Common Questions About EMBA Degrees

Is an executive MBA more prestigious than an MBA?

Executive MBAs may have additional prerequisites compared to traditional MBAs, but that does not make EMBAs inherently more prestigious. MBA and EMBA students learn similar concepts, but enrollees in these programs may be at different points in their careers.

Is an executive MBA worth it?

An executive MBA can be worthwhile for professionals looking to learn business, leadership, and marketing skills. Attendees may also enjoy networking with like-minded professionals across various industries.

Can you do an executive MBA online

Yes -- executive MBAs can be completed online. Working professionals can leverage the flexibility provided by online courses to remain employed while enrolled. Prospective students should ensure their program offers online delivery.

Is an online MBA taken seriously?

Yes -- employers take online MBAs seriously. Third parties generally cannot determine whether students completed their programs through online or in-person learning. Additionally, online and on-campus programs usually offer the same curriculum and coursework.

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