Best Online Executive MBA Programs

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Midcareer professionals often seek higher education opportunities that allow them to continue full-time employment, such as executive master of business administration (MBA) degrees. These programs, designed for business leaders with 8-10 years of experience, help students gain the leadership skills necessary for career advancement. Executive MBA programs create cutting-edge leaders who can adapt to a rapidly changing business world.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects employment in management fields to grow by 5% from 2019-2029. People with MBAs compete for many of these positions.

Our executive MBA rankings provide prospective students with a snapshot of the best available programs. This page offers information about admission requirements, accreditation, financial aid, curricula, and careers after graduation.

Top 10 Executive MBA Programs Online

Rank School Location
1 University of Virginia Charlottesville, VA
2 Queens University of Charlotte Charlotte, NC
3 Baylor University Waco, TX
4 Bellevue University Bellevue, NE
5 Ohio University Athens, OH
Advertisement is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

Online MBA Programs for You

Grow your career, leadership, and business acumen with an accredited online MBA program.

What Is an Executive MBA?

Harvard University offered the world’s first MBA in 1908. Thirty-five years later, the University of Chicago enrolled students in the inaugural executive MBA program, aiming to help working professionals maintain their family and career responsibilities while studying to advance American business.

More than 75 years later, business schools across the world continue that vision by offering executive MBA programs to midcareer business leaders. Service-oriented professionals with a desire to make an impact on the world excel in business school. These learners prepare to lead teams in corporate settings, healthcare environments, educational institutions, or government agencies.

Consulting firms, technology companies, and accounting organizations often hire new MBA degree-holders, but other industries seek out those with executive MBAs to provide leadership, management, business, and financial skills.

Some of the fastest-growing job fields include financial management and public relations management. Of course, nearly anything relating to technology can expect a steep growth curve as well. No matter the industry, business professionals can find work in management, operations, marketing, finance, and more.

Typically, business leaders who earn executive MBAs continue in the same field after graduation, just in more advanced positions. In some cases, however, career switchers can use the executive MBA to transition from one role to another.

Why Get an Executive MBA?

An MBA is the keystone business degree for aspiring professionals. A traditional program focuses on business fundamentals. An executive MBA, by contrast, helps current leaders better understand the tools, technologies, and environmental changes of modern business. By earning this degree, experienced professionals can position themselves for greater responsibility, new leadership roles, or higher salaries.

Once enrolled, a degree-seeker can align their educational experience with their career goals by selecting a general executive MBA or a specialization.

Abbreviated Timeline
Students in executive MBA programs can complete their degrees in just over one year. Very few graduate schools in other fields compress their programs so tightly that students can finish in such an abbreviated timeline.
Career Growth
Research from EMBAC, an organization that centralizes information on executive MBA programs, found that 40% of graduates reported receiving a promotion. In addition, 53% of EMBAC’s respondents said they had shouldered more responsibility at work.
Salary Increases
Executive MBA graduates earn 13.5% more after graduation than they did upon enrollment, on average. An executive MBA can open top executive positions and other high-paying roles in the corporate world.

Top Online Executive MBA Rankings

Top Online Executive MBA Programs Badge

How We Rank Online MBA Programs

Want to know how we create our rankings? We assess schools based on academic quality, affordability, online flexibility, and student success.

  1. University of Virginia

    Charlottesville, VA



    A public university located in Charlottesville, the University of Virginia offers an executive MBA that students can complete entirely online. The core curriculum includes classes such as accounting for managers, business ethics, decision analysis, leadership communication, marketing, and strategic thinking and action.

    The program requires one residency that takes place over a weekend. Aside from that commitment, students may complete all other classwork from anywhere with an internet connection. Class sessions occur two times a week on Tuesday and Thursday nights. Each session lasts about 90 minutes.

    Learners have the chance to tailor their studies to fit their career goals by taking 12 elective courses. Elective courses include entrepreneurial thinking, strategy, negotiation, the business of healthcare, and introduction to real estate finance and development.

    This program is accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) and has a student-to-faculty ratio of 15-to-1.

  2. Queens University of Charlotte

    Charlotte, NC



    The school of business at Queens University of Charlotte boasts a highly qualified faculty made up of CEOs, entrepreneurs, chairmen, and consultants. The university's convenient online executive master of business administration features a concentration in executive coaching, which incorporates leadership and skills development under the guidance of experienced mentors. Learners choose between taking classes entirely online or through a combination of in-person and online courses.

    This program can take as few as 18 months to complete, but students may finish the degree at their own pace. To apply, applicants must submit an application, two admission essays, two letters of recommendation, and a resume. Although the school generally does not require GRE and GMAT scores, applicants who possess fewer than three years of related work experience or a GPA of less than 3.0 may need to submit these scores.

    The MBA program holds accreditation through the AACSB, and currently, 65% of students attending the university receive financial aid.

    Other Concentrations

  3. Baylor University

    Waco, TX



    Baylor University's faith-based executive MBA explores topics related to Christian leadership. The online MBA provides students with real-world experience and encourages them to apply what they learn in their studies to their current careers. Baylor's MBA program includes a concentration in executive communication that focuses on overcoming communication barriers.

    Although the university's main campus lies in Waco, Texas, students can earn their degree entirely online. Baylor also offers multiple start dates each year, which means that learners can begin their degree and finish it in a more timely manner.

    One of the top online MBAs, this program focuses on networking and encourages students to engage with one another. Upon graduation, degree-holders may join the Baylor Business Alumni Network, which has more than 35,000 members.

    Students can complete this program in as few as 12 months, and graduates often go on to become operations directors, entrepreneurs, management consultants, marketing directors, and project managers.

    Other Concentrations

  4. Bellevue University

    Bellevue, NE



    Located in Nebraska, Bellevue University is a private institution that offers an online executive MBA degree. This program doesn't just focus on theory; instead, it places emphasis on real-world skills that learners can apply in their current jobs. Accordingly, Bellevue hires professors who possess real-world business experience. Classes include case studies, discussions, and simulations that require strategic thinking.

    This MBA includes a concentration in executive coaching. Learners gain the skills to mentor business leaders and managers.

    This program requires 36 credit hours, and students can choose from a robust list of concentrations to meet their individual career goals. Upon graduation, learners should possess ethical analytical skills, be able to communicate important business decisions verbally and in writing, and understand management tactics and how to properly implement them.

    This program also prepares learners to earn a professional certification from the Project Management Institute or the Society for Human Resource Management. Currently, 44% of Bellevue's students benefit from financial aid.

    Other Concentrations

  5. Ohio University

    Athens, OH



    Located in Athens, Ohio, Ohio University offers a top online MBA with a concentration in executive management. This program doesn't require the GMAT and maintains accreditation through the AACSB. Currently, 57% of OU students benefit from financial aid.

    This program focuses on advanced business topics, including management, strategic marketing, data analysis, and management of resources and information systems. The curriculum also covers financial topics such as accounting.

    Leadership development program workshops relate classroom topics to real-world scenarios. These workshops feature world-class speakers who are experts in leadership and motivation. To make it convenient for online students to attend a session at least once during their program, OU hosts multiple workshops per year.

    The executive management concentration explores prescriptive analytics, leadership and change management, and ethics in leadership. Overall, the program consists of nine core courses and three concentration courses for a total of 35 credits.

    Other Concentrations

What To Expect From an Executive MBA

An executive MBA prepares midcareer professionals to advance in leadership roles in businesses, public agencies, or nonprofit organizations. The degree was established in 1943, when business schools began to consider how they might help strengthen post-war American enterprises. Today, the executive MBA has grown into a widely recognized degree.

In general, each enrollee takes about 60 credits in just over one year of study. Accelerated online coursework helps facilitate this compressed timeline.

An executive MBA applicant usually needs 8-10 years of professional experience and a bachelor’s degree to receive acceptance. They may also need to show support from their employer since these programs can be both pricey and academically demanding.

The executive MBA provides an education similar to the general MBA but with more emphasis on general business management and fewer electives.

The MBA Admission Process

An online executive MBA candidate must possess a bachelor’s degree, preferably in business or a related field. While prospective students benefit from strong undergraduate GPAs, those with lower undergraduate grades do not necessarily need to worry.

In executive MBA programs, an applicant’s background and experience matter more than their grades. As a rule of thumb, business schools expect applicants to an executive MBA program to bring 8-10 years of professional experience from the business world.

Some schools require students to submit scores from standardized tests. Institutions may not include a minimum score, but they want to know if an applicant demonstrates academic potential. Some executive MBA programs do not require GRE or GMAT scores.

Once an applicant has submitted their transcripts, test scores, resume, and essays, they may receive an invitation to interview with the admissions committee. Before offering a place in the program, some institutions also expect each candidate to send a letter of support from their employer.

Learn More About Online MBA Admissions

Comparing Executive and General MBAs

Is an executive MBA the same as a general MBA? If not, which degree best suits aspiring business professionals?

In general, a traditional MBA serves younger, less-experienced students with a longer timeline from enrollment to graduation. Executive MBA programs cater to midcareer professionals who need an abbreviated time frame.

Some schools only admit applicants with 10 or more years of professional experience to their executive MBAs. In some cases, applicants decide based on their qualifications. Similarities and differences between these two business degrees include:

Comparing Executive MBAs to General MBA Programs

Executive MBA General MBA
Admissions Process Sometimes requires a standardized test for admission Often requires GMAT or GRE scores
Program Length Students can typically complete the program in 12-18 months Full-time requires about two years, which may stretch to 3-4 if taken part time
Student Demographics Often return to school as professionals Many have 1-3 years of experience
Pace of Classes Courses usually run in an accelerated format Courses often follow a traditional semester calendar
Tuition May cost less as a shorter program, but cost per credit may be higher May cost slightly more due to program length
Specializations Less likely to offer many specializations More likely to offer several specialization options

Popular Executive MBA Courses

Executive MBA programs usually combine a core curriculum with electives and at least one practicum course. The core courses cover topics such as leadership, analytics, and the foundations of business. While coursework varies in executive MBA programs vary among institutions, degree-seekers commonly encounter classes in:

Enrollees in this course foster their negotiation skills. These learners participate in mock events that address making deals and resolving disputes between organizations. Students highlight effective negotiation strategies in multicultural and multiparty settings. Topics include planning strategy, process management, and quality evaluation of negotiation strategies.
While completing their practicum, learners receive a first-hand glimpse at the challenges faced by companies in a growth stage. Each enrollee completes a study on one issue their host company faces.
In this course, learners focus on the elements and factors involved in leading a multinational company in a changing global environment. Instructors combine lectures, readings, and case studies for students to discuss and debate what’s involved in establishing and managing a transnational company in the modern era.
Degree-seekers delve into the theories and concepts that support decision-making in marketing. Students learn to evaluate the considerations behind all the components of marketing management. The course may include hands-on simulations that highlight strategic issues in modern marketing. In addition, learners discuss, analyze, and evaluate real-life examples of marketing strategy.
Students explore the legal and ethical challenges of leading multinational, publicly traded companies. Course topics include the fundamentals of ethical analysis frameworks, including virtue-based, consequentialist-based, and right-based reasoning, along with inconsistent interpretations of organizational responsibility. Learners also receive an introduction to the legal and ethical norms that guide the global economy.

How Much Will an Executive MBA Cost?

Many factors can influence program cost. For instance, the best executive MBA programs often charge higher prices, thanks to the prestige of their alumni networks. Online programs usually cost less than on-campus degrees, and public schools typically charge less than private institutions. In-state schools generally provide substantial discounts to state residents.

Most degree-seekers, however, do not have to pay the whole cost entirely out of pocket. Aspiring enrollees can access private scholarships, grants, government-backed loans, or teaching or research assistantships. Executive MBA students often work while attending school, which can partially or fully fund their programs.

These enrollees may also access funds for school through their employers. Some companies pay a portion or all of their employees’ tuition, provided that learners maintain strong grades. The following links provide more information on public and private sources of income for MBA students.

Jobs for Executive MBA Graduates

An MBA can help open the right doors to new career opportunities. Graduates can also command higher salaries across a spread of corporate sectors and industries. For working professionals with about 10 years of experience and a desire to advance professionally, the executive MBA can offer the education they need to succeed.

Business is one of the fastest-growing and highest-paying fields in the modern American economy. The BLS reports that management professionals earned a median annual salary of $105,660 as of 2019, and people working in business and finance earned a median salary of $69,820 — nearly twice the median salary for all occupations.

  • Public Relations and Fundraising Managers

    Public relations managers create and distribute material that builds broad awareness of an organization’s work and industry. Fundraising managers hold a similar role in the nonprofit community, except that their emphasis lies in acquiring and managing donations. Some positions require bachelor’s degrees, but many employers prefer applicants with master’s degrees.

    • Required Education: Bachelor’s required; master’s preferred
    • Job Outlook (2019-29): +9%
    • Median Annual Salary: $116,180

  • Human Resources Manager

    These managers oversee organizations’ culture and administrative functions. Besides serving as a link between management and employees, these professionals help recruit, hire, promote, and fire staff. In addition, they play a key role in strategic planning. Most human resources managers hold a related degree and several years of professional experience. Some companies also require these experts to earn industry certifications.

    • Required Education: Bachelor’s required; master’s preferred
    • Job Outlook (2019-29): +6%
    • Median Annual Salary: $116,720

  • Financial Manager

    Financial managers prepare reports for top executives, help set financial strategies, and direct corporate investments. They work in many industries, but the finance and insurance sectors hire the most financial managers. These managers hold extensive business education and at least five years of relevant experience in preparation for their roles.

    • Required Education: Bachelor’s required; master’s preferred
    • Job Outlook (2019-29): +15%
    • Median Annual Salary: $129,890

  • Top Executive

    Top executives hold titles such as chief executive officer, chief financial officer, and chief marketing officer. These professionals serve in the corporate world, at public agencies, or in nonprofit or educational settings. With its leadership emphasis, an executive MBA offers an excellent academic background for aspiring top executives.

    • Required Education: Bachelor’s required; master’s preferred
    • Job Outlook (2019-29): +4%
    • Median Annual Salary: $104,690

Selecting Your Executive MBA Program

Midcareer professionals should carefully consider several important points when researching the best executive MBA programs. Online rankings offer a critical snapshot of top degrees, but prospective students should also consider factors before investing in online MBAs, such as:

Prospective students must limit their options to regionally accredited schools to ensure they can receive financial aid, maximum credit transferability, and a rigorous education. Many of the best executive online MBA programs also hold programmatic accreditation with the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business.
Part of an MBA’s value lies in the curriculum, but the school’s brand, reputation, and alumni network also contribute to the strength of a program.
Cost and Financial Aid
Top-billed schools often charge steep prices for executive MBAs. For some students, those prices represent a valuable investment. For others, a regional school with lower costs offers the same benefits at a more affordable price.
Earning Potential
How much do recent graduates of the school’s executive MBA program earn? Does that figure represent a significant increase over the average salary of a student just entering the program?

Why You Should Get Your Executive MBA Online

Online learning first emerged in 1982, when a single school started offering computer-delivered courses to business executives. A few years later, accredited schools began offering full degrees over the internet, and by the mid-1990s, online education had begun to take off. It took a few more years, however, before online education reached widespread parity with brick-and-mortar programs.

Employers now value online education as much as traditional learning systems. The executive MBA easily translates to an online education model due to its practical emphasis and collaborative style.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, about 26% of college students enrolled in at least one online class before 2020. With the pandemic of 2020, however, nearly every student from kindergarten through postdoctoral study has completed at least some coursework online.

Many working professionals prefer taking classes in distance programs. The online MBA offers flexibility, diversity, accessibility, technology, and access to on-campus resources. For most midcareer professionals, the clincher comes from the ability to maintain full-time employment while earning a degree online.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Is an executive MBA worth it?

    Yes. A professional with 10-15 years of experience and a bachelor’s degree can reap significant rewards from pursuing an executive MBA. Executive MBA graduates receive promotions and increased professional responsibilities at work to deliver a strong return on investment for their degrees.

  • Are online executive MBAs cheaper?

    Not necessarily. Top executive online MBA programs often charge high prices. These schools invest in luxury hotels, gourmet meals, and notable instructors. Schools with regional reputations, however, may charge more reasonable prices. The cost per credit for an executive MBA may still be higher, but the total price could be less than a traditional MBA.

  • Is an executive MBA as good as an MBA?

    Some people mistakenly believe that the word “executive” implies a superior program. From an employment perspective, the two degrees offer essentially the same benefits. The differences between an MBA and an executive MBA lie in their form and delivery, not in their outcomes or career advancement potential.

  • What's the difference between an executive MBA and an MBA?

    On-campus and online executive MBA students can maintain their employment while pursuing their degrees. Typically, however, traditional MBA students pursue their studies full time. To facilitate part-time study, executive MBA programs often provide accelerated class schedules and abbreviated curricula. Executive MBA coursework provides an overview of business leadership rather than a specific concentration.

  • Will an executive MBA help my career?

    While no one can ensure professional advancement, executive MBA programs can help midcareer professionals take the next step in their careers. The coursework gives students the tools to advance professionally, the internship helps learners apply fresh skills, and networking with alumni can lead to securing an advanced position.

Advertisement is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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Advertisement is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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