Compiled and Written By OnlineMBA.com Staff
Last Updated: April 2020
Designed for working professionals, executive MBA (EMBA) programs emphasize corporate management, ethics, and responsibility. The top online MBAs for executives and current managers enhance existing leadership skills and focus on upper management positions.
EMBAs build competencies applicable across economic sectors. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects an increase of 150,600 top executive positions between 2018 and 2028.
Projections from BLS data also indicate a 7% increase for all business and finance occupations from 2018 to 2028. Large numbers of executives find employment in scientific and technical services, government settings, manufacturing, and healthcare.
You can find out more about the curricula, costs, and benefits of online EMBAs with the information compiled in this guide.
Here are the 5 Best Online Executive MBA Programs:
- University of Virginia - Charlottesville, VA
- Queens University of Charlotte - Charlotte, NC
- Baylor University - Waco, TX
- Bellevue University - Bellevue, NE
- Ohio University - Athens, OH
Top Online Executive MBA Programs for 2020
|Rank||School||Location||Cost||Toggle||Logo||Tuition||% Receiving Financial Aid||Student Population||School Type||Description|
University of Virginia
|Location Charlottesville , VA||Tuition $$$$$||% Receiving Financial Aid 56||Student Population 24,639||Tuition $130,000||School Type Public||
A public university located in Charlottesville, the University of Virginia offers an executive MBA that students can complete entirely online. The core curriculum includes classes such as accounting for managers, business ethics, decision analysis, leadership communication, marketing, and strategic thinking and action.
The program requires one residency that takes place over a weekend. Aside from that commitment, students may complete all other classwork from anywhere with an internet connection. Class sessions occur two times a week on Tuesday and Thursday nights. Each session lasts about 90 minutes.
Learners have the chance to tailor their studies to fit their career goals by taking 12 elective courses. Elective courses include entrepreneurial thinking, strategy, negotiation, the business of healthcare, and introduction to real estate finance and development.
This program is accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) and has a student-to-faculty ratio of 15-to-1.View School Profile
Queens University of Charlotte
|Location Charlotte , NC||Tuition $$$$$||% Receiving Financial Aid 98||Student Population 2,536||Tuition $41,940||School Type Private||
The school of business at Queens University of Charlotte boasts a highly qualified faculty made up of CEOs, entrepreneurs, chairmen, and consultants. The university's convenient online executive master of business administration features a concentration in executive coaching, which incorporates leadership and skills development under the guidance of experienced mentors. Learners choose between taking classes entirely online or through a combination of in-person and online courses.
This program can take as few as 18 months to complete, but students may finish the degree at their own pace. To apply, applicants must submit an application, two admission essays, two letters of recommendation, and a resume. Although the school generally does not require GRE and GMAT scores, applicants who possess fewer than three years of related work experience or a GPA of less than 3.0 may need to submit these scores.
The MBA program holds accreditation through the AACSB, and currently, 65% of students attending the university receive financial aid.
ConcentrationsView School Profile
|Location Waco , TX||Tuition $$$$$||% Receiving Financial Aid 98||Student Population 17,217||Tuition $85,680||School Type Private||
Baylor University's faith-based executive MBA explores topics related to Christian leadership. The online MBA provides students with real-world experience and encourages them to apply what they learn in their studies to their current careers. Baylor's MBA program includes a concentration in executive communication that focuses on overcoming communication barriers.
Although the university's main campus lies in Waco, Texas, students can earn their degree entirely online. Baylor also offers multiple start dates each year, which means that learners can begin their degree and finish it in a more timely manner.
One of the top online MBAs, this program focuses on networking and encourages students to engage with one another. Upon graduation, degree-holders may join the Baylor Business Alumni Network, which has more than 35,000 members.
Students can complete this program in as few as 12 months, and graduates often go on to become operations directors, entrepreneurs, management consultants, marketing directors, and project managers.
ConcentrationsView School Profile
|Location Bellevue , NE||Tuition $$$$$||% Receiving Financial Aid 89||Student Population 9,621||Tuition $21,060||School Type Private||
Located in Nebraska, Bellevue University is a private institution that offers an online executive MBA degree. This program doesn't just focus on theory; instead, it places emphasis on real-world skills that learners can apply in their current jobs. Accordingly, Bellevue hires professors who possess real-world business experience. Classes include case studies, discussions, and simulations that require strategic thinking.
This MBA includes a concentration in executive coaching. Learners gain the skills to mentor business leaders and managers.
This program requires 36 credit hours, and students can choose from a robust list of concentrations to meet their individual career goals. Upon graduation, learners should possess ethical analytical skills, be able to communicate important business decisions verbally and in writing, and understand management tactics and how to properly implement them.
This program also prepares learners to earn a professional certification from the Project Management Institute or the Society for Human Resource Management. Currently, 44% of Bellevue's students benefit from financial aid.
|Location Athens , OH||Tuition $$$$$||% Receiving Financial Aid 94||Student Population 28,480||Tuition $17,675||School Type Public||
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.
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.
Quality (30% of total score)
|A low student-to-faculty ratio, a wide breadth of specialized MBA programs, and a high retention rate of students returning after their first year are all indicators of a quality university.|
Affordability (10% of total score)
|The amount of financial aid offered factors into a school's net price; this, paired with a low loan default rate, indicates that students may find a school's tuition within their budget.|
Online Flexibility (20% of total score)
|Scores for online flexibility focus on schools that have a high percentage of fully online students, but consideration is also given to schools that enroll partially online students using hybrid programs.|
Student Success (40% of total score)
|Both strong hallmarks of student success, we look for programs with high graduation rates whose students go on to have higher-than-average median earnings.|
What Is an Executive MBA?
With core coursework that mirrors that of traditional MBA degrees, EMBAs also focus on the application of theoretical and practical elements of leadership in the workplace. EMBA programs build on existing managerial and business knowledge and skills, enabling students to integrate course information into their daily activities.
According to the BLS, chief executives in the U.S. earn the highest annual mean wages in the investment and extraction industries. With an online EMBA, senior-level financial and pipeline transportation professionals can move into executive roles with mean annual earnings of more than $280,000.
Why Should You Get an Executive MBA Online?
Executive MBAs offer part-time options for professionals with 10 or more years of experience. Often, students in these programs hold five or more years of experience in managerial duties. The experience learners bring into an EMBA allows them to thrive as they apply advanced business knowledge and skills in their daily roles.
The curriculum in an EMBA expands comprehensive understanding of business leadership. Learners can apply what they learn directly to positions in technology, healthcare, or finance. By developing more effective, efficient techniques to communicate with colleagues and make business decisions, EMBA students set themselves on a path to senior-level supervisory positions.
Findings from the BLS indicate that individuals in managerial roles earned median annual wages of $104,240 as of May 2018. While managerial occupations ranked highest in salary reports among all occupational groups, chief executives held status as the tenth highest paying occupation as of 2018. According to the BLS, chief executives earned $189,600 in annual median pay as of 2018.
What Can You Do With an Executive MBA?
- Chief Executive Officer
Chief executive officers (CEOs) sit atop the administrative and leadership structure of organizations. As key decision-makers, CEOs serve as the face of a company. Comprehensive knowledge of fiscal, managerial, and operational functions guides CEOs in their duties. They develop and implement strategies to improve profitability and success, working with stakeholders and colleagues in the process.
PayScale reports that CEOs earn average salaries over $157,000. With 20 years or more in the role, CEOs take home average earnings of nearly $192,000.
- Executive Director
As senior-level managers, executive directors work with fellow executives and employees. Essential in strategic planning, implementation, and assessment, executive directors ensure effective, efficient day-to-day operations that align with their organization's overall goals.
Many executive directors lead their organization, answering to a board of directors or comparable body. They may also work with the press or directly with clients. Executive directors, according to PayScale, earn average salaries of approximately $79,000.
- Chief Operating Officer
Earning median salaries of approximately $143,000, as reported by PayScale, chief operating officers (COOs) oversee daily operations within a company or organization. As top-tier executives, COOs work closely with managers and directors to implement policies and practices that adhere to an organization's strategic plan.
COO duties may vary by organization, but they often use data to assess profitability and productivity, supervise hiring and employee training, and answer to a CEO or board of directors.
- Top Executive
Top executives develop high-level strategies and coordinate operational functions to ensure organizational success. While their specific duties and responsibilities vary by position, top executives often oversee budgets, purchasing, hiring, and quality control.
These professionals work across industries, with high levels of employment in technology, government, and manufacturing sectors. Present in small and large organizations alike, many top executives hold entrepreneurial experience, as well. BLS reports classify 21% of top executives as self-employed.
- Administrative Services Manager
Administrative services managers coordinate essential services to ensure organizational efficiency. With skills applicable across economic sectors, administrative services managers often work in healthcare, education, and technical services.
These professionals oversee clerical personnel, record-keeping activities, and facility overhead. They often monitor safety, compliance, and purchasing. Administrative service managers may serve as intermediaries between employees and executives. The BLS projects an increase of 21,800 positions for these professionals between 2018 and 2028.
Online Executive MBA Curriculum
Coursework for an EMBA varies by institution. Core classes emphasize business fundamentals, building on existing knowledge and experience. EMBAs focus on leadership, integrating advanced classes in teamwork, communications, and business analytics into the curriculum.
Foundations of Teamwork and Leadership
Courses in the foundations of teamwork and leadership focus on tools and techniques for effectively managing and motivating within an organization. Students learn to apply theories and concepts of leadership while improving their own understanding of efficacy in leadership.
International Business Communication
International business classes enhance understanding of the global marketplace. Students in this course study diversity in business, trends in business communication and media, and cultural aspects of communication processes. Other topics include technologies, sources, and systems of communication around the world.
Business Analytics For Executives
Business analytics courses train learners to process data using statistical and technological tools. Executives gain advanced understanding of data collection, analysis, and interpretation. Students also use data analysis to predict consumer behavior, diagnose problems, and identify needed changes within an organization.
See More Top MBA Programs
How to Choose the Right Online Executive MBA Program
An executive MBA boosts career advancement potential for current management professionals. Designed for learners to complete while simultaneously working full time, EMBAs build leadership, communication, and strategic competencies to move into executive positions.
While a master's degree in executive leadership and a master's degree in organizational management offer some comparable coursework, an EMBA remains, at its core, a business degree. EMBAs focus on leadership as it applies to business settings across economic sectors.
Many EMBA degrees, in contrast to traditional MBA programs, are part-time programs. Most MBA degrees include coursework which full-time students complete in two years. Learners may complete an EMBA in 2-4 years, although accelerated options allow students to earn their degree in as few as 18 months.
Online EMBAs provide additional convenience and flexibility, allowing students to complete coursework outside of a traditional classroom. Online EMBAs may, however, include residency requirements that accompany online coursework. Students should also check to see what internship, project, and research components exist for potential online EMBAs.
Online degrees may offer a more affordable option than on-campus programs. Students can often avoid out-of-state tuition by attending a school that offers similar tuition rates regardless of location.
Prospective EMBA students should also factor in each school's accreditation status. Colleges and universities typically hold regional or national accreditation. Top business administration programs also maintain programmatic accreditation through entities such as the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs. Programmatic accreditation attests to the academic excellence and overall quality of a degree.
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Scholarships for Executive MBA Programs
Individuals earning an EMBA can apply for funding resources available to all students. General scholarships and fellowships for business administration learners provide additional options to executives earning an MBA.
Awarded through professional organizations and private funders alike, these scholarships support EMBA students within specific industries or from particular demographic groups.
Mary Elizabeth Lockwood Beneventi MBA Scholarship
Who Can Apply: Offered through the Daughters of the American Revolution, the Mary Elizabeth Lockwood Beneventi MBA Scholarship supports students earning a business administration degree. Applicants must hold a minimum 3.25 GPA and attend an accredited institution.
Amount: $2,000Apply for Scholarship
Foster G. McGaw Graduate Student Scholarship
Who Can Apply: The Foster G. McGaw Graduate Student Scholarship, awarded by the American College of Healthcare Executives, supports students earning an MBA in healthcare management or a comparable health management degree. To apply, learners must submit a resume, transcript information, three letters of recommendation, and an essay.
Amount: $5,000Apply for Scholarship
National Black MBA Association Scholarships
Who Can Apply: Partnered with educational institutions around the world, NBMBAA awards scholarships to undergraduate and graduate business students. Applicant requirements vary by scholarship program.
Amount: VariesApply for Scholarship
Rising Farmworker Dream Fund
Who Can Apply: Designed to support sons and daughters of farmworkers in the U.S., RFDF provides financial assistance to help break the cycle of poverty in rural settings. Funds apply to the pursuit of an MBA, with the intent to encourage MBA graduates to return to their farmworker community with advanced business knowledge and skills.
Amount: VariesApply for Scholarship
Who Can Apply: Supporting students of Hispanic and Latino/a heritage, Prospanica offers scholarships to undergraduate and graduate students with entrepreneurial ambition. Applicants must hold a minimum 3.0 GPA, two years of full-time work experience, and Prospanica membership.
Amount: $2,000-$5,000Apply for Scholarship
Professional Organizations for Top Executives
Professional organizations for executives build connections among corporate and organizational leaders. Students in an EMBA program can join to extend their current professional networks while gaining access to career resources and guidance. Professional organizations also provide continuing education programs, research materials, and advocacy opportunities for members.
- National Black MBA AssociationDedicated to creating educational, economic, and professional opportunities for historically underrepresented students, entrepreneurs, and professionals, NBMBAA maintains 39 chapters in North America. Individuals can also join outside of a chapter, benefitting from NBMBAA's educational resources, scholarship programs, and networking opportunities.
- ProspanicaEstablished to foster Hispanic and Latino/a professional achievement, Prospanica offers members exclusive access to networking and special events, discounts on partner services, and career-building services. Student member benefits also include access to internship opportunities, financial assistance programs, and mentorship.
- Executive MBA CouncilEstablished in 1981, EMBAC serves as the global voice for the executive MBA industry. Members receive exclusive research reports and EMBAC communications; webinar and job posting access; and opportunities to attend regional, national, and international events.
- National Association of Female ExecutivesEmpowering women professionals and business owners, NAFE offers education, networking, and public advocacy programs to members. Tasked with facilitating professional and personal success, NAFE also hosts local networks, roundtables, and annual events.
- American Management AssociationDedicated to building managerial knowledge and skills worldwide, AMA hosts an extensive resource library, webcasts, and training programs in 26 focus areas. For members, AMA also offers free seminars, discounts on educational programs, and subscriptions to quarterly publications.