Is an Executive MBA Worth It? Key Facts and Statistics


Updated August 29, 2023 · 3 Min Read

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  • The average EMBA program costs $83,000, but at top institutions, it can exceed $200,000 for two years.
  • EMBA graduates experience anywhere from a 17.7%-25% boost in their total compensation after graduation.
  • Recent graduates of EMBA programs say the degree has benefits, such as enhancing their professional network and increasing opportunities.

Master of business administration (MBA) programs may help students increase their job prospects and earning potential. This is especially true for graduates of executive MBA (EMBA) programs.

But data surrounding the success of EMBA graduates and the cost of such programs is varied, leading to questions about the value of pursuing this type of degree. Below, we tackle what is known about EMBAs and what those interested need to know before enrolling.

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Is an Executive MBA Worth It? The Pros and Cons

Executive MBA programs are intended for people who already have significant workforce experience. These individuals typically hold upper-level management positions and are looking to further improve their knowledge, skill sets, and corporate standings.

Here are some of the pros and cons of earning an EMBA.

An EMBA Can Increase Your Annual Earnings — By A Lot

According to Payscale, individuals with an EMBA earned an average annual wage of $127,000 as of June 2023 based on more than 6,300 reported salaries.

Among the most popular job titles, average earnings are approximately 25% higher for individuals with an EMBA.

Average earnings for EMBA graduates are also 31% higher than the earnings of MBA graduates, who earned $96,000 on average as of June 2023, according to Payscale.

But the data varies. According to the 2022 Executive MBA Council Student Exit Survey, the average salary for EMBA graduates is actually much higher than what Payscale reports, and the increase in earnings after getting their degree is much smaller.

Among the 1,162 students EMBAC surveyed across 36 EMBA programs:

  • The average total compensation package including bonuses was about $231,140 a year at the start of their program.
  • By the end of their program, average total compensation rose by nearly 18% to $272,160.

Additional findings from Statista reveal that, as of 2022, EMBA graduates of the top global programs earned $262,000- $585,000 annually just three years after graduating.

This vast salary range that EMBA graduates could earn should be assessed with caution. While an EMBA graduate's salary will typically exceed $100,000 a year, there are no guarantees that all or even most graduates will experience drastic salary increases after graduation.

Pursuing an EMBA Takes Longer Than an MBA

A traditional full-time MBA program typically takes students nine months to two years to complete. However, EMBA students typically pursue their degree while working full time, and these programs may take twice as long to complete.

Balancing advanced coursework with the usual responsibilities of a full-time job will likely leave students with little time for much else. Be sure to consider any other responsibilities you may have as a caretaker, partner, or friend that will get less of your attention as you pursue your degree.

EMBA Programs Are Expensive

According to recent data from EMBAC, the average total cost of an EMBA program is $83,000.

However, EMBA programs at some of the top institutions can cost more than $200,000. As of 2023:

Many EMBA students have their tuition fees either partially or fully paid for by their employers. However, in recent years it has become increasingly rare for employers to offer full tuition assistance to EMBA candidates. Instead, EMBA students are much more likely to receive partial tuition assistance or reimbursement.

There are financial aid options available for EMBA students, including fellowships, scholarships, grants, and federal or private loans.

What Graduates Say About Their EMBAs

We asked a number of graduates to discuss the worth of their EMBA degrees, and the overwhelming majority said it was worth the cost and effort. Here are the top reasons they cited:

  • EMBA programs help enhance your professional network — this increases business opportunities.
  • EMBA programs help increase your credibility in the business world, both at the organization where you're currently employed and in other professional settings.
  • Despite being costly and time consuming, EMBA programs have a high return on investment, with most graduates advancing in their careers quickly after completing their program.

I can't overstate the value of the contacts and relationships I've established during my EMBA studies, said Ryan Steinolfson, founder and CEO of Accelerate Marketing.

Overall, EMBA programs are still a big commitment that can cost students more than $200,000.

My advice to those considering an executive MBA is to be prepared to invest the time and effort required to get the most out of the program, said Youssef Fawzi, co-founder of Roowaad and 2021 graduate of the University of Michigan Ross School of Business. An executive MBA program is an intense and demanding experience, and it is important to be prepared to put in the hard work to make the most out of the experience.

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