Why the Executive MBA looks a bit more like the Full-time MBA these days

The Executive MBA (EMBA) has transformed itself significantly over the last decade.  Once a breeding ground primarily for company sponsored upper management trainees with corner office aspirations, the EMBA now attracts students who are leveraging their experience for significant career transitions and entrepreneurial ventures.  EMBA programmes, like the globally ranked programme at Vlerick Business School, are quick to respond to these changes.

Much of this transition is being driven by a shift in funding structures. According to a recent survey conducted by the EMBA Council, only a quarter of EMBA students are now fully supported by their companies, where  a similar survey conducted a decade ago would have seen twice that number. As a result, many candidates are finding alternative financing options, including loans and savings. The percentage of students fully supporting themselves has grown from only 34% four years ago to nearly 45% today.  Many of those students who are funding  their own education are using their new management skillsets and EMBA network to forge different career tracks for themselves.

Leveraging the MBA experience for a career transition was traditionally the function of the Full-time MBA. Career Management Offices, with services ranging from CV review to on-campus recruitment, were reserved solely for Full-time MBA students. That too is changing. 

“When I first started working in management education over 15 years ago, I would never advise an individual pursuing a significant career transition to consider the EMBA option,” explains Frank Fletcher, Head of MBA Marketing and Recruitment at Vlerick Business School. “Now, we are regularly seeing EMBA candidates who are looking to make some kind of significant transition in their career and are doing so successfully.”

The EMBA Council reports over two-thirds of EMBA Programmes globally now offer career services to their students. At Vlerick, EMBA students receive career coaching and access to the Vlerick Career Focus Tool.

Professor Regine Slagmulder, Director EMBA Programmes, explains that the career management tools made available at Vlerick should be used by all. “We recognize that the function of a top business school is not only to train people to be highly effective managers but to help provide career direction and the tools to manage their career,” she says. “Regardless of whether a student intends to stay with his or her company or transition into something completely new, a well-developed career plan is essential.”

For those students hoping to use their management education for more entrepreneurial purposes, the EMBA Programme is also becoming a popular choice. One of the biggest curriculum changes to EMBA Programmes globally is the addition of content in entrepreneurship.  Both the core and elective curricula at Vlerick, for example, include coursework focusing on the needs of the budding entrepreneur. 

“Just this past year, we had an EMBA student leave his full-time position to venture out on his own while still enrolled in the programme,” says Regine. “We like to think his EMBA experience gave him the knowledge and confidence to make such a move.”

The changing funding structure has not inhibited schools from increasing their fees. It is not uncommon for EMBA programmes to cost over 100k Euros. The Wharton EMBA Programme in the US tops out at 133k Euros. Closer to home, INSEAD charges 101k Euros for its programme.  The global average for EMBA programmes is 54k Euros. This is one trend that Vlerick has resisted. At 36k Euros, the Vlerick EMBA remains one of the best values of those programmes ranked by The Financial Times as a top 100 EMBA programme.

“You would be hard pressed to find a better value in the market,” says Frank. “There is no other Triple-crown Accredited (AACSB, AMBA, EQUIS), globally ranked, full service EMBA Programme at this price point.”

If you are interested in learning whether the Executive MBA is well suited for your professional and personal needs, then you should attend one of Vlerick’s monthly information sessions.  Vlerick faculty will introduce you to the highly innovative EMBA curriculum, as well as the career and leadership development paths. The next session will be held at Vlerick’s Ghent campus on 2 June.



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