EMBAs and MBAs are very different, more than what a typical school handout suggests. On paper they may have similar curriculums, but the experience is significantly different.

Different life stages

EMBAs are typically more advanced and settled in their life and career, and this is not just due to the average age difference. They are already in relatively senior roles and are looking to build a professional network with equally senior professionals. They are generally sponsored by their company and continue to work during the program. EMBAs are mainly looking to make a career step within their current company or sector.

MBAs are looking for more than just a professional jump, they also want to take some time off to experiment and grow personally (this doesn’t mean you don’t grow personally during an EMBA, but since you have a job in parallel you will naturally have less time for this). They also don’t necessarily have a clear professional path ahead and would like to try things out, even if they are sponsored by a company. MBAs include a lot of career changers and “life-changers”.

“Sure, some schools have classes that mix MBAs and EMBAs, but the amount of cross-programme connections remains low”

Different types of class diversity

Another important distinction is that EMBA classes are typically even more diverse than MBA classes. This can be explained by several factors. The GMAT requirement can be more relaxed for EMBAs, with professional experience / background having a higher weighting compared to an MBA application. This means that an EMBA class can have a wide range of academic capabilities, with some really impressive people but equally some less impressive. In an EMBA, you will have people who have barely studied but have built impressive businesses or departments by learning “on the job”. You could end up studying with a famous athlete, musician or celebrity who’s decided to launch their clothes brand and has absolutely no business acumen what-so-ever. This kind of profile can be an amazing addition to your network, but it may not be that fun having to deliver a project with them!

Different networking opportunities

People who hesitate between an MBA and an EMBA often think they will still be able to network with the other programme during their studies. How naïve of them!

EMBAs typically have a very different schedule to MBAs. They have classes on the weekends or in the evenings, and given their own professional activities generally have no time to join any club or extra-curricular activity (which is a powerful networking tool for MBAs). Sure, some schools have classes that mix MBAs and EMBAs, but the amount of cross-programme connections remains low compared to those that you will make within your programme. Its far easier to build a long-lasting relationship with someone who is at the same stage of their life / personal journey. This is another reason to explain why the networking remains so segregated.

For more information on networking during an MBA, see our dedicated post on the subject.