Early Career

Making the Right Choice: Part-Time, Executive or Full-Time MBA Programs

Georgiana Avram Forté Fellow

Georgiana Avram
Forté Fellow

Getting an MBA is a big investment of time and money, perhaps one of the biggest that you will ever make. Which school to attend is important but the type of MBA program should not be treated as an afterthought either. Making the correct choice in terms of MBA program type is so important that it may be on a par with selecting your first home or first job. So arm yourself with time and patience, and find out what fits, and what doesn´t. Remember that the program fees alone at top business schools are high. And there is more than just the fee to consider. Students in full-time top MBAs also forgo an average basic salary of about $80,000 a year.

Here´s a breakdown of some general categories: MBA program are full-time or part-time. Full-time programs generally take 2 years in the United States (1 year in Europe) while part-time programs can take up to 4 years or more. Business schools offer full time students the option of specializing in concentrations such as finance, strategy, entrepreneurship and innovation, etc. – in addition to the core class schedule. Executive MBA programs in contrast, are more defined. They are focused on core management classes and generally lack a concentration as specific as innovation for example. EMBAs conclude in approximately 2 years and allow for full-time work schedules. The average age of EMBA candidates is around 35 years old, so typically EMBA students have more work experience and especially more managerial experience than MBA students. Basic research will give you the general information on the structure of programs, but also explore a wide range of sources of information (for example listen to this podcast on the topic of Executive MBA:

Keep in mind that general information will not give you the full picture. For example, even though EMBA programs are targeted at more seasoned professionals than MBA programs, both types attract people of different ages and at different stages in their career. As a result, you will gain a diverse network in either program. Furthermore, I would argue that the business world (both inside and outside the United States) views EMBAs and MBAs similarly. Also, some say that average MBA classes dive deeper than EMBA classes, and that the latter will provide more high-level dialogues than the former. However, that is not necessarily the case for all business schools. The classes can go over similar material and the caliber of students will likely also be similar. Ultimately, there is no wrong way to earn an MBA, just earn it in a manner that accommodates your life and chosen career path. Make the choice that is right for you!


Georgiana Paula Avram
Forté Fellow & MBA Candidate
Class of 2015 – The Fuqua School of Business, Duke University

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