Executive MBA, Professional MBA, Flex MBA, Full-time MBA — these are just a few of the degree formats you may have heard about. It feels like there are more MBA options than new Oreo flavors these days. So how do you decode all the options available to figure out which one is best for you? Let Forté help! Originally, the MBA was designed to be completed in two years as a full-time student on campus. But now, business schools have expanded their program offerings so that an MBA is an option for everyone at all career stages. Don’t think there is a good program option out there for you? We disagree. We think there is more than one option that can fit into your busy life. Remember: An MBA is an MBA The MBA is powerful. Earning an Executive or Professional MBA is just as impressive as earning a Full-time MBA. They are all the same degree and it’s more about choosing a format that fits your needs and goals. Let’s walk through some questions that can help guide you to your best option. Do you want to keep working? The first step is to decide if you want to continue working while earning your degree or if you want to leave your job to become a full-time student. Do you love your job? Are you up for a big promotion soon? Does your employer have educational benefits that you can use? These are all great reasons to consider working while you pursue an MBA. One of the biggest benefits of continuing to work while in school is that what you learn in class can be immediately applied in your current role. You don't have to wait until graduation to use all of your newfound knowledge. Whether it's being better equipped to manage people, understand financial analysis, or navigate change, you can take those skills to work the next day. You are immediately a more powerful and impactful employee. Students in working professional programs (sometimes called Part-time, Flex, or Fully-employed MBA programs) often see promotions, raises, and increased bonuses while they are still students. Why leave the workforce to do a Full-time MBA program? Enrolling in a Full-time MBA program lets you focus entirely on being a student. Not working means you have time for student clubs, international trips, consulting projects, and internships. Full-time MBA programs can also give you the flexibility to move to a new city or country and interact with classmates from all over the globe. Are Executive MBA programs only for executives? This degree format can vary greatly from business school to business school. Generally, Executive MBA programs want to see candidates that currently manage people, projects, and budgets. But the MBA cohort might have more non-traditional students like entrepreneurs, doctors, or military officers. Some Executive MBA programs have students with an average work experience of 10-15 years. These students can be executives, vice presidents, or team leaders. Other programs may have an average work experience closer to eight years and students may be in more executive track roles. All working professional MBA programs, including the Executive MBA, mean you will continue working throughout your studies. However, there is usually explicit support from your employer since many of these programs have class schedules that will require you to miss some work. Which MBA format is best? While this is a question only you can answer, we can help. Forté has been supporting women on their MBA journeys for 20 years. Here are a few suggested next steps to help you make your decision. Talk to students and alumni at Forté’s partner business schools. Connect with students and alumni at a Forté MBA Forum. All of our Forums are free and include a student/alumni panel. Take time to reflect on your goals and whether you want to work or take time away. We recommend asking yourself these questions frequently and scrutinizing your own responses. Are you at an employer that is offering you long-term growth? Are you looking to make a career pivot in industry, function, and/or location? Maybe focusing entirely on you for two years is what you need. Think about the financial impact of an MBA. While a full-time program means forgoing a salary for one or two years, there are often lucrative summer internships and schools may be more generous with scholarships. The price tag for a working professional program might look the same overall, but that cost can be spread out over a number of years rather than just one or two. Explore resources like our partner, Juno, and talk to your target schools about what support they can offer students. Take advantage of Forté’s free MBA prep resources — attend a free virtual event and check out our online Executive and Professional MBA hub. Need more help with your decision? We’ve got you covered! Take this one-minute quiz to see which MBA format is best for you.