Is an EMBA or PTMBA Right for You?

Part Time or Full Time MBAMany candidates struggle with deciding on which MBA format is a better fit for their career development needs. This decision can become even more complicated when factoring in choosing between part-time learning options like an Executive MBA (EMBA) program or a Part-Time MBA (PTMBA) program.

Both of these will allow you to simultaneously continue your professional career while pursuing your MBA, however, these programs generally attract different types of students and offer somewhat different benefits than traditional MBAs.

Work Experience
The “E” in EMBA says it all – applicants to this program are typically more senior in their organization and with more lengthy work experience than their full-time and part-time MBA counterparts, so in general, there is a significant age and experience difference between the three program types. Coupled with the seniority EMBA classmates and the quality of the interactions, this makes EMBA programs a big draw for many older applicants.

The cost of an EMBA can be significantly less expensive than a PTMBA. Part of this stems from the fact that most applicants will have the tab picked up by their employer. Now this is common as well for many PTMBA students but more common for EMBAs. The reduced price tag can be a big draw for those paying out of pocket for their MBA.

Schools pull out all the stops to support EMBA programs, which makes sense given the hefty price tag. These programs will offer the best professors, learning spaces, dining halls, and materials. Which is contrary to the PTMBA program which generally offers similar resources as their FT counter parts.

The network you will build in an executive program also will be different. With part time programs the student community is fairly transient given the students are splitting their time between work and school. The residential component of the EMBA program allows students to be more realistic about dedicating their efforts to the program for the days they are on campus. This better allows students to bond and get to know their fellow classmates given this additional time for greater interaction. Also, this network is obviously of people who are very senior in their organization, which makes for great collaborative opportunities outside of the classroom.

As always research is the key so go beyond secondary research and connect with current students and admission officers to get a feel for what program best addresses your development needs.

Applying to business school? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today, or take our free MBA Admissions Profile Evaluation for personalized advice for your unique application situation! As always, be sure to find us on Facebook, YouTube, Google+ and Twitter.

Dozie A. is a Veritas Prep Head Consultant for the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. His specialties include consulting, marketing, and low GPA/GMAT applicants. You can find more of his articles here.

The GMAC Executive Assessment: Part 2

GMAT Select Section Order PilotIn our first post, we broke down the new GMAC® Executive Assessment which provides EMBA candidates with an alternative testing option to the GMAT. While on paper, the exam might resemble a “mini-GMAT,” a deeper dive reveals an assessment with GMAT roots, but a distinct personality of its own.

More Business Focus
A look at sample questions from the website suggests that the EA pulls from item pools that are similar, if not identical, to the GMAT. In fact, some questions seem to have more of a “business” feel compared to your traditional GMAT question. (The GMAT has long been touted as an exam that doesn’t reward or punish lack of a traditional business background, as it aims to test critical reasoning and higher order thinking skills that are industry-agnostic.)

This may be a coincidence, but one can’t ignore the fact that most EMBA candidates have significant work experience (10+ years typically) and most likely a stronger sense of business in general compared to their 24-year-old counterparts looking at full-time programs. Regardless, any leaning towards business (whether intentional or not) would likely be attractive to more EMBA candidates.

Integrated Reasoning Grows in Prominence
One other interesting aspect of the EA is the increased proportion of Integrated Reasoning (IR) questions. IR makes up exactly one-third of this assessment and is incorporated into the candidate’s total score. Conversely, IR is a small portion (30 minutes) of the GMAT exam. The GMAT quantitative and verbal sections are each 75 minutes in length, and the GMAT total score represents a combination of the quantitative and verbal sub-scores. GMAT IR scores are reported separately from the total score.

While GMAC has published survey research on the “relevance” of skills tested on IR, the deeper integration of IR into the EA assessment and total score seems to further support the notion that the skills tested are truly relevant and strong indicators of success in a graduate business program. And perhaps these skills are even more important at the EMBA level.

Pilot Program for Now
The Executive Assessment (EA) is currently in a Beta phase that will last at least 18 months (or a full admissions cycle and academic year) to allow for validity studies to be conducted. GMAC has long been committed to developing assessment products that are not only relevant, but valid predictors of success in a graduate management program. The six pilot programs were selected because they were willing to commit the necessary time, energy and resources to see this phase through.

The EA targets a different demographic than the GMAT (older, significant work experience, further removed from the undergrad experience) and the test doesn’t leverage computer-adaptive testing in the way that the current GMAT does. Thus, norms for this assessment will differ, further underscoring the importance of measuring exam outcomes against academic performance in an EMBA program.  At this time, there are no plans to add additional programs until after the Beta phase is complete.

Only “Modest Preparation” Required
One of the biggest differences between the EA and GMAT is the amount of preparation that GMAC is advocating for it. It’s no secret that candidates need to prepare for the GMAT, and GMAC survey research indicates that the average candidate spends between 60 and 90 days preparing for the GMAT.  However, the EA recognizes that candidates are less likely to have the bandwidth for preparation that traditional GMAT candidates might have.  The EA will help schools to differentiate competencies that are a little “rusty” versus those that are “ready” and enable them to prescribe pre-work to ensure all candidates begin their EMBA programs on an even playing field.

That being said, candidates looking to distinguish themselves from other applicants can certainly benefit from preparation. Given the overlap with GMAT content, leveraging current GMAT materials to gain a better understanding of question types is a good starting point.  Pacing, as always, will be paramount, and additional time and focus on IR will be crucial given its more significant role in the exam (and total score).

If you’re interested in learning more about GMAT preparation and customized options for EA preparation, please visit our GMAT Website or attend one of our upcoming free online GMAT seminars. And, be sure to follow us on FacebookYouTubeGoogle+, and Twitter!

By Joanna Graham

The GMAC Executive Assessment: A New Way to Evaluate EMBA Applicants

GMAT Select Section Order PilotImagine a world where you could take the GMAT, but it was over in 90 minutes, and no advanced preparation was required. It sounds too good to be true, but the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC®) launched a new product, the GMAC® Executive Assessment, on March 1 that is designed to give Executive MBA programs a new way to evaluate candidates.

EMBA programs have struggled with making standardized testing compulsory in recent years. Candidates typically have much more work experience than full-time or part-time applicants, and thus are further removed from an academic classroom experience (and often have even less time to prepare for and take a standardized test). The GMAC® Executive Assessment gives applicants another testing option that looks a lot like the GMAT, but may have an easier path to success.

Let’s take a closer look at how this is similar to and different from the GMAT:

Shorter Sections
The GMAC® Executive Assessment contains three (3) sections: Integrated Reasoning, Verbal and Quantitative. Each section is just 30 minutes long, and the exam is delivered on-demand at existing test centers around the globe. Scores are valid for 5 years, unofficial scores are provided at the test center upon completion, and the same basic registration guidelines hold true (compared to the GMAT exam). Candidates are required to register at least 24 hours in advance, ID requirements at the test center are the same as the GMAT, and while there is an on-screen calculator for IR, there isn’t one for the Quantitative section.

In terms of test structure, there are 40 questions: 12 Integrated Reasoning, 14 Verbal, and 14 Quantitative. Regarding pacing, there are no differences across Integrated Reasoning, but you do gain a little bit of time on the verbal and quantitative sections (compared to the GMAT). Also, the order of sections is slightly different than the GMAT, with Integrated Reasoning leading off, followed by Verbal and then Quantitative.

From a content perspective, the test seems to be consistent with current GMAT questions, but with a slightly more skewed focus towards business. If some of the practice questions posted by GMAC® look familiar, they are – they appeared in previous versions of the Official Guide which seems to suggest content that that is consistent with current GMAT questions.

Finally, once you start the test, it will be a race to the finish with no breaks between sections.

Bigger Price, Different Retake Policy
While the test is similar to the GMAT from a content perspective, there are definitely some significant differences. First, prepare yourself for a little sticker shock: you might think since you’re getting fewer questions and you’re in and out of the test center faster, there might be a discount, however, this shorter assessment will actually cost you more ($350, compared to $250 for the GMAT). However, there is no fee for rescheduling – unless you’re less than 24 hours from your appointment – or for additional score reports.

If you’re not happy with your score, you can re-test, but you can only do so once, so make sure you’re ready! Rather than waiting 16 days to re-test like the GMAT, the waiting period is only 24 hours.

Computer Adaptive? Yes, But…
This test is not computer adaptive in the way that the GMAT is, so your answer to a question does not dictate which question you’ll see next. Rather, questions are released in groups (based on your performance on the previous group). This type of testing is called multi-stage adaptive design. The score scale is different as well – total scores will be reported on a scale of 100-200, and individual sections on scales of 0-20.

How Do You Prepare for the Executive Assessment?
One of the benefits of the Executive Assessment being touted by GMAC® is the reduction in significant preparation for this test. GMAC® advocates minimal preparation and has not rolled out any preparation materials specifically designed for this assessment. While a shorter test might suggest less preparation required, it also give candidates an opportunity to truly shine and demonstrate mastery of certain subjects and critical reasoning skills.

Which EMBA Programs Accept It Today?
Just like currency, a test is only as good as the institutions that accept it. Currently, the exam is being touted as an EMBA admissions tool. Six schools have signed on to use it as part of their admissions processes:  INSEAD (France), CEIBS (China), London Business School (United Kingdom), the University of Hong Kong, Columbia University (New York, USA), and the University of Chicago (Illinois, USA). How the schools are using it varies by program.

In terms of preference, LBS’ website suggests that they’ll accept either the Executive Assessment or the GMAT while CEIBS indicates a preference for the Executive Assessment. Columbia, the University of Chicago, and the University of Hong Kong will accept the GMAT, GRE or Executive Assessment, and INSEAD only lists the GMAT currently (as of 3/11/2016), but we can assume they’ll accept either  the GMAT or Executive Assessment for future applicants.

We’ll take a deeper look at the Executive Assessment and schools in our next article, but initial feedback seems positive. LBS’ blog touts it as a quality tool because it is “relevant to executives in terms of its content (much more focus on critical thinking, analysis and problem solving, and much less on pure mathematics and grammatical structures).” At Veritas Prep, we’re committed to staying abreast of the latest developments and trends in the graduate business space, and helping candidate identify the best assessment and mode of preparation.

Getting ready to take the GMAT? We have free online GMAT seminars running all the time. And, be sure to follow us on FacebookYouTubeGoogle+, and Twitter!

By Joanna Graham

Haas Introduces New Executive MBA Program

UC Berkeley (Haas) Admissions EssaysBack in March we reported that UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business and Columbia Business School would end their joint EMBA program. Now, three months after Columbia announced its own program, Haas has unveiled its own new EMBA program.

Starting in May, 2013, the new program will span 19 months and will meet every three weeks on Thursday through Saturday in a schedule designed to be very doable for working professionals. While most classes will be taught on the Haas campus, some sessions will held in other global locations depending on the market and the subject matter covered.
Continue reading “Haas Introduces New Executive MBA Program”

Could an Executive MBA Be Right for You?

Executive MBA AdmissionsAs unemployment rates hover steady and industries that once supported the global economy attempt the slow climb of recovery, business professionals are far less likely to job-hop from corporation to corporation and are generally more inclined to invest in fast-tracking their career paths within their current organizations.

An advanced degree in business administration designed specifically for those who already possess extensive work experience, the Executive MBA (EMBA) cultivates management acumen, nurtures leadership prowess and erases any existing gaps in hard skills. Earning an EMBA from a leading program has the potential to shift one’s function within their organization from individual contributor or mid-level manager to company leader, poising talented professionals to move into executive leadership roles despite a sluggish economy.

Something for Almost Everyone
Contrary to popular belief, one does not have to be a senior executive to matriculate in an executive MBA program. Executive MBA programs are designed for people who want to be an executive, recognizing that additional education could serve them well in that career pursuit. Accordingly, the term “executive” in Executive MBA should serve as less of an admission requisite and more as a signal of one’s career goal upon degree completion.

So who is leveraging the EMBA degree to position themselves as viable candidates for executive leadership roles? According to the EMBA Council, a global degreed executive education advocacy organization, the average Executive MBA students is 36.3 years and possesses 12.7 years of work experience prior to enrollment. More specifically, business school admissions officials have reported the majority of EMBA applicants tend to fall into one of four distinct groups.

Training Ground for the C-Suite
The first EMBA applicant group is composed of senior executives being groomed for CEO positions, for whom an EMBA can help to fill in skill gaps and credentials to smoothly transition into a leadership position when the option of returning to school is simply not practical. The second group, director-level professionals in their late 30s, often view the advanced degree as critical to distinguishing oneself from numerous employees vying for limited corporate leadership positions.

Senior managers working in a single corporate function, such as finance or operations, comprise the third EMBA applicant cohort, for whom the degree cultivates and hones skills outside of their specialty areas. Lastly, senior managers who have plateaued in their positions and are seeking to assume a wider range of management responsibilities can benefit from the diversified skill set associated with the EMBA curriculum.

A Smart Investment in Yourself
Pursuing an EMBA could represent a practical means of gaining the necessary competitive edge management professionals need to transition into the c-level suite for employees that are happy with their current organizations, and likewise, whose employers values their corporate contribution. While the EMBA degree has historically been underutilized among professionals looking to achieve accelerated career potential, awareness of and changing attitudes about the Executive MBA can serve to cultivate increased acceptance of the degree and help professionals reach their career objectives despite a slow economic recovery.

Trying to decide if an EMBA is right for you? Call us at (800) 925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today. And, as always, be sure to find us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter!

Photo courtesy of aweigend, under a Creative Commons license.

Alternative MBA Options: Part 2 (The EMBA)

A few weeks back we ran a post on part-time programs as part of a broader concept: finding and presenting alternative MBA options to those applicants who desire an MBA but do not fit the traditional profile for an elite, full-time MBA program. Today, we continue the theme by exploring the Exeuctive MBA (EMBA) and looking at some of the elite and interesting options available to students in that space.

As alternative paths go, EMBA programs aren’t as universally appropriate as part-time MBAs and the experience doesn’t come nearly as close to that of a full-time student, but for a select group of candidates, an EMPA is the ideal degree pursuit. Whenever applicants have north of eight years experience, are working in a management position, and simply need added fundamentals and pedigree, an EMBA is often a terrific choice. Another way to look at an EMBA is to think of it as a broader perspective on business issues — executive programs are often known as the view from “50,000 feet.”

Executive MBA programs often use a modular approach that takes students through all of the key functions of business and adds conflict resolution, ethical issues, EQ training, and presentation skills, which makes for a program designed to “round out” an already accomplished business professional. Ranging between 15 and 24 months in length, far more accessible from an admissions standpoint, and rather expensive (especially if the employer is not footing the bill), this is one way that quality candidates who are beyond the age range for full-time MBA programs can still get the kind of training, networking, and pedigree that they are seeking.

One the most interesting and noteworthy trends surrounding the executive MBA is that at present, fewer companies are sponsoring students (either fully or partially) than in years past. This is due in large part to current market conditions, but another theory suggests that employers are catching on to the fact that a large majority of EMBA students are positioning themselves for new jobs (either internally or externally) by attending the program. In other words, the return on investment is still worthwhile for the student, but is becoming less so for the company (at least in the short term) who might have sponsored that individual in the past. Many of the companies that are still aggressively sponsoring EMBA students are those that take a longer view on ROI and believe that they can create executives with advanced skills, networks, and problem-solving abilities by exposing them to the teachings, modules, and colleagues that an Exec MBA provides.

There are many attractive EMBA programs available, but the list is perhaps best split into two distinct groups: 1) Kellogg and Wharton, 2) Everybody Else. The primary difference is in the perception of the programs on the part of corporations, although that can be traced back to how closely the EMBA programs at Kellogg and Wharton emulate the training of the business schools’ full-time philosophies and methodologies. Actual students sometimes enjoy the experiences more at other great EMBA programs, but at present, the reputational prestige of “the big two” makes it hard to pass up Kellogg or Wharton in favor of another intriguing option.

As for gaining acceptance, most programs feature much lower average GMAT scores than their full-time counterparts or don’t require the GMAT at all, and favor far more management experience. Unlike part-time programs that can be a safe haven for both young and old applicants alike, EMBA programs are a much better fit for someone who is “too old” for traditional full-time work but has all the other tools and is looking for an edge in advancing his or her career. Most top programs feature a minimum work experience requirement ranging between five and seven years and often post an average work experience of 10 years and management experience of five years.

The Truly Elite EMBA Programs

Kellogg — A 22-month program that brings students to Northwestern’s Evanston campus every other weekend (Fridays and Saturdays), Kellogg features a dynamic curriculum housed in one of the best facilities the university has to offer. Group projects make up close to a third of the work in the Kellogg EMBA program, which provides for the sort of networking and leadership development often specific to full-time and part-time programs. Kellogg also offers an EMBA program in Miami and four partner programs (in Israel, Hong Kong, Germany, and Canada) and the total number of students in all seven programs (there are two in Evanston) comes to over 800 people. Average full-time work experience is 14 years and Kellogg requires a minimum of eight years of management experience (and 10 of work experience), resulting in an average age of close to 40. Only 15% of students self-fund and it is worth noting that the GMAT is not required. In other words, Kellogg is not the option for the traditional full-time student with a great GMAT score who is just a bit too old … this program is for honest-to-goodness executives.

Wharton — A unique aspect of Wharton is that the school offers two locations for its two-year executive program (“MBA Exec”): the Penn campus in Philadelphia and a second location in San Francisco that is known as “Wharton West.” Both locations feature a program that closely follows the blueprint of the full-time MBA, which is one of the things that makes Wharton so popular among EMBA students. Unlike other executive MBAs, this program “looks and feels” like a more traditional business school experience. While Wharton’s Exec MBA program does not feature the severe work experience requirements of Kellogg, the admissions process is quite competitive, with an acceptance rate near 25% and an average GMAT close to 700 (yes, the GMAT is required at Wharton). As for noteworthy industries, over half of the students in each class go into either finance or technology.

Other Great EMBA Options to Consider

Thunderbird — A program that students seem to enjoy and corporations also hold in high regard, Thunderbird is often viewed as a great international business school, but it also boasts an executive program that is among the very best in the nation. Shorter than some of the other top programs (16 months), Thunderbird features a high number of self-funded students (42%) and a broad range of management experience despite a fairly high number for average work experience (eight years). The school can request, but doesn’t require, the GMAT, and offers a great value at $75,000 ($50,000 less than Kellogg). Many EMBA programs go out of their way to create group projects and hands-on learning opportunities, but Thunderbird takes a page out of Harvard’s book and employs a teaching methodology that is heavy on case studies.

USC Marshall — USC Marshall more closely resembles Kellogg’s EMBA program than just about any other EMBA program on the west coast. Featuring averages of 14 years for work experience and 10 years for management, Marshall tends to attract a lot of “true executives” rather than near-miss traditional MBA students. It also features a very balanced teaching approach that includes simulations and team projects, with a lot of company-funded students. For those students who don’t have corporate backing, the price tag isn’t all that bad — just under $100,000 for a 21-month program based in Los Angeles.

North Carolina — The top-ranked school from the perspective of EMBA students, according to a recent Wall Street Journal ratings study, UNC’s Kenan-Flagler Business School is a top five overall option despite not receiving the same level of respect from many corporations that are polled for such rankings (UNC ranks 14th among corporations in the same WSJ poll). A 20-month program with pretty standard admissions requirements for work experience, Kenan-Flagler’s average GMAT score hovers just over 600, making it more accessible for many students. UNC is notable for the fact that 31% of students “self fund,” meaning they don’t rely on corporate sponsorship to participate in the program. People working in software and consumer goods seem to gravitate toward UNC, as nearly 50% of the class is made up of professionals from those two sectors. Finally, it is worth noting that the program cost — approximately $80,000 — is just over half that of Wharton’s, making for a very good deal.

Michigan — Ross is another EMBA program cut from the same cloth as Kellogg, featuring extensive work experience requirements (10 years total, five in management) and a high percentage of company-sponsored students. Perhaps not surprising, given its proximity to the major auto manufacturers, Ross stands out for the fact that over a quarter of the class works in the manufacturing industry (healthcare is another popular sector for Ross students). Ross isn’t cheap ($125,000) and it’s a pretty small class, but the GMAT isn’t required, so for someone with true executive experience, this could be a great option.

Name Brands with Quality EMBA Programs

The following are elite business schools with very solid EMBA options, with a notable comment for each:

Cornell (no minimum requirement for management experience)

Columbia (one of the most diverse EMBA programs)

Chicago Booth (huge percentage — 90% – of classes taught by tenured faculty members)

Duke Fuqua (a mere recommendation — 5 years — for minimum work experience rather than a requirement)

Haas (extremely diverse; extremely expensive)

NYU Stern (incorporates global studies better than almost any other program)

UCLA Anderson (extensive career service offerings)

Columbia-LBS (joint program that often requires a high GMAT score; only one-third of students are American citizens)

For more insight into part-time programs or MBA admissions, give us a call at (800) 925-7737. And, be sure to subscribe to this blog and follow us on Twitter!