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3 Things You Absolutely Must Have Before You Apply To An EMBA Program

Have you been weighing whether an Executive MBA (EMBA) program is the right next move for your career? Designed for mid-career professionals with more than ten years of work experience, typically including managerial experience, an EMBA can be a great way to hone your leadership skills and take your career to the next level.

However, like a traditional MBA program, an EMBA comes at a steep cost, both in terms of the tuition fee and the amount of time it takes. And unlike a traditional MBA, an EMBA is designed for students who will continue in their full-time job during their schooling.


Before you make the leap and start applying to business schools, there are three things you need to have in place to ensure your success:


One of the perks of enrolling in an EMBA program is the part-time schedule, which lets you continue working while you complete your studies. But the other side of that coin is that you do need to devote significant time outside of work to complete your schooling. Unlike a traditional program, where you pause your career and are able to focus exclusively on school, in an EMBA program you need to be able to do both.

The people who pursue EMBAs are typically talented, driven professionals – and they’re also typically not the type to put down their work at 5 o’clock on the dot and sprint for the door. If you want to do well in an EMBA program, you need to find a way to disengage from work when you enter “school mode” (and vice versa).

Don’t underestimate the time it will take. People pursue EMBAs at all stages of life, but it’s important not to underestimate the impact the workload will have on your personal and professional life. It will be much harder to make an appearance at post-work Happy Hours when you know you’ve got two days of classes coming up, and you’ll have less time for your family when you’re preparing for a group presentation.


Because of the intense time commitment and workload, students in an EMBA program must have a strong support system in place – both personal and professional.

Fewer companies these days are offering full financial support for employees pursuing an EMBA, but most business schools do still require a letter of support from the student’s hiring organization. This ensures that the student will have the time they need away from work in order to attend all their classes and succeed in the program.

Personal support will also be key to your success in an EMBA program. If you have a partner or children, they need to understand – and be on board with – the magnitude of the commitment you’re making.

Berkeley Haas, for example, suggests that students in the Haas EMBA program typically spend about 20 hours a week on schoolwork. That’s in addition to the three-day residential periods every three weeks, and the immersion weeks that occur five times throughout the program. Different programs will have different scheduling specifics, but they all require your time – and a lot of it.

Have a plan in place before you begin your schooling for how you’ll handle the time commitments, and do what you can to mitigate the demands on your schedule. Outsource tasks and look for additional support whenever possible, whether it’s hiring a cleaning service, investing in meal delivery, or relying on family support or a nanny for babysitting services.

You may find as time goes on and you get a handle on your workload that you can cut down on the outside help you need, but what you don’t want is to burn out early by trying to do it all yourself. An EMBA is an investment in your career and your family’s future; treat your investment wisely.


If you’re going to justify the enormous commitment of time and money required to complete an EMBA, you have to have a very good reason. You need to know your purpose. We have helped numerous clients with less work tenure and below the average age for EMBA programs secure admission to leading EMBA programs by helping them communicate the value they will bring to their target EMBA program and quality and impact of their experience. Showing their value and clarity of purpose was a major selling point for their success.

There are about as many reasons to get an EMBA as there are students in EMBA programs. People enroll in order to qualify for an executive-level position in their organization, because they want to start a business, because they want to change industries or job functions. What you shouldn’t do is pursue an EMBA without a purpose, just because it seems like “the logical next step”.

Understanding your purpose, your “reason why”, is the key toward a successful business school experience. Remembering it will help you stay focused when you’re starting to feel burnt out by the workload. You’ll also be more likely to get enthusiastic support from your loved ones when they understand your purpose for going back to school.

Finally, being clear about your purpose will let you make a much more convincing argument to the admissions committee about why you will be an excellent addition to their institution, and it will keep you focused on what you need to accomplish while you’re in school.

Taking the Plunge

When you’re ready to make the commitment to apply to business school, EXPARTUS can help. Remember what we said about getting the support you need? Email us to find out how we can help you cut through the indecision, choose the program that’s right for you, and build a compelling, competitive application package.