FAQ

What are the key differences between full-time, part-time, and executive MBA programs?

Written by Staff Editor

Updated: April 16, 2023, Reading time: 8 minutes

When it comes to pursuing a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree, there are several options available to students. The three most common types of MBA programs are full-time, part-time, and executive MBA programs. Each program has its unique features, advantages, and disadvantages. Understanding the differences between these programs can help prospective students make an informed decision about which type of MBA program is right for them.

Full-time MBA programs are designed for students who are willing to commit two years of their time to complete the degree. These programs typically require students to attend classes during the day, which can make it difficult for those who are already working or have other commitments.

Part-time MBA programs, on the other hand, are more flexible and allow students to attend classes in the evenings or on weekends. These programs are ideal for working professionals who want to continue working while pursuing their MBA.

Executive MBA programs, also known as EMBA programs, are designed for mid-career executives who want to enhance their leadership skills and advance their careers. These programs are typically offered on a part-time basis and are designed to be completed in two years or less. EMBA programs are more expensive than traditional MBA programs, but they offer several benefits such as networking opportunities with other executives and hands-on learning experiences.

MBA Ranker is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

Full-time MBA Programs

Overview

Full-time MBA programs are designed for students who want to immerse themselves in a rigorous academic experience. These programs typically last two years and require students to attend classes on campus during the day. Full-time MBA programs are ideal for students who want to focus solely on their studies and have the time and resources to do so.

Curriculum

Full-time MBA programs typically have a core curriculum that covers fundamental business topics such as accounting, finance, marketing, and operations. Students then have the opportunity to take elective courses in areas of interest. Many full-time MBA programs also offer experiential learning opportunities such as internships, consulting projects, and global immersion programs.

Admissions Criteria

Admissions criteria for full-time MBA programs vary by school, but typically include a combination of academic credentials, work experience, and personal characteristics. Schools often require applicants to submit transcripts, GMAT or GRE scores, essays, and letters of recommendation. Some schools also require applicants to participate in an admissions interview.

Time Commitment

Full-time MBA programs require a significant time commitment. Students are expected to attend classes during the day and often have additional coursework and assignments outside of class. Many students also participate in extracurricular activities such as clubs, conferences, and networking events. It is not uncommon for students in full-time MBA programs to spend 50-60 hours per week on their studies and activities.

Costs

Full-time MBA programs can be expensive, with tuition and fees ranging from $50,000 to over $100,000 per year. However, many schools offer financial aid in the form of scholarships, grants, and loans. Students may also be eligible for employer sponsorship or tuition reimbursement programs. It is important for students to carefully consider the costs and benefits of a full-time MBA program before making a decision.

Part-time MBA Programs

Overview

Part-time MBA programs offer more flexibility for working professionals who want to pursue an MBA degree while continuing to work. These programs are designed to accommodate the busy schedules of working students, allowing them to attend classes in the evenings or on weekends. Part-time MBA programs typically take longer to complete than full-time programs, lasting anywhere from two to four years.

Curriculum

The curriculum of a part-time MBA program is similar to that of a full-time program, covering topics such as finance, accounting, marketing, and management. However, part-time programs may offer fewer elective options than full-time programs. Additionally, part-time students may take fewer courses per term than full-time students.

Admissions Criteria

The admissions criteria for part-time MBA programs are generally the same as those for full-time programs. Applicants are typically required to have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution, a minimum GPA, and several years of work experience. Some programs may also require GMAT or GRE scores.

Time Commitment

Part-time MBA programs require a significant time commitment, as students must balance work, school, and personal responsibilities. Part-time students may take one or two courses per term, attending classes in the evenings or on weekends. The time commitment for part-time students varies depending on the program and the student’s course load.

Costs

The cost of a part-time MBA program is typically lower than that of a full-time program, as part-time students pay for each course as they take it. However, the total cost of a part-time program can still be significant, as students may take several years to complete the program. Additionally, part-time students may not be eligible for the same scholarships and financial aid opportunities as full-time students.

Executive MBA Programs

Overview

Executive MBA programs are designed for experienced professionals who want to continue working while pursuing their MBA degree. Typically, EMBA programs are offered on a part-time basis, with classes held on weekends or in the evenings. EMBA programs usually last between 15 and 24 months.

Curriculum

EMBA programs tend to focus less on business basics and more on leadership and strategic thinking. The curriculum is designed to help students develop the skills they need to lead organizations and make strategic decisions. Courses may include topics such as leadership, decision-making, and global business.

Admissions Criteria

EMBA programs typically require applicants to have several years of work experience, usually at least 10 years. Many programs also require applicants to have a certain level of managerial experience. In addition, applicants must have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution.

Time Commitment

EMBA programs are designed for working professionals, so the time commitment is less than that of a full-time MBA program. However, students should still expect to spend a significant amount of time on coursework and assignments. Most EMBA programs require students to attend classes on weekends or in the evenings, which can be challenging for those with busy work schedules.

Costs

EMBA programs tend to be more expensive than full-time MBA programs, with tuition ranging from $75,000 to $200,000. However, many employers offer tuition reimbursement or other financial assistance to employees who pursue an EMBA degree. In summary, EMBA programs are designed for experienced professionals who want to continue working while pursuing their MBA degree. The curriculum focuses on leadership and strategic thinking, and the time commitment is less than that of a full-time MBA program. However, EMBA programs tend to be more expensive than full-time MBA programs.

Key Differences between Full-time, Part-time, and Executive MBA Programs

Full-time, part-time, and executive MBA programs are all designed to provide students with the knowledge and skills necessary to succeed in the business world. However, there are some key differences between these programs that students should be aware of when deciding which program is right for them.

The table below summarizes the key differences between full-time, part-time, and executive MBA programs:

FactorFull-time MBAPart-time MBAExecutive MBA
Target AudienceEarly- to mid-career professionalsWorking professionalsExperienced executives and managers
Program Length2 years2-4 years18-24 months
Class ScheduleFull-time, on-campusPart-time, evenings and weekendsPart-time, weekends and occasional week-long residencies
Work Experience1-5 yearsVaries, but typically 5-10 years10+ years
TuitionHighLower than full-time MBAHigher than part-time MBA, but lower than full-time MBA

Full-time MBA programs are designed for early- to mid-career professionals who are looking to make a career change or accelerate their career growth. These programs are typically full-time and on-campus, with a rigorous curriculum that covers all aspects of business management.

Part-time MBA programs are designed for working professionals who want to earn an MBA while continuing to work. These programs are typically offered in the evenings and on weekends, allowing students to balance work and school. Part-time MBA programs are often less expensive than full-time MBA programs, but they may take longer to complete.

Executive MBA programs are designed for experienced executives and managers who want to enhance their leadership skills and expand their business knowledge. These programs are typically part-time and offered on weekends, with occasional week-long residencies. Executive MBA programs are often more expensive than part-time MBA programs, but less expensive than full-time MBA programs.

Conclusion

After examining the key differences between full-time, part-time, and executive MBA programs, it becomes clear that each option has its own unique advantages and disadvantages.

Full-time MBA programs offer a more immersive and intense experience, allowing students to fully focus on their studies and complete the program in a shorter amount of time. However, they may not be feasible for students who need to work or have other commitments.

Part-time MBA programs, on the other hand, offer greater flexibility and allow students to balance work and other responsibilities while pursuing their degree. However, they may take longer to complete and may not offer the same level of networking opportunities as full-time programs.

Executive MBA programs are designed for experienced professionals who want to advance their careers while continuing to work. These programs offer a unique blend of business theory and practical application, and often include networking opportunities with other high-level executives.

However, they can be quite expensive and require a significant time commitment. Ultimately, the choice between full-time, part-time, and executive MBA programs will depend on the individual’s goals, lifestyle, and career aspirations. It is important to carefully consider all options and choose the program that best fits one’s needs and circumstances.