Best Executive MBA Degree Programs in 2021

Your Guide to Career, Curriculum and Education

Pursuing an MBA is big time commitment for you and for those close to you, even more so for those with full-time careers looking for executive education. However, an Executive MBA is an excellent way to achieve the pinnacle of business education while lessening the impact it has on your schedule, including work and family responsibilities.

Why Should You Get an Online Executive MBA


Executive salaries vary considerably at all levels. Getting an MBA can not only grant you access to opportunities in higher levels of the corporate world, but you'll find it can also mean a higher salary. On average, an MBA can increase wages by 5-15%, on average. Companies may also view applicants with this MBA as leaders who are more experienced than others in their cohort.

That said, here’s a look at the median salaries by experience level and education:

What Can You Do With an Executive MBA?


Once you earn your eMBA, you need to know what it will do in your current and future work roles.

  • Chief executive officer
    Salary: Earns about $878,000 in total compensation

    Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) are often the highest-ranking individuals within a company or organization. They are responsible for identifying and developing policies, as well as providing overall direction to employees. CEOs frequently design, oversee, and manage the operational activities of the facility or facilities by effectively delegating and utilizing the skills of other executives and department administrators. While they are the primary decision-makers, CEOs are responsible for adhering to guidelines established by a board of directors.

  • Chief financial officer
    Salary: $125,080

    Chief Financial Officers (CFOs) are responsible for maintaining the company or organization’s financials by establishing long-term financial goals, developing strategies to meet those goals, directing investment activities, and providing essential financial reports. These professionals often report directly to the Chief Executive Officer and work closely with the Chief Operating Officer regarding budgeting matters. CFOs are also in charge of creating and reviewing financial reports to help determine ways to reduce the overall cost of operation.

  • Chief operating officer
    Salary: $231,080

    Chief Operating Officers (COOs) serve as an integral member of a company or organization’s senior management team and assists in the oversight of general business operations. These professionals are responsible for helping to develop policies, orchestrating the utilization of resources, managing employees, and overseeing overall operations on a daily basis. In most cases, the COO reports directly to the Chief Executive Officer and is considered to be second-in-command.

  • Chief marketing officer
    Salary: $129,380

    Chief Marketing Officers (CMOs) ensure that the company or organization’s primary message is properly distributed to potential customers by planning, directing, and coordinating appropriate marketing policies and programs. These professionals are usually responsible for identifying possible clients and assessing possible demand for new products and/or services. CMOs frequently work with art directors and advertising sales agents to plan marketing campaigns, promotions, events, and giveaways. They also coordinate with financial staff members to developing appropriate pricing strategies.

  • Chief information officer
    Salary: $139,220

    Chief Information Officers (CIOs), often referred to as Information Technology Directors, are senior executive team members responsible for company or organization IT and computer systems. These professionals are usually in charge of overseeing the IT department, setting technology objectives, and establishing strategies for success. They are also in charge of selecting, installing, and providing support for the network and other tech intended to simplify and optimize overall productivity.

  • Chief human resources officer
    Salary: $110,120

    Chief Human Resource Officers (CHROs) develop and execute human resource strategies that align with a company or organization’s strategic plan and direction. These professionals are directly responsible for overseeing the planning, recruitment, interview, selection of applicants, and hiring processes, as well as bridging the gap between senior management and all other employees. CHROs are also in charge of overseeing staff benefit programs each year, performing a search for the best benefits, providing advice on human resources issues, mediating employee disputes, and enforcing disciplinary procedures.

  • General counsel
    Salary: $119,250

    General Counsel is responsible for overseeing a company or organization’s risk management practices, as well as ensuring all compliance requirements are met. These professionals provide effective legal advice regarding goals, strategies, and methods to those in senior management positions. Chief Counsel also actively takes part in complex business transactions, especially when negotiation is necessary, and creates and reviews critical documents and contracts.

Types of Executive MBA Degrees


  • Managerial Accounting eMBA.
    Average Salary: $125,080, as of 2018.
    Length: 2 years

    This executive measures the financial performance of their firm, then reports on its financial health in comparison to the market. They also specialize in the concepts of cost and managerial accounting. They direct and report analytics on investment activity and develop and direct strategies for the long-term financial plans and goals of their company.

  • Information Technology eMBA
    Average Salary: $139,220, as of 2018
    Length: 2 years

    This executive plans, develops, and coordinates computer-related activities in their company. By staying on top of IT developments, they are able to set the path of the company’s IT goals, plus they are tasked with implementing new computer systems to meet established goals.

  • Marketing Management eMBA
    Average Salary: $129,380
    Length: 3 years

    This executive works in an exciting and growing field. They are responsible for guiding their organization through the competitive and crowded marketing field as they work to position their company at or close to the top. They are responsible for tracking consumer behavior, and product and brand management. This executive works and directs advertising promotions. They also plan promotional programs that help to connect with the market and generate interest and excitement about the company’s main services and products. They have graphic designers, art directors, sales agents, and financial staff on their team who aid them toward these goals.

Sample Curriculum & Courses for Executive Programs


As you prepare to register for classes in your eMBA program, you should know what courses you’ll be taking.

One eMBA program requires the following core courses:

  • Analytical Tools
    This course gives you the foundation you need for decision analysis and statistics. From the simulation modeling process, you learn how to apply the basic techniques of data analysis in making managerial decisions and integrating innovation. It is intended for someone who is already at the managerial level.
  • Business Strategy
    Here, you’ll hone your existing skills in closely analyzing the strategies that corporations use at every level, domestic and international. Again, this business school course is aimed at current managers.
  • Business Communication
    This course is completely about writing in the business environment. You’ll learn best practices for both speaking and writing. This course is intended for men and women in middle management and higher.
  • Developing Management and Leadership Skills
    You’ll make your leadership and management skills sharper, so that when you are facing complex issues or difficult options, you’ll be able to gather your team around and motivate them to complete difficult tasks. This course is designed for management employees.
  • Financial Accounting
    You’ll learn about how important this job role is in business. Its importance to the development, growth, and maintenance of a business is also covered. This course is intended for managers who have not yet moved up to middle management.
  • Economics
    You’ll work on the basic economic principles that are most important to the MBA business core. This course is designed for middle management.

Best MBA in Executive Colleges


University of Virginia Location
Charlottesville, VA
Tuition In-State
$17,076
Tuition Out-of-State
$28,604
Retention %
97%
Graduation %
94%
Average Salary
$131,600
Hybrid
NA
Part-Time
NA
Student-to-faculty
15:1
Columbia University in the City of New York Location
New York City, NY
Tuition In-State
$77,376
Tuition Out-of-State
$77,376
Retention %
99%
Graduation %
96%
Average Salary
$149,300
Hybrid
NA
Part-Time
NA
Student-to-faculty
6:1
Emory University Location
Atlanta, GA
Tuition In-State
$43,800
Tuition Out-of-State
$43,800
Retention %
95%
Graduation %
90%
Average Salary
$128,700
Hybrid
NA
Part-Time
NA
Student-to-faculty
9:1
University of California-Irvine Location
Irvine, CA
Tuition In-State
$11,442
Tuition Out-of-State
$26,544
Retention %
94%
Graduation %
85%
Average Salary
$77,222
Hybrid
NA
Part-Time
Yes
Student-to-faculty
18:1
Seattle University Location
Seattle, WA
Tuition In-State
$13,500
Tuition Out-of-State
$13,500
Retention %
88%
Graduation %
73%
Average Salary
$117,500
Hybrid
NA
Part-Time
Yes
Student-to-faculty
11:1
Georgetown University Location
Washingto, DC
Tuition In-State
$53,136
Tuition Out-of-State
$53,136
Retention %
97%
Graduation %
94%
Average Salary
$118,000
Hybrid
NA
Part-Time
NA
Student-to-faculty
11:1
Saint Mary's College of California Location
Moraga, CA
Tuition In-State
$33,509
Tuition Out-of-State
$33,509
Retention %
84%
Graduation %
73%
Average Salary
$121,700
Hybrid
NA
Part-Time
NA
Student-to-faculty
11:1
University of Missouri-Columbia Location
Columbia, MO
Tuition In-State
$9,478
Tuition Out-of-State
$25,946
Retention %
88%
Graduation %
73%
Average Salary
$105,400
Hybrid
NA
Part-Time
NA
Student-to-faculty
17:1
George Mason University Location
Fairfax, VA
Tuition In-State
$12,594
Tuition Out-of-State
$33,906
Retention %
86%
Graduation %
72%
Average Salary
$107,100
Hybrid
Yes
Part-Time
Yes
Student-to-faculty
17:1
Bradley University Location
Peoria, IL
Tuition In-State
$16,740
Tuition Out-of-State
$16,740
Retention %
85%
Graduation %
76%
Average Salary
$105,400
Hybrid
NA
Part-Time
Yes
Student-to-faculty
12:1
Full Ranking Report

Who Should Consider Getting This Degree?


Educational background
This major is highly advanced, so it’s not right for everyone. You need the right educational background. At the least, you need a bachelor’s degree in some field related to business. If you already have a master’s degree in engineering, law, computer science, or medicine, this makes you an excellent candidate.

Current position and organizational support
This is a highly demanding educational program. You’ll spend several hours weekly preparing for your online classes. You should already be in a position where you can apply the skills and knowledge you’ll learn in the virtual classroom. It’s likely that you’ll have to obtain the sponsorship and support of your employer. One of the top managers in your company will be critical in this role, especially if one is an alumni of your educational institution.

Professional experience
You should have prior professional experience so you will understand class materials. Your work history will be documented before your acceptance into the program. If you already have a record of significant achievement, this will be a good predictor that you will succeed in the academics of the eMBA program.

Motivation and temperament
Your personality should be the type that gives you the drive and energy to stay with the program and succeed. With the right degree of ambition, you’ll be able to distinguish yourself from fellow students. In short, if you possess the “type A” personality, you’re ideally suited for this educational program. However, “type B” thinkers and creators are also often successful.

Career goals
Know how you want to use this degree when you graduate. You need to be able to elaborate on these plans throughout the program. If you have your eye on a specific position within your company, the eMBA may help you qualify for it even more. If you’re currently working for an employer, but you plan to strike out on your own, explain this to program instructors. They need to know you’re ready to commit to the hard work required of the eMBA student.

How to Choose the Right Program


  • Convenience
    Your online eMBA program should offer convenience, allowing you to continue working as you study in your off hours. Ideally, you should expect to attend with your classmates virtually or on campus every few weeks or on the weekend, even for a full-time MBA program, without putting your existing career to the side.

  • Advancement
    The right eMBA program enables you to position yourself for advancement sooner than if you had not chosen to go back to school.

  • Expertise
    Expanding your expertise in a given niche of business means you’re going to be even more valuable to your employer. From competitive positioning to accurately forecasting business conditions, you’ll be able to put your employer in a position to advance itself.

  • Leadership
    The right eMBA program allows you to develop your innate leadership skills. Look for a program that stresses leadership.

  • Flexibility
    You need a program flexible enough for you to stay at work. Your online courses should be scheduled at a time that works for you—or they should allow you to check in when it’s convenient for you.

  • Advanced curriculum
    Taught by top faculty, your classes should challenge you and your current way of thinking. You'll also learn from fellow students and people in your industry, thus enriching your experience.

  • Global perspective
    Most countries in the world rely on other countries. Your eMBA program should expose you to eMBA students in cities around the world, allowing you to develop your leadership skills.

Potential Scholarships to Consider


Getting a scholarship to help finance your Executive MBA education is a great way to supplement the tuition cost. You may also be able to obtain financial aid or even have your tuition paid in full by your employer.

  • eMBA Class of 2009 Scholarship
    Exclusively for eMBA students with an overall GPA of 3.0. Required to have an undergraduate degree from an accredited institution, with five years of professional work experience. Students who are already self-funding their eMBA degrees will receive preference.

  • Gary Garesche eMBA Memorial Scholarship Fund
    Must be enrolled as a graduate student in the eMBA program in the UCF College of Business Executive MBA program. Passion and desire for learning are major qualifiers. Financial need is considered.

  • NAFOA Scholarships
    Aimed at Native American and Alaska Native students pursuing a Master’s degree at an accredited university. Student must be working toward their degree within a financially related business discipline including, but not limited to accounting, business, economics, finance and marketing. Must provide proof of tribal enrollment, a transcript, proof of university enrollment, a personal statement, one letter of recommendation, a list of honors and awards received, a list of community involvement, volunteer activities and a photograph. Students are chosen based on interest in business and finance, academic merit and proof of a demonstrated commitment to their Native community.

  • Post-9/11 GI Bill
    Post-9/11 GI Bill (Chapter 33) offers benefits to veterans who served on active duty for the U.S. since 9/11. Based on length of service, the veteran receives a housing allowance and book allowance, as well as a percentage of resident tuition and fees. If the veteran qualifies for 100 percent of the benefit, then, the entire cost for the MBA for Executives program will be covered by the VA.

  • VA’s Yellow Ribbon Program
    VA’s Yellow Ribbon Program, for veteran executive MBA students. This is a matching fund option for U.S. military veterans who served a minimum of 36 months and also qualify for 100 percent of the Post-9/11 GI Bill Benefit.

  • Hazlewood Exemption provides qualified veterans
    Hazlewood Exemption provides qualified veterans, their spouses and children an education benefit of up to 150 hours of tuition and fees. This defrays just a portion of the eMBA program cost.

MBA Degrees, Career Paths & Resources