Executive MBA Application – Tips & Suggestions

July 16, 2013 | by Matt Symonds

Fortuna AdmissionsDina Glasofer, was the Senior Associate Director of Admissions for the Executive MBA program at NYU Stern. Below she shares her insider tips for applying to an EMBA.

Who should consider an Executive MBA (EMBA) program?

If you have more than five years of work experience, you might want to consider an Executive MBA (EMBA) program. Although Executive MBA programs might imply executive level by the name, it is not necessary to be in an executive role, although some EMBA students are in very senior level positions. Many EMBA programs include mid-career working professionals with five to fifteen years of work experience so if this sounds like you, investigate more. Some EMBA programs require more than five years of work experience (such as Kellogg and MIT, which look for at least eight years of work experience) so it’s important to look into the requirements for each school. EMBA programs are great for students who are currently working and who want to complete their MBA program in two years or less.  If you have strong work experience and do not want to take the GMAT (or are not sure if your GMAT scores are high enough), looking into Executive MBA programs could be a good option to consider.


How much should I focus on the GMAT as a component of my application?

Most business schools consider the GMAT as one of several factors in selecting candidates for admission.  However, you will find that some EMBA programs do not require the GMAT or place less emphasis on GMAT scores relative to other components of your application. Many EMBA programs do not publish their average GMAT scores (although some do, such as Wharton and Duke) so it is worth speaking to admissions representatives at your schools of interest since they may provide some insight regarding a range of GMAT scores to be considered a competitive applicant. With EMBA programs, your quality of work experience is often weighed more heavily, along with other factors that indicate your ability for continued success at work, relative to the GMAT. While you should still focus on the GMAT for schools that do require it, you can also emphasize other aspects of your application that represent a proven track record (such as success on the job, achievements, promotions, etc).


How can I demonstrate my quantitative abilities?

It is important to demonstrate strong quantitative abilities as an applicant to an EMBA program so if you have concerns about this, there are several ways to address this. If you did not take quantitative classes as an undergraduate or of if you do not feel that your undergraduate grades reflect your abilities, consider taking the GMAT or a quantitative class as a local accredited school. This can show your commitment to wanting to pursue your MBA and can help overcome any past issues that you are concerned about.  See if you can also take on a quantitative project at your current job to give you real-life analytical experience that you can include in your application and to speak about during your interview. What better experience than a real-world example to demonstrate your quantitative competency and your ability to contribute in the classroom.


How important is company sponsorship as part of my application?

In the past, most EMBA students received financial sponsorship from their employers to cover their education. However, times have changed and although some students are fully sponsored, many students are sponsoring themselves partially or fully. While financial sponsorship is not a requirement to apply to a program, many EMBA schools require proof of time sponsorship from your current employer. This shows that your employer allows you to take time off of work on class days. It is important to speak to your employer early on in the application process to get their consent. Think about how to make the case for why an EMBA education is important and how it can benefit your employer. Come up with examples of situations in which you believe an MBA education will help you and benefit your company financially.


How should I begin researching different EMBA programs?

As a more experienced working professional, you should first consider which programs would work with your professional and personal obligations. Many EMBA students have families and traveling out of state is not always an option, although it is for many students, so figure out what is right for you. If you need to stay local then consider the local area schools and begin by researching their curriculum, faculty, community, and reputation on their websites. Most EMBA programs offer information sessions where you can meet program staff, students and alumni so make sure to attend these. If the program offers class visits you should sit in on a class to experience the program for yourself and you will have an opportunity to meet current students. If you can travel out of town regularly, speak to other current students in the program who travel to see what it’s like for them. Speak to colleagues, friends or other acquaintances who have attended the schools you are considering and use them as a resource to answer your questions. You can also follow many programs through social media to give you a better sense of each different school.


When should I apply to an EMBA program?

There are a number of different program formats and start dates for EMBA schools so begin investigating different options early on. While many schools start classes in the fall, others start in the winter or spring so it’s important to be aware of different deadlines and important dates. It’s always advisable to start the process early and allow for a few months to prepare for the GMAT if you need to take it. Many schools take your highest score so if you are concerned that you need to take the GMAT more than once give yourself time. Most schools publish their school calendars in advance so look into the schedule and make sure that it will work for you. Make sure to ask if there are any week-long retreats or study trips since some programs require these and you will want to arrange your work and personal commitments around these. Make sure to also give your recommenders enough time (several weeks) to complete their recommendations.


How should I prepare for my interview?

The interview is an opportunity for you to sell yourself and to get across information that might not come across in your application. It is also an opportunity for the school to assess you and determine if you are a good fit for the program. Make sure you have done your research on the school and are familiar with the program in advance. You should also think about your key professional accomplishments, your personal strengths, and think about several work examples that demonstrate your professional skills. Make sure you are clear about your short term and long-term career goals and why enrolling in an EMBA program is right for you at this point in your career. It is important to be personable and interested in the program and you should also think about questions that you’d like to ask. Remember to always be courteous to all program staff.


How should I prepare for the time commitment required by an EMBA program?

If you are considering an EMBA program the likelihood is that you will be working full time while also attending a rigorous academic program. It’s important to start thinking now about how you will manage your rigorous schedule. Be realistic about what sacrifices you will need to make and speak openly to your family members and work colleagues and managers about this. If you will be attending classes on Fridays, think about ways to handle your absence and make sure that your plan gets the go-ahead from your employer. Many EMBA programs suggest that you allocate an additional 10-15 hours per week, sometimes more, for work outside of the classroom so make sure you build this into your schedule. You can also speak to current students for tips about how they balance their schedules.

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