Executive MBA Programs: Columbia Business School vs. NYU Stern | TopMBA.com

Executive MBA Programs: Columbia Business School vs. NYU Stern

By Karen Turtle

Updated June 29, 2020 Updated June 29, 2020

The QS EMBA Rankings 2020 placed Columbia and NYU Stern's executive MBA programs in the top 10 of the North America leader board (ranked ninth and eighth respectively). With both schools sharing the same city and elite status, what are the key factors that distinguish each executive MBA program offering? Here are some differences to take note of, drawn in part from data supplied by the QS EMBA 2020 rankings.

How Elite?

NYU Stern, in eight position, is one place ahead of Columbia in QS’s 2020 EMBA rankings for North America as opposed to last year’s rankings, where the two were in ninth and eighth position respectively. One reason NYU Stern gains a slightly higher recognition against the Ivy League school is its performance in the ranking indicator Executive Profile, on which 15% of an EMBA program’s ranking score is based.

Nevertheless, the tables do turn in the Employer Reputation and Thought Leadership ranking indicators, which combined are worth 55% of the overall ranking score. This considers the years of work experience, management experience and c-suite experience of students on an EMBA program. Columbia received nearly perfect scores in both categories, surpassing NYU Stern’s.

For candidates considering applying for an executive MBA at either school, the fees at Columbia Business School are currently listed at US$213,240, while full tuition at NYU Stern costs US$204,000.

The Executive MBA Experience

An executive MBA candidate considering either of these schools will first have to look at their work timetable. The Columbia Business School executive MBA program has different formats, allowing candidates to opt for their preferred schedule, such as taking classes every Saturday, every other Friday and Saturday or even in five-to-six-day-blocks held once a month. NYU Stern, meanwhile, offers a 22-month program with classes every other Friday and Saturday, beginning in either January or August.

Once enrolled, you will be thriving as part of a community of peers, be it at NYU Stern's bohemian Greenwich Village in Lower Manhattan, or Columbia's Business School's location in Morningside Heights, Upper Manhattan. Each university will have its established network of well-connected alumni across the city. As such, classes are likely to be peppered with lectures from top financiers, bankers or entrepreneurs, taking time out to share their expertise.

In terms of cohort diversity, Columbia received a much higher score than NYU Stern, whose rate plummeted from last year’s rankings.

Both institutions teach the essential core EMBA courses and offer a vast array of electives and specializations with which students can build and tailor expertise.

Post-Executive MBA Career Outcomes

Be it at Columbia or at Stern, the opportunities you will have made available to you, because it's New York, and because you are a student at a top-tier business school will be countless - the key is to take them. The largest employers in the city will include banks and corporations, such as PwCDeloitte, and Goldman Sachs – each of which have headquarters in New York.

Salaries a year on from graduating differ somewhat for executive MBAs from both institutions –the salary uplift for executive MBAs at Columbia is 20 percent, 10 percent lower than that calculated for EMBA graduates from Stern (a 30 percent salary increase).

Lastly, the schools' alumni networks: Columbia Business School says it has 46,000 alumni worldwide in its MBA talent pool, encompassing MBA and EMBA graduates. NYU Stern, for its part, draws candidates’ attention to an overall alumni network of over 105,000. While an international network of highly placed contacts is undeniably important, however, in the case of two such prestigious and renowned schools, one group is unlikely to hold any real advantage over the other.

Both schools can offer prospective students an excellent education through their executive MBA programs and valuable contacts, especially within New York City. Choosing which business school is best is a subjective decision that needs to be based on preferences; how international or intimate you want your class to be, for example, where you want to be situated, who is in which alumni network, members of faculty you might be keen to study under, and so on.  


This article was originally published in March 2017 and was most recently updated in June 2020 to include new rankings data.

This article was originally published in March 2017 . It was last updated in June 2020

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Written by

A content writer with a background in higher education, Karen holds an MA in modern languages from the University of St Andrews. Her interests include languages and literature, current affairs and film. ​

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