What Are the Different Types of MBA Program? | TopMBA.com

What Are the Different Types of MBA Program?

By QS Contributor

Updated May 26, 2022 Updated May 26, 2022

Before attending an MBA event, it’s important to understand the different types of MBA programs available to assess your requirements and goals. Once you have an idea about what you’re looking for, you can explore your options further by discussing your study plans face-to-face with admissions representatives and alumni.

Full-time MBA

The full-time MBA is exactly that: one to two years of full-time graduate study. Participants attend weekday classes at a business school and will need to dedicate 12 to 24 months of their life to the degree – there is very little, if any time, for additional work, travel or leisure activities.

Two-year MBA programs are most common in North America. They allow participants to become immersed in their studies and often provide a period of time to embark on an internship. One-year MBA programs are the norm in Europe. These programs are incredibly intensive and time-consuming as everything is taught within 12 months. There is no opportunity for internships, but it does mean participants are only out of the workforce for one year.

You can find our ranking of the best full-time MBA programs in the world here.

Part-time MBA

The part-time MBA degree is a full-time program studied over three or more years. Participants can continue to work while they study as classes are held during evenings or over weekends.

Accelerated MBA

The accelerated MBA is a variation on the two-year program. Participants can expect a higher course load and a more intensive class schedule. There is also less time in between semesters and the summer break is much shorter than usual. Accelerated MBAs are typically one year long.

Online MBA

Many business schools have responded to the needs of participants and are now offering an online MBA degree. Participants can gain the qualification from the comfort of their own home and apply it immediately in their everyday work. However, studying for an online MBA requires high levels of self-discipline and time management.

Initially, online and distance learning MBA programs were not thought to be of the same caliber as those offered on campus – participants were seen to be missing out on classroom debate and interaction with colleagues. However, many employers have now realized the commitment an online MBA requires of an individual and today, an online MBA degree is just as valued in the workforce as that of an MBA acquired in the classroom.

Distance learning MBA

The key difference between a distance learning MBA and an online MBA is that the former requires participants to attend class at some time during their studies. For the majority of the time, participants studying a distance learning MBA will learn via interactive video, pre-recorded video, teleconferencing and online or offline computer courses.

Many distance learning MBA programs also require participants to organize meetings with their ‘online’ classmates as well as attending classes, usually held on weekends, at various times throughout the program. This type of course delivery can sometimes be referred to as blended learning, especially as we are seeing business schools take advantage of mobile or smart technology.

You can find our rankings of the best Distance/Online MBA programs in the world here.

Executive MBA (EMBA)

Executive MBA (EMBA) programs are designed for the experienced working professional who cannot afford to take a prolonged period of time away from their career. The EMBA program is delivered in a part-time format, over a period of 12 to 24 months, allowing participants to study while they work.

Business schools look for EMBA participants with a high level of managerial experience (five years minimum; ten years total work experience on average), and as a result EMBA candidates are usually more mature than their full-time MBA counterparts. Due to the nature of the EMBA, participants require support, and often financial assistance, from their organization. Employer approval is crucial for the EMBA as this ensures participants can attend the course on a regular basis. EMBA classrooms are made up of a range of executives with varying backgrounds, job functions and positions.

You can find our ranking of the best EMBA programs in the world here.

Global EMBA (also known as GEMBA)

The global EMBA is a modular EMBA that has participants experiencing not only a different classroom environment, but different countries and cultures at the same time. Global EMBA programs are often combined programs between different schools or campuses of the same school in different corners of the globe. Global EMBA programs are competitive and also usually more expensive. Participants must not only deal with the workload but also the travel involved on such a program. However, being able to study in different financial and business hubs around the world only adds to the GEMBA experience.

Joint EMBA (also includes Consortia and Multi-Institution programs)

Similar in style to the global EMBA, multi-institution or joint MBA programs allow participants to experience a variety of teaching styles and curricula on different campuses. These programs can be delivered by two to up to six partner institutions.

You can find our ranking of the best Joint EMBA programs in the world here.

Modular EMBA

The modular EMBA is intensive. It requires participants to immerse themselves into the EMBA classroom for allotted periods of time (usually from one to two weeks) once every few months (rather than weekly or fortnightly classes). This requires participants to take prolonged periods of time away from their work, but some choose to dedicate their annual leave or vacation weeks to study, and as a result, spend less time away from the office overall.

The workload of each module is heavy, and participants are expected to focus completely on their EMBA qualification during this time. Depending on their place of residence, some candidates will need to travel to another country for their modular EMBA. It can be taken over one or two years.

This article was originally published in July 2013 and updated in June 2020 to reflect new data.

This article was originally published in December 2020 . It was last updated in May 2022

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