North America’s Top 2 EMBA Programs Compared |

North America’s Top 2 EMBA Programs Compared

By Julia G

Updated April 23, 2019 Updated April 23, 2019

The University of Pennsylvania’s The Wharton School took first place in this year’s regional executive MBA (EMBA) rankings for North America, just ahead of MIT Sloan School of Management.

Behemoths of the global elite category of business schools, these institutions have a firm hold of their positions at the top, but what really sets these schools and their executive MBA program offerings apart?

How do Wharton and Sloan compare?

The Wharton School’s EMBA program is two years in length and is offered on a biweekly basis in which students’ study on Fridays and Saturdays, with some three-day weekends. Executive MBA students can study at the school’s historic Philadelphia campus, or they can go west to Wharton's campus in San Francisco, just a stone's throw from Silicon Valley and the thriving Bay Area business hub. 

MIT Sloan is based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, home to another one of the world’s leading universities, Harvard. This student city has good links to Boston and is known for its liberal and entrepreneurial atmosphere. The 20-month program is comprised of 26 weeklong sessions (Friday to Saturday), four weeklong executive modules, and one weeklong international project trip.

Both business schools boast high reputations for academic excellence (thought leadership), achieving a perfect score in this indicator in QS’s EMBA rankings. For students interested in particular specializations, it is worth being aware of Wharton's longstanding expertise and strength in finance, and MIT Sloan’s history of being specialists in technology and innovation.

In addition, Wharton emphasizes that its executive MBA and full-time MBA are fully equivalent, in terms of content and quality. This extends to those who opt to study in San Francisco as Wharton flies its Pennsylvania faculty to its West Coast campus to ensure all MBAs, independent of format, are receiving an equal standard of course delivery.

Prestige comes at a price, however. The total cost of the EMBA program for students who enroll at MIT Sloan will be US$178,302, inclusive of tuition, textbooks and basic travel costs for global modules. The Wharton School's fees are US$210,900, including tuition, course materials, and room and board for class days.

What are the international components of each program?

Wharton and MIT Sloan both cover core management courses in the first year, and these are modified to take the advanced experience of senior professionals on board. In the second year, EMBA candidates get the opportunity to choose electives that fit their chosen career paths and ambitions. Included in the second year at both Wharton and MIT Sloan are required, weeklong international courses.

Wharton’s ‘Global Business Week’ mixes EMBA students from Philadelphia and San Francisco at their choice of up to five study destinations – most recently these options encompassed South Africa, Spain, Cuba, China and Southeast Asia. The topics devised are country-relevant.

When looking at international study options attached to these two high-profile EMBAs, it’s important to note that Wharton also offers Global Modular Courses, in addition to their compulsory international travel weeks. These immersive electives are delivered as short, full-credit and half-credit courses in an intensive workshop format in a country relevant for the topic, such as energy and infrastructure in Brazil.

What can you expect from your executive MBA classmates?

How do the two EMBA program cohorts compare at Wharton and MIT Sloan? When comparing the class of 2020 at Wharton with the class of 2020 at MIT Sloan, MIT’s cohort is significantly older, with an average age of 41 to Wharton’s 35. Unsurprisingly, this means that MIT’s class has more work experience, with 17 years compared to Wharton’s 11.

In the class of 234 students at Wharton, there are 28 countries represented, and around 32 percent of the class are female. A diverse set of industries are represented, including consulting, government and military, healthcare, manufacturing, and professional services. 51 percent of the class of 2019 at Wharton have advanced degrees.

MIT Sloan’s class of 2020 is made up of 126 students, of whom 48 percent are international and 34 percent are women. A broad range of industries are represented, most notably healthcare and hospitals (15 percent), software and technology (13 percent) and financial services (13 percent). 59 percent of the class have advanced degrees, and 83 percent are at a director level or above in their organizations.

Both Wharton and MIT Sloan offer their students lifelong career counseling and support. Their global networks of alumni stretch to 98,000 graduates for Wharton, with MIT offering a network of 25,000 former Sloan students and 125,000 MIT alumni, presenting extensive opportunities for partnership, socializing and discussion as well as finding new job opportunities, or talented hires.

Even though the EMBA programs at Wharton and MIT are ranked top in North America, and indeed, top in the world rankings, it is worth keeping in mind that these are not the only two programs worth considering. The 2019 EMBA rankings are full of incredible schools, and, ultimately, it is down to you to decide where you would thrive based on your personal preferences and situation.

This article was originally published in June 2017 and most recently updated in April 2019 to include new rankings data.

This article was originally published in May 2018 . It was last updated in April 2019

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Written by

Julia is a writer for, publishing articles for business students and graduates across the world. A native Londoner, she holds an MSc in Marketing Strategy & Innovation from Cass Business School and a BA in Classical Studies & English from Newcastle University.

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