Top 10 Executive MBA Programmes in North America 2021 | TopMBA.com

Top 10 Executive MBA Programmes in North America 2021

By Niamh O

Updated June 23, 2021 Updated June 23, 2021

Lifelong learning, diverse cohorts, and the capacity to study across a number of different campuses are just a few of the reasons that make these North American EMBA programmes special.

The Wharton School has landed the number one spot as the best North American business school for an executive MBA in the QS Executive MBA Rankings by Region 2021: North America for yet another year.

Released today, the QS Global Executive MBA Rankings 2021 reveal the top executive MBA programmes both globally and regionally, helping you find the perfect EMBA programme for you, wherever in the world you might like to study.

The Global EMBA ranking features over 170 EMBA programmes from across the world. You can find the full methodology here.

Let’s take a look at this year’s top 10 executive MBA programmes in North America and see how the best business schools in the region perform in this year’s EMBA rankings 2021.

EMBA Rankings 2021: North America

North American Rank

School

Programme

Location

1

The Wharton School

    MBA for Executives

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

2

MIT Sloan School of Management

Executive MBA

Cambridge, Massachusetts

3

The University of Chicago Booth School of Business

Executive MBA

Chicago, Illinois

4

Haas School of Business

Executive MBA

Berkeley, California

5

Yale School of Management

MBA for Executives

New Haven, Connecticut

6

UCLA Anderson School of Management

Executive MBA

Los Angeles, California

7

Kellogg School of Management

Executive MBA

Evanston, Illinois

8

Columbia Business School

Executive MBA-NY

New York City, New York

9

NYU Stern School of Business

Executive MBA

New York City, New York

10

Michigan Ross School of Business

Executive MBA

Ann Arbor, Michigan

What the schools say

As the top school in the US for its EMBA programme, there are a number of reasons as to why students choose the prestigious school. But what makes the programme appealing?

According to Wharton’s EMBA team, there are a number of things that make the programme unique – but there are four main takeaways:

  1. Campuses in both Philadelphia and San Francisco, and second-year students can take classes on either or both coasts
  2. Wharton embraces lifelong learning; EMBA students can return at any point in their career to audit most elective choices at no charge
  3. The experience level of Wharton’s cohorts. EMBA students learn from highly experienced peers as well as from the faculty and coursework
  4. The residential component and the diversity of Wharton’s cohorts provides a unique and supportive learning environment. Students from a wide range of backgrounds, industries, life experiences, and geographic areas immerse themselves in the programme together every other weekend, sharing different perspectives and creating tight-knit bonds that last for the rest of their lives.  

When asked what sets Wharton’s programme apart from the rest, Wharton’s EMBA team said: “Wharton EMBA students earn the full Wharton MBA. The programme mirrors Wharton’s full-time programme in terms of the number of credits, classroom hours, and faculty.

“In no way is it MBA light. The Wharton EMBA is one of the most robust and academically rigorous programmes with the largest selection of elective choices. Students have opportunities for hands-on experiential learning through week-long courses around the globe, leadership development, independent study projects, and individual career and executive coaching -- everything you would expect to find in a full-time MBA programme and more.” 

MIT Executive MBA Faculty Director, Georgia Perakis says the MIT Executive MBA not only connects a distinctive cohort of students with each other but also with distinguished, world-renowned faculty.

She said: “The programme is inherently mid-career focused, with a curriculum designed to highlight the science of management.

“Each of our courses features elements of applied learning, are data-driven, and connected to research all due to the programme being a part of the MIT ecosystem. The learnings will help students develop an edge in their management capabilities and build a network that lasts a lifetime."

Why are EMBA programmes important today?

Taking that leap in executive education is one way to see participants progress up the career ladder to c-level positions should they wish. But why are EMBA programmes important today?

Perakis said: “In today’s fast changing organisations (for and non-profit) in the world, executives need to be flexible and be able to evolve.

“EMBA programmes offer the environment and education to help executives accomplish this. It provides the right tools to evolve and innovate either within or outside their own organisation.”

Wharton’s EMBA team echoed this sentiment, adding: “EMBA programmes are more important than ever. Employers are able to retain their employees while they gain new skills and knowledge. EMBA programmes enable employees to earn an MBA without disrupting their career progression or giving up their salary.

“This past year has taught us that we can’t control the world, but we can control how we deal with it. Preparing yourself to be ready to deal with uncertainty and change is a critical skill for leaders who want to make a bigger impact.”

Julie Morton the associate dean of the Executive MBA programme at Chicago Booth said: "At Booth, we believe that our EMBA programme plays an important role in furthering the formal business education of more senior executives who have achieved success in their professional pursuits and who would benefit from structured business frameworks and approaches and participating in a vibrant community of business leaders."

Qualities business schools look out for

Each business school has its own set of prerequisites as to what they look for in its executive MBA students, and so it’s worth finding out just what the top schools are looking for.

Perakis said: “Aside from the qualifications listed on our website, the MIT Executive MBA looks for candidates who know how they’re going to have more of an impact in the programme and how they’ll use their learnings to make an impact after the programme. The candidates should want to challenge convention and challenge themselves.

“We look for candidates who are leading across multiple parts of their organisation with a history of work success. Candidates should be “do-ers” who are collaborative, data-driven, and embrace analytical thinking. Most importantly, we look for candidates who connect with our mission and ask themselves not why MIT is great, but why MIT is a fit for their career goals.”

Morton added: "Booth looks for students who are curious, analytical, humble, and collaborative – from a wide range of industry and cultural backgrounds."

Networking opportunities

The ability to network and meet new people to benefit your career are some of the most important elements associated with executive MBA programmes – with many students on the lookout for the programmes offering these opportunities.

Perakis says students in the MIT Executive MBA are firmly a part of the MIT and MIT Sloan community, with an endless number of opportunities at their fingertips.

She said: “Students are able to network with other Sloan students and faculty, access the renowned Martin Trust Centre for Entrepreneurship, and take advantage of executive coaching sessions. They can join clubs, be a part of the MIT Sloan Senate, and tap into a worldwide network of MIT Sloan alumni.

“Students are more limited by their time at MIT Sloan than by the opportunities available; that said, they are always a part of MIT and can continue building those networks as alumni when they don't have homework that competes.”

Wharton’s executive MBA team say remaining fully employed is a requirement of the programme, so internships are not available. They said: “As for networking, students have access to their classmates, their classmates’ networks, and the broader Wharton 100,000+ alumni community.

“There are continual opportunities to interact with those groups during class weekends and at alumni and networking events (i.e., speaker series, reunions, startup events, etc.).”

Booth offers a number of networking opportunities across its campuses around the globe. Morton said: "The global nature of our programme gives students the opportunity to create relationships with their classmates across three campuses in Hong Kong, London, and Chicago.

"Once our students graduate they are able to return to Chicago to take electives every summer for the rest of their career, allowing them to continue to network with alumni and students from around the world."

Does Booth consider it has a diverse cohort on its EMBA programme? Morton says absolutely. She said: "We deliver our programme from our campuses in London, Chicago, and Hong Kong; it is accessible to students from all over the world. The 224 students who entered Autumn 2020 represented 48 different nationalities."

This article was originally published in June 2021 .

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Written by

Niamh is Deputy Head of Content at QS (TopMBA.com; topuniversities.com), creating and editing content for an international student audience. Having gained her journalism qualification at the Press Association, London and since written for different international publications, she's now enjoying telling the stories of students, alumni, faculty, entrepreneurs and organizations from across the globe.  

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