Online MBA or Online EMBA: Which One’s Right for You? |

Online MBA or Online EMBA: Which One’s Right for You?

By Linda Mohamed

Updated February 2, 2021 Updated February 2, 2021

Digital learning is undeniably booming.

Even though the number of applications for campus-based programs have declined, the demand for online MBAs continues to grow – and for good reason.

Trying to fit full-time in-person learning into our increasingly busy lives can be difficult, if not impossible. This is when e-learning becomes a viable option: it’s comfortable, convenient, cheap and more accessible for those who wish to maintain a steady career progression within the workforce.

There are dozens of accredited online MBA and EMBA programs to choose from, but you might be struggling to narrow down your options and choose between the two.

While they hold similar status upon graduation, what truly sets them apart – and what you should base your decision on – is their target audience, purpose, delivery format and fees.

Let’s take an in-depth look at the specifics.

Target audience

Online MBAs are catered towards people who have a few years of experience in the workforce, usually young business professionals who want to rise to upper level management positions.

For this reason, applicants will be required to submit GRE or GMAT scores to prove they possess the necessary skills to kick-start their b-school career.

On the other hand, online EMBAs are aimed at workers who already hold senior or executive roles within the workforce and want to develop the skills necessary to become leaders in the field and ascend company ladders.

Because most of them will have already proven themselves in the business world, it’s rare that a school will require them to submit GRE or GMAT scores. Instead, candidates might be asked to provide recommendations from colleagues who are familiar with their work and can give insight into their skills.  

Delivery format and purpose

The delivery format for the two programs is tailored to the target candidate audience.

An online MBA has a generalized structure that helps students develop the skills needed to fast-track their career progression within the workforce. This includes courses such as Business Analytics, Marketing, Financial Accounting, Managerial Economics and Corporate Finance.

Moreover, schools usually offer online MBA students the opportunity to select specializations from Finance and Consulting through to Information Management and Marketing. These allow students to gain new areas of expertise and enter new fields of business without having to go through entry-level positions.

Because online MBAs are aimed at a younger student  who has more time to invest in education, they offer a wider range of digital networking and collaboration opportunities with professionals from different business fields and ranks. This fosters a community feel that is different from that of an online EMBA, which is more executive-specific.

Online EMBAs, on the other hand, are ideal for highly experienced workers who want to develop skills they can apply to their day-to-day business life at senior/executive levels.

For this reason, these programs tend to offer highly focused and specialized classes that allow students to acquire higher level skills and further establish themselves in their field. Online EMBA classes include Strategic Management, Strategic Innovations in E-Business, HR and Leadership Management and Shareholder Value Creation.

Networking opportunities during an online EMBA are also very specific. As students are already advanced in their careers, business schools encourage collaboration in small cohorts of powerful business world players, which will help them build professional relationships they can foster throughout the degree.

If your concern is acquiring high-quality IT skills, don’t worry – either program would give you the opportunity to experiment with multimedia online tools and improve your confidence in the digital sphere.

Fees and sponsorship

Completing your MBA or EMBA online will often be cheaper than attending a program in person. While tuition fees vary between schools, you’re guaranteed to save money by not paying for transportation, textbooks and other living expenses that come with living on-campus.

Nevertheless, choosing one program over the other will have different implications on your finances.

If you choose to do an online MBA, chances are you’ll have to finance the degree yourself. While this might set you back, there is a perk: this type of program offers a lot more scholarship opportunities than an online EMBA, from private organization funds to school grants.

On the other hand, online EMBA candidates will usually receive full funding from their company to cover tuition costs. This is because businesses see these programs as a worthy investment that’ll provide them with short-term benefits, such as improved leadership and employee management.

Despite key differences, both online MBA and EMBA graduates can expect a substantial post-graduation salary increase.


This article was originally published in April 2020 . It was last updated in February 2021

Want more content like this Register for free site membership to get regular updates and your own personal content feed.

Written by

Linda is Content Writer at TopMBA, creating content about students, courses, universities and businesses. She recently graduated in Journalism & Creative Writing with Politics and International Relations, and now enjoys writing for a student audience. 

Want to leave a comment?

Please login or register to post

comment above our articles.

Related Articles Last year

Most Shared Last year

Most Read Last year

USA Rankings

Find top ranked universities in USA!