Are Executive MBAs Worth the Investment?

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Business leaders who want to advance their careers with a professional edge are increasingly turning to the MBA program that allows them to continue to work while earning a fast-tracked advanced business degree. Through an online Executive MBA (EMBA) program, professionals study high-level business topics and strategies in preparation for C-suite positions.

Professionals who earn their advanced business degree through an EMBA program can see significant returns on their investment. By working in collaborative learning environments with like-minded professionals, students can learn real-world executive skills including critical thinking and strategic problem solving. The leading EMBA degree programs aim to assist in developing strong decision-making skills while underscoring global leadership strategies, innovation, and entrepreneurship.

Through Washington State University’s EMBA program online, working professionals can learn about the complexities that are shaping the global business atmosphere. When enrolled in such a fully online program, students can access classes from anywhere and at any time while continuing to meet professional and personal obligations.

“An Executive MBA also allows graduates to start thinking of new solutions to old problems from operations to a strategic management point of view,” Michael Desiderio, executive director of the non-profit Executive MBA Council (EMBAC).

Leading Features of the Best Online EMBA Programs

Online EMBA programs were created and designed to allow mid-career professionals to continue working while pursuing a higher degree. Today, the push for leaders to bring new skills and ideas to the table is stronger than ever. With the growth of the global business market and the breakneck advances in technology, EMBA coursework may also provide students the skillset to immediately apply classroom lessons to boardroom applications.

1. Diverse interactions

Students who work with diverse groups of faculty members and peers can benefit from differing perspectives during their interactions. Learning how other cultures approach challenges can enrich educational opportunities and translate into experiences that can be applied from the classroom to the boardroom. For example, WSU’s EMBA program provides an opportunity for students to study in China or Vietnam during a weeklong immersive residency program. Participants tour international companies, take part in workshops, and explore new cultures for a wider view of the global business landscape.

2. Workplace growth

Most students working towards an EMBA degree are seeking career advancement, either in their current workplace or a new one. WSU’s EMBA program can take as few as 18 months to complete, so graduates can immediately apply their learned skills to new positions.

3. Business networks

EMBA programs often attract like-minded individuals who are career focused and business driven. Studies show average EMBA students are concentrated on their education and careers. More specifically, the average EMBA student has a median 3.15 GPA with an average of 13.7 years of professional work experience. This breadth of experience can provide networking opportunities with the programs’ students that may translate into business contacts.

4. Entrepreneurial skills

Entrepreneurship is more than just coming up with ideas; it’s about reaching customers, solving problems, and creating product value. The EMBA curriculum is designed so business leaders, including entrepreneurs, have the necessary tools for success. Entrepreneurs, in particular, can benefit from such a program because they are able to collaborate with peers and professionals, learn technical skills, and delve into soft skills like teamwork and problem solving.

Overall, the leading EMBA programs have solid reputations for providing quality educational experiences with seasoned faculty. Such is the case for Washington State University’s EMBA program, which has been consistently lauded for its top-ranked program. According to the U.S. News & World Report “Best Online MBA Programs” ranking for 2024, WSU is the top-ranked online MBA in the Pacific Northwest. Furthermore, CEO Magazine recognizes both the WSU MBA and EMBA programs in the top 30 of their Global Online MBA Rankings for 2023.

What is the EMBA Return on Investment (ROI)?

One of the most common questions potential Executive MBA students ask prior to registering for classes regards the value (financial, professional, and personal) of the advanced degree. Will the financial investment in an EMBA program be returned via a higher-paying position or increased work bonuses? Will an EMBA usher in new professional opportunities? Will earning the degree give me personal satisfaction? Multiple studies show a resounding “yes” answer to all of the above questions.

The 2017 Alumni Perspectives Survey Report by the Graduate Management Admission Council found business school graduation not only expands alumni career choices, but it also boosts earning potential. More specifically, the survey discovered that 96 percent of all EMBA graduates found the program personally rewarding, 90 percent found it professionally rewarding, and 72 percent found it financially rewarding.

Further, a 2016 EMBAC Student Exit Survey found EMBA graduates received an average of 11.6 percent increase in compensation, through both salary and bonuses, while in the program. Some 40 percent of the 2,300 respondents reported getting a promotion after completing the program and about 50 percent of respondents received new responsibilities sometime during the program.

“The survey results show that graduates leave the program with personal development and quantitative skills such as strategy, management behavior, and leadership skills. Those who have completed the program also have better insight into economic factors, as well as accounting and financial abilities,” EMBAC said.

Even from an employer’s point of view, pursuing an EMBA is a worthwhile investment. A 2016 WSU survey found 95 percent of employers that hire WSU MBA/EMBA graduates and are familiar with the programs are satisfied or very satisfied with the overall quality of the programs.

Washington State University’s Executive MBA online degree program

Graduating from online executive MBA program can give business professionals the boost they need to advance to C-suite positions. At WSU, the program emphasizes solid business principles, strategy, innovation, and leadership. WSU’s EMBA program offers an array of classes, including International Business Management and Strategy Formulation and Organizational Design, which complement already-established executive skills. WSU’s Carson College of Business makes leadership education a priority.


Graduate Management Admission Council survey

EMBAC Experience

EMBAC survey

EMBA survey