How to Gain Admission to Executive MBA Programmes

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For current or aspiring C-level managers, admission to an Executive MBA (EMBA) is like joining a premier club of top business leaders. Business schools admissions committees hand pick programme participants in order to build a strong cohort of committed and resourceful professionals of diverse backgrounds, sharing the same goal to grow as business leaders. Thus, EMBA AdComs ensure a stimulating peer learning environment and a network for you to nurture your net worth beyond business school.

Executive profile

Professional track record

The basic eligibility requirement is professional experience. In order to be initially considered for EMBA admission, applicants need to have at least five years of full-time professional experience and at least three in a managerial role. This is really just the bare minimum, as some business schools may have higher requirements. Also, in reality, the average level of work and managerial experience in the EMBA classroom is much higher. But EMBA participants have quite a diverse range of experience and consequently students’ ages vary between 35 and 50+.

Admissions committees, however, will scrutinise the quality and relevance of the professional experience, as this is actually the most essential factor. Evaluators will be looking at career progression, scope of managerial responsibilities, leadership potential, international exposure, achievements, and areas of improvement relevant for business school studies.

Academic aptitude

Although at this stage of their career most applicants have long since left school, EMBA gatekeepers need to make sure prospective students have the academic potential to succeed during intensive studies conducted in English. In addition, the studies will cover a range of academic subjects as well as immersing participants in the experiential and insightful learning typical of executive education.

As EMBA programmes confer an academic MBA degree (Master of Business Administration), eligibility for admission requires at least a first university degree (Bachelor’s or equivalent). In addition to this prerequisite, the potential for academic success is evaluated in several ways.

Fluency in English for academic studies and international communication is a must, so applicants can be required to submit their scores in language proficiency tests such as TOEFL, IELTS, etc. These assess all four language skills – reading, writing, speaking, and listening comprehension, as all will be actively used in the EMBA classroom and in the social experience on and off campus.

Analytical, critical thinking, quantitative, and data analysis skills are also subject to evaluation prior to admission. They are assessed via tests such as the GMAT (Graduate Management Admission Test), Executive Assessment exam, or an in-house test delivered by the school.

Each business school has its unique set of requirements and ways to assess the prerequisite skill set.

Matching expectations

Business schools aim to make sure that the EMBA experience will be highly beneficial and personalised to a participant’s individual goals. So the admissions committees will be exploring applicants’ expectations and their relevance to the particular programme. Even though they all fall under the common label of EMBA, programmes actually differ considerably, as does the culture in each business school.

Applicants’ professional, career, and personal development goals should be very clear at the start of researching where to apply. EMBA seekers have many executive level opportunities to interact directly with EMBA programme and admission teams and alumni, so that they can fine-tune their expectations and choose the best programme. At the time of the application, the AdComs will expect you to state your goals and explain clearly how the particular programme will help achieve them.

During the actual application, the way you will benefit from the EMBA experience will be discussed in your application essays, letters of recommendation and during the admission interview. All facts and stats should be well supported by the CV/resume and the application data form.

Unique contribution

Executive-level peer learning, self-awareness building for personal and leadership growth, and unique sets of perspectives and experiences are among the highlights of EMBA programmes. EMBA teams aim to put together a diverse class that will ensure both high standards and a fertile learning environment. So, similar to corporate talent acquisition teams, EMBA admissions teams look very carefully at what applicants can and are willing to contribute to the EMBA class, not only professionally, but also as personalities.

At the stage of application for admission, the portfolio of the applicant should be well presented in the area of application essays, CV/resume, application data form, and letters of reference. In addition, all details and potential red flags will be discussed during the admission interview. The interview also reveals a lot about applicants’ personalities and whether the school and programme will be a good cultural fit for them.

Highly recommended, well supported

Joining a premier community is often by recommendation. Similarly, EMBA programmes require letters of reference from executives who really know you well professionally. They are expected to comment both on your potential for growth to C-level roles and the suitability of executive studies. It is important that referees highlight specific areas of improvement and how the business school experience can address them to take the participant to the next level.

How to Gain Admission to Executive MBA Programmes

Endorsement is another common requirement for joining EMBA studies. No matter whether the employer will sponsor the studies financially, many business schools require the company to give their consent to their team member pursuing the EMBA experience. Business schools view this as the basic level of sponsorship by which the company acknowledges the time their high-potential employee will dedicate to the programme. EMBA studies are delivered part-time and the participants keep their jobs and active roles in the company throughout their studies. While this can be challenging for EMBA participants, it is certainly highly beneficial to the employer, who benefits immediately from the knowledge and skills acquired during the programme. So endorsement becomes a win–win–win agreement between the school, the EMBA participant, and the employer.

Funding options

The undisputably high value of the EMBA experience, the powerful business and support network, and the worthwhile ROI, measured not only in financial terms, are all worth the investment. Joining an EMBA gives real opportunities for diverse options of employer sponsorship. Business schools, on their side, always find a way to make it possible for outstanding participants to make their studies affordable.

It pays to research all options and start negotiating and preparing to conquer the merit-based financial support well ahead of the actual application. Some extra effort can be required to compete for school scholarships and waivers, such as an additional essay, a high GMAT score, or a project presentation. Plan your strategy and resources, as taking advantage of school or employer support will not only expedite your ROI, but will add gold stars of appreciation to your profile.

The EMBA premier community of business leaders is well established and recognised globally. It’s time for you to gain your seat in executive class.

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