MBA: The Why, The Whats & The Hows

MBA vs Executive MBA Abroad: Understanding the Difference Between MBA and Executive MBA Abroad

Tumul Buch

MBA happens to be one of the most sought after degrees worldwide and has become an obvious choice for business-minded students with leadership skills looking to excel in various fields. Students are having questions about the difference between executive MBA and regular MBA which leads us to this discussion. The complete experience of an executive MBA is different from that of a general MBA in terms of campus life, interactions, social life, student demographics and a lot more.

Whether you are a fresher with lack of experience or an experienced professional, what you seek from the program and where you wish to go after getting a degree, all matter while deciding between MBA and EMBA. It is important to consider the difference between MBA and EMBA before deciding which one to go for. Before taking a decision for your future, go through this guide to know more about the diff between MBA and executive MBA and set your preference accordingly.

Table of Contents

What is Executive MBA?

To start off the discussion about the difference between MBA and EMBA, let us first understand what executive MBA is. When we talk about executive MBA, we are referring to an advanced level of degree compared to general MBA. Executive MBA is actually a type of MBA program suitable for working professionals with good enough industry experience as it prepares them for executive level jobs. Executive MBA is most suitable for multi-taskers and highly motivated individuals with the zeal to achieve more. It is a much more intense and challenging degree compared to MBA.

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How is Executive MBA Different from MBA?

What students are most confused about is the basic difference between MBA and executive MBA. Executive MBA is a much larger investment than a general MBA program. While MBA programs are full-time with part-time study options, an executive MBA program is designed in part-time format sometimes with only evening or weekend classes to suit the schedule of working professionals. Students who opt for an executive MBA usually continue their full-time job and take classes simultaneously which is a difference between MBA and EMBA.

Class Profile in MBA vs Executive MBA

The difference between MBA Executive and MBA is very much understandable on the basis of class profile of the two programs. Here is a table showing the class profile and difference between MBA & Executive MBA:


Executive MBA

Average work experience of 3-5 years.

The age of MBA students is somewhere around 24-30.

The median GMAT score of MBA students is around 740.

Average work experience of 5-10 years.

Depending on the level of seniority and work experience, the age of executive MBA students can be around 32-45.

A median GMAT score of 710 is seen among Executive MBA students.

Difference Between MBA and Executive MBA: Course Structure

Executive MBA being a type of MBA program is different from regular MBA in terms of course structure as well, take a look at the difference between executive MBA and general MBA:

Basis of Difference


Executive MBA

Course Duration

Offered as a full-time program with options to study part-time or online.

Executive MBA is itself a part-time program offered in evenings or weekends only.

Study Duration

Regular MBA program can be completed within 2 years.

Executive MBA can be completed within 1-2 years depending on how you prefer to take classes.


MBA is a combination of theoretical and practical approach where students are taught to apply classroom knowledge to business situations.

Focuses more on the practical approach relevant to real-life business situations.


Most popular specializations include Finance, Marketing, HR, Entrepreneurship although new and trending specializations introduced include Digital Marketing, Data Analytics, etc.

EMBA programs are available with general specializations such as Finance, Management, Marketing, Entrepreneurship, Strategic Management, etc.

Now that we have understood the difference between executive MBA and general MBA course structure, let us proceed to the difference between normal MBA and executive MBA eligibility criteria:

Eligibility Criteria for MBA vs Executive MBA

The general eligibility criteria for MBA vs Executive MBA is more or less similar except the difference between Executive MBA and regular MBA is that the former has higher requirements in some aspects. Take a look at the general eligibility criteria for MBA vs executive MBA:

  • Bachelor’s degree
  • GMAT/ GRE scores
  • English language proficiency test scores
  • Work experience

Let us now understand the similarity and difference between an Executive MBA and an MBA based on admission requirements:

1.  Bachelor’s Degree

Whether you are applying for an MBA or executive MBA, a completed bachelor’s degree is a must. A bachelor's degree in a business or commerce related field is preferred but nowadays students from a variety of backgrounds specially Engineering, Economics, Physical Sciences and Social Sciences are also applying for MBA programs.

2.  GMAT/ GRE Scores

GMAT or GRE scores are required by most business schools around the world. Generally, a student applying for an MBA program is expected to have a median GMAT score of 730 for admission to some of the top universities whereas the required GMAT score for EMBA is around 710. You can also submit equivalent GRE scores for admission.

3.  English Language Proficiency Test Scores

As international students, one of the admission requirements on your list will be submitting English language test scores. Accepted test scores include IELTS, TOEFL, PTE, etc. If you are submitting IELTS scores, minimum 6.0 for regular MBA and 6.5 or above for executive MBA is expected.

4.  Work Experience

This is where the major difference between regular and executive MBA lies. In terms of work experience, regular MBA candidates must have 3-5 years of work experience for admission to competitive programs. Minimum 2 years of work experience for a regular MBA program may also suffice. On the other hand, for applying to executive MBA programs, you must have 5-15 years of work experience. Work experience of 10 or more years among executive MBA applicants is quite common.

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ROI for MBA vs Executive MBA

Let us see how much is the difference between normal MBA and executive MBA costs and compare it with the salary potential to understand the ROI for these programs.

  • The difference between executive MBA and normal MBA tuition fees is huge. The average tuition fees for an MBA can range between 30,000-90,000 USD or 25,00,000-70,00,000 INR per year depending on the country and institution.
  • Compared to this the complete program fees of an executive MBA is somewhere around 88,000-220,000 USD i.e. 67,00,000-16,000,000 INR.
  • The investment in both these degrees pay off quite well as the average salaries for MBA graduates range between 90,000-120,000 USD per year i.e. 69,00,000-92,00,000 INR per year while that for EMBA graduates is around 150,000-180,000 USD per year i.e. 1,10,00,000-1,40,00,000 INR per year.
  • A notable fact for EMBA candidates is that you will be pursuing a part-time degree while working full-time which means you will be having a continuous income while studying and therefore the costs will not hit you as hard as a self-funded full-time MBA student.
  • Another difference between MBA and executive MBA is that many times, companies bear the tuition expenses for EMBA leaving you with no liability to pay for tuition.

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MBA vs Executive MBA: Which is More Appropriate?

After knowing the above mentioned difference between executive MBA and normal MBA, let us see which is more appropriate for whom:

  • MBA students have a broader choice of specializations and electives than executive MBA which also happens to be a major difference between MBA and executive MBA.
  • Executive MBA is suitable for students and working professionals looking for flexibility while MBA is for those whose complete attention is towards studying and may take up a part time job.
  • Executive MBA is a better option for candidates looking for a promotion to the executive level while regular MBA will introduce you to a world where you can explore opportunities across various sectors and job roles.
  • Executive MBA is much faster-paced and practical oriented than MBA and is not suitable for candidates who lack knowledge and expertise as you will not be able to catch up with the EMBA program.
  • If it matters to you, then there is a lot of diff between MBA and executive MBA student network and social life. The students in an EMBA class are usually older and taking the program to enhance their skills. While in MBA programs, you will get to enjoy university life with events, activities, sports, socials and a lot more.

You are the right judge of which degree is better for you having learned about the difference between MBA and Executive MBA. It is a general fact that with years of experience the average salaries of individuals rise so it is quite understandable that EMBA graduates already have good enough experience and expertise in their field and will get higher salaries when compared to MBA graduates. No doubt, MBA is an equally competitive program and will help you land jobs with lucrative packages. 

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Frequently Asked Questions about Difference Between MBA and Executive MBA

Is an Executive MBA equivalent to MBA?

Is an Executive MBA easier than MBA?

Is Executive MBA a full-time program?

Which MBA is better for working professionals?

Is it possible to pursue an MBA without work experience?

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