How to evaluate an Executive MBA program

By Susan Petty

Once you’ve decided to pursue your business degree through an executive MBA program, there’s a lot to consider, so how do you assess which program is the perfect fit?

You’ll likely find that all of the top programs have strong curriculum, faculty, and alumni networks—so how else can you evaluate an executive MBA program? Should you look at school values? The culture of the student community? Unique geographic benefits?

Here are five tips from the Berkeley MBA for Executives rogram on how to evaluate an executive MBA program:

 1. See how the EMBA program’s values align with yours.

This is about finding a match with what matters most to you. Consider the underlying values that drive your decisions and that shape how you live your life, then:

  • Explore the program’s website and marketing materials to see if these values emerge
  • Read school mission statements
  • Talk to admissions officers and to students to find out how the school’s stated values come to life on campus. 

2. Dig into student culture and community.

The relationships you'll make in your executive MBA program are lifelong and are shaped by the mix of students. To assess this:

  • Take a look at the class profile to learn about the diversity of industries and backgrounds represented.
  • Consider how well the structure and location of the program will foster community.
  • Read student profiles for a sense of the different perspectives students bring to the classroom
  • Come to campus to meet students for yourself, and ask them what they hope to get out of their studies and why they chose their program.

Berkeley EMBA students on campus

3. Consider schedule and structure.

Programs differ in their timelines and class schedules, so assess what kind of trajectory and experience you’re looking for, and ask yourself:

  • For how many months or years can you feasibly balance your personal life and your professional life with school?
  • How often is it workable for you to come to campus?
  • Do class sessions (frequency, length, residency) facilitate bonding with colleagues?
  • Is it important to you to have access to the activities and students of a business school campus, or would a program in a satellite location offer what you need? 

4. Look for what sets them apart.

Every program offers (and highlights) particular advantages, like a well-established network in a specific field, or geographic proximity to certain industries, or the mix of learning approaches.

  • Determine the special characteristics of each program, and decide which are most relevant for you.

The Berkeley MBA for Executives program, for example, emphasizes on-the-ground learning, with five immersion weeks that take deep dives on specific topics in related locales, such as one on entrepreneurship and startup culture in Silicon Valley, one on the intersection of business and policy Washington, DC, and a global immersion through which students have explored business culture and topics in Singapore and Brazil.

A Berkeley EMBA student in class

5. Experience the program yourself.

Nothing will give you better insight into a program than visiting. Come to campus to:

  • Hear from and talk with current students
  • Meet with admissions staff in person
  • Sit in on a class
  • Get an authentic feel for the community and for the culture of the program.

 Want to experience the Berkeley MBA for Executives program for yourself? Join us soon for an admissions event. 

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Topics: MBA for Execs  |   Admissions Tips
Susan Petty
Susan is Director of Admissions for the Berkeley MBA for Executives Program. She has nearly twenty years of experience in marketing and advertising, having worked in several different industries including technology, travel, healthcare -- and many others from her media planning days at J. Walter Thompson where her clients included Chevron, Kaiser Permanente, Nestle, and Ford. She enjoys advising prospective students and guiding them through their personal MBA experience.