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The eMBA: prestigious, expensive, polarizing.  Is it worth your time and effort?

 By Ben Feuer

Here at Forster-Thomas we see all kinds of prospective students applying to all kinds of programs, and among them, we see many people applying for an MBA.  And why not?  If you are in your late 20s and looking for a career change or just a bump up the corporate ladder, an MBA can provide you with the contacts and the training you need to succeed.

But what if you're 32, or 37?  What if you have a family?  What if you don't want to leave your job, or your employer offers to sponsor you?  For those as well as many other reasons, some people have lately come out in favor of the eMBA, even as others proclaim its days numbered thanks to the growing popularity of online degrees.  So which is it?

The answer is simple.  It depends.


Sponsorship.  If you are in the right company, in the right role, you may be partially or fully sponsored for an eMBA.  Have you already looked into this?

Less rigorous.  Low GMAT?  No problem.  With the eMBA, work experience is what counts, and selectivity is reasonable, with ~50% acceptance rates at top programs.

Keep your job.  Even if you are not sponsored, you can continue to earn a paycheck while you earn your degree.

A better network.  Some claim that the later-career classmates at eMBA programs are more eager to learn and better connected for future job potential.


Cost.  Prestigious eMBAs are among the most expensive degrees in the world, dollar for dollar.  Although price decreases with prestige, so does the quality of the network.

Generalist degree.  With few specialty eMBAs outside of health care, the degree is not good for targeted learning, nor is it particularly well suited for career shifting.

Brutal time constraints.  With 34+ hours per week devoted to classes, plus work, plus family, you will be overwhelmed.  Don't do this at just any time in your life.

Lifelong alumni ties.  By earning your degree a few years later, you lose that much time to forge long-term connections with your classmates.


In the final analysis, the eMBA is undoubtedly going to face a more challenging road ahead with cheaper access to online MBAs, distance learning and self-instruction and certificates.  But it still makes sense for certain groups of people, particularly middle management looking for a pay or title bump (with company support) and internationally focused business professionals looking to grow their networks.

Struggling with your application to a top eMBA program?  Contact us for help.