More EMBAs Are Being Offered Online

Executive MBA Council report shows more EMBA programs are embracing technology—inside and outside the classroom

New research from the Executive MBA Council (EMBAC) shows that business schools are changing the way their EMBA programs are taught.

EMBAC's latest Membership Program Survey shows that the biggest change in EMBA programs in 2018 is the proportion of schools offering a distance-learning component for their degrees—from 42% of programs in 2014 to 52% this year. 

As is common in modern EMBA programs, course materials being delivered electronically is an often-reported use of tech in the classroom—but EMBAC also found that 17% of programs report an increased use of in-classroom video recording.

Executive MBAs are growing in popularity, and application numbers are rising at a faster rate than for the traditional, full-time two-year MBA. Michael Desiderio, executive director of EMBAC, thinks these changes are part of a wider trend.

“As advancements in technology continue to reshape the world, the demand for leaders capable of leveraging these technologies will be at an all-time high,” Michael said about the report.

"These programs provide students with the opportunity to explore new professions, seek out new industries and even experience new countries," he added. "As a result, the need for these programs is continuing to rise.”


Top-ranked business schools are leading the innovation. IE Business School's IE Brown Executive MBA, offered in collaboration with Brown University in the US, is delivered primarily online, with five on-campus periods built into the year, including an immersion experience in Cape Town, South Africa.

These flexible EMBA programs offer students the flexibility of remaining in their full-time jobs while they study—but allow them to meet their classmates throughout the year and gain the same networking opportunities as on a full-time program.

It’s the same story at WU Executive Academy in Vienna, which offers an EMBA program that is organized around students’ own busy schedules.

The Global EMBA at WU Executive Academy is notable in that students will receive two degrees—one from WU, and the other from partner institution University of Minnesota—while only having to take 40 days off from work during the course of the 16-month program.

Massimiliano Sormani currently studies on the part-time International Flex EMBA at MIP Politecnico di Milano, and—halfway through his studies—has already completed the coveted ‘triple jump’, changing country, sector, and role.

The i-Flex EMBA at MIP allows students to study from anywhere in the world with their online learning platform, which was designed by Microsoft. The platform also gives students the chance to interact live with their teachers and peers during lessons.

For Massimiliano, the technology used on the online EMBA at MIP gives students added benefits simply not provided by a full-time program.

“The increase in distance-learning offered by business schools is not a big surprise for me,” he says. “The enormous potentialities offered by new technologies really gives you the chance to fit your day-by-day working and personal agenda with the EMBA agenda.”

While there are still concerns over the interactivity of any degree delivered chiefly online, Massimiliano says that the student experience on MIP's i-Flex is just as valuable online as it is in a real classroom.

“At the beginning, I was a bit sceptical about the level of interaction among people that barely know each other and have come together only very few times along the entire EMBA,” he notes.

“But I can say that the level of engagement and interaction that I’m experiencing is really inspiring. People are sharing during the live sessions, or via social media, their daily, fresh experiences, and this brings added value to the entire class.”

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