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MBA Vs EMBA: What’s The Difference?

Working out whether an MBA or EMBA is right for you? We run through some important differences to bear in mind

MBA vs EMBA? For today’s business school applicants, choosing the perfect program is tricky. MBAs remain the most popular option, but the Executive MBA (EMBA) has also found its footing as an alternative. 

Despite having similar academic content, these two qualifications are suited to very different points in your career.

To find out more, we asked Sharon Nelson, assistant director of the EMBA at the John Molson School of Business, and Kristiana Salmon, a recent EMBA graduate, what the differences are.

Student Background

For Sharon, the main difference between the two programs is the type of student they attract.

Students accepted onto the John Molson MBA typically have five or six years’ full-time experience, while their counterparts on the EMBA have a lot more—between 12 and 16 years.

Kristiana (above), who graduated from her own EMBA in the spring, agrees. “The EMBA is really designed for professionals who are working full-time at a high level in their organization,” she notes.

According to GMAC’s research, 63% of EMBA applicants have over 10 years’ experience.

Because of this experience, many EMBA programs don’t require an undergraduate degree. For an MBA, on the other hand, you’ll need to have completed a bachelor’s. 


Being at different points in their careers, MBA and EMBA students enter business school with different goals, Sharon says.

An MBA will boost early careers, providing a broad overview of different business functions, which can act as a bridge to management positions.

The EMBA helps professionals who are already in management positions develop their existing business knowledge.

“Most EMBA students use the program to expand their role in their own organization, or branch out into new opportunities,” Sharon observes.

That’s exactly what Kristiana aimed to do when she joined the EMBA program at John Molson in 2017. Having worked in clinical research at the Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital for seven years, she wanted to explore new possibilities. 

“The EMBA has really opened my eyes to what I could potentially do,” she reflects. 

Whether you study an MBA or EMBA, though, chances are that one of your goals is to build a stronger network.

The EMBA at John Molson has a small cohort, of no more than 30 students, while about 100 students begin the MBA each year, split into two classes.

For Kristiana, this was an important distinction. 

“Because of this small class, you can really get the most from your peers,” she says.


Kristiana was also attracted to the EMBA’s class schedule. Sessions are held on alternating Fridays and Saturdays, which allowed her to carry on working. 

Like all EMBAs, the John Molson program is designed to fit in with the schedule of a full-time professional. This was ideal for Kristiana, who didn't want to take a career break while she studied.

With an MBA, though, full-time study is more common. Part-time MBAs are offered at John Molson and elsewhere, but these programs take longer to complete than an EMBA.

At John Molson, for instance, the EMBA program can be completed in 20 months, while the part-time MBA takes three to four years.



Whether you choose an MBA or an EMBA, you’ll experience a blend of theoretical learning and hands-on experience.

With the EMBA, Sharon says, students are thrust into these practical experiences more quickly. Because they’re working full-time, EMBA students can put what they learn into practice immediately. 

This is true of the EMBA program at John Molson, through courses like the HR module. “One of the tasks that students have to do is talk to their own HR manager and see how things work,” Sharon explains. 

The New Venture module is equally hands-on. In this class, EMBA students create a business idea from scratch in small groups. 

This was a highlight for Kristiana. Her venture was based on an idea she’d previously developed with a colleague, mass-producing small 3D models of the human brain made using stem cells.

“It’s a research tool that reduces the need for animals in the lab, and is also more representative of human disease,” she explains. 

When Kristiana’s team pitched the idea to a group of venture capitalists, they jumped on board. Today, the venture is being incorporated with continued involvement from her EMBA peers.

Although MBAs are sometimes more theoretical, the program at John Molson offers plenty of real-world experience, too. 

Throughout the program, case-based learning is used in the classroom, and students also have the chance to take on projects in the wider world.

MBA candidates can take on 'experiential learning' modules, which range from case competitions to a community service consulting.

Whether an MBA or an EMBA is right for you, these experiences can lead to new professional opportunities—and greater confidence to pursue them.

"I definitely feel more confident in making a career change with the skill set I developed at business school," Kristiana concludes.

Student Reviews

Concordia University: John Molson School of Business




On Campus

Educational advancement

My time at Concordia College has been set apart by huge self-awareness. The steady instructors and staff have assisted me with fostering my abilities and information. The college offers a scope of administrations and extracurricular exercises, giving various open doors to understudies to reach out. In general, my involvement with Concordia has been positive and improving.




On Campus

My growth

"My time at Concordia University has been marked by significant personal growth. The supportive teachers and staff have helped me to develop my skills and knowledge. The university offers a range of services and extracurricular activities, providing numerous opportunities for students to get involved. Overall, my experience at Concordia has been positive and enriching.




On Campus

Communications and Culture Studies

I am currently enrolled in my first year in the Communication and Culture studies program. I have met so many incredible people and have already acquired skills that I will serve me in my professional career. The courses are dynamic, engaging and intellectually stimulating. I am happy to be a student at this university and look forward to the next 2 years here!




On Campus

Significant advancements

Having attended Concordia University, I can confidently state that I have seen significant advancements in my skills. The faculty and staff demonstrate great thoughtfulness and provide effective support. Additionally, the university offers an abundance of student clubs and services.




On Campus

Master of Quality Systems Engineering

I completed my Master's in Quality Systems Engineering at Concordia University, where I gained a comprehensive understanding of quality management principles and methodologies. The program provided a mix of theoretical knowledge and practical applications, including coursework in statistical process control, Six Sigma, and Lean principles. I engaged in hands-on projects addressing real-world quality challenges, collaborated with experienced faculty, and conducted independent research. This experience has equipped me with the skills and expertise needed to contribute effectively to organizations seeking to enhance their quality control processes and achieve operational excellence.

Amber Lee



On Campus


The Communication program at Concordia University will prepare you for the future. The program is divided in two blocks: one more theoretical, from which you learn the concept of communications through the perspective of philosophy, history and social studies; another completely hands-on in which you learn how to produce media choosing from three streams; sound, moving images, intermedia. What I love about the communication program at Concordia is that the teachers are clever, up to date, and exited about putting the future in the hands of students. Not only there is so much to learn in the communication program, but there are also so many opportunities!




On Campus

Concordia is best

Concordia university is one of the top listed universities not just in Canada but worldwide. The most amazing thing about this university is it is a standalone English speaking university in Montreal that allows non francophone students to enrol and study efficiently. My program is beautifully designed with access to high quality classrooms and faculty members that are available every time to attend your queries. The huge campus of the University including the library allows students to indulge in group work and research programs. The administration staff is super supportive and polite in their conversations. I have had the most amazing experience studying at Concordia so far.




On Campus

Entrepreneurship and Marketing

I had the privilege of being a part of Ryerson University's Entrepreneurship and Marketing program, and it was an outstanding experience. The program's curriculum was well-designed, providing a perfect balance of theoretical knowledge and hands-on practical application. The faculty members were highly knowledgeable and supportive, creating an engaging learning environment. The program's emphasis on industry connections and experiential learning opened doors to valuable internships and co-op opportunities. The resources and facilities dedicated to the program were top-notch, allowing me to explore my passion and excel in my studies. I am grateful for the real-world skills and industry connections I gained through the program. Ryerson University's Entrepreneurship and Marketing truly prepared me for a successful career in the business world. I highly recommend this program to anyone looking for a transformative educational experience.





Integrated Student Life

Concordia University has done a fantastic job at providing on-campus activities and workshops for students to feel connected and less lonely in stressful times. My program, Human Relations highlights this perfectly as a human relations student to be able to see the effects these workshops have on our beings and our mental and physical health as well. The student Life at Concordia has allowed our school to feel more like a community than a school.




On Campus

Study review

As a graduate student in the doctoral program in chemical engineering at Concordia University, I would rate the program as highly commendable. Although, the academic experience has been rigorous, challenging, and intellectually stimulating, providing a comprehensive and in-depth understanding of chemical engineering principles. However, my ongoing program has been equally rewarding and has equipped me with the skills and knowledge needed for a successful career in academia and industry.




On Campus


In general, I love my university. It's a true representation of diversity, with students from all around the world. The system is incredibly organized, with everything functioning seamlessly, from the structure to the services.




On Campus

Great range of classes - Political Science program

- I would definitely recommend this university. Concordia offers a great range of various classes for Political Science program. Offered courses are interesting and well-taught. - My campus is located in downtown, and I have no problem to drive there and park, as university offers two big parkings for students - Teachers are nice and comprehensive. If students obtain a bad grade, there is always a possibility to discuss and do something with that - University has an amazing student life. There are various help-centers and crews who are always willing to help students