Executive MBA or Professional MBA? Here’s what you should know

Both Executive MBA and Professional MBA programmes are designed for working professionals.

By U2B Staff 

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There are various pathways for professionals to earn an MBA qualification. Both Executive MBA (EMBA) and Professional MBA (PMBA) programmes are specifically designed for working professionals who plan to juggle both studies and careers at the same time.

Most EMBA programmes include courses on leadership and are ideal if you are thinking of making your way into a leadership role. Additionally, an EMBA applicant generally has more extensive work experience ranging anywhere from 10 to 15 years, significantly more than a typical PMBA applicant.

PMBA programmes are built for working professionals who do not have significant prior business leadership experience and this is reflected in the programme content itself.

A PMBA course structure provides introductory subjects for students. For instance, a PMBA programme might include an Introduction to Financial Accounting course. An EMBA programme, on the other hand, would incorporate an Advanced Financial Accounting course, as it is designed for a more mature professional.

Based on the Financial Times Global Executive MBA ranking of the best 100 programmes worldwide, the gap in average salaries between EMBA and MBA graduates is $220,000 for the former and $146,000 for the latter.

Additionally, EMBA graduates also report a salary increase of up to 59%. These numbers add up, considering that the programme accommodates experienced professionals looking to climb up the career ladder.

Although Executive MBA students cannot expect many electives to choose from, there are more targeted EMBAs for those who wish to specialise in various fields.


PMBA programmes offer students a choice of concentrations in areas such as accounting, finance, global business, marketing, human resource management, and organisational leadership.

EMBA specialisations are quite common in the areas of leadership. These include data analysis, start-up entrepreneurship, strategic thinking, supply chain and operations, and even corporate-level strategy which opens room for career development, but not so much for a career change.

While an MBA gives students the flexibility to change careers, an Executive MBA is generally designed for experienced professionals who seeking advancement within their industry. These advancements could be in the form of a salary boost, a fast-track path to the C-Suite, or even to open doors for more high-level responsibilities.

A report published by PayScale found that Executive MBA holders fill some high paying and rewarding roles including Chief Executive Officer,  Chief Financial Officer, Director of Operations, Marketing Director, Chief Operating Officer, Vice President of Operations, and Operations Manager.

EMBA graduates are also sought after by some of the big names in technology and consulting. Among some of the top EMBA employers are Inc, Microsoft Corp, Accenture, General Electric Co (GE), and EY (Ernst & Young).

PMBA graduates, given the number of years spent in industry may not be in a position to expect the same return of investment. However, the qualification is flexible enough to allow you to earn it while holding a full-time position ultimately allowing you to accumulate work experience while upskilling at the same time.