Just Who Is Your Executive MBA Participant?

Study shows demographic, salary, and cost data for enrollees in the mid-career study programs.
David McCannOctober 22, 2015
Just Who Is Your Executive MBA Participant?

At your company, is it important for up-and-coming, mid-career finance leaders to complete an executive MBA (EMBA) program? If so, you may be interested to know how your people compare with the field.

EMBACThe Executive MBA Council (EMBAC), an association of more than 200 business schools that offer the part-time study programs, recently released its 2015 research report on EMBA trends. The programs are targeted at executives that have some leadership experience and show potential for further career growth.

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Who is the typical EMBA student? For starters, it’s a male. Men continue to dominate the population, making up 72.4% of total enrollment, according to the study of 257 programs. Women are slowly making inroads, though: the 27.6% female enrollment is up from 25.4% last year (making for an 8.7% increase), continuing a trend of incremental gains over the past few years.

The typical student is in the early-to-middle part of his or her career. The average age of enrollees, as well as the median age, is 37.8 years, a result that has remained virtually the same during the five years for which EMBAC provided data. The average number of years of full-time work experience is 13.9, of which 9 years have been spent in management roles.

How much do students earn in their full-time jobs? In 2013 and 2014, the typical student upon entering a program made $156,790. That student’s expected salary upon leaving the program, $190,264, explains why participants believe an EMBA program is worth the effort and expense: that would be a 21.3% pay hike in just 19 months (the average duration of a program, including breaks).

Do you provide financial backing for your EMBA students? There is great disparity on that count. This year, the typical enrollee (representing 41.2% of all program participants) got nothing. At the other end of the scale, 23.2% of students got a full ride. In the middle, 19.5% of them got a partial reimbursement that was 50% or less, while 16.1% got a partial reimbursement of more than 50%.

Employers in the United States and Canada are significantly more likely to give their EMBA participants at least some financial support: 62.7% of this year’s program enrollees got something, while elsewhere in the world only 50.3% received help. However, the results were reversed at the other end of the employer-aid spectrum: in the U.S./Canada region 20.9% of the students were reimbursed for the entire cost of the program, trailing the 28.5% figure registered in other countries.

The average cost of an EMBA program is $74,705 this year, while the median is $69,500. However, costs are all over the map: 19.8% of programs are less than $45,000, 18.3% of programs are more than $100,000, and the largest cost category is $60,000 to $80,000 (24.9% of programs). The good news is that 53.3% of EMBA programs offer scholarships or fellowships.

There also are disparities in the industries that EMBA students come from. The typical program participant works in the pharmaceuticals/biotechnology/health-care sector (16.5% of total enrollment). The next-most-represented industries, among 11 listed, are technology, manufacturing, and financial services. The least-represented industry? It’s real estate (5.2%), followed by media/entertainment, nonprofit, and consulting.