As the world’s economy continues to shudder, everyone is scrambling to find ways to make themselves more valuable to both their current employer as well as to their next employer (if needed). For a long time, getting an MBA has been an option that many product managers have considered. The big drawback has always been the amount of time that this degree requires – on top of all of your other responsibilities. It turns out that there is another option: the executive MBA.
I guess a good question to start off with is how does an executive MBA differ from a “regular” MBA? An executive MBA generally meets every other weekend for two full days – Friday and Saturday. Students generally travel to campus to participate in classes. While not in class, remotely located students collaborate to complete class assignments.
There’s also the issue of time: an executive MBA generally takes two years from start to finish. If you are working and choose to participate in a regular MBA, there’s a good chance that it will end up taking you longer to complete your degree as you take one or two classes a semester.
Where to go is the big question if you choose to pursue an executive MBA. There are a lot of executive MBA programs out there and because they are such a profit center for universities, they are all marketed heavily. Thankfully the folks over at the Wall Street Journal have taken the time to conduct a survey and they’ve found the best places for a product manager to go.
Just how do you go about ranking executive MBA programs? Well over at the WSJ they decided to go about doing it based on multiple criteria. The most important factor that they chose was how corporations viewed the programs – I mean you’re really getting the degree to boost your marketability, right? Next came how students in the program actually felt about the program. Finally, the value of what they were being taught was factored in.
So who won? Here’s the ranking of the top 10 executive MBA programs as computed by the Wall Street Journal:
- Northwestern University (Kellogg)
- University of Pennsylvania (Wharton)
- Thunderbird School of Global Management
- University of Southern California (Marshall)
- University of North Carolina (Kenan-Flagler)
- University of Michigan (Ross)
- Cornell University (Johnson)
- Columbia University (NY Program)
- University of Chicago
- Duke University (Fuqua)
So what do YOU need to consider if you are thinking about enrolling in an executive MBA program above and beyond which program ranks the highest? One interesting point is just how much this is going to cost.
The executive MBA programs that were reviewed by the Wall Street Journal cost between $65,000 and $160,000 just in tuition (books, travel, etc. would all be extra). Since lots of students work for firms that pay all/part of the cost of the program, the median out-of-pocket cost turned out to be something like $45,000. Of course then there’s the issue of travel…
In the survey, 64% of the executive MBA students traveled less than 50 miles to go to school which means most of them are local to the school. However 7% traveled up to 200 miles and 9% traveled more than 1,000 miles.
In the end, the big question is if this is all worth it? Once again we can go back to the survey to find out. 24% of those students surveyed said that they had been given a both a raise and a promotion since they started executive MBA classes. Another 30% said that they expect both in the next year.
So what do you think: is an executive MBA the way to go or is a regular MBA better? Do you think that getting an MBA would be worth $45,000+? Could you stay at your current company or would you have to leave once you got your degree? Leave me a comment and let me know what you are thinking.