6 Reasons Why You May Prefer Open Enrollment Programs over an Executive MBA4 min read

6 Reasons Why You May Prefer Open Enrollment Programs over an Executive MBA4 min read

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New knowledge. Valuable skills. Networking opportunities. A big resume booster.

It’s no secret that a high-ranking Executive MBA (EMBA) program can bring all of the above and more, which is why it’s one of the most popular avenues toward real career advancement.

With this in mind, however, Executive MBA programs have a few drawbacks that are often overlooked. In fact, you might be in a place to benefit more from open enrollment programs instead – especially if you have a specific idea of how you’d like to advance. To help you find out, we’ve compiled six potential drawbacks to Executive MBAs that may encourage you to explore other, more suitable options.

Executive MBAs are expensive.

We can’t begin this list with anything else! Yes, the elephant in the room is the big price tag latched onto many EMBA programs. A top program can easily cost USD 200,000. You must be certain this a move that will benefit you for a lifetime.

You might not actually need an EMBA.

If you are seriously considering an Executive MBA program, you may already have many of the skills the program would teach. EMBA programs normally cover general skills such as finance and marketing. Their goal is to verse participants in a common language and prepare them for a corporate career (which is why very few MBA programs pride themselves in educating entrepreneurs, nonprofits and public sector leaders). With several exceptions, EMBA programs are essentially shorter versions of MBA programs that have more senior participants. Because they feature condensed classroom experiences with weekend or week-long bimonthly modules, EMBA programs don’t require participants to study full-time.

GMAT scores are important.

Almost all Executive MBA programs still require the GMAT, although sometimes it is waived for professionals with over 15 years of experience. While standardized tests have their purpose, it’s worth noting that they don’t test the skills required in real business situations. The GMAT’s main purpose is to test applicants’ ability to learn at the business school level, which may only be justified in the case of younger MBA applicants (although multiple studies have shown that undergraduate GPA scores and professional experience do a better job predicting applicants’ aptitude). Taking months to prepare for the GMAT means losing time and money that could be spent on acquiring immediately applicable skills.

There’s not much flexibility in EMBA curriculum.

Of course, there are clear benefits to having a thoroughly designed extended development program with a full menu of business skills. However, that doesn’t always mean it’s the best option for you. Executive MBA courses cover general strategies in various departments, and yes, they are all useful in real-life business situations. But can you be certain there won’t be much overlap with skills you already have? EMBA programs provide some flexibility, but overall, it is a prix-fixe menu. If you know about how you’d like to advance, then there are likely better options for your money, including programs such as Advanced Marketing Management from Kellogg and Advanced International Corporate Finance from INSEAD.

There are better ways to network.

EMBA programs do offer outstanding networking opportunities, as they bring together established professionals from various management functions, industries and locations. But what about all the other great ways to network, which are all readily accessible in today’s digital, connected business environment? You have a huge chance of meeting C-suite executives, CEOs and business owners in some of the shorter programs such as Disruptive Innovation with Clayton Christensen or Leading Strategic Growth and Change with Rita Gunther McGrath. These new connections may end up becoming your clients, investors or employers.

It’s not the only option for boosting you resume.

Plenty of options exist for bulking up your resume that are less time-consuming and expensive than an EMBA. Although an Ivy League business school is undeniable, many top business schools offer an alternative option to an EMBA: a less expensive, comprehensive program lasting anywhere from four to seven weeks that also grants participants alumni status. These Advanced Management Programs (AMP) are still extremely selective (probably even more so than EMBA programs), but the selection process is based on professional experience, motivation letters and interviews – not on tests. Self-selection also plays a significant role. Because of the less sophisticated application process and shorter time spent in class, AMPs also attract participants that are more senior.

Fun facts: Neither Harvard nor Stanford offer Executive MBA programs. Instead, there are great AMPs in both Harvard Business School and Stanford Graduate School of Business. AMPs can also be industry-tailored, making them a good fit for participants who really know what they want. For example, AMP for Oil and Gas Industry Executives is offered by Thunderbird and an Advanced Management Program 2×2 is delivered by Columbia Business School. Overall, there are several dozen AMP programs offered annually by leading providers all over the world.

Executive MBA programs are a great choice for many, but one size doesn’t fit all. Be sure to take the time to search based on your executive education needs, and you just might be pleasantly surprised by the options you find.

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