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The best business schools for an EMBA

Individuals who have several years of professional experience, already hold a position of responsibility for personnel or budgetary matters, and now want to take another step up the career ladder in the world of business can choose to pursue the Executive MBA. This variety of part-time MBA program generally takes two years to complete. Depending on the student’s personal and professional situation, however, the EMBA’s part-time structure allows for it to be extended over a period of up to seven years. That is a long time, which is why candidates usually collect detailed information about individual universities before enrolling in the program. One of the many questions involves determining which business school in the industry is the “best” or has the best reputation.

1. Content of the EMBA programs

The target group of EMBA programs is different from that of an MBA, and this is reflected in the course contents. MBA students, whose previous degree is usually not from the field of business, are learning skills for a future management position; whereas, EMBA students are expanding upon their knowledge from the industry. Students on the Executive MBA program enhance their career prospects through constant national and international networking, and the related development of their intercultural skills.

EMBA candidates have very similar career and life experiences, allowing for a high quality of discussion and exchange. The high level of internationalization within the EMBA also makes it easier to focus on global differences than within an MBA program. Furthermore, the EMBA programs are mostly taught in smaller groups, which facilitates collective thinking.

2. EMBA rankings 2020 & 2021

Every year, various providers compile international business school rankings in which universities are assessed on the basis of distinct criteria and in which different points are emphasized. We have selected three such international rankings to present to you here.

2.1. Financial Times (FT)

The rankings consist of 100 places. Here we reveal which institutions made it into the top positions. This is the top 10:

2021School nameCountryProgram nameSalary today ($)Salary growth (%)
1HEC ParisFrance/Qatar/ChinaHEC Paris International EMBA438,30395
2CeibsChina/Switzerland/GhanaCeibs Global EMBA487,37268
3Kellogg/HKUST Business SchoolHong KongKellogg-HKUST Executive MBA508,96464
4EMBA-Global Asia: Columbia/HKU/LBSUS/Hong Kong/UKEMBA-Global Asia347,82896
5Trium: HEC Paris/LSE/NYU: SternFrance/UK/US/ChinaTrium Global EMBA427,22354
6ESCP Business SchoolFR/GB/DE/ES/IT/LBEMBA290,70793
7Iese Business SchoolSpain/USEMBA386,84949
8EMBA-Global: Columbia/LBSUS/UKEMBA-Global Americas & Europe314,78876
9Arizona State University: WP CareyChinaArizona State University WP Carey/SNAI EMBA485,94694
10Shanghai Jiao Tong University: AntaiChinaSJTU Antai EMBA486,808110

(Source: Financial Times)

The first university in the Financial Times ranking that offers the EMBA in Germany is WHU – Otto Beisheim School of Management. The business school was ranked 34th in 2019.

According to the Financial Times ranking, the Kellogg-WHU EMBA program was the Number 1 Executive MBA program in Germany in 2019, the twelfth time in a row it achieved that honor, further cementing its position as Germany’s leading EMBA program.

2.2. The Economist

In 2020, for the fourth time, The Economist conducted a ranking of EMBA programs offered around the world in its “Which MBA? Executive MBA Ranking 2020.” Here, too, the Kellogg-WHU Executive MBA program was among the top positions in the business school ranking:

 School nameProgramLocationBrand
1University of California at Berkeley – Haas School of BusinessBerkeley MBA for ExecutivesUSA
2Northwestern University – Kellogg School of ManagementKellogg Executive MBA ProgramUSB
3IE University/Brown UniversityIE Brown Executive MBASpain/USB
4Northwestern – Kellogg/WHU – BeisheimKellogg-WHU Executive MBA ProgramUS/GermanyB
5Yale School of ManagementYale MBA for ExecutivesUSB

(Source: The Economist)

4th place for the Kellogg-WHU program

The Economist’s “Which MBA? Executive MBA Ranking 2020” is based on data provided by universities as well as by students enrolled on the programs. The business school ranking is particularly meaningful because three years of graduates as well as the program’s current students were surveyed. Other important criteria considered in the ranking include the career options the EMBA course opens up for graduates, the diversity of students in terms of internationality, gender, and industry background, and the quality of teaching, of the program participants, and of the teaching staff. Salary increases after graduating from the EMBA course, subsequent career development, and the global networks of alumni are also evaluated.

In addition to an excellent overall evaluation, the Kellogg-WHU EMBA program can boast outstanding scores in a number of specific categories. For example, the salary increases enjoyed by the program’s graduates are the third highest in the world. The program ranks 7th globally when it comes to career options and the subsequent career development of graduates. The quality of the faculty staff was also ranked 7th in the international comparison. A total of 70 programs were included in the latest ranking.

2.3. QS Executive MBA-Ranking

In the recent “QS Executive MBA Joint Programs Ranking 2020,” our Kellogg-WHU EMBA program was (once again) ranked 7th out of 20 joint EMBA programs. On a scale of 100, Kellogg-WHU achieved very good results in the categories “Employer Reputation” (98.5), “Thought Leadership” (95), and “Career Outcome” (72.3). In addition to the above categories, the ranking also took issues such as diversity and management profile into consideration.

3. Accreditations

Accreditation is a way of achieving a high level of quality assurance for study courses. However, this kind of academic quality is difficult to measure. To make it possible to measure and compare courses nevertheless, accreditations are carried out by agencies under private law that are authorized to do so. These accreditations are reviewed by the state-controlled accreditation council.

Quality management at business schools thereby puts the focus on quality in the core competencies of teaching, learning, research, and practice. Consequently, quality management is controlled by central players and is understood as a joint task to be shared by all the stakeholders of a university. The collective ambition is to continuously improve in the core competencies listed above.

WHU’s accreditations confirm the institution’s achievements, and corroborate the exceptional ranking results:

EQUIS (since 1998): A demanding accreditation for universities around the world whose entire organization stands out due to exceptional quality. (WHU gained this accreditation in 1998, the first German university to do so.)

AACSB (since 2010): One of the world’s most prestigious accreditations for business schools. The American agency is characterized by its long tradition, its extensive network, and mutual learning. The AACSB focuses on “Engagement,” “Innovation,” and “Impact” as driving forces.

FIBAA (since 2012): WHU was one of the first German universities to (re-)accredit its own courses internally.

4. Conclusion

If you plan to pursue an EMBA, you will eventually have to choose a business school. Besides the business school rankings, which are primarily derived from subjective observations by earlier graduates, you can and should also draw your own conclusions about the business school you are considering. To be able to do so, it’s beneficial to obtain detailed information about the school. Information about tuition fees and the structure of the EMBA program are probably the most relevant points in this process. There is also the possibility of attending a few lectures in order to experience for yourself what the instructors are like and to get an overall feel for the school. A further aspect that you can look into is the university’s reputation within the industry. The business school rankings can be somewhat helpful in this assessment, but there are no rankings exclusively for German universities.

As a generalist postgraduate management course, the Kellogg-WHU Executive MBA program is geared towards experienced managers and top executives with at least eight years of professional and management experience. The course highlights new perspectives and opportunities for developing innovative solutions for your management tasks, and allows you to begin a transformational international journey:

  1. The world’s biggest EMBA network: Access to EMBA students at six Kellogg-WHU university locations around the world and a network of more than 65,000 alumni from 120 countries.
  2. Diverse experiences and perspectives: Intensive interaction with fellow students from diverse professional, cultural, and academic backgrounds; develop your expertise and acquire new management instruments for immediate application in practice and within companies.
  3. Career opportunities: New challenges and opportunities with a curriculum specially designed for managers and the integrated Leadership & Career Development Program.

An internationally focused curriculum – developed for experienced executives

Strategic thinking, difficult decisions, and collaboration with international teams – these are just some of the major challenges you have to face every day as a manager or executive. The Kellogg-WHU Executive MBA program was developed to provide top managers the opportunity to reconcile studying and a full diary.  

On-campus studying usually takes place over extended weekends (Thursday to Tuesday) and includes 57 to 63 attendance days (depending on the specific electives). Through the Global Electives courses, you have the opportunity to choose your own areas of focus based on your individual preferences and career goals.

The Kellogg-WHU EMBA is an internationally recognized qualification.


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