Types of MBA Programs | ApplyMBA Blog | Apply MBA

Types of MBA Programs | ApplyMBA Blog

There are different formats of delivering an MBA program. As a business school applicant, you can apply to programs from full-time, part-time, executive, or online MBA programs. This article focuses on three most popular program types: full-time, part-time, and executive MBA programs. 


The two-year MBA program has been around for more than hundred years now. It was launched with an assumption that the students didn’t have any background of business knowledge, and so it was designed a two-year degree program. The first year is spent learning business fundamentals and in the second year, students get to specialize in their area of interest.

In recent times, there have been a number of changes to the structure of the program, but the core characteristics have remained the same. There are set of core courses that are mandatory for all the students and a number of elective courses that students choose as per their area of interest. The majority of students are relatively young, with an average age of the class being 26 or 27.

Program structure

The Kellogg’s School of Management provides an example of a two-year program structure. During the first year, all students have to go through core curriculum which consists of nine courses:

  1. Accounting for Decision Making
  2. Business Strategy
  3. Finance
  4. Marketing Management
  5. Business Analytics I
  6. Business Analytics II
  7. Microeconomic Analysis
  8. Operations Management
  9. Leadership in Organizations      

In the second year, students opt to choose elective courses from seven specializations. Specialization includes Accounting, Economics, Finance, Marketing, Operations, Strategy and Managing Organizations. A specialization requires that a student complete the core courses for the specialization and a minimum of four elective courses.

A similar structure is followed by almost all schools – first year devoted to required courses and the second year devoted to electives courses.

The Chicago Booth School of Business, on the other hand, follows quite a different approach. It offers highly flexible MBA program wherein only one course – Leadership Effectiveness and Development (LEAD) – is a required course and must be taken by everyone. Rest of the courses can be taken in a variety of area to meet a distribution requirement, but each course is to be chosen by students only.

Most two-year MBA programs are closer to Kellogg School of Management than Chicago Booth in their curricula. Even though students have lots of freedom to opt for their favorite electives, the core courses still constitute about 40 to 50 percent of the entire curriculum.

Merits of two-year full-time MBA program

  1. Traditional and most widely accepted MBA program format.
  2. Great level of interaction with other students in and out of the class, and also with faculty members.
  3. Flexibility to opt for courses which a student is very much interested in as well as to go for exchange program abroad.
  4. Opportunity to participate in various professional and social student clubs, study treks, and other outside the classroom activities.
  5. Suitable for candidates who wish to change careers by taking relevant courses and a summer internship in a field related to their area of interest.
  6. More time for in-depth study and becoming a functional specialist.
  7. More time to explore different career options and reflect upon future career path.
  8. A greater level of student satisfaction.


  1. High cost.
  2. Staying away from work for a longer period of time.


Part-time MBAs offer the opportunity to continue at one’s work and at the same time attend the school. This mode of delivery has become quite popular in recent years and many top-ranked business schools are offering part-time MBA programs.

A typical program requires taking one or two courses per term, thus extending the time it takes to complete the program. Generally, a full-time program which takes two years to complete, the same program in part-time format takes three years to complete.

Part-time MBA program is attractive to candidates who are above 7-8 years of work experience. Students are likely to be older and have financial obligations that stop them from attending a full-time program. It is also suitable for people who are unable to leave their job because of family reasons and the part-time program becomes the only pragmatic way of enhancing their business education.

Program Structure

The structure of part-time MBA program is not very much different from that of a full-time MBA program. Students get to learn the same courses and from the same faculty. The only difference you see is the different sequence of courses scheduled due to students’ commitment to the current job. The number of courses that a student completes in part-time MBA is almost same as that of the full-time MBA.

The merits and demerits of part-time MBAs are discussed after the Executive MBA section, which follows.


Executive MBAs or more popularly known as EMBA (Executive MBA) are quite the latest addition to the program offerings of most of the business schools.

Executive MBAs are different from both full-time MBA programs and part-time MBA programs in a number of ways. Full-time MBA students meet daily and their program lasts for two years. Part-time programs, typically, have classes in the evening or on the weekends and last longer than that of full-time MBA programs.

EMBA programs offer the best of both full-time programs and part-time programs: duration of EMBA programs is almost same as that of full-time programs, and EMBA students tend to stay together for a longer period of time than that of part-time MBA students.

Students with their employer support can continue to work while attending classes in the EMBA program. It allows them to learn without leaving their job.

On the negative side, the EMBA programs are not as rigorous as the full-time programs. In addition, deciding to work while pursuing the EMBA program put an intense pressure to student’s professional as well as personal life.

Program Structure

There is no common structure to an EMBA program. One EMBA program may differ from another EMBA program in many ways.

Some programs may last for two-year while others may be much shorter - taking little more than a year. There are even few programs which take up to four years to complete.

Similarly, some are lockstep wherein the whole cohort takes the classes together and graduate together, whereas others offer numerous options for starting dates, elective courses and speed at which the program can be completed.

The class schedule, similarly, differs immensely. For example, classes at UCLA’s EMBA program are held every alternate weekend (Friday and Saturday) for two years.

The TRIUM Global EMBA jointly offered by New York University Stern School of Business, London School of Business and HEC Paris School of Management is structured in six modules: a twelve-day module in London, a twelve-day module in New York, a nine-day module in Shanghai, a twelve-day module in Paris, a ten-day module in California, and a five day module in Paris, spread over seventeen months. In a similar fashion, different EMBA programs come up with a different structure to suit students’ needs.

Merits of Part-time and Executive MBAs

  1. Greater chances of the employer paying your tuition fee if you keep working while attending the part-time or EMBA program.
  2. If the employer pays your tuition fee, you can reduce your tax liability by deducting the program cost from your taxable income.
  3. There is no need to look for a job if you are staying with your current employer.
  4. You continue to earn while you learn.
  5. You do not have to move to the different city to pursue your MBA.
  6. You can practice whatever you learn in the classroom at your job and get a better understanding of the concepts taught in the class. Conversely, you can draw upon your work experience and perform better in the class.
  7. Students are typically professionals with significant years of work experience and occupy top management position in their organization. They provide a great networking opportunity.

Demerits of Part-Time and Executive MBAs

  1. EMBA programs take more time to complete than full-time program.
  2. You may not give enough time for your studies the way you could if you attended the full-time program. As a result, you may not be able to learn as much as a full-time student learns in his/her MBA program.
  3. It may be difficult to develop strong network if you do not attend a full-time program since there are very few out-of-the-classroom activities in an EMBA program.
  4. Your job performance may get affected as you would have several academic commitments to fulfill before completing the EMBA program.
  5. Of late, there has been a declining trend of employers’ willingness to finance the EMBA program.
  6. And even if you receive financial support from your current employer, you may not be allowed to access the career support services that non-sponsored students get in an EMBA program.
  7. Part-time MBA and Executive MBA are not valued as highly as a full-time program. Since Part-time and EMBAs are less rigorous than the full-time, employers tend to value them differently than the full-time program.
  8. The total number of teaching hours is lesser in EMBA program than that of full-time programs. As a result, students tend to learn less in these programs.


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