What’s the difference between the MBA and the Executive MBA?

One common question we hear is whether an individual should be looking at the MBA program or the Executive MBA and what the differences are.  At Alberta, all students would receive the same degree (a Master of Business Administration) whether they complete our Full-Time MBA, Part-Time (Evening) MBA, our Fort McMurray MBA, or our Executive MBA program.  Each of these programs is designed to give students a broad based general management education.  Students have a number of options in terms of elective courses and specializations in our Full-Time and Evening programs, while the cohort nature of our Fort McMurray and Executive MBA programs means the course offerings are fairly set (the class as a whole would vote on the two elective courses offered in both of these programs).  So, as all programs ultimately lead to the same degree, what are some of the differences between the MBA and the Executive MBA?

Which one is right for me?
Which one is right for me?


Our Executive MBA (EMBA) is a lock-step program that would take ~22 months to complete.  You would complete the program with the same cohort, or group of students, that you begin the program with.  In completing the EMBA, you would essentially be a full-time student while continuing to work full-time.  Classes are held during the daytime every second Friday/Saturday.

Our Full-Time MBA is also a two-year (20 month) program, with classes held during the day Monday – Friday.  In our Evening MBA, courses are offered Monday – Thursday and typically run from 6:30 – 9:20PM.  Our Evening MBA is more flexible than both our Full-Time and EMBA program.  You would have more ability to set your schedule and adjust your registration each term to reflect your upcoming work commitments.  There is no set number of courses you would need to take at any one time.  Typically, students would complete our Evening MBA in 3-6 years.

Class Profile

On average, students in our EMBA class are 38-40 years old and typically bring 15+ years of experience including a number of years of management experience into the program.  An individual coming into our EMBA would be at a more senior level within their organization and looking to move into a senior leadership position or improve their overall leadership abilities.

The average age in our MBA program is lower (28 years for our Full-Time program, 32 for our Evening MBA) and students would typically enter the program looking to move into an entry-level management position or build their skill set to excel in a management role.  There is considerable range in our Evening MBA program, with students holding anywhere from 2 – 25 years of professional experience (the range of experience in our Full-Time MBA is narrower).

Class Structure

As all of our MBA programs lead to the same degree, the content of our courses are very similar across programs.  Our Executive MBA courses are definitely challenging and the program is not an MBA-lite.  That being said, there are slight differences in how the courses are taught between programs. Class interaction is important and present in all of our programs, but most prominent within our EMBA.  As everyone brings years of experience from a wide-range of industries into our EMBA, class discussions can be very lively and ideas and practices are openly challenged in class.

As students can focus their MBA degree in a wide range of areas in our Full-Time and Evening MBA, core courses can be more technical than core offerings in our Executive MBA.  This is to ensure that students have the base level of knowledge necessary to pursue advanced level courses in Accounting, Finance, or whichever area they choose to pursue.  Within the EMBA, your cohort would proceed through the program together, with a focus on leadership and general management.

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