Executive Education

Best Bang for Your Buck: Most Affordable EMBA Programs With Great ROI

affordable emba program

You have to spend money to make money as the saying goes.

Unfortunately, when it comes to investing in higher education, this old maxim hits a little too close to home. After all, as a seasoned executive looking to make the next leap forward in your career, you might feel that the only way to launch is through an advanced degree. However, finding the money to finance an EMBA can be a challenge as tuition for some top programs now exceeds $170,000 and corporate financial sponsorships are largely a thing of the past. But, no one says you have to spend a lot of money to make money—so we’ve handpicked 5 affordable Executive MBA programs with great ROI that can launch the next phase of your career.

The EADA-HHL Global Executive MBA

Tuition: $47,000 for 21 months

This global EMBA program is one of the most affordable in the world. More importantly, it doesn’t sacrifice prestige for price. At $47,000, students can expect an average salary boost of 60% after graduation. Of course, accommodations are provided for the residential sessions but airfare to Barcelona and Leipzig from the US could add significantly to the base cost of tuition. As a result, this program is likely the most affordable for those executives already based in Europe.

Over the course of the 21-month program, students will only miss 40 days of work while attending classes in Barcelona and Leipzig. EMBA students will also have to complete two additional modules overseas in India, China or Brazil. But the program is tailored to working executives who want to see an immediate return on investment. Classes are kept small and interactive and the school provides a dedicated team of executive coaches to help develop leadership skills in all of its students. The school promotes a “Learning by Doing Methodology” that helps its program participants immediately begin integrating the lessons learned in the classroom into their daily work.

The Cranfield Executive MBA

Tuition: $45,497 for 24 months

The Cranfield EMBA is a particularly prestigious and affordable option for executives who are already based in the UK. At around $45,000, students can expect an average salary boost of 42% after graduating.

Just 45 miles from London, this program meets bi-weekly on Fridays and Saturdays. The first part of the program covers 13 management modules to help students develop their skills particularly in the area of consultancy. The second part of the program includes an international business trip and several elective modules that students can tailor to their own goals including coursework in international law, strategic innovation and risk management. Students are also offered the option of completing an individual project within a corporation.

The Auburn Executive MBA at the Harbert College of Business

Tuition: $62,790 for 21 months 

Auburn boasts one of the more flexible EMBA programs out there. The school strives to complement its students’ career progression without interrupting it. Program participants need only visit the Alabama campus five times during the 21-month program, combining remote learning with in-person sessions to achieve a better life balance. Because of the structure of the program, it is accessible to executives who may be based outside the region who wish to attend without making remote participants second-class citizens.

“When considering EMBA programs, I knew that I wanted to go to a top school. But I needed a program that offered flexibility and I wanted a program that would push me to grow and develop,” Sean M. Suggs Auburn EMBA class of 2010 recalls. “Today, as the vice president of manufacturing for Toyota’s Mississippi plant, I utilize my knowledge of organizational management, cost analysis and international business that was learned through the EMBA program to shape and advance the business goals of my team.”

In addition to the work-life balance that Auburn works to promote, the school also strives to make the financial burden of pursuing an EMBA more manageable. Tuition is completely inclusive with no hidden costs or fees. Everything from housing and meals during on-campus sessions to airfare and lodging during the program’s international trip—even your cap and gown rental for graduation is included.

The University of Florida EMBA at the Warrington College of Business

Tuition: $61,000 for 20 months

This Gainesville-based program focuses on small-group learning during its monthly sessions. At $61,000, students can expect an average salary boost of 26% after graduation. Each cohort will embark on one international study trip. Recent classes have travelled to London, Paris and Munich. While abroad, students have met with world leaders and business executives including a senior advisor to the United Nations, a top executive of Disneyland Paris and the President of Citi France.

“I found the program to be extremely valuable as I moved forward with my entrepreneurial career,” says Scott Paladini, class of 2013. He enrolled in the UF EMBA program after quitting his impressive job at Morgan Stanley, feeling unsatisfied with his career trajectory in finance. He chose UF because he believed the program would help him achieve his ultimate goal: starting his own business. He went on to found Bear Mattress, a successful direct-to-consumer mattress line.

“The coursework was a great mix of things you’ll come across in some shape or form when starting a business like supply chain management, business writing, and real estate.”

The Sobey Executive MBA at Saint Mary’s University

Tuition: $40,000 for 18 months

The Sobey program is, by far, the most affordable of any that Ivy Exec ranked in 2017. At less than a quarter of the cost of some other top tier schools, Sobey can still offer an impressive return on investment: students can expect an average salary boost of 16% after graduation. Classes meet on alternate Fridays and Saturdays with no overnight residencies required.
“When I entered the EMBA program, I had already achieved a lot of my educational and career milestones: a Ph.D. and a dozen years of sales, marketing, and international business development. Halfway through the first year of the program, I took a leap of faith and decided to change careers and soon after I found myself as the CEO of a young start-up company in desperate need of leadership,” says Dr. Stephen Jones, EMBA class of 2013.
Dr. Jones is the CEO of 4Deep Inwater Imaging, a company that develops holographic microscopes for liquid environments.

“My corporate success since graduation is in part due to hard work and determination but there is no doubt that the EMBA has provided me with core competencies that every successful entrepreneur must have. The process of obtaining my EMBA was a life changing event and within the corporate world of business, Sobey EMBA graduates believe that the sky is the limit,” he says.

About the Author

R. Kress is an Emmy Award winning journalist whose reporting and writing has appeared in national media from NBC News to the International Herald Tribune. She has covered news from cities around the world including Jerusalem, Krakow, Amman and Mumbai.