Executive Education

Quality of Life is Important When Choosing an EMBA Program

Starting an EMBA program is something you normally do after gaining some business experience.

Many students go to business school after spending several years in management or working in another field and needing the skills necessary to lead others well. For many students, going to an EMBA program is something that happens after starting their lives. If you are like most EMBA students, you already have a home of your own and may have already started a family or have a family you need to care for (or both) – and that complicates matters. You can’t just decide on a school and go.

Considering Quality of Life

When you choose your EMBA program, you need to consider your spouse and children when adding the endeavor to your life’s plate. Otherwise, your quality of life will suffer. Program location will inevitably play into your decision – there are costs (both in time and money) associated with travel as well as certain benefits. You might also look at program structure. In addition, some people will want to consider a school that supports online learning or you might pick your EMBA program by whichever will get you your degree quickest. Finally, you will want to look at cost. Each of these factors can greatly impact your quality of life and that of your family.


The first factor you should consider is the location of the school. While your first choice might be a big school located in a major city, that can be hard when you are managing family commitments. You might be able to use your business school attendance as an excuse to bring the family with you. Your spouse could enjoy the city or take the kids sightseeing, but that only works if you can travel there as a family easily. You could, of course, travel to your classes solo, but going to a campus that is very far from home could be a major inconvenience if your family needs you.

If you have some flexibility, choosing a school near major transportation is a smart choice. The University of California Irvine’s Paul Merage School of Business offers an EMBA. The UC Irvine Executive MBA program is ranked thirteenth overall in the US West and eighth for career advancement – and it is less than an hour from Los Angeles International Airport.)

Program Structure

Program structure will also need to play into your choice of EMBA program. While many schools require a weekend once or twice a month, some business schools have different requirements. The Global Energy Executive MBA from the University of Calgary requires its EMBA students attend two-week residencies while both Rutgers University and the Katz EMBA Worldwide Program in Pittsburgh has its students come in every other Friday and Saturday.

Online Learning

There are those, like the IE Business School in Spain, that require online learning in addition to class attendance. If you have small children at home or a variety of family obligations, online learning could be a good fit for you or it could be a disaster. While most people can do well with online learning, especially when blended with other types of interaction the way the University of Georgia does it, some people will have problems attending classes online.


You might also want to consider the duration of your EMBA program. Even if your travel arrangements or the class structure is difficult to fit into your life, it might still be possible to fit an EMBA into your life if the duration of the program is limited. For instance, George Washington University offers an EMBA program that you can complete in just 16 months. Its classes are held in sessions that are held on weekends, starting Friday afternoon. Tulane University’s EMBA program in New Orleans could also be an option. Attendance is limited to alternating Fridays and Saturdays. The program length is slightly longer, at 18 months, but the difference could be negligible if Louisiana is more convenient for you than DC.


If you have a large family, are caring for parents, or experiencing any other life situations that tax your income, the cost might be a factor in choosing an EMBA program. While your earning potential will increase with your EMBA, you might not be able to afford a more expensive school. If this sounds like you, don’t worry. There are several great schools that won’t break the bank. Both ISM Business School in New York and Sobey Saint Mary in Nova Scotia offer EMBA programs that cost around $40,000 to attend and they are good schools. If you reside in Europe a good value can be found at Cranfield Business School in England, which costs just $46,000.

Quality of life may not be the first thing you think about when you look at EMBA programs, but it is something you should consider. A small shift in location, program structure, cost, or duration can make a real impact on how you live your life while you earn your degree.

About the Author

Renee Ann Butler is a business writer whose writing has appeared in numerous outlets related to finance and investing, from TheStreet to SCORE. She has an MBA, degrees in psychology, and over 15 years of experience working with hedge funds and startups.