Executive Education

Top 6 EMBA Programs for Non-Traditional Learners

The number of non-traditional students entering graduate programs has increased in recent years.

As changing technology and economic fluctuations impact the job market, many people are returning to school in pursuit of advanced degrees. In a number of ways, these students often embody the definition of “non-traditional.”

Yet what is a non-traditional learner, and more importantly, what is a non-traditional educational system? We explore these concepts and provide several schools that meet this definition most adeptly.

Defining Non-Traditional

A non-traditional learner is anyone who doesn’t fit the accepted norm for a student. In the case of an EMBA student, this may mean someone who is significantly older, someone who earned a GED rather than a traditional high school diploma, or even a single parent.

Traditional education typically provides a great deal of structure, discipline, rules, and resources. This can be helpful for students who might naturally lack discipline and need extra prodding to improve their personal or professional position. On the other hand, non-traditional education can provide more flexibility and customization to individual learning needs.

Below, we have outlined 6 of the top Ivy Executive Programs for learners who want more creativity and innovation to their learning.


Located in France, INSEAD is an innovative university that offers a clear path for students who may not be successful with traditional measures of aptitude. As one of the few EMBA programs that don’t require scores from the GMAT, it stands out. Many schools use this test to help nudge their way into business school rankings, as well as identify students who may not be excel in their program, which is only a small part of how INSEAD is non-traditional in its approach. INSEAD also prioritizes diversity and global education and boasts alumni from 159 different nationalities.


For parents of young children and for people who work full time, trudging across the country (or world!) to earn an EMBA can be daunting, if not impossible. For them, having a program that is either offered online or in multiple places is optimum. This is one reason Cornell Univerity’s program is so attractive. Depending on the program, students can take classes on campus in New York City or at one of many places around North America. Also appealing, graduates of the Cornell program earn an average salary increase of 102% upon graduation.

George Washington University

Not exactly thrilled by acquisition theory or capital input? Wondering how to level up your career with an Executive MBA without sacrificing your soul? Enter George Washington University. As a joint venture between GWSB and GW’s Homeland Security and Policy Institute, this program offers students the opportunity to lead and protect organizations from cybersecurity threats. Students partake in residencies in Turkey, Estonia, and Washington D.C. with an accelerated 16-month track.

Sobey Saint Mary

Rated number one for work-life balance by Ivy Exec, the Sobey EMBA program is designed for students who want flexibility in their schedules. To help enrollees who want a manageable schedule, coursework is spread over 18 months with no overnight residency required. To accommodate family travel time, no classes are led between May and August during the two-year program. To ease the transition into graduate studies, there are leadership, research methods, and accounting workshops held before regular classes ensue in September.

University of Georgia

In a nod toward non-traditional learners, the University of Georgia provides a unique approach to teaching. It balances the classes between on-campus and online 50/50, thereby allowing students to complete coursework from anywhere and at any time for half the program. During the other time, classes are held one weekend of the month. Students who travel for work, who are limited by mobility, or simply learn best in an online environment tend to appreciate this approach.


Truly unique and creative in its approach, OneMBA is the only global executive MBA designed by five premier international business schools. For students who genuinely want a global perspective and who hope to understand business on multiple continents, OneMBA is a natural fit. Over the course of 21 months, participants take classes in the United States, China, Mexico, The Netherlands, and Brazil. In doing so, they earn an EMBA through their home university and a OneMBA certificate from the partnering schools.

Whether looking for innovation, flexibility, or off-campus learning, you’re sure to find it with these Executive MBA programs. Non-traditional learning is gaining traction as more and more people demand it. No longer is it accurate to envelop all graduate students into one description. As such, those of us at Ivy Exec expect to discover even more options in the near future. Stay tuned.

About the Author

Owner of On the Verge Writing, a freelance writing business, Sylvia LeRahl has been a professional writer for ten years. Her credits include magazines Parents, Jamaica Experiences, and Cosmopolitan, as well as countless start-ups and educational institutions.