Executive Education

Top EMBA Programs for Healthcare/Pharma Executives

“The unraveling of the human genome and the emergence of precision medicine are opening up new avenues for targeted therapies to tackle the most challenging diseases.”

Such were the words of Dr. Mitch Morris, Deloitte Consulting’s U.S./global healthcare sector leader, in an article published December 2016.

He added, “But this all comes with a high price tag.”

This is the environment healthcare is in today, and the industry is badly in need of leaders who will upend prevailing management practices. Amid regulatory changes, complex health delivery systems, and exciting new treatments, Dr. Morris rightly observed, “[T]he status quo will not do; fundamental changes in our approach to managing the costs of healthcare are required.”

Athena Health’s Paul Merrild, Senior Vice President for Enterprise Solutions, said the same thing in 2015. He wrote, “Many healthcare leaders understand that there will be little room in the healthcare landscape of the next decade for laggards. These leaders […] know their current models won’t get them where they need to go. Thus, they need to become their own disruptors.”

The Best Executive MBA Programs for Healthcare/Pharma Leaders

For healthcare professionals looking to effectively disrupt the way their companies are managed and work their way up the career ladder, we’ve compiled a list of the top Executive MBA programs from Ivy Exec’s 2017 Best Executive MBA Program rankings. The programs in this list attract the most students from the pharma/healthcare sector.

Fisher EMBA (The Ohio State University)

Topping the list is the Fisher Executive MBA program from the Ohio State University’s Fisher College of Business. Students hailing from the pharma/healthcare field comprise 30% of this program’s total student population.

Ranked by Bloomberg Businessweek as the ninth best EMBA program in the world, students have 17 years average working experience, the perfect backdrop for healthcare managers aspiring to also learn from their fellow students’ knowledge, experience, and insights.

Villanova Executive MBA (The Villanova School of Business)

Coming in at second with 25% of its students from the healthcare industry is the Villanova Executive MBA program from Villanova University’s School of Business in Pennsylvania. Average class size is 30 students, and students’ average years of work experience is 14.

This EMBA program is a total 19 months of training that’s 85% in-classroom collaboration and 15% experiential learning. Students develop bonds that last beyond graduation through various yearly events hosted by a highly engaged community of EMBA alumni.

Rutgers Executive MBA (Rutgers Business School)

Third in the list is the Rutgers Executive MBA program from the Rutgers Business School in New Jersey, with 22% of students from the pharma, biotech, and healthcare fields. Especially created for busy executives, this 20-month program is a suitable learning option for healthcare managers and executives who want to remain working while studying for an MBA.

The Rutgers EMBA program has consistently been ranked as one of the best in the world by the Financial Times since 2011. Of the Rutgers faculty members whose mission is to provide a nimble curriculum that rapidly adapts to the changing times, 85% have doctorates.

Weekend and Modular MBA Programs for Executives (Emory University, Goizueta Business School)

At fourth place with 25% of its cohort population from various healthcare organizations is Emory University’s EMBA program. Depending on your preference or availability, you can choose from the program’s two options: weekend or modular. Classes for the Weekend MBA are held on alternating weekends (Fridays and Saturdays), while the Modular EMBA program is taught for eight weeks on campus for a total 19 weeks.

Both programs come with domestic and international immersions led by an expert faculty experienced in global businesses. Classes are a combination of 79% classroom, 1% online, and 20% experiential learning for the Weekend EMBA program, and 50% classroom, 30% online, and 20% experiential for the Modular MBA option.

Students have an average 14 years of work experience, while 94% of the program’s instructors have doctorates.

Imperial Executive MBA (Imperial College London)


Coming in at number five is Imperial College London’s Imperial Executive MBA, with healthcare and pharma professionals making up 17% of the total student population. Imperial EMBA students are mostly senior managers with 15 years average work experience. The flexibility of the Imperial EMBA program also allows students to earn an MBA while working for their respective companies. All members of the Imperial EMBA faculty have doctorates, as well as extensive experiences advising governments and various industries.

Also read: Best EMBA Programs for Finance Executives

Cornell Executive MBA Metro New York (Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management, Cornell University) and IE Global Executive MBA (IE Business School)

Tied at sixth place with 13% of their students from the healthcare/pharma field are the Cornell Executive MBA Metro New York from Cornell University’s Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management and the IE Global Executive MBA from Spain’s IE Business School.

Many Johnson EMBA students are top executives from prestigious name brands, and their various business perspectives, combined with your own, can help you develop the best possible solutions to the management challenges plaguing the healthcare, pharma, biotech, and life sciences sector. A healthy 87% of the Johnson EMBA faculty members have doctorate degrees and are recognized leaders in merging theory with application.

The IE Global Executive MBA program, on the other hand, is specifically designed for executives and leaders with global responsibilities. The program offers 15-month residential periods in multiple business schools (Spain, the U.S., Singapore, and Brazil) and provides students with the best business practices, tools, techniques, and frameworks necessary to run businesses on a global scale.

With an alumni population that now totals 50,000+, IE University’s EMBA program also comes with lifelong opportunities to network and learn with other professionals from all over the world through workshops, conferences, business updates, seminars, and online curriculums.

Katz EMBA Worldwide Program (Joseph M. Katz Graduate School of Business, University of Pittsburgh)

Tied at 11% are the University of Pittsburgh’s Katz EMBA Worldwide program and the University of California Irvine’s Executive MBA program from the Paul Merage School of Business.

With a cohort diversity percentage of 35% international, the Katz EMBA program focuses on providing a truly global experience to its healthcare student population through international forums that connect classmates from all over the world. Plus, the University of Pittsburgh’s alumni network is composed of 30,000+ graduates from 90+ countries, and includes 1,000+ company board chairs, CEOs, and presidents, making it one of the best ways to forge powerful global connections.

UC Irvine Executive MBA Program (Paul Merage School of Business, University of California Irvine)

UC Irvine’s Executive MBA program is a 21-month-long training program that’s 100% classroom instruction, facilitated by faculty members who all have doctorates and are mostly consultants at Fortune 500 companies and advisors to global organizations. The UCI Paul Merage School of Business Executive Careers program offers a menu of career services to help students map a viable development plan through workshops, seminars, personalized coaching, executive mentoring, and various online resources.

Ultimately, choosing an EMBA program that’s just right for you boils down to a number of factors. But for professionals who prefer classmates also working in the pharma and healthcare sector and therefore fully understand the challenges they face, the list above represents your strongest possible options.

About the Author

Maricel Rivera is a research writer with 15+ years of professional writing experience. Her fields of interest include business, technology, online marketing, and continuing education.