Executive Education

Going Virtual: EMBAs Without the Travel

virtual emba learning

Going back to school for an EMBA does not have to mean physically going back to school.

Online offerings are becoming increasingly mainstream in the executive education world. But, of course, investing in a fully online EMBA may still seem bit less credible in some more traditional corporations. Still, with even the most prestigious schools making their educational offerings accessible to executives who may not be able to travel to campus with any frequency, hybrid programs that are predominantly online might be a good way to split the difference. To help you navigate the best of these hybrid online programs, Ivy Exec has the top picks to consider.

The Executive MBA Americas – Cornell University and Queen’s University

The EMBA Americas program is ranked number eight worldwide—but that doesn’t mean the school is too prestigious to go digital. This joint program between Cornell University and Queen’s University is divided so that 60% of the curriculum is delivered online and the remaining 40% is offered in a more traditional classroom setting. In-person sessions are held every other weekend in dozens of cities around the globe in boardroom-style settings. Additionally, students participate in three residential sessions in New York and Ontario.

Lavan Kalaichelvam is an EMBA student set to graduate in 2018. He blogs about his academic experiences and says that a key deciding factor in choosing the EMBA Americas program was its approach to instruction.

“The Executive MBA Americas program has really captured the essence of learning in today’s society. For busy working professionals it offers enough flexibility to balance full-time work, personal life, and family, as well as ensuring a solid academic experience that will provide a long-lasting impact,” Kalaichelvam writes. “The Executive MBA Americas program integrates experiential learning with hands-on learning with new venture opportunities.”

The Purdue Executive MBA – Krannert School of Management

The Purdue EMBA is tailor made for the busy executive who wants a prestigious educational experience and top-tier network—but doesn’t have any time to waste. The school boasts that its EMBA students are able to remain employed in their full-time jobs without sacrifice, having only to attend classes in person over one to two weeks each quarter. With a total of six residencies over the course of the 19-month long curriculum, students also have the unique opportunity to pursue one of their in-person sessions abroad. Purdue’s philosophy is that these infrequent but intensive weeklong residencies are more effective than the more traditional EMBA structure where students meet every other week or in the evenings. By packing more information into a less frequent but longer session, Purdue’s faculty reports better retention of information than any other structure could offer.

US Army Battle Captain Courtney Mills earned her EMBA from Purdue in 2016. She served our country in US flight operations in Kandahar, Afghanistan and is now a drilling supervisor with Chesapeake Energy.

“I researched many EMBA programs, and Purdue is unique in its quarterly residency schedules and cohort design,” Mills say. “This format allows students to experience the culture and pride of Purdue University and encourages a strong basis of teamwork for class study, with is very similar to the military team mentality.”

The IE Global Executive MBA – IE Business School

IE University is at the forefront of online education technology. Perhaps one of the most innovative offerings is the school’s fully-integrated online classroom called the WOW room—or the Window on the World room. In it, students attend class from all over the world where their virtual screens are uploaded into a giant, curved, mosaic wall so that everyone can see each other. Think of it as a giant lecture hall where, instead of putting people in chairs, IE has managed to put students in their places virtually. The lecturer might stand in front of the virtual mosaic of student faces in person or in the form of a hologram. The professor can even be repositioned by robot. Better yet, students can digitally raise their hands and join the in-classroom discussion at any time.

But this fascinating digital opportunity is much more than a gimmick: IE believes it is the wave of the future in education.

“We are going to make the learning process more effective, more enjoyable, and more flexible and adaptive to the needs of participants,” Professor Santiago Iñiguez, president of IE university said in Times Higher Education when the concept launched in October of 2016. “As a consequence of all this it will enhance the learning process and the results of learning; it will mark a significant jump in the history of education.”

For the skeptics who believe that students will let their minds wander when in a digital classroom as opposed to a lecture hall, the WOW has a solution. Using specialized technology, professors will even be able to monitor how engaged students are through their computers and phones.

Bottom Line: Today’s EMBA student does not have to sacrifice academic prestige to pursue a degree that’s more heavily weighted toward online offerings. Even the best schools in the world are now tailoring their offerings to students who are tight on time and travel flexibility.

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.