Executive Education

The 2018 top EMBA Programs in the West

As you look at different business schools for your Executive MBA, your attention might turn to the Northeast US. The Ivy League schools are there as well as several hubs of industry, like New York, Boston, and Washington, DC – but the world is a big place. Choosing an EMBA program on the West Coast might make more sense. There are lots of schools on the left-hand side of the United States that deserve a deeper look.

Attending an EMBA program in the West can mean a great school as well as some important advantages. For one, if you already live in the Pacific or Mountain time zones, getting to class will be easier than having to fly east a few time zones. On the other hand, if you don’t live in the West, taking your EMBA in California or another western state could open up some different opportunities like travel. Extend your trip to class by a day each time and explore all the national parks, surfing, skiing, and hiking that the West Coast has to offer.

If you are thinking about a West Coast business school for whatever reason, here are some top EMBA programs in the West to get you started, from Ivy Exec’s 2018 Best Executive MBA Programs ranking.

The Chapman University EMBA

The Chapman University EMBA is offered through Chapman University’s Argyros School of Business and Economics in Orange, California. Its MBA program is ranked 68th in the country and in the top 20 regionally. It is 20th for prestige, 20th for career advancement, 20th for curriculum, 20th for global experience and 19th for life balance. The Chapman University EMBA also appears amongst top schools in US News & World Report, Bloomberg Businessweek, CEO Magazine, Poets & Quants, and RePEC.

The program takes 21 months to complete and is 100% classroom taught. Classes meet every week on Thursday nights and Saturday mornings. The average class size is just 13 students, making the Chapman University EMBA a good choice for people who prefer smaller class sizes. The average Executive MBA student there has 13 years of work experience.

The program is heavy on industry partnerships and many students benefit from Those relationships in the long term.

CU EMBA

The CU EMBA is offered through the Graduate Schools of Business at the University of Colorado (Boulder, Denver, and Colorado Springs). The program is ranked 121st overall in the world and 16th in the region. The CU EMBA is ranked 16th for prestige, 16th for career advancement, 19th for curriculum, 16th for global experience, and 7th for life balance.

The program lasts for 21 months. Classes are 100% classroom taught. They meet on consecutive Fridays and Saturdays on alternating weekends. The program also includes a 10-day international business trip. The purpose of the trip is to help students gain first-hand experience of company operations. They have the chance to speak and work directly with senior managers at each facility and the class as a group tours several. During the trip, students also have the opportunity to divide into groups to explore certain topics in more detail.

These focus groups are unique because they get to work with different companies and organizations who are involved with their topic rather than just discussing the topic theoretically. In addition, EMBA students can travel up to three more times during the course of their studies. The purpose of this is to help improve global understanding and cultural awareness.

The program is very collaborative. Students work in groups for much of the program. The average class size is just 27 and the cohort has an average of 17 years of work experience before joining the program. Top student industries include accounting, economics, engineering, management, and law.

The UC Irvine Executive MBA Program

The University of California Irvine offers the UC Irvine Executive MBA Program through the Paul Merage School of Business. The program is ranked 71st overall in the world and 10th in the region. It is also ranked 10th for prestige, 19th for career advancement, 14th for curriculum, 10th for global experience, and 12th for life balance. The school is considered one of the best research institutes in the world.

The UC Irvine Executive MBA Program lasts for 21 months and is divided between classroom study and experiential projects. Classes meet on Friday afternoons and all-day on Saturdays, but only four such weekends are required per quarter. There are more than 50 electives offered as well as a range of specializations: digital transformation, healthcare management, innovation and entrepreneurship, and real estate development.

The average class size in the UC Irvine EMBA is 42 and those students bring an average 15 years of work experience. Top student industries include technology, biotech, pharmaceuticals, healthcare, government, financial services, and real estate.

The Eller Executive MBA

The Eller Executive MBA is offered by the University of Arizona’s Eller College of Management. Within its region, the 21-month program is ranked 8th for prestige, 12th for career advancement, 13th for curriculum, and 12th for global experience. It involves 95% classroom work and 5% experiential project.

The Eller EMBA meets on a consecutive Friday and Saturday once a month. The average class size is 45 and they average 13 years of work experience.

Heading to the West Coast for your EMBA can be a smart choice. As you look at each school, consider your goals and your lifestyle, then look at how each program supports those efforts. You might find that the Executive MBA program of your dreams is just down the road.


Ivy Exec’s goal in releasing its annual EMBA program rankings is to support its members and the broader, global professional community in making better-informed decisions when selecting the best-fit Executive MBA program for themselves. Pursuing an EMBA is a significant investment of time, not to mention money, so these rankings may help a professional consider potential ROI ahead of time.

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.