Executive Education

2018 Top EMBA Programs for Healthcare, Pharma, and Biotech Executives

Top EMBA Programs for Healthcare, Pharma, and Biotech Executives

The healthcare, pharma, and biotech sectors are evolving fields and increasingly becoming globalized. While issues remain, opportunities also wait to be tapped, due largely to social innovation and digital technology.

For professionals in this field looking for EMBA programs that attract the most of their peers, we’ve created a list of the top executive MBA programs for healthcare, pharma, and biotech executives, from Ivy Exec’s 2018 Best EMBA Programs ranking.

Weill Cornell Executive MBA/MS in Healthcare Leadership

As one of the few Executive MBA programs dedicated specifically to Healthcare professionals, the Weill Cornell Executive MBA/MS in Healthcare Leadership has more than 65% of its students coming from the healthcare sector. The dual-degree program will allow you to gain specialized skills from one of the most respected institutions in healthcare education, while simultaneously acquiring leadership skills from a top management school.

On the benefits of a dual degree, alumni Edward Nejat, MD, MBA, says “I could be in this position without the MBA,” and continues, “but I would certainly be less confident in my abilities, and it would have been more difficult to accomplish what I’m able to now.”

Starting in August 2018, the healthcare program will be relocating to the Cornell Tech Tata Innovation Center on Roosevelt Island in New York City. Being situated at the epicenter of technology and having access to state-of-the-art facilities will equip you to lead medical institutions and innovate in the healthcare/pharma/biotech field.

Fisher Executive MBA

Taking the top spot with 30% of its student population from the healthcare sector is the Fisher EMBA at Ohio State University (OSU). Ivy Exec ranked the program #8 in the U.S. Midwest for 2018. It also holds the #5 spot for prestige, #6 for curriculum, and #8 for global experience in the region.

The program is minimally disruptive to professionals’ busy schedules, as on-campus sessions meet for three consecutive days (Thursday to Saturday) per month over a period of 16 months, perfect for allowing students to focus on their jobs while pursuing an MBA.

Fisher alumni Dr. Ryan Carvalho, a practicing physician at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, has this to say about the program: “The Fisher EMBA will grow your knowledge and accelerate your career, making you a better corporate citizen and an invaluable member to society.”

Rutgers Executive MBA Program

At #2 with 22% of its total student population from the pharma/biotech/healthcare sector is Rutgers Business School’s Executive MBA program. Ivy Exec ranked it #5 overall in the U.S. Northeast. In terms of category rankings (also in the Northeast region), it’s #1 for life balance, #6 for global experience, #6 for curriculum, and #8 for career advancement.

Classes meet bi-weekly, and a 10-day immersion program in Shanghai and Beijing helps students find solutions to workplace problems from a global perspective.

According to Stephen Weber, Director of Patient Experience at The New Eye and Ear Infirmary of Mount Sinai: “I felt Rutgers really capitalized on what it meant to be an executive and a professional in the tri-state area. I think they really have that down.”

Dr. Maninder Abraham, Executive Medical Director at Inpatient Medical Associates, has good things to say about the Rutgers EMBA as well: “It’s really made me a better, more intuitive, more learned leader. The way the program was structured really met my needs where I was able to work full-time and do the program.”

Mark Lloyd, Executive Director of Global Project Management for Novartis Pharmaceuticals, for his part, says: “I have looked at other programs in the area, and I think one of the unique and differentiating factors in choosing Rutgers was the culture. It was a culture of support and a culture that supported learning.”

UNC Executive MBA Program

Another program with almost a quarter of its students (22%) from the healthcare/biotech/pharma industry is Kenan-Flagler Business School’s Executive MBA program from the University of North Carolina. Ivy Exec ranked it #3 overall in the U.S. Mid-Atlantic/South region for 2018, where it also placed #5, #6, and #4 in the prestige, career advancement, and curriculum categories, respectively.

The program is offered in two formats: weekend and evening. Classroom sessions for the weekend MBA happen on Fridays and Saturdays every three weeks, while the evening MBA sessions are conducted on Monday (and some Tuesday) evenings from 5:45 p.m. to 10 p.m. Students also have the opportunity to travel the world through the program’s Global Education Initiative.

According to UNC alumni Ben Ebong, who is Senior Product Manager at Intuitive Surgical: “When I arrived at Intuitive, the corporate culture, language, and protocols were all very different than what I was used to. My UNC cohort surrounded me with leaders from every major industry who took the time to share lessons from their failures, and best practices for future success.”

Weekend and Modular MBA Programs for Executives at Emory Goizueta

Coming in at #4 with 18% of students from the pharma/biotech/healthcare sector are Emory University’s Weekend and Modular MBA programs. This Goizueta Business School offering is #6 overall on Ivy Exec’s list of the best EMBA programs in the U.S. Mid-Atlantic/South region, where it’s also #4 for career advancement, #6 for global experience, and #8 for curriculum.

The weekend EMBA meet on alternating weekends (Fridays and Saturdays) while electives are delivered in the evenings and on weekends in the final two semesters. Sessions for the modular EMBA, on the other hand, meet for eight weeks over a period of 19 months.

Emory guarantees that all students get a dedicated career coach with hands-on expertise in the field. Also, graduates gain access to a network of 19,200+ alumni working worldwide, which allows them to develop connections that will serve them well beyond the campus.

The Pace EMBA

Boasting a diverse cohort that spans across a wide-ranging variety of industries, with  15% having forged successful careers in the Healthcare Industry (#5 for healthcare cohort size), the Lubin Executive MBA at Pace University, offers a unique format blending distance and in person learning over 20 months.

In addition, the Pace EMBA also encourages hands-on experience through consulting projects with global healthcare giants like Pfizer and Sanofi-Synthelabo Pharmaceuticals, Inc., among others. The 2016 EMBA cohort reported an 11% increase in compensation with 40% being promoted after completing the program. Graduates of the program also enjoy access to a  network of over 1,000 alumni across 42 countries.

As the Associate Executive Director, Ambulatory & Patient Care Services for NYC Health + Hospitals/Jacobi, Walter D., EMBA ‘11, shares “The Pace EMBA strengthened my abilities as a manager and leader while working through real-life scenarios in a safe environment. I was able to transfer my newly acquired skills, knowledge, and abilities to drive improvements in my own organization for which I was rewarded soon after graduation.”

UC Irvine Executive MBA Program

At #6 with 14% of students from the healthcare/pharma/biotech sector is the University of California Irvine’s Executive MBA. The program is #10 overall on Ivy Exec’s 2018 list of the best EMBA programs in the U.S. West region.

Classes are conducted on Fridays and Saturdays, and specializations include Healthcare Management and Policy, Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Digital Transformation, and Real Estate and Urban Development. A week-long immersive global course is likewise offered, where students become exposed to international business in countries like Israel, Vietnam, India, Hong Kong, Myanmar, and China.

UCI’s Paul Merage School of Business is a leader in healthcare management education in the region. Its Center for Healthcare Management and Policy, which “conducts and disseminates research on key health policy issues at the national, state, and local levels,” holds annual Healthcare Forecast Conferences attended by healthcare leaders nationwide.

Global OneMBA

Global OneMBA, which is a joint EMBA program from UNC-Chapel Hill (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, USA), RSM (Rotterdam School of Management-Erasmus University, The Netherlands), EGADE (EGADE Business School-Monterrey Institute of Technology, Mexico), SMXMU (Xiamen University School of Management, China), and FGV (FGV Sao Paulo School of Business Administration, Brazil), also has 14% of its students from the biotech/pharma/healthcare sector. It’s ranked by Ivy Exec at #10 in the global joint programs category for 2018.

Classes are held on weekends (Friday to Sunday) once a month, and students get to participate in four week-long residencies in North America, Europe, Latin America, and Asia. Courses are globally coordinated, and students experience regional hands-on curriculums.

Alumni Michelle Ware, Product Manager at Halyard Health, found the program a perfect fit because of its focus on strategy development and personal leadership. The global residencies also exposed her to diverse thinking, working, and problem-solving styles, as well as lifelong relationships with her peers.

Columbia Business School Executive MBA Program

Columbia Business School’s EMBA program is #8 on this list, with 10% of its students from the healthcare/biotech/pharma fields. Ivy Exec ranked it #2 in the U.S. Northeast and #6 in the global solo programs category for 2018. The program is offered on weekends in New York and in blocks of five to six days once a month in Latin America.

Columbia also has partnerships with the University of Hong Kong and the London Business School, allowing students to pursue a Columbia Business School MBA outside the U.S., Canada, and Latin America. Experiential learning, which is 15% of the program’s learning environment, happens in Silicon Valley, Latin America, Toronto, Cape Town, and Shanghai.

According to alumni Nana Yaa Mensah: “The program is designed to allow students time to get to know each other outside of class in a meaningful way. School-sponsored events after class, like happy hour, gave me the opportunity to build familiarity and strong ties with my classmates.”

IE Global Executive MBA

Featuring a fully customizable approach, the IE Global Executive MBA at IE Business School allows healthcare professionals to choose a variety of language formats (English, Spanish, and Bilingual) as well a module that best fits your personal career trajectory, like the Biotechnology Management module. Boasting a diverse cohort with anywhere between 70-75 nationalities, the IE Global Executive MBA is ranked #7 for Career Advancement with a network of over 50,000 Alumni for lifelong networking.

The IE Global Executive MBA focuses on 360-degree business understanding with an emphasis on global leadership and global business management.  Offering five global residences across four continents with travel to Singapore, Los Angeles, and Sao Paulo students experience global understanding of different cultures as well as frameworks and techniques that focus on both entrepreneurship and intrapreneurship.

IESE Global Executive MBA

Last but not least is the IESE Business School’s Global Executive MBA with 7% of its students from the pharma/healthcare/biotech sector. It’s #5 on Ivy Exec’s EMBA Europe rankings for 2018 and takes the #6 position for prestige, #4 for career advancement, #6 for curriculum, and #4 for global experience in the region.

The program offers two tracks: Americas and Europe, which both begin in Barcelona and converge at certain points in the program. Core modules are delivered in Barcelona, Silicon Valley, New York, and Shanghai, while electives are offered in eight of the world’s major business hubs.

IESE’s EMBA program attracts students from 30+ countries, is a blend of face-to-face learning and online modules, and is taught by multicultural, multilingual professors with PhDs from some of the world’s renowned universities. Graduates become part of IESE’s 45,000-strong alumni network and become eligible to participate in IESE’s continuous education events held in major cities worldwide.


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.

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