Executive Education

The Best EMBA Programs for Working in the Public Sector


While many in the public sector choose to pursue MPA degrees, an increasing number of students are opting for an EMBA program. Some business schools even provide a strong pipeline to public service careers, thanks to partnerships with outside organizations and focused coursework. When you’re evaluating programs, it’s helpful to consider not just the faculty but also the cohort you’ll work with—and if a large percentage of your peers work in the public sector, it’s a good indication you’ll benefit from the program if you want to advance in that field. Executive MBA programs provide many peer learning and networking opportunities, and student participation helps steer the direction of lectures. This exchange is why we’ve compiled a list of the executive MBA programs with the most graduates in the public sector.

7 Leading EMBA Programs for Excelling in the Public Sector

1. Auburn University Executive MBA

About 24% of Auburn EMBA cohorts work in government, the highest number for any of the programs that made the Ivy Exec 2019 Executive MBA ranking. The curriculum centers around principles of innovation and includes courses like “Organizational Leadership, Ethics and Change,” and “Information Technology Auditing”—a pragmatic resource for addressing the security challenges that face municipalities today. Auburn also offers a concentration in healthcare with many opportunities to explore public policymaking and law. The program even includes a trip to Washington, D.C., where students join can see the inner-workings of national policy creation.

2. Rutgers Executive MBA

The core curriculum at Rutgers EMBA covers areas such as finance, executive leadership, and marketing, and students can use their electives to customize the program toward career interests or a concentration. Rutgers also has a series of “Powerhouse Advantage” sessions, which are one-unit intensives on issues like “Crisis Leadership and Change Management” and “How to Make Ideas Stick” that apply to both the public and private sectors. About 12% of the Rutgers Executive MBA cohort work in governmental service. Through mentorship programs like “America Needs You,” Rutgers students can partner with industry leaders to advance improvements in the state.

EMBA3. Kennesaw State Executive MBA

About 12% of Kennesaw State’s EMBA cohort work in public agencies. The curriculum features courses such as “Principles of Leadership” and “Managing Human Capital” that directly apply to federal, state, and local government work. Throughout the program, students are paired with a senior-level executive mentor to help them advance their skills. KSU is also the highest-ranked EMBA program in Georgia, and Ivy Exec members rated it #10 in the region for prestige.

4. Cornell University and Queen’s University Executive MBA Americas

About 9% of the cohort at Cornell’s Executive MBA Americas program work in the government/public sector or military; an additional 4% work in nonprofit agencies. Cornell’s curriculum is multidisciplinary and covers topics such as leadership, social responsibility, strategic thinking, and management, all of which apply to the public sector. The program culminates in two residential projects where students explore new venture entrepreneurship and business globalization.

The coursework in the Cornell Executive MBA Americas program is delivered via live interactive video conferences in cities across North and South America, providing a collaborative and diverse learning environment that opens the door to innovation. Students earn degrees from both Cornell University and Queen’s University.

5. Cornell EMBA Metro New York

The Cornell EMBA Metro New York cohort meets at the Tata Innovation Center on the Cornell Tech campus on alternate weekends. The program is completely immersive, with students staying in a NYC-based hotel on Saturday nights when classes are in session. Ten electives are offered every year, and students complete six over the course of the program. Some examples of previously offered electives include “Negotiations,” “Advanced Critical Thinking for Business Leaders,” “Strategy and Innovation,” and “Raising Capital.” About 8% of the Cornell Metro New York cohort work in a government or nonprofit position.

6. Columbia Business School EMBA

About 8% of the cohorts at Columbia Business School’s EMBA program work in the government, military, or at a nonprofit. The institution fosters an entrepreneurial mindset and gives students the reins to control their academic studies with a wide range of electives and student organizations. Course highlights include “Executive Leadership,” “Power and Influence in Organizations,” “Napoleon’s Glance,” and “Strategy Formulation.” EMBA students can also enroll in the classes that are offered through the full-time MBA program, although these classes will likely take place on weeknights.

7. University of Connecticut Executive MBA

About 7% of the UConn EMBA cohort work in a government position. The EMBA program is broken into 10 modules, most of which meet four times every other week. Students typically take three courses in each module. Some of the available courses include “Using Statistics in Business,” “Modeling Statistical and Qualitative Uncertainty,” and “Managing Information Technology”—all of the electives and core classes include lessons that translate across sectors. In addition to a robust academic curriculum, the UConn graduate program also partners with local organizations, including the Riverfront Recapture nonprofit and CCMC’s pediatric sleep lab.

Learn more about what Ivy Exec members are saying about EMBA programs around the world.


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