Executive Education

4 EMBA Programs in the Southeast That Will Make You a Better Leader

EMBA program Southeast

From fine cuisine to welcoming people, the Southeast stands out in the U.S. for a variety of reasons—not the least of which is higher education. The EMBA programs in the Southeast offer flexible class schedules, small cohorts, involved faculty, and a range of experiential learning opportunities. They also personalize the curriculum to suit the individual needs and careers of their students, often inviting classes to guide project trajectories with their input and research.

With dozens of options to choose from, these are our top picks for EMBA programs on the Atlantic seaboard and Gulf Coast.

EMBA Program Highlights in the Southeast

Auburn Executive MBA

The Auburn Executive MBA offers 70% of their curriculum in the classroom and 30% online. They recommend committing 15 to 20 hours a week to lectures, case studies, homework, and school-organized networking events. Students visit the campus five times for one-week residencies, and then they graduate from the program after completing 21 months of study.

Jay Hansen, from the 2016 EMBA graduating class, offers the following suggestion for incoming students to manage their time: “I dedicate the work day to business, my evenings to my kids, and I study at night or early in the morning. I have most weekends free for family commitments.” With a little forethought, you can balance your current responsibilities and advance your education—ultimately paving the way to a more lucrative career path.

Another highlight of the program is the ability to choose between three concentrations: healthcare, leadership, and operations. This flexibility invites students to tailor their education to suit their interests and priorities. You can also enroll in an international residency. During this trip, students visit two countries to explore global perspectives and business practices.

Standout features of the Auburn University Executive MBA include:

  • The distance component of the curriculum is delivered using the online student learning platform CANVAS, which is an all-in-one platform where students can view lectures, work in groups, hold discussions, submit homework, and stay in touch.
  • EMBA students have access to the Graduate Career Services (GCS) center for help developing their career. Services one-on-one career coaching, professional communication tutorials, personal financial planning, and more.

The UNC Executive MBA Program

The UNC Executive MBA Program is ideal for business professionals who are looking to accelerate their career but have limited availability. Students can choose between evening and weekend classes, and about 30% of the coursework takes place online. It takes just 20 months to complete the program and graduate.

The curriculum is hands-on and reinforced through real-world applications. Students work together within a tight-knit cohort for team-based, collaborative learning. For example, during weekly class meetings, you’ll be assigned challenges that require you to master the theories and skills taught during lectures in a group setting. These assignments are driven by student participation and input. Then, you can tailor your degree with 11 or more electives that cover a wide breadth and depth of topics. Students can concentrate their studies on finance, leadership, or strategy.

Lauren Culbertson, who graduated from the EMBA class in 2017, credits UNC for providing the tools she needed to excel. “I filled in the gaps to become a better leader,” she says. “This program has really changed the path of my career.” Lauren Culbertson is now the C0-Founder and CEO of LoopVOC, a tech company that designs market intelligence software.

Standout features of the UNC Kenan-Flagler Executive MBA include:

  • Ranked #7 by Bloomberg Business Week as a top school for leadership with an integrated, high-quality learning center designed to accelerate your career.
  • The curriculum focuses on case-based methods, simulations, and practical examples, which will help you hone your business acumen and strategy.

Read more first-person accounts about attending an EMBA program

Culverhouse College of Business Executive MBA Program at the University of Alabama

EMBA programsThe Culverhouse College of Business Executive MBA Program is split 50/50 between online and classroom work, so students only spend one or two weekends a month on campus. The curriculum appeals to team players and focuses on collaboration with intensive group work. This approach expands students’ leadership and interpersonal skills and encourages them to develop a long-lasting professional network. Think of the program as a strategic “boardroom” approach to learning, where you’ll learn by working on case studies, simulations, debates, in-depth projects, and presentations. It makes for an innovative and dynamic environment.

“[Post-graduation, I] led [the] acquisition and integration of Nokia-Siemens unit,” Explains Kent Darzi, a graduate of the program. “Without the UA EMBA, I would not have had this opportunity and advancement.”  Today, Kent Darzi is the Vice President of ADTRAN, Inc., which has developed over 700 patented innovations over the last three decades.

The Culverhouse EMBA is distinguished for the following:

  • A small cohort of just 40 students creates an intimate environment focused on providing a transformative experience for students. You’re part of the family at The University of Alabama.
  • The EMBA program hosts a unique workshop where students explore leadership and employee engagement models from industry giants, including Disney.

Kennesaw State Executive MBA

The Kennesaw State Executive MBA Program is ranked the #1 program in the Southeast for encouraging a sustainable work/life balance. In large part, this is due to how the program is set up. Students meet on campus Saturday and Sunday once per month—this makes up about 48% of the program. The other 40% of the program focuses on experiential learning, and the remaining 12% occurs online.

During the 19-month program, students take a multi-disciplinary approach with a curriculum that highlights business fundamentals and decision-making. As a student, you’ll review Harvard Business School case studies, take on consulting projects, and collaborate with five or six peers to complete a group project. The Kennesaw State University Executive MBA also extends beyond the U.S. border. Students embark on a 12-day trip to South America to learn about international businesses firsthand.

“The Executive MBA at Kennesaw has allowed me to focus on my leadership development,” says Kerstin Valdés, from the class of 2002. “Without that foundation, I don’t think I’d be as successful as I am today.” Kerstin Valdés is now the CFO of Consumer Business at Georgia-Pacific LLC, which hosts over 300 locations across North America and South America.

Defining features of the Kennesaw State University Executive MBA include:

  • The KSU EMBA is one of the only two global programs that offers program-long executive coaching. Students are paired with an executive volunteer of their choice.
  • Bloomberg Business Week ranked the EMBA #3 internationally in teamwork and #10 for eBusiness.

Attending an EMBA program in the Southeast is a smart choice. The region is well-known for supporting the engineering and industry sectors; it’s also a booming location for job growth, particularly in manufacturing, healthcare, and energy. The Southeast offers a mix of friendly small towns and big cities, making it easy to travel between vastly different atmospheres and lifestyles. It has character—it’s the birthplace of country music and Southern hospitality. Its hallmarks are a warm climate, sandy coasts, and the Appalachian Mountains. The Southeast is a remarkable place to visit and advance your career—all you need to do is decide which EMBA program sparks your interest.

What’s the ideal class size? It depends on your priorities—here’s what you need to know before enrollment.


About the Author

Kelly Vo is a full-time freelance writer specializing in digital marketing, personal development, and content creation. A social media and brand development expert, you can find Kelly at http://kevowriting.com/ where she helps businesses and executives develop their authentic voice.