The Best Executive Education Programs for Entrepreneurs

Entrepreneur Executive Education

Sometimes, we hear that the greatest entrepreneurs don’t need higher education. Bill Gates is often cited as an example, as are Mark Zuckerberg and Steve Jobs. However, it turns out we shouldn’t hold up these men as examples. They are exceptions to the rule, not representative of it. In fact, 90% of tech company founders hold bachelor’s degrees.

An even quicker jumpstart to success is the MBA. Entrepreneurs who earned MBA degrees were able to launch their businesses more successfully and more quickly than those without the degree.

For working professionals hoping to start their own companies, though, taking years off the job to complete a graduate degree is just not feasible. Luckily, professionals who want to stay in their current role—and apply their education to their immediate work—can pursue an Executive Master of Business Administration (EMBA) part-time. Experts agree that executive education can give you the preparation, skills, and connections that entrepreneurs need to embark on their own endeavors.

9 Innovative Executive Education Programs for Entrepreneurs

These EMBA programs prepare entrepreneurs with customizable education plans, flexible scheduling, and real-world networking.

Columbia Business School Executive MBA: Encouraging Startup Success

There are obvious reasons to seek a Columbia University EMBA, including its Ivy League status. Entrepreneurially-minded students also appreciate the Eugene Lang Entrepreneurship Center. In the Startup Lab housed there, more than 70 people representing 40 startup companies come together every semester to collaborate on projects, share ideas, and support each other on the road to starting their new businesses.

Executive EducationLondon Business School EMBA and Executive Education Programmes: Top-Level Thinking for Budding Entrepreneurs

The benefits of an EMBA from London Business School (LBS) are many. Not only is the program housed in two of the world’s great cities for business (London and Dubai), but it also boasts a large cohort of innovative students: 25% of LBS grads went on to start their own businesses. Furthermore, the school offers many classes aimed specifically at entrepreneurs-in-training, including Developing Entrepreneurial Opportunities and Executive Leadership.

If you’re interested in advancing your professional skills but aren’t seeking a degree, the London Business School also offers executive education programmes tailored to a specific concentration, such as general management, leadership, finance, strategy, innovation, and digital transformation.

UNC Kenan-Flagler EMBA: Flexible Scheduling and an Entrepreneurship Center

Executive education at the University of North Carolina Kenan-Flagler Business School provides one of the most impressive ROIs of any EMBA on this list: the average salary increase after the program is 90%. Offering a choice of either evening or weekend course delivery, the program also lets students take the classes that relate best to their career pursuits. UNC’s Entrepreneurship Center even provides resources for startups, including a blog, podcasts, and alumni spotlights that help motivate and inform current students and alumni.

Cornell Metro NY EMBA: Innovation in Its DNA

The Cornell University Metro NY EMBA is such a reputable program because it allows for customization. Though students must take core courses in their first year, they can specialize in year two by taking themed coursework like Innovation and New Venture Creation or Global Business. All of these classes take place at the Tata Innovation Center on New York City’s Roosevelt Island, where the EMBA cohort spends uninterrupted time developing ideas with their classmates.

Cornell Americas EMBA: A Program With an International Focus

Unlike the Cornell Metro NY program, the Cornell University and Queen’s University Americas EMBA program offers classes and a network of peers on a much wider scale. Classes take place in some of the world’s centers for innovation and business, including San Francisco, Mexico City, Seattle, and Santiago. This international program delivery is what makes the EMBA so innovative. Every other weekend, students attend classes in their home cities, while video conferencing with students in five cities across the continent.

Stevens Institute of Technology Executive MBA: Tech Entrepreneurs

For would-be entrepreneurs in the tech sector, the Stevens Institute of Technology’s EMBA is the only one of its kind. That’s because its specialization is in technology and data, with a particular focus in managing intellectual copyright and identifying market opportunities. The latter happens through its Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship (OIE), a program that helps transform business ideas into reality.

Michigan State Broad EMBA: Providing a Global Experience


The Michigan State University Broad College of Business’s EMBA program prioritizes teaching from a global perspective, while simultaneously making sure students have the time to study, work full-time, and take care of their families. The Burgess Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation uses research and experiential learning to help students find funding and develop plans for starting their own businesses.

Notre Dame Chicago and Notre Dame South Bend: A Pragmatic Education for Problem-Solvers

The University of Notre Dame’s EMBA program’s two highlights are its feasibility and its innovative focus. With campuses both in Chicago and South Bend, Indiana, the program also has offered over a million dollars in fellowship money to its current classes, offsetting the program’s tuition cost. Other highlights include the Innovation, De-Risking and Enterprise Acceleration (IDEA) Center, which helps students and faculty bring their entrepreneurial ideas to life, and the weeklong Executive Integral Leadership (EIL), which promises to change students’ thinking around problem-solving.

Northern Illinois University: The Socially-Conscious EMBA

Northern Illinois University’s EMBA has a particular focus on preparing students to develop socially-conscious businesses. Through its Center for Entrepreneurship and Social Impact, students can earn a management emphasis in these areas or compete in the annual Pitch with a CAUSE competition, which asks students and community members to propose ethical businesses.

As our list suggests, EMBA programs have a variety of structures and specialties. It’s important to identify what you expect to get out of your academic career and then research programs accordingly. Ivy Exec’s executive education ranking page is a smart place to start. Our members rank EMBA programs on a variety of factors, including career advancement opportunities, prestige, and the projected ROI of the degree.

Ready to take the next step? Set up a free career consultation with Amber Crow at Ivy Exec.


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