Executive Education

Behind the Scenes of Life at Wharton’s Executive MBA Program

While an EMBA is a proven path to higher earnings and valuable networks, you may find yourself wondering what the student experience is like, especially since the programs are faster-paced than traditional degrees, and you may well be years removed from previous studies.

The Wharton EMBA offers excellent resources and experiences for its candidates.

Program Logistics

The Wharton EMBA is consistently ranked as one of the premier executive programs in the world. With locations in Philadelphia and San Francisco, students in the EMBA program commit to a twenty-four-month study, with alternating weekends on campus, and the ability to apply their learnings right away to their respective fields, and a Global Business Week abroad during their second year. The workload requires remote study while executives continue their careers and balance the on-campus requirements, but the Wharton network and education will start paying off immediately.

Student Life

While the students in the program aren’t living or studying together every day, the time spent together on campus is invaluable and quickly fosters a sense of community. Much of the in-person time is spent in the classroom, yes, but there are plenty of opportunities to bond in social settings over the course of throughout the class weekends.

As student Elana Krieger notes in her cohort experience: “Being in Wharton’s EMBA program is very different from being an undergraduate or even a graduate student where you typically spend most of your time with the same group of friends. At Wharton, the network of our fellow students is a big advantage of the program, so we all put in an effort to get to know one another. During meals on EMBA weekends, for example, it is common to sit at the first open seat (rather than look for familiar faces) in an attempt to try to interact with everybody. It’s a very friendly and welcoming environment.”

Class Profile

The makeup of the Wharton program (both alumni and current students) is diverse and international, and students use their education for a variety of purposes.

Executive students represent a wide variety  of industries and business functions, and while the goal is to make oneself a more valuable, educated asset to a company, there can be unexpected avenues to success with a Wharton EMBA.

Alumni Sally Huang came into Wharton with a background in video games, but then soon discovered a knack for entrepreneurship, which she didn’t expect to happen during her studies.

“I was able to work with a team of advisors and have access to speakers and other Wharton resources to build my business.

Another valuable resource was the Wharton network. Almost all of our early sales and business relationships originated from a Wharton connection, whether it was through a fellow student, friend of a student, or a business associate.”

Getting the Most Out of Your Time

The biggest challenge of an EMBA program is time management, since students are primarily working at their given careers while studying and commuting in off-hours.

However, as a high-achieving professional, you’re already familiar with planning and project strategies; your time at Wharton is no different.

During your on-campus time, this schedule gives students an overview of what to expect, with a breakdown of schoolwork and time spent with the cohort. The weekend format allows students to have their professional and personal lives throughout the week, while committing to the alternating weekends for study and socializing.

Granted, the weekends are heavily structured, but it does allow evenings to bond with and get to know your cohort and future network. And it doesn’t end when the weekend ends; through distance learning and social connections, you’ll be in touch with your cohort even when you’re not on campus. Whether collaborating on projects or exchanging networking information, you’ll have an excellent balance of every aspect: professional obligations, family time, and education/networking. While free time is at a premium during the Wharton program, successfully using outside time to bond and build relationships will aid you in future endeavors, well beyond the time spent in the EMBA.

Flexibility and Diversity

Current and former students remark on Wharton’s flexibility.

The program is designed for working professionals, with a strong presence of executive women advancing their careers.

Alumni Joy Smith writes fondly about her time in the Wharton program, from her ability to commute, to seeing firsthand how classmates work together and use each other as resources and even as partners in classroom and outside projects.

Experiencing Wharton firsthand, even with her own ideas about what to expect going in, opened her eyes to just how effective the Wharton program is:

“I knew that Wharton would have a great network, but I didn’t expect it to be this amazing.”

About the Author

Wharton MBA for Executives at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania combines theory and practice with an industry perspective to deliver in-depth knowledge for immediate impact.