Best Executive MBA program: 7 must-haves for the best Executive MBA program

The best Executive MBA program for you might not be exactly the same as for another ambitious executive, but there are certain things you should demand of any Executive MBA. After all, you're looking for a real investment in you, your career and even your company's future. You want to solidify your foundation of core knowledge, master advanced business concepts, and sharpen leadership skills that directly translate into bottom-line results. To help you get it right, expect these seven elements in any of the best Executive MBA programs.

1. A top business management school
Realistically, you're not going to find haute cuisine at the local burger joint. So begin your search for the best Executive MBA program by seeking out top-ranked business schools. These schools work with internationally-reputed faculty and develop their Executive MBA programs with the needs of real-world executives in mind. Look to the independent business school rankings published by the Financial Times, Forbes, The Economist, and other sources of this calibre.

2. Demanding, diverse, aimed at experienced executives
The best Executive MBA programs are not for the faint of heart. These EMBA programs are rigorous, global-level programs carefully designed and constantly updated to meet the executive education needs of rising leaders. The best EMBA's leverage the work-study balance to maximize learning impact. You will be expected to work at least as hard as you do on the job, while at the same time delivering ever-greater results to your organization.

3. Flexible program delivery
Why take an EMBA program instead of a 2- or 1-year MBA? For most busy executives, a key factor is fitting master's education programs into demanding schedules. Taking one or two years "off" is simply not an option. So clearly, the best Executive MBA program should offer a better fit with work and life. One of the most creative solutions being offered at some of the best business schools in the world is a module-based system. At the pace that suits them and their employers, students complete on-campus and onsite modules. Between these, independent assignments enhance coherence and enable students to apply their EMBA program experience to their on-the-job challenges.

4. Immediate applicability
The best Executive MBA programs create an advantage of the fact that the program is conducted in parallel to work. This may be done directly through company-based assignments, or indirectly as you "flex your newer leadership muscles" on the job. In both ways, the EMBA program enables you to demonstrate results right away and boost your profile in the company.

5. Full coverage of business fundamentals
The best Executive MBA programs take the time to ensure you are fully and completely grounded in critical general management fundamentals and business challenges. You'll expand your knowledge in functional disciplines like marketing, finance and operations – and you'll develop the skills to integrate this into daily action.

6. Focus on leadership development
To fulfill your potential as a leader, you must learn to turn ideas into action – individually, for your company and beyond. The best Executive MBA programs therefore place a strong emphasis on leadership training. You should be challenged to reach for your leadership potential through hands-on leadership exercises and leadership coaching. You should come out of a top EMBA program as a high-performance leader, capable of driving change and overall excellence in business results.

7. Global perspectives
Today's executive must be prepared to work in a fast-changing, complex international market. The best Executive MBA programs build global leadership skills through, for example, teamwork among diverse participants, or hands-on projects in emerging markets. Fostering borderless global perspectives – understanding of diversity that spans geographic, cultural and functional boundaries –is a key goal of the best Executive MBA programs.


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