Professional or Executive: Which MBA Is Right For You?

Professional or Executive: Which MBA Is Right For You?Compare the class profiles of our Executive MBA program and professional MBA programs (Evening MBA, MBA at Dallas/Fort Worth, and MBA at Houston), and the differences can seem quite obvious. But there’s actually a broad grey area, career-wise, where many professionals could plug and play very well in either type of program.

In the end, it’s your call on where to submit your application, but remember it’s a two way street. You decide where you belong, and the admissions committee agrees.

Here is some advice on how to make an informed choice, and what to do if you think you may not “fit” the profile.

1. Consider work experience requirements and averages for each program.

Here’s our average work experience for the Texas MBA program:

Program 80% Range Minimum
Professional MBA 3-11 years 2 years
Executive MBA 9-23 years 5 years

While people with the minimum five years of experience do join the Executive MBA, there are relatively few. Executive MBA candidates become more competitive candidates within the eight to 10 year range of work experience. On the other hand, professional MBA candidates must have a minimum of two years of full-time work experience, and candidates get competitive with close to four years. The admissions committee doesn’t simply count the years, but evaluates the quality of work experience within that time, which brings me to my next point.

2. Consider the level of authority and responsibility you have achieved in your career.

Not only is the committee evaluating the quality of your work experience (the impact you’ve made to your organization, advancement in your role or responsibilities), but also your level within the organization.

Generally folks in the Executive MBA have managed people, either directly or dotted-line, as well as budgets. And some rose to this level sooner in their careers than others. If you work in a small organization, your responsibilities can elevate very quickly. There are many manager level employees in the professional MBA program as well, but also quite a few individual contributors. All of our students have achieved the level of experience that makes them a valuable addition to the classroom, in both the executive and professional MBA programs. Executive MBA candidates on the low end of work experience and unsure of whether or not they would be a fit, should request a resume review. A 20 minute chat with a member of the admissions committee can allay any doubts about whether or not your work experience is appropriate and/or competitive.

3. Visit a class to gauge your own fit.

There’s no better way to self-assess than to sit in on an actual class, especially one of the discussion-based ones. You can sign up now for an Executive MBA class visit or MBA at Dallas/Fort Worth class visit, and visits for the other programs will be up soon.

During the class, you’ll witness the collaborative and team-based environment that’s a big part of the fabric here at McCombs. The questions you should be asking yourself during your visit are: What can I contribute to this conversation? What assets would I bring to my study team?

Texas MBAs are collegial, yet competitive. And the program you join will define your close-knit, professional network while in the program and beyond. Strategic thought about where you begin your relationship with this network may clarify which program is best for you in the here and now.

Texas MBA Professional and Executive Admissions Team

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Posted in Admissions, Evening MBA, Executive MBA, Executive MBA at Mexico City, MBA at Dallas/Fort Worth, MBA at Houston
2 comments on “Professional or Executive: Which MBA Is Right For You?
  1. Laura Nokes says:

    I have 15 years of experience and want to ensure my education is current and collaborative.

  2. Sharon Barrett says:

    Hi Laura – the best way to tell if you’ll be getting the kind of education and classroom experience you want, and whether or not your work history is a fit for the program is to visit a class. The Texas Executive MBA currently has options posted for visiting on an upcoming weekend. We hope to see you here on campus soon!

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