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Sometimes it doesn’t make sense to leave your job to go back to school, no matter how good that school is. If you’re a highly paid executive with a fast track career at work it may not make sense for you to quit your job to go back to school. The good news is that you don’t have to. Top MBA programs have adapted themselves for executives to allow you to keep your job and still earn an elite degree. Here are five of the top executive MBA programs:

University of Pennsylvania (Wharton) – Philadelphia, PA


One of the cool and unique facets of the University of Pennsylvania executive MBA program is that you can take it in either of two locations, the main campus in Philadelphia or in their San Francisco campus which can be a very convenient location for anyone who is working at a company in the Pacific Northwest. Their executive MBA program is 24 months, with Friday and Saturday sessions on alternating weekends, an international trip, and several longer sessions. The average amount of work experience for this program is 11 years and it is really targeted at executives. Several of the programs for example the fellowships require you to have some funding from your company. The GMAT scores are also as competitive as the non-MBA version of the program, with a higher low end, ranging from 640-760. The program is small, less than 250 people total between the two locations, and incredibly expensive: $192,900 in tuition alone as of 2019. It is a very top and well respected program, that many would consider the top executive MBA program.

University of Chicago (Booth) – Chicago, IL


The University of Chicago has an incredibly unique executive MBA program that comes with a lot of history. They claim to be the first ever founded executive MBA program established in 1943. This exclusive program can be taken in Chicago, London, or Hong Kong, making it have an incredible network of finance professionals. Their target applicant is a senior manager or a director in a leadership role who still wants to continue their work but also get an MBA from a top program at the same time. London and Hong Kong have 16 week-long full time sessions. Chicago classes are Friday and Saturday over 21 months with five week long sessions at each of the three cities. Regardless of which of the three cities you are doing your executive MBA in, you are spending at least a third of your time visiting the other cities so you are creating an incredibly international network. Chicago claims that the executive MBA offers the same curriculum and the same faculty as the non executive MBA.

Northwestern University (Kellogg) – Evanston, IL


Kellogg, Northwestern’s business school, offers two different executive MBA programs. One of them is offered on its traditional campus in Evanston, Illinois and the other is offered on a campus in Coral Gables, just outside the city of Miami, Florida. Having an executive MBA program in Miami is incredibly unique for such a top university. The Miami program gives a remarkable amount of access into Latin America and the Caribbean, providing something that none of the other top executive MBA programs really do as much. Northwestern is very confident in the quality of their Miami program relative to the quality of their program in Illinois. They claim the two curriculums and faculty are of equal quality and content. Classes in the Miami program are once a month from Thursday to Sundays and your cohort size is roughly from 55 to 65 people. Classes in the Evanston campus in Illinois are twice a month and are Fridays and Saturdays, with occasional Sunday classes. The cohort size for the Evanston program is roughly 65 to 75 people. Both of these programs are incredibly good, as is Northwestern’s normal MBA, which is why this makes our list of top executive MBA programs.

Columbia University – New York, NY


Columbia’s business school offers an incredibly flexible MBA program allowing attendees to choose whether they want to attend every Saturday, every other Friday and Saturday, in 5-6 day blocks once a month, or full time. That is a remarkable amount of choice offered for such a top program. Overall the program will take about 2 years and roughly 36 hours per class of total class work. As with their non executive MBA program, the executive MBA program admits very few women, with women only making up 34% of the small 146 person class. Overall this is the place to go if you are an elite executive who is looking to meet and make a bunch of connections with peers of a similar level who are in the financial services industry and are likely New York based. A remarkable 40% of the people in the executive MBA from Columbia University come from the financial services industry. It is a great place to make necessary banking connections for Wall Street.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Sloan) – Cambridge, MA


MIT Sloan does not have your typical executive MBA program. For a start, everyone is incredibly senior. You have to have had 10 years of work experience to apply and 83% of the people admitted are director level or above. Perhaps more surprisingly, 59% of the students in the executive MBA already have advanced degrees which is a strikingly high number. The program takes place over 20 months at MIT Sloan’s campus in Cambridge, MA, with 26 weekend sessions on Friday and Saturday, 4 week long modules, and one week long international trip. Sloan has a pretty small executive MBA with only around 125 people in the entire class. Overall the class here is not as diverse at some other classes, with 50% of the admitted members of the executive MBA program coming from the Northeast and 36% of them working at companies that have over 10,000+ people. So there are some amazing people to meet here but they may not have the most diverse set of experiences.