Top 20 EMBA Programs in North America

Top executive MBA programs in America are charging an arm and a leg —is it worth it? That’s the topic of a recent CNN Money Fortune/Poets & Quants article, “Executive MBAs: Great, if you can foot the bill,” which reports that if people are willing to pay the sky-high prices for an EMBA degree, they’ll likely graduate with a high paying salary and a positive attitude towards their educational experience.

Top programs, like those at Wharton, offer very similar curriculums to their regular MBA programs, yet are charging almost $65,000 more (for a total of more than $160,000). (Other top 10 EMBA programs charge slightly less, with Booth at $142,000, Kellogg at $153,900, and Columbia at $148,320.)

Studies show that 97% of EMBA graduates are “overwhelmingly satisfied” with their educations, despite the high tuition, and that the programs “met or exceeded their expectations when it comes to impact on their careers and their organizations.” According to the latest Executive MBA Council study, one-third of EMBA graduates received promotions at work; 44% received more responsibilities at work; and EMBAs in general reported an average 11.4% salary increase, from $127,955 to $142,534. And this is just following the great recession!

The article refers readers over to the new Poets & Quants for Executives website that ranks the 50 best executive MBA programs in North America based on a combination of ratings from The Financial Times, The Wall Street Journal, BusinessWeek, and U.S. News & World Report. You can view a summary of P&Q ranking methodology on the bottom of this page.

You should read the full Fortune/P&Q article and review the full rankings for more information. In the meantime, here are the top 20 EMBA programs according to the new Poets & Quants for Executives website:

Top 20 Executive MBA Programs in North America

1.      Wharton

2.      Chicago Booth

3.      Northwestern Kellogg

4.      Columbia Business School

5.      NYU Stern

6.      Michigan Ross

7.      UCLA Anderson

8.      Cornell Johnson

9.      Texas McCombs

10.  USC Marshall

11.  Duke Fuqua

12.  UNC Kenan-Flagler

13.  Berkeley/Columbia

14.  Washington Olin

15.  Emory Goizueta

16.  Boston University

17.  Georgetown McDonough

18.  Thunderbird

19.  Rice University Jones

20.  Southern Methodist Cox ~ Helping You Write Your Best

Chicago Booth Blog Focuses on Fit

Chicago BoothChicago Booth‘s blog, Blog Insider, recently published a post on the application process from the admissions committee perspective. The article (“Round Two Application Update“) highlights the point that acceptances are not rewards for good performance; rather, they frequently reflect the applicants’ ability to showcase their qualifications as well as their “fit” with Chicago Booth. You should read the post, but in the meantime, here’s an excerpt on the importance of “fit”:

“There is no formula that we use to determine who is admitted. We strive to select the people we feel most thoroughly embody the values that we live every day which is why each admitted student is reviewed by at minimum 5 members of our committee (student fellow, first admissions director, interviewer, second admissions director, me). As we have tried hard to express to thousands of prospective students who read our materials, attend our events, or visit our campus, our applicant pool is full of interesting and successful people, but not all of them leverage the application in a way that truly conveys strong fit with those values. At the end of the day, it is fit that proves to be our final litmus test.”

While Kurt Ahlm was intending to describe only Chicago’s process I think a few aspects described are really true of most top MBA programs and are also sometimes very difficult for applicants to accept:

  1. This is a highly subjective process — the opposite of a computer program or mathematical problem.
  2. Acceptance is not a reward for meeting a set of criteria. It is not a check list where you check off certain boxes and you can expect a particular result, or a recipe where particular ingredients processed in a specific way guarantee a certain outcome.
  3. Fit can be determinative when it comes down to the wire among highly qualified applicants. Takeaway: Know your school and why you are dying to attending. Why do you belong at this program?

?View Accepted’s FREE webinar, Best Practices for MBA Admissions, to learn the 4 pillars of application success, how to choose the right programs, how to approach your recommenders, and more! ~ Helping You Write Your Best

MBA & EMBA Admissions News Roundup

  • Applying to Yale SOM? In a Yale news article (“Ten Questions from Prospective Students“), Director of Admissions Bruce DelMonico answers applicant questions about the admissions process, Yale’s GMAT/GRE preferences, the SOM curriculum, and the incoming dean, among others. Check out the article for details. 
  • Top b-schools in the US are now accepting the GRE, which puts applicants at a new crossroads – should they take the GRE or stick with the traditional GMAT? A recent MBA Podcaster video addresses the pros and cons of each test in “The GRE vs the GMAT: Which Test Should You Take For Your MBA Application?” Watch the video for insight into the debate.
  • Some more news on the GMAT/GRE front: NYU’s Stern School of Business will be dropping the GMAT/GRE requirement for its EMBA applicants, reports a recent Financial Times article. The reason? The Stern adcom believes that more emphasis should be placed on work experience and previous academic achievements than on test scores. Most EMBA applicants are already in their 30s or 40s and many have higher degrees; a GMAT or GRE test score is less important in these cases. Stern joins Chicago Booth and Northwestern Kellogg in this decision.
  • Are you a young social entrepreneur, activist, or community leader who is looking for new ways to impact society? is extending its deadline for its largest grant program, the Do Something Awards. Awards include $10,000 community grants, a $100,000 grant, and media coverage, in addition to continued support from the organization. To apply or nominate someone you know, visit The extended deadline is March 15, 2011. ~ Helping You Write Your Best

Multimedia Hits the MBA Application

More and more highly qualified applicants are applying to business school, which means that if you want to gain admission to a top b-school, you’re going to need to show some serious skill, that is, serious multimedia skills—at least that’s the recommendation according to a recent Financial Times article, “Express Yourself.”

High test scores, a strong academic record, impressive letters of recommendation, and killer essays may not be enough to gain you admission to your dream MBA program. Many schools are now introducing an optional essay, or “third essay,” often in the form of an electronic submission, including PowerPoint slides, PDF files, videos, CDs, DVDs, and links to personal websites or YouTube videos.

The thinking here is that an admissions reader can gain a better, more complete, picture of an applicant by taking a look at his or her creative abilities, rather than by simply reading an essay entitled, “Why I Want to Go to Business School.” Kurt Ahlm, senior director of admissions at Chicago Booth, explains that “while the other two essays are ‘valuable,’ they are also ‘somewhat programmed’.”

Also, it’s harder to cheat or plagiarize when it comes to multimedia submissions. 

Still, some schools believe that their current admissions process works just fine and that there’s no reason to complicate things by adding a new component. According to James Holmen, head of admissions at Indiana Kelley, “[T]he [application] process we have now works really well for us… My concern with the multimedia option format is: would [the admissions committee] be getting a good sense of who the applicants are and what they bring to the table, or would they be swayed by style over substance?” ~ Helping You Write Your Best

Time is Ticking on MBA ROIs

Because of the economic crisis, the increase in b-school tuition, and the decrease of starting salaries post-MBA, business school grads are taking up to one year longer to see a return on their MBA investments than it took their peers from just a few years ago.

A BusinessWeek article, “For MBAs, Breaking Even is a More Distant Dream,” calculates the length of time it should take the MBA class of 2010 to “recoup their MBA investment” (6.5 years) and compares it to the average 5.6 years of an MBA class of 2008 graduate. (The article explains in detail how the ROI figure was calculated.)

European business schools rank highest when it comes to calculating the fastest MBA ROIs, which should come as no surprise due to the cheaper tuitions and the fact that many European programs run for one year instead of two (meaning lower costs and less time away from the workforce).

The top four MBA programs for ROI according to the BW article are:

  1. SDA Bocconi – Milan
  2. HEC-Paris
  3. Manchester Business School
  4. Cranfield School of Management

A few of the top U.S. MBA programs that offer the fastest return are:

  1. Texas A&M – Mays Business School
  2. Michigan State – Broad College of Business
  3. College of Business at the University of Illinois

According to the BW article, programs that are generally ranked as the top U.S. programs actually fare the worst in ROI rankings, many of their grads needing about 10.5 years to achieve a return on their investments. High tuition costs and students with high pre-MBA salaries account for the lengthy ROIs, especially at Chicago Booth and Harvard Business School.

John Byrne, in his recent article, “Is An Elite MBA Degree Worth The Cost?,” explains: “The biggest surprise of the study was not that payback  periods grew longer, given the impact of the recent economic meltdown and rising tuition. The most shocking and implausible result is schools outside most Top 25 lists give students faster returns on investment than the acknowledged leaders in graduate business education.”

Byrne continues to explain some of the flaws in BusinessWeek‘s ROI analysis. For example, he points out that the analysis fails to account for starting bonuses, year-end bonuses, relocation allowances, tuition reimbursement plans, performance bonuses, and the value of other pay increases. He then elaborates on how these figures can dramatically affect a program’s ROI.

Byrne’s critique is somewhat scathing, but solid. It’s worth a moment of your time to check out his article (complete with his own rankings) to get a better understanding of the value (or lack thereof, as he’ll point out) of the BW ROI analysis. It is equally valuable to read Louis Lavelle’s response. Lavelle is the Associate Editor of Bloomberg and in charge of BW’s business school section.

If anything the exchange shines a bright spotlight on the limitations of studies of this kind and of course the rankings. While I don’t advocate chucking the whole exercise, Mark Twain’s words keeping running through my mind: “Lies, damned lies, and statistics.” Use with caution. ~ Helping You Write Your Best

MBA Rankings Report

A Few of the Mostest at

This is the time of year to look back at the most, best, (worst), etc. I am going to stick to the positive.

Top Ten Most Visited Accepted Admissions Almanac Posts of 2010:

In a nutshell, rankings and application tip posts rule. (I am only listing the current tip post when last year’s tip post also made the list):

  1. Financial Times Global 2010 MBA Rankings
  2. Forbes ROI MBA Rankings for 2010
  3. Harvard HBS 2011 MBA Application Questions, Deadlines, Tips
  4. INSEAD 2011 MBA Application Questions, Deadlines, Tips
  5. NYU Stern 2011 MBA Application Questions, Tips, Deadlines
  6. Common Application Essay Tips
  7. Columbia 2011 MBA Application Questions, Deadlines, Tips
  8. 2010 MBA Rankings Released by BusinessWeek
  9. Kellogg 2011 MBA Application Questions, Deadlines, Tips
  10. London Business School 2011 MBA Application Questions, Deadlines, Tips

Three Most Commented Accepted Admissions Almanac Posts of 2010

  1. Harvard HBS 2010 MBA Application Questions, Deadlines, Tips (269)
  2. INSEAD 2010 MBA Application Questions, Deadlines, Tips (246)
  3. INSEAD 2011 MBA Application Questions, Deadlines, Tips (60)

Keep ‘em coming! (Please post your questions about this year’s applications on this year’s tips.)

Five Most Popular Articles on of 2010:

  1. Go for the Goals in your Statement of Purpose
  2. Tips for Writing Letters of Recommendation for Medical School
  3. 4 Must-Haves in Residency Personal Statements
  4. MBA Admissions: Low GMAT or GPA 
  5. Sample MBA Interview Questions

Most Popular Resources of 2010:

Our Absolute, Best, Most Superlative Asset: YOU, our readers, followers, fans, subscribers, and most of all, our clients.

On behalf of Accepted’s staff, this post is where I

Thank you, all of you Acceptees, for making 2010 our best year ever!

By Linda Abraham, President and Founder of

Chicago Booth MBA Admissions Q&A w Kurt Ahlm, Julie Morton

It’s this Monday!

Don’t miss out on this exceptional opportunity to interact with Chicago Booth’s new Senior Director of Admissions and Associate Dean of Career Services.

Challenge Everything: Chicago Booth MBA Admissions Q&A with Kurt Ahlm, Senior Director of Admissions and Julie Morton, Associate Dean of Career Services, on Monday, September 13, 2010 at 10:00 AM PT / 1:00 PM ET / 5:00 PM GMT.

Register ASAP to reserve your spot.

Chicago Booth 2011 MBA Application Questions, Deadlines, Tips.

This Chicago Booth 2011 MBA Application tip post is one of a series of posts providing MBA application and essay advice for applicants to top MBA programs around the world. You can access the entire series at My tips for answering Chicago’s essay questions are in blue below.

Chicago Booth 2011 MBA Essay Questions

It’s an entirely new Chicago Booth MBA application this year.


1. The Admissions Committee is interested in learning more about you on both a personal and professional level. Please answer the following (maximum of 300 words for each section):

a. Why are you pursuing a full-time MBA at this point in your life?

Ah, the old “why now?” question. What recent experiences have convinced you that now is the time for you to pursue an MBA? Hopefully those experiences will also reveal leadership, intellectual curiosity, fit with Chicago, and support for the goals you are going to discuss in B. 

Two cautions:

  1. “I hate my current job” doesn’t work. However, a thoughtful analysis of things you like and dislike in current and past positions could provide a portion of your response to this question.
  2. Don’t repeat your resume. Choose one or two particularly significant experiences that can serve as a trigger for answering the questions.

b. Define your short and long term career goals post MBA.

A allows you to draw on professional and non-professional experience, but most of you will choose to discuss your work. B is all about career.

Despite Rose Martinelli’s acknowledgment that some of you may not be 100% committed to a particular career path, Booth wants to know what is your most likely or attractive career path at this time. Those aspirations should flow naturally from the experiences discussed in A and your resume.

Short-term goals refer to your immediate post-MBA goals. Long-term are usually 10+ years post-MBA.

c. What is it about Chicago Booth that is going to help you reach your goals?

This is a more directed and clear way of saying “Why Booth?”  What about Chicago’s flexibility is important to you? What about its “challenge everything” ethos and quantitative rigor will help you achieve your goals. While I would say that almost any “Why School X” should be answered by connecting the school’s programs and strengths to your goals, Booth is removing ambiguity with the clarity of its question. Link the two.

        d. RE-APPLICANTS ONLY: Upon reflection, how has your thinking regarding your future, Chicago Booth, and/or getting an MBA changed since the time of your last application?

This is a straightforward question. Remember, Chicago (and any school you are reapplying to) wants to see growth. Same ol’, same ‘ol got you a ding last time and probably will again this time. Let this brief essay show a maturation and evolution of your goals and reasons for wanting to attend Chicago Booth

2. Chicago Booth is a place that challenges its students to stretch and take risks that they might not take elsewhere. Tell us about a time when you took a risk and what you learned from that experience (maximum of 750 words).

When did you make a decision with an uncertain outcome and significant possibility of loss, harm, or embarrassment along with the potential for high rewards?  How did you analyze the pros and cons, the downside and the upside? What did you learn?  How did you grow from the experience? How has it influenced you going forward?

Assuming that #1 is all professional, this essay may (not must)  be an essay where you want to introduce a non-professional commitment.

3. At Chicago Booth, we teach you HOW to think rather than what to think. With this in mind, we have provided you with “blank pages” in our application. Knowing that there is not a right or even a preferred answer allows you to demonstrate to the committee your ability to navigate ambiguity and provide information that you believe will support your candidacy for Chicago Booth

Essay Question 3 Guidelines

We have set forth the following guidelines:

  • The content is completely up to you. Acceptable file formats are PowerPoint or PDF.
  • There is a strict maximum of four pages, though you can provide fewer if you choose.
  • The document will be printed in color and added to your file for review; therefore, flash, hyperlinks, embedded videos, music, etc. will not be viewed by the committee. You are limited to text and static images to convey your points.
  • The file will be evaluated on the quality of content and ability to convey your ideas, not on technical expertise or presentation.
  • Files need to be less than 9 megabytes in order to upload. If your file is too large you may save your file as a PDF and upload your essay.

If you like choice, you will love this question. You can’t get much more open-ended.

I frequently say that an application is like a jigsaw puzzle in which different pieces come together to present a portrait of you, the applicant.  Given your grades, GMAT, job history, and the first two essays, what element of your background would you like Booth to know about that hasn’t been revealed? That should be the focus of your response to #3. A personal interest

There are an infinite number of good approaches to this question. Here is one: If you have a hobby, use the slides to celebrate it. Take pride in it. Share it. Show that you could be a fun contributing member of the Chicago Booth community.

For the last couple of years, Chicago Booth required four PowerPoint slides. This year you have options and choice. You can respond using images as in a PPT, words, or a combination of the two. For the Micheners among you, don’t even think of writing a four-page grand finale/summary that you print to PDF. No one wants to read it. 

If you would like help with your Chicago Booth MBA application, please consider Accepted’s MBA essay editing and admissions consulting or a Chicago Booth MBA Package, which includes essay editing, interview coaching, consultation, and a resume edit for the Chicago Booth MBA application.

Chicago Booth 2011 MBA Application Deadlines

Round      Due Date               Notification
Round 1    October 13, 2010    December 15, 2010
Round 2    January 5, 2011      March 16, 2011
Round 3    April 13, 2011         May 18, 2011

* Your application must be submitted by 5 p.m. (CST/Chicago time) on the day of the deadline in order to be considered for an application round. This includes receipt of all online and mailed-in materials. Applications submitted after a deadline will automatically be considered in the next round, as long as all materials are included with the application.


By Linda Abraham, President and Founder of

Part I: The Dos and Don’ts of Audio and Video–Application Style

Paper application?  That’s like, so yesterday.  Now you Gen X, Y and Millennial candidates get a chance to wow the admissions committee with your dope multimedia “skillz.”

According to a recent article in Businessweek, UCLA Anderson School of Management (Anderson Full-Time MBA Profile) already gives candidates the option to submit an audio or video clip. And next year (HOORAY!) The University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business might be ditching the PowerPoint question.  They haven’t yet disclosed what their “get-to-know-you” replacement may be, but–you better start thinking digital.

Here are some of UCLA’s top audio entries that were animated  . . . after admittance.

For undergrads, Tufts has introduced a 1 minute video essay option, and Yale accepts links to videos, but warns that if the content is not stellar, it can work against you.

Check out Ameila Down’s interpretive math dance for Tufts, with over 100,000 views.

Over the next few days, will release a five-part blog series about how to successfully create a 1 to 2 minute audio or video clip.

We’ll talk about how to plan your content around your technical know-how, so that no matter your skill set, you’ll make the ad comm hit rewind again and again.

But first, the TOP 10 Do’s and Don’ts of Video Applications

The Dos

1. Do make it about YOU. Don’t waste time by interviewing your friends and family about why they think you’re awesome.  They can be included peripherally, but you should choose an activity or story where you are the featured star.

2. Do tell the story in logical sequences.  People like to see processes. Think about how you can show a behind-the-scenes “how-to” of something cool that you do or have done.

3. Do make a story board.  Once you’ve decided on the content, plan the story out shot by shot. It’s like making an outline for an essay. This will help you present a logical sequence, and reduce shooting time.

4. Do start filming at least 2 weeks before the deadline. And test all your technical equipment beforehand, end-to-end!  Something will inevitably go wrong, and you’ll need the time to troubleshoot.

5. Do use a tripod if possible. This will help you have a steady, watchable video.  After watching hundreds of shaky shots (which the ad comm will have to do) your story will be a pleasant change.

The Don’ts

1.  Don’t try something new for the first time.  Keep it simple. Concentrate on telling a really compelling story, rather than stretching your technical abilities.

2.  Don’t use slick production techniques to cover up the fact that you don’t have a compelling story.

3.  Don’t use music that is distracting.  You can use snippets to punch up certain parts of the video, but if it doesn’t have a reason to be there, take it out.  Again, a driving techno beat may sound like a good way to make your video exciting, but it can be really annoying if you have to watch 100 of these clips a week.

4. Don’t introduce the school campus as a character in the video.  The ad comm sees enough of their office everyday and will get sick of people using it as a backdrop.  They want a window into YOUR life.

5.  Don’t ask someone to interview you on camera like you’re on Meet the Press. It looks pretentious and sounds odd. You should put yourself at the scene of the action, and speak directly to the camera like you’re talking to a friend.

Bonus Don’ts: Please retire these cliches.  Just drop kick them out of town.

#1 person waking up in the morning and turning into a superhero

#2 school mascots as characters

#3 enthusiastic candidate jumping off campus landmarks

Stay tuned for Part II in the series: Content is King (or Queen)!

By Michelle Stockman, who worked in the Columbia Business School admissions office, has a Masters in Journalism from Columbia, and has assisted clients applying to top business schools since 2007. When not advising Accepted’s clients, she a multimedia producer with works published by Agence France Presse,,, the Times of India, and Hindustan Times. She is happy to help you with your application.

Financial Times Global 2010 MBA Rankings

The Financial Times  published today its 2010 ranking of global MBA programs. Its ranking attempts to “assess the effect of the MBA on … subsequent career progression and salary growth.” Consequently it draws its data from the schools themselves and from surveys of graduates at least three years after earning their MBA degree. In building its rankings, FT analyzes “alumni salaries and career development; the diversity and international reach of the business school and its MBA programme; and the research capabilities of each school.” For complete information on FT’s methodology, please see “Getting to Grips with the Method.”

Rather than list all my important caveats for using rankings, I’ll simply refer you to our MBA Rankings Report.

The best business schools according to FT:

  1. London Business School
  2. University of Pennsylvania: Wharton
  3. Harvard Business School
  4. Stanford GSB
  6. Columbia Business School
  7. IE (tied with Columbia)
  8. MIT Sloan
  9. Chicago Booth
  10. Hong Kong UST Business School

I have long argued that far more valuable than the overall rankings are the specialty rankings. Here are FT’s specialty rankings:

Top for international business
1 Thunderbird School of Global Management
2 University of South Carolina: Moore
3 Georgetown University: McDonough
4 Insead
5 George Washington University
6 Hult International Business School
8 Manchester Business School
9 University of Southern California: Marshall
10 London Business School

Top for finance
1 University of Chicago: Booth
2 New York University: Stern
3 University of Pennsylvania: Wharton
4 Rice University: Jones
5 University of Rochester: Simon
6 London Business School
7 Columbia Business School
8 Macquarie Graduate School of Management
9 University of Iowa: Tippie
10 University of Toronto: Rotman

Top for accountancy

1 Brigham Young University: Marriott
2 University of Chicago: Booth
3 University of Texas at Austin: McCombs
4 New York University: Stern
5 Macquarie Graduate School of Management
6 University of Rochester: Simon
7 Cornell University: Johnson
8 University of Pennsylvania: Wharton
9 Rice University: Jones
10 Texas A & M University: Mays

Top for entrepreneurship
1 Babson College: Olin
2 Stanford University GSB
3 Imperial College Business School
4 UCLA: Anderson
5 University of California at Berkeley: Haas
6 MIT Sloan School of Management
7 University of Cambridge: Judge
9 Wisconsin School of Business
10 Insead

Top for economics
1 University of Chicago: Booth
2 Cranfield School of Management
3 MIT Sloan School of Management
4 Yale School of Management
5 University of Rochester: Simon
6 Imperial College Business School
7 Melbourne Business School
8 University of Pennsylvania: Wharton
9 IE Business School
10 New York University: Stern

Top for corporate social responsibility
1 University of Notre Dame: Mendoza
2 University of California at Berkeley: Haas
3 Yale School of Management
4 Ipade
5 University of Virginia: Darden
6 Brigham Young University: Marriott
7 Esade Business School
8 University of Michigan: Ross
9 University of North Carolina: Kenan-Flagler
10 Thunderbird School of Global Management

Top for general management
1 University of Virginia: Darden
2 Harvard Business School
3 Ipade
4 Dartmouth College: Tuck
6 University of Michigan: Ross
7 University of Western Ontario: Ivey
8 Northwestern University: Kellogg
9 Stanford University GSB
10 Duke University: Fuqua

Top for marketing
1 Northwestern University: Kellogg
2 Duke University: Fuqua
3 Indiana University: Kelley
4 Ipade
5 Esade Business School
6 Wisconsin School of Business
7 Imperial College Business School
8 University of Michigan: Ross
9 HEC Paris
10 Cornell University: Johnson

By Linda Abraham, President and Founder of