This is the second post in our Ace the EMBA series on how to apply successfully to a top executive MBA program. Get need-to-know EMBA basics down with these important tips.
The changes in the EMBA applicant/student profile that we explored in the previous post are accompanied by new trends in the EMBA world. Now we will examine two of these trends: changes in sponsorship and GMAT requirements.
Changing company sponsorship requirements/expectations
EMBA applicants’ employers often sponsor their EMBA studies, at least to some extent. This sponsorship ranges from paying 100% of the tuition (rare) to simply accommodating the applicant’s need to take time off from work (almost universal).
This sponsorship picture has certainly changed over the last decade. According to the Executive MBA Council’s recent research survey results, the percentage of self-funded EMBA students has grown to almost 40% by 2014. It was 32% in 2005-2006, according to the Council’s 2006 Survey. That same 2006 survey shows that 40% of organizations fully funded EMBA students in 2003 and 35% in 2005-2005. Now, per the 2014 survey, that percentage has dropped to about 25% in 2014.
Virtually all EMBA programs take sponsorship seriously and typically require that the employer provide a statement of support for the applicant’s EMBA plans. Here are some samples of EMBA sponsorship expectations:
• Wharton: “For most applicants, proposing and receiving sponsorship is a crucial part of the application process. While employer endorsement is a requirement for admission, financial sponsorship is at the discretion of the student’s organization … All applicants require the basic level of sponsorship, which is the acknowledgement of time to participate in the program.”
• Duke (Global Executive): “A letter from your current employer outlining your company’s support of time is required. This letter may also include information about your employer’s financial commitment, but financial sponsorship is not required. Proprietors or principals of a company can provide a letter of self-sponsorship.” (The webpage also provides a link to a sample letter.)
• MIT: “…We consider corporate sponsorship of the time requirement to be critical. In your application package, one of your recommenders should be from your boss, and address the topic of time sponsorship.”
• Kellogg: “Your organization is required to supply a letter stating that it supports and approves the time required for you to attend the Executive MBA Program. If your organization is providing financial sponsorship, please state that in the letter as well. (However, you are not required to have financial sponsorship.)”
Financial sponsorship can still be a competitive plus for applicants, because it underscores your value and high potential in the organization’s eyes. But not having it is not a negative factor.
If you’re an entrepreneur, you basically sponsor yourself – therefore you must indicate how you’ll accommodate the time requirements within the context of your own organization.
It happens too that sometimes regularly employed applicants who are eligible for financial sponsorship may prefer to self-fund, because they do not want to be beholden to their organization but instead be free to pursue other options. Indeed, having time sponsored can create an obligation on the applicant’ part. If that’s not desired, EMBA programs (such as Columbia University’s) that offer a Saturday-only option may be the best option.
More and more EMBA programs, including some of the highest ranked such as Kellogg, MIT, NYU, Cornell, Ross (University of Michigan), and Anderson (UCLA), do not require the GMAT (or GRE).
And among those that do require the GMAT, it may be possible to obtain a GMAT waiver under certain circumstances. For example, Booth at University of Chicago and Goizueta at Emory require the GMAT generally but may grant waivers if you can present concrete evidence of sufficient quantitative and analytic capabilities and skills. If you believe you’re eligible, you must request the waiver proactively. Some schools with multiple EMBA program options, require the GMAT/GRE for some programs but not others – those programs targeting the more senior, experienced applicants tend not to require it. E.g., Duke’s Global Executive MBA does not require a standardized test, whereas the Weekend Executive MBA does (in fact they explicitly prefer the GMAT over the GRE).
While you may be relieved to be free of this test burden for many great EMBA programs, if you do take the GMAT and score high, it’s worth reporting the score to the schools because it further (a) affirms your preparation for academic work in both verbal and quantitative areas; and (b) shows that you are serious about and committed to the EMBA process. Moreover, if you have a relatively low undergraduate GPA (and don’t have a better grad GPA), submitting a strong GMAT (or GRE) score can mitigate the effect of the academic underperformance to some extent and indicate academic readiness.
Stay tuned: the next post will look at the many types of EMBA programs!
By Cindy Tokumitsu, co-author of The EMBA Edge, and author of the free special report, Ace the EMBA. Cindy has helped MBA applicants get accepted to top EMBA programs around the world. She is delighted to help you too!