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The Wall Street Journal Announces Top 25 Executive MBA Programs

The Wall Street Journal recently released its list of the top 25 executive MBA programs (EMBA) in the country. The Wall Street Journal's first ranking of executive MBA programs came in 2008. Today, more and more students find themselves paying for their own tuition in light of the continuing financial crisis and decline in corporate sponsorships. On the other hand, MBA programs are under pressure from the companies that sponsor their students -- and they are demanding a greater return on their investment.

Scoring the Top 25 EMBA Programs

The Wall Street Journal worked with the Management Research Group and Critical Insights to conduct a survey of hundreds of companies and thousands of students about the quality of EMBA programs. Specifically, The Wall Street Journal collected 3,060 responses from the recent graduates of 87 EMBA programs at 64 business schools that have campuses in 18 countries. One hundred eighty nine executive development and corporate human resources managers also responded to the survey.

Scoring was divided into three categories:

  • Alumni score (40%)
  • Corporate score (40%)
  • Skills score (20%)

The top programs included:

  1. University of Pennsylvania, Wharton School of Business
  2. Washington University in St. Louis, Olin Business School
  3. Thunderbird School of global management
  4. University of Southern California, Marshall School of Business
  5. Northwestern University, Kellogg Graduate School of Management

For a complete list of the top 25 schools, please refer to The Wall Street Journal's MBA programs leadership ranks.

    Reasons for Attending an EMBA Program

    According to the survey, approximately 35% of students said their primary reason for enrolling in an EMBA program was to help them change industries or careers. Twenty-nine percent noted they hoped the EMBA would lead to a promotion at their current employer.

    The most startling change identified in the survey was the number of students paying for the full cost of the MBA programs themselves. Thirty-six percent of respondents replied they were paying for their own degrees. Farrokh Langdana, program director at Rutgers Business School (No. 21 on the list) says, "Three years ago [this type of student] was not on our radar screen."

    The Value of an EMBA Program

    While many programs have responded to the need to offer more to their students (certifications, more electives, additional job placement assistance), corporate respondents say the return on investment is still difficult to trace. Says Rob Hums, senior analyst of learning and development at State Farm Insurance Co., "Since the financial crisis, programs have focused not on business skills, but on modern thinking, ethics and leadership, which can be a bit squishy."

    Yet, students in top-ranked programs continue to insist EMBA programs do impact their performance. A recent graduate of University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School of Business, Takashi Yoshizaki, says "I don't think the firm sees a return in the way I see a return. But I see a difference in the way I am working."