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Executive Education or a Part-Time MBA?

Shorter, specialized executive courses can offer more flexibility, but at a cost
Dec 5, 2011 — M. Filtz

For many working professionals seeking career growth, part-time MBA programs can offer some big advantages: flexibility and value among them. However, the shorter, modular formats of executive education courses can efficiently and quickly give some students the knowledge that they need to succeed. 

So, what are some of the benefits of executive education versus part-time MBA programs?
 
First of all, since executive education courses are designed with the working professional in mind, the time commitment is usually minimal. For example, many executive education courses require only between only a couple days to two weeks of commitment. Meanwhile part-time MBA programs can take over three years to complete. 
 
Consequently, the smaller time commitment usually means that executive education courses are substantially less expensive than part-time MBA programs.
 
The short form course formats can also offer a benefit traditionally associated with part-time MBA programs: flexibility. Many universities design their executive education course offerings so that each course builds on the others, and that they can be mixed and matched depending on a student’s goals. 
 
For example, Stanford Graduate School of Business offers a series of courses in the category of “Personal Leadership.” This encompasses half a dozen offerings, including “The Effective Use of Power,” “Managing Teams for Innovation Success,” and “Executive Program for Women Leaders.” Students can choose to mix and match from these courses depending on their backgrounds and goals.
 
These integrated course structures also bring up another benefit executive education courses offer: specialization. While many part-time MBA programs do offer a level of specialization, their inherent value often lies in the wide scope of business knowledge that they dispense. By being relatively short and segmented, executive education courses can offer targeted insight into a specialized subject, and are not obligated to deliver broader context. For instance, Warwick Business School’s executive education department offers courses in “Influencing and Negotiating” and “Economic Forecasting,” each of which add specific insight a singular insight into one aspect of business. 
 
However, a part-time MBA can offer something that executive education courses don’t offer: an actual degree. For many professionals, this value cannot be overstated: a degree quantifiably adds to future earnings, and also looks good to potential employers.
 
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