Academics, Admissions, Executive MBA, Full-Time MBA

Darden Full-Time MBA or Executive MBA: Which Format Is Right For You?

By Brett Twitty-
full-time-mba-or-executive-mba

Darden Admissions recently hosted a webinar comparing the full-time MBA program and Executive MBA program. Check out a recording of the session below and read on for three key questions as you consider which program path is right for you.

Watch: Full-Time MBA or Executive MBA: Which Format is Right for You?

Question 1: How many years of work experience do you have? 

Darden has three formats of one MBA: the full-time MBA program, Executive MBA (EMBA) format and Global Executive MBA (GEMBA) format. All students graduate with the same degree: a University of Virginia Darden School of Business MBA. But, there are some key differences between the formats. 

  • Our full-time MBA is a residential program. Students leave their jobs, move to Charlottesville and focus fully on school (and recruiting).
    • The students in this program typically have an average of four to five years of work experience. For our Class of 2022, 80 percent of the full-time MBA class had between 3 and 8 years of work experience, with an average of 5 years.
  • Our executive formats (EMBA and GEMBA) are working professional offerings, and despite the naming convention, they are not exclusively for “executives.” At Darden, Executive MBA refers to schedule and structure, not necessarily target student profile. Students in these formats continue working while pursuing their MBA — balancing work, life and school throughout their 21 months of study. The base location for our Executive MBA program is the Sands Family Grounds, our state-of-the-art space in the Washington, D.C., Metro area.
    • In our Executive MBA program, we have a preferred work experience minimum of 5 years, and our typical work experience average is around 11-12 years. However, these numbers do not tell the full story of our Executive MBA class. For example, for our Class of 2022, 80 percent of the class fell between 6 and 18 years of work experience, with a range of 3.5 years to 29 years. 

Question 2: What are your career goals? 

At Darden, all students have access to career resources. Dedicated career advisors. Career programming. Job fairs. On-Grounds and off-Grounds recruiting. The Darden alumni network. It’s all there. 

It’s also possible to switch function and/or industry from both our full-Time and Executive MBA Programs. You may be surprised to learn that over half of our executive format students identify as career switchers

However, there are a few key career-related questions to consider when choosing an MBA format:

Internship or no internship? An internship is an important part of the job search for our full-time MBA students, but it is NOT part of the career transition process for our executive format students. 

Career momentum vs. full immersion. For some students there are real opportunity costs associated with taking two years off for school. What is your present career momentum? Will it be enhanced by a break and full immersion in an MBA program? Or would you achieve more by working and pursuing your MBA simultaneously? 

Finances. In addition, when you consider the financial realities of the MBA, which format makes the most sense for you? Both programs offer scholarship awards, but our full-time MBA awards are typically larger, with our Executive MBA awards ranging from $10,000 to $35,000 total, with an average award of around $15,000. However, executive format students are able to continue earning a salary throughout their time in school, which can help defray the cost of the program.

So, you’ve made it this far, and you’re still evaluating your options. Great! Our final question centers on program experience. 

Question 3: How do you imagine your experience? 

There are a few important commonalities across the formats of the Darden MBA:

  • World-renowned Darden faculty
  • General management core curriculum
  • Case method
  • Tight-knit community
  • Same degree at graduation

However, there are also some key differences to consider, like location, experience and how much you value things like clubs and organizations, elective choice, as well as tracks and specializations. 

Do you see yourself spending two years in Charlottesville, fully immersed in the curricular and extracurricular bustle of business school?

Or do you imagine working while pursuing your MBA, taking classes in the Washington, D.C., area, applying what you’re learning in class directly to your job while accelerating your career?

Still not sure which format is right for you? Here are three easy next steps:

Schedule a conversation. Connect one-on-one with a member of our Admissions Committee (MBA | Executive MBA). 

Join us for an event. We have a broad range of upcoming events — from small groups coffee chats to topic-driven webinars and even mock case discussions. We look forward to seeing you online! MBA Events | Executive MBA Events

Listen to our podcasts. Darden Admissions has two podcasts exploring the various formats of the Darden MBA. The ExecMBA Podcast is our weekly podcast all about the Executive MBA experience at Darden. Experience Darden is our podcast all about our full-time MBA experience. Both are a great way to learn more about the programs, and to hear firsthand from individuals who were in your shoes not so long ago.   

And remember, when it comes to choosing the format of the Darden MBA that is right for you, there are no pros and cons. Simply trade-offs. Good luck! 

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