Executive MBA (EMBA) programs are designed for experienced managers and executives who are looking to revitalize their career, grow as leaders, and expand their network. To gain admission to such a program, you need to go through the EMBA application process, which requires preparation, a great degree of self-knowledge, and a clear idea of the direction you want to take professionally and personally.

Here are the key elements of the application that applicants should focus on if they want to gain admission to an EMBA program and advance their career to the next level. 

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Executive experience and clear goals

EMBA programs are geared for mid to senior-level career professionals who have managerial or executive experience. Almost 100% of EMBA applicants have three or more years of work experience and 65% are 31 or older, according to GMAC, the non-profit organization that administers the GMAT exam. EMBA participants are senior managers and executives who are further along in their careers. Often, EMBA participants have more than 10 years’ experience. Your experience in an executive role is important because the curriculum will build on it to help you achieve your leadership goals by equipping you with the expertise and knowledge to be successful in your future endeavors.

In addition to upper management experience, you also need to have clear career goals and a very distinct idea of how you want to grow as a leader. Admissions officers will want to know why you have decided to apply now and how this particular EMBA program will help you achieve your goals.  

Essays give an insight into who you are

The essays are meant to enable you to highlight experiences from your professional life, giving you the opportunity to outline your professional experience and chart your path ahead. That is why, before writing your essays, you are well advised to think about your professional and personal development so far and why the program of your choice is best suited to help you achieve your specific goals. Reflect on instances when you tapped into your leadership potential or effected change at your organization.

Check out: 5 Tips to Improve Your MBA Essay Writing

To give you a better idea of the type of essay topics you will have to tackle, here are two examples from MIT Sloan School of Management’s EMBA program:

Essay 1 (250 words or less)

The educational mission of the MIT Sloan School of Management is to develop principled, innovative leaders who improve the world and to generate ideas that advance management practice. With this in mind, tell us about a time when you made an impact through your leadership.

Essay 2 (500 words or less)

Please tell us about a time when you introduced an idea that changed the way in which your organization approached a business challenge or opportunity. What factors did you consider, what barriers or obstacles did you face, and how did you measure success?

The best essays are those that avoid clichés and present a balanced mix of personal and professional details. Be authentic and honest, without falling into the trap of describing the person you believe admissions directors want to see.

Taking the tests

EMBA programs typically require one aptitude test score from the GMAT, GRE or Executive Assessment (EA). The GMAT, GRE and EA are unique tests, so make sure that you examine each one to see which you prefer. Some business schools also have their own in-house-developed tests. Senior business professionals may be wondering why they are required to sit an aptitude test despite their extensive work experience, but business schools have bulletproofed arguments in favor of the tests. First, EMBA applicants usually have been away from the classroom for a while, and schools want to ensure that they have the academic aptitude to succeed in an intensive program. Second, taking the test signals to the admissions committee that they are serious about their intention to complete the program.

In addition to the aptitude tests, international EMBA programs would require a score from an English proficiency test. TOEFL or IELTS are the most commonly required exam formats.

Demonstrate fit and contribution during the interview

Interviews are a very important part of the application process because they allow admissions officers to learn more about yourself. Most of the interviews occur at the end of the admission process after the application reaches an advanced stage of consideration. However, some schools such as the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania (US) interview aspirants during any point in the application process.

Check out: 9 MBA Interview Etiquette Tips

Even though you might have experience of interviews and being interviewed for a job, this is a different type of interview, so you need to prepare. Make sure you research the program well so you can refer to its specifics in your answers. Much like in the essays, you will be expected to talk about your professional journey and where you see yourself going forward. At the end of the day, it is all about fit. The interviewer will try to find out if you fit the program and if the program fits you. However, what unique experiences and perspectives you will contribute is a major part of the fit. The fit will make the EMBA experience really worthwhile for you.

The EMBA has the potential to help you make the next step both career-wise and as a person. Work on your application diligently and prepare to start a new exciting chapter in your life.