10 Most Affordable Executive MBA Degrees for 2021

cheapest emba

A good businessperson knows value when they see it, and busy working professionals who want to earn an executive MBA have to take cost into consideration. Choosing the most affordable EMBA for your needs can be simple; look for lower-cost public universities, online proograms, and tuition-saving methods like accelerated programs. 

When looking for the most affordable executive MBA programs, also pay close attention to the other aspects of the program that adds value, such as accredited status, known alumni, and overall curriculum. Nevertheless, there are a few ways to save enough money on an EMBA program that it can sometimes make an expensive degree seem like a cheap executive MBA. Not all methods will work for all people, nor will everyone have the same access to every way to save money, but it’s always worth trying all available avenues.

Methodology: Ranking the Most Affordable Executive MBA Programs

Great Business Schools editors feature only accredited, reputable institutions, so prospective students know they will get a degree worth their time and tuition. But for the most affordable rankings, programs are ranked according to their tuition cost, using current IPEDS data. 

1. Purdue University Northwest

The EMBA program at Purdue University Northwest is a 15-month degree program that features Saturday-only instruction with the option to attend virtually or in person. The program focuses on business analytics and leadership and includes a week-long trip for studies overseas. Tuition includes books, materials, laptops, meals, calculators and more. Some classes include international business, managerial accounting, marketing management, negotiations in organizations and more. Upon graduation, students earn the MBA degree as well as a certificate in Data Analytics and Visualization.

Purdue University Northwest (PNW) is a public university that’s part of the public university system of Indiana with a space-grant affiliation. The school enrolls around 9,400 students each academic semester and offers over 70 undergraduate and graduate degree programs. PNW features two campuses with the Hammond Campus located 25 miles southeast of downtown Chicago. The school’s athletics teams participate in the NCAA D-II Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.

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2. University of North Carolina

The University of North Carolina offers a weekend EMBA program that provides students with hotel style accommodations on campus for ease of attendance while maintaining a career. Classes meet for a full weekend every three weeks and educational facilities feature the latest in technology to facilitate learning. Course classes include topics such as financial management, strategic microeconomics, business communication, global economics. Students can customize the program in order to meet a student’s personal objectives and needs. The program also encourages students to engage in networking with one another. 

The University of North Carolina (UNC) is part of the 17-campus Universtiy of North Carolina System. The school enrolls almost 240,000 students throughout its campuses and offers 74 bachelors, 104 masters, 65 doctorate degrees, and seven professional degrees. UNC features two medical schools, a teaching hospital, 10 nursing programs, two dentistry schools, a school of pharmacy, two law schools, 15 schools of education, a veterinary school and hospital, and three schools of engineering. 

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3. Southeastern Louisiana University

The EMBA program at Southeastern Louisiana University is a hybrid attendance program with 60% of the time on campus and 40% online. Students attend three on-campus sessions and two online sessions every Saturday. The curriculum includes classes such as advanced accountin and finance, business policy and strategy, managerial economics, accounting for business decisions, and more. Students have the option to attend one of two MBA programs: a general MBA and an MBA with a healthcare management concentration. General MBA students have the option to choose either accounting and finance electives or business electives. 

Southeastern Louisiana University (Southeastern) is a space-grant affiliated public university that’s part of the Louisiana public university system. The school enrolls an average of 14,000 students each academic year and offers 52 undergraduate degrees under 39 majors and has 17 fields of study. Southeastern features a radio station (KSLU) and the Southeastern Channel, a public access cable television channel. The school’s athletics teams participate in the NCAA Division One FCS – Southland conference. 

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4. University of New Mexico

The University of New Mexico EMBA program is a 25-month program that meets on Fridays and Saturdays on a bi-weekly basis. The program provides on-campus parking, textbooks, meals and self-assessment tools to support students while they learn and maintain a career. Students collaborate with each other during team exercises in order to share their knowledge and experience. A 10-day international residency to meet with business leaders in a foreign country is part of the program. The program is accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business. 

The University of New Mexico (UNM) is a public flagship research university with a space-grant affiliation and part of the New Mexico public university system. The school enrolls over 26,000 students each academic year. The main campus for UNM is located in Albuquerque and features multiple branch campuses in and around the area. UNM offers 94 undergraduate degrees throughout 66 majors and 24 areas of study. The athletics team participates in the NCAA Division I Mountain West Conference. 

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5. Jacksonville University

The EMBA program at Jacksonville University offers classes online or in-person. Students can opt to earn their Executive MBA entirely online from Jacksonville University if they so desire. The program is designed to accommodate working professionals with class attendance required once a month on Friday and Saturday. Students learn how to develop an executive leadership style, improve their communication skills, and how to engage in corporate social responsibility. The program offers two concentrations: Executive Accounting/Finance or Management Development. 

Jacksonville University (JU) is a private university and is a member of the Independent Colleges and Universities of Florida associate. The university offers over 100 undergraduate degree programs and 23 masters and doctorate degrees through its four colleges and institutes. JU has a strong Greek system on the campus with an estimated 15% of students belonging to a fraternity or sorority. The athletics teams participate in the NCAA Division I in the Atlantic Sun Conference. 

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6. Oakland University

Oakland University offers an EMBA program that’s designed to help working executives advance their career. Classes meet alternative weekends on campus and the program lasts for 21 months. Students learn how to master core business competencies while learning how to work as an executive in a global business environment. Some of the courses cover topics such as ethics, leadership, strategic management and bargaining and negotiations. The program also includes meals, snacks and coffee breaks, group dining excursions, and books. 

Oakland University (OU) is a public research university with a space-grant affiliation and is part of the Michigan state public university system. The school enrolls over 20,000 students each academic year and offers 130 undergraduate degrees and over 135 graduate degrees and certificate programs. Colleges and schools at OU include Nursing, Medicine, Arts & Sciences, Education and Human Services, Health Sciences and Business. 

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7. University of Memphis

The EMBA program at University of Memphis is a 41 credit hour Fogelman Executive MBA program that teaches working executives how to operate in a global economic environment. Classes include financial and managerial accounting for managers, economics for the global executive, global financial management, and creativity and innovation. Students participate in a 12-day international residency at the end of their first year and meet with senior executives at their place of business as well as lectures at a foreign university in the host country. 

The University of Memphis (UofM) is a public research university and is part of the Tennessee public university system. The school features research and educational facilities that include the Center for Earthquake Research and Information, Institute of Egyptian Art and Archeology, FedEx Institute of Technology, Kemmons Wilson School of Hospitality and Resort Management and The Sparks bureau of Business and Economic Research. The athletics teams compete in the NCAA Division I – American Athletic Conference.

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8. San Francisco State University

The EMBA program at San Francisco State University has been one of the top ranked Executive MBA programs for almost 20 years. The curriculum is aimed at working professionals who have at least seven years of full-time professional work experience and want to improve their skills. The program takes 24 months to complete on a part-time basis. Classes are held on Fridays and Saturdays twice a month to accommodate working schedules. Students enjoy small class sizes, a convenient location in downtown San Francisco, networking opportunities and career services support. 

San Francisco State University (SFSU) is part of the California State University system and enrolls about 27,000 students each academic year. The university consists of six colleges that include Liberal & Creative Arts, Business, Science and Engineering, Health and Social Sciences, Ethnic Sciences, and Education. The athletics team compete in NCAA Division II and belong to the California Collegiate Athletic Association. 

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The EMBA at UCLA is a 22-month program that teaches students how to excel in their role as an Executive MBA through effective communication, team building and problem-solving. Class topics include leadership foundations, economic analysis for managers, organizational behavior and data and decisions. Classes meet on-campus on Friday and Saturday with students having a choice between biweekly or monthly attendance options. Students can partake of the EMBA Career Management Center for career coaching and other forms of career assistance. The program consists of seven quarters and includes a week of study abroad. 

University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) is a research university with a space-grant affiliation and is part of the University of California public university system. The school offers 337 undergraduate and graduate degree programs that reach across multiple areas of study. The school enrolls 31,500 undergraduate and 12,800 graduate students each academic year. The school’s athletic teams participate in the NCAA Division I FBS. 

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10. Georgia State University

Georgia State University’s EMBA program is geared towards working professionals who want to improve their earnings potential while maintaining employment. Classes are offered every other weekend and after business hours for a total of 17 months. Classes are taught by educators who have real-world experience. Students are taught how to handle the issues that the C-Suite deals with, how to develop critical thinking skills and how to develop supportive teams to implement plans and see them through to completion. 

Georgia State University (GSU) is a public research university with a space-grant affiliation and is part of the University System of Georgia. The university features 11 colleges that include Arts, Arts & Sciences, College of Law, Public Health, Biomedical Sciences, Honors College, Perimeter College, Nursing and Health Professions, Education and Human Development, College of Business, and Policy Studies. The school’s athletic teams participate in the NCAA Division I Sun Belt Conference. 

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How Do I Save Money on an Executive MBA Program?

A cheap executive MBA program doesn’t mean a low-quality one. Even with an executive MBA program that’s a little pricier than others, there are numerous ways to potentially save a lot of money on earning the degree.

As with any higher learning program, all the traditional methods of obtaining funding are available for EMBA programs as well. Applicants can seek federal aid and other types of tuition assistance programs. In addition, numerous scholarships exist for potential students based on various factors. Veterans can often find cost-cutting programs, with the GI Bill offering the largest benefit.

The cheapest executive MBA program may seem like one to consider, but it’s important applicants keep in mind that tuition cost only represents one aspect of the overall cost of an EMBA program. The most affordable EMBA programs will also give students the best return on their investment. That’s because the costs associated with an EMBA or really any degree program have to do with the overall value of the program throughout someone’s career.

Since EMBA applicants will most likely already have employment, it’s possible their jobs offer assistance, scholarships, or other financial incentives for employees who want to continue their education in business for advancement. Even if an employer doesn’t offer such programs, it’s still possible for applicants to ask. Some businesses may foot the bill simply because they believe in their employee or want that employee to gain the education they need to take on a new or greater role.

Sponsorship programs also exist to help people in certain fields of business. In the right amount or combination, all these potential benefits can help students save a tremendous amount of money, effectively turning their degree into the cheapest executive MBA without sacrificing the quality of their education to do so.

Will I Make More with an Executive MBA?

MBA executive salary will typically offer more compensation. Applicants should keep in mind that an EMBA is still a master’s degree, with all that entails. This means MBA executive salary will usually match what someone with any master’s degree in business can earn. That also means when it comes to executive MBA vs MBA salary, the MBA executive salary will often match other types of salaries earned by people with other types of MBA degrees.

In fact, the MBA executive salary can often earn someone more since the EMBA degree holder will often have years of experience to go along with the degree. A graduate with a traditional MBA may only find themselves entering the business administration field for the first time. An EMBA graduate may have worked in that field for years, and their degree will only help convince employers they’re that much more valuable.

Average MBA executive salary can vary based on position, industry, and various other factors. According to Investopedia, the average MBA executive salary is almost $135k. The Financial Times shows that salaries can reach as high as $528k.

Will an EMBA Help My Career?

For people already in the business administration or management fields in any capacity, an EMBA can absolutely help their careers. Executive MBA career opportunities are on the rise, but they have always been a staple of most industries. An executive MBA career can include reaching positions such as COO, CFO, and CEO. However, the executive MBA benefits and career impact can work no matter where someone is in their career or where they want to go.

An EMBA expands options, so a career after executive MBA graduation can look wholly different from how it looked before obtaining the degree. When considering executive MBA careers, applicants should look at the executive MBA career options that specifically arise that take advantage of the applicant’s years of experience as well as the fact they hold a master’s degree.

An EMBA program also offers incredible networking opportunities, which can help students make an executive MBA career change as well. Students will have classes with other business professionals so a lot of idea exchanges and meetings of the minds will naturally occur. The networking alone can help anyone’s career and increase their career prospects after executive MBA graduation.

Executive MBA programs can open many doors and help people excel, advance, and do more in their chose profession. It’s a very hands-on type of degree, which means students can put what they learn into practice immediately. In this, and other ways, an EMBA will certainly help a career.

Carrie Morris

Warren Dahl