EMBA vs Professional MBA: What’s the Difference?

If you are a business professional looking to enhance your career with the skills and networking that an MBA degree provides, then you might be facing the decision of which MBA is right for you. Many schools offer both a Professional MBA and an Executive MBA program. Below you will find an EMBA vs Professional MBA comparison to help you see the difference in MBA and EMBA programs and to determine which program best fills your needs.

EMBA vs Professional MBA


An Executive MBA program is designed with the flexibility you need as a seasoned business executive—and the challenges you want from an advanced degree program.

George Mason’s 20-month Global EMBA, National Security EMBA, and Critical Infrastructure Protection EMBA offer executives and working professionals a world-class business education, without the career interruption of a traditional graduate business degree. Whether you choose the in-class or online EMBA, you benefit from noted faculty, an innovative and relevant curriculum, cutting-edge services and technology, and valuable networking opportunities. The Executive MBA Program is ideal for those business executives looking to expand their knowledge of business fundamentals and core management tools to be prepared for today’s competitive new realities.

EMBA Class Profile

Applicants are experienced managers who are interested in gaining advanced leadership and management skills. Students average 15 years of professional experience with increasing levels of responsibility.

  • Average Age: 41
  • Average Work Experience: 15 years
  • Female Students: 28%
  • Minority Students: 27%
  • International Students: 2%
  • Military Students: 56%

EMBA Program Features

In-class students start the program in the fall and take classes at our Arlington campus from 8 a.m. – 4:30 p.m on Saturdays with at least one free weekend a month. Online students complete classes online and start the program in the fall.

  • Global, National Security, and Critical Infrastructure Protection and Management tracks
  • Global and domestic residencies
  • Integrative business case project
  • Completed in 20 months
  • Fall start date
  • In-class or online formats
  • 48 credit hours

Professional MBA

A professional MBA is part-time MBA program for working professionals. Classes are offered in the evenings to accommodate students’ professional responsibilities.

George Mason’s Professional MBA program is ranked #74 on the “Best Part-time MBA” list by U. S. News & World Report. Located in the metro Washington, D.C. area, the Mason MBA prepares the next generation of business leaders through a rigorous, stimulating business and management curriculum based on a global perspective, industry demand, and leadership. The MBA program is ideal for those looking to fast track their career growth.

MBA Class Profile

Applicants typically have two to seven years of professional experience and want to develop leadership abilities to advance their careers.

  • Average Age: 28
  • Average Work Experience: 5 years
  • Female Students: 45%
  • Minority Students: 29%
  • International Students: 3%

MBA Program Features

Mason MBA students start in the fall and take classes at the Arlington or Fairfax campuses. Students attend class during evenings and complete the degree in as few as 23 months.

  • One 7-10 day global residency
  • Cohort structure
  • 10 areas of emphasis
  • Fairfax or Arlington campus
  • Completed in as few as 23 months
  • 48 credits hours

The difference in MBA and EMBA programs extends beyond the curriculum and includes the types of classmates, the program structure, and how you intend to use the program to meet career goals. Continue to research EMBA vs Professional MBA programs to determine which program best fits your needs. Learn more about George Mason’s MBA Program and George Mason’s EMBA Program.

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Paige Wolf

As director of graduate programs at George Mason's School of Business, my vision is to have a vibrant, collegial community of active learners who develop enduring professional relationships with faculty, staff, and fellow students while pursuing their degrees. Prior to this position, I spent 11 years with the School of Business as an associate professor of management teaching both MBA and undergraduate courses in organizational behavior and human resource management. I have more than 16 years of experience as an internal and external consultant on strategic human resource initiatives including team building, organizational development, competency modelling, performance management, employee selection systems, career planning, employee training and development, leadership assessment, and human resource audits.

Comments (1)

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    Frank Walsh


    Hello Dr. Wolf: I’m going back and forth about the kind of MBA I should pursue and I’d like your opinion. I have 29 great yrs w/ the USG and I’m nearing retirement. I’m looking for something new and exciting I can develop into a second career. I’m 63 yrs young (smile) but I feel and play much younger. I’m increasingly interested in business as my next career but I have absolutely no bkgd in it. (I was en education major in college and have lots of grad school but no Masters Degree.) I need the foundation that comes w/ the Mason MBA and many of its courses appeal to me, i.e. entrepreneurship and international business. On the other hand, I might not be a good fit w/ a very young crowd. On the other hand, the Exec MBA (National Sec) is for older professionals and I’d be a good fit in a class that leans a bit towards the US military. More to the point, w/ no business education to fall back on, should I even think about a grad degree in this field? Welcome your comments and thank you for your time. Sincerely; Frank


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