EMBA Programs See Rise in Applications

EMBA Programs received more inquiries and applications from prospective students last year, according to 2021 EMBAC Membership Program Survey results. 

“Despite the uncertainty of the global pandemic, interest in EMBA Programs remains strong,” says Michael Desiderio, EMBAC executive director. 

The average number of applications received per program increased by 17 percent in 2021 compared to 2020, and inquiries also rose 3 percent in 2021 compared to 2020. “While interest was high, more inquiries and applications didn’t necessarily translate into increased enrollments, as the average class size dipped a bit from 47 in 2020 to 44 in 2021,” he says.

Technology helps fuel innovations

EMBA Programs continued to make greater use of technology and format adaptations in response to the pandemic and growing interest in flexibility, with 47.6 percent of surveyed programs indicating a change in program delivery this year, compared to 30.3 percent in 2020. The biggest changes result from online and virtual or blended and hybrid additions.

In fact, the percentage of total course work delivered through some aspect of distance learning again grew this year to 88.6 percent, compared to 73.9 percent in 2020 and just 55.3 percent in 2019. 

“Clearly, the global pandemic is driving acceleration in the use of technology and is evidence of how adaptable our member programs are,” says Desiderio.

Programs have expanded their use of technology in other ways: Almost four out of five EMBA Programs in the survey purchased cases electronically, and the purchase of electronic books rose from 30.7 percent in 2020 to 35.6 percent in 2021. Programs that use other electronic course materials also increased from 33.5 percent in 2020 to 36 percent in 2021.

Record number of women choose EMBA

The survey also revealed that more women are choosing EMBA Programs to advance their careers.

The percentage of female enrollment reached its highest level ever, 33.4 percent in 2021, compared to 30.1 percent in 2017. Enrollment of women has risen consistently each year for the past four years.

In terms of experience and age, EMBA also continues to attract high-quality candidates. In 2021, the average age of enrolled EMBA students stayed consistent at 38 years. They also came to the program with an average of 14.1 years of work experience and 8.9 years of management experience.

Other findings reveal emphasis on executive coaching and scholarships

Executive coaching continues to be an integral part of EMBA Programs: 88.1 percent of EMBA Programs offered executive coaching in 2021, up from 83.3 percent in 2020.

EMBA Programs are also investing in financial support for students.

Almost 60 percent of programs offer scholarships or fellowships, and almost one-third of EMBA students receive scholarships or fellowships. Programs that offered such support averaged a total of $210,645 in scholarship and fellowship funds in 2021, compared to $134,779 in 2017 and $186,064 in 2020. 

That support helps as the trend toward self-sponsorship continues. 

The survey showed that the percentage of students who received full financial sponsorship dipped, while self-sponsorship increased slightly. The percentage of self-funded students rose slightly from 53.8 percent in 2020 to 56.2 percent in 2021, and 15.2 percent of students received full sponsorship in 2021, compared to 17.6 percent in 2020.

Survey offers insights into the industry

Conducted on behalf of EMBAC by Percept Research, the annual survey offers the most comprehensive look at the EMBA industry, helping shed light on trends and changes that impact EMBA Programs. In 2021, 83.7 percent of EMBAC EMBA Programs participated in the survey.

“The survey helps us understand the state-of-the-industry and identify the innovations that are shaping current and future program offerings,” says Desiderio. 

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