Business Administration

Top Executive MBA Programs in the Nation’s Capital

Top Executive MBA Programs in the Nation’s Capital
If you live and work in the DC metropolitan area, it makes sense to look at the top EMBA programs closest to you first. Image from Unsplash
Christa Terry profile
Christa Terry September 29, 2020

There aren't many EMBA programs in the DC metro area, but what's available is top-notch. So too are the networking and employment opportunities you'll find in this dynamic city.

MBA/Business and Executive MBA Programs You Should Consider

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If you’re a mid- to high-level business professional with significant managerial experience in the DC metro area, traditional Master of Business Administration programs probably won’t have much to offer you. Executive MBA (EMBA) programs, on the other hand, are tailor-made for people who’ve begun their ascent up the corporate ladder but find they aren’t rising quickly enough. Adding credentials to your CV can help you transition into senior leadership roles. For that purpose, the EMBA stands out among diplomas.

That’s because unlike traditional MBA programs, executive MBA programs in Washington, DC—and elsewhere—teach advanced business concepts and leadership skills. EMBA programs are also nearly always more intense and faster-paced than traditional programs. Compounding the intensity: it’s not uncommon for Executive MBA candidates to pursue this degree while working full-time. Just graduating from an EMBA program is a sign of exceptional grit and dedication.

Washington, DC, Virginia, and Maryland are home to more than 35 colleges and universities with graduate-level business programs. However, if you live and work in the DC metropolitan area, it makes sense to look at the top EMBA programs closest to you first. In this article about earning an executive MBA in Washington, DC, we cover:

  • Four reasons to pursue an EMBA in Washington, DC
  • How average EMBA tuition rates in Washington, DC stack up
  • The universities in Washington, DC with the top executive MBA programs
  • Where EMBA grads in Washington, DC work
  • How graduating from one of the above executive MBA programs will affect your income

Four reasons to pursue an EMBA in Washington, DC

  • Washington, DC attracts all kinds of industries. Health sciences, life sciences, real estate, construction, retail, media, and technology companies can all be found in the nation’s capital. If you’re pursuing an EMBA because you want to explore other lines of business, DC is a great place to do it.
  • An EMBA can lead to executive roles in the public and private sectors. People associate Washington, DC with government jobs, but public administration is only the second-largest industry in the region. There are more private-sector professional, scientific, and technical services jobs in the DC metro area.
  • Heads of state, business leaders, and VIPs from various fields call DC home. The networking opportunities here are unparalleled—especially if you’re passionate about politics or have considered becoming a lobbyist.
  • __There’s a top HBCU business school in DC__. Howard University‘s School of Business is ranked among the top business schools in the United States by Bloomberg Businessweek and U.S. News and World Report.

“Should I Get an Executive MBA?”

An Executive Master of Business Administration (EMBA) degree is typically earned in the midstages of a professional management career. They have the highest ten-year ROI of all business degrees—a staggering 1,747%. Over 30 percent of CEOs hold an MBA, the degree an EMBA program confers. (source)

The average Executive MBA earns about $205,000 before graduation and $233,000 after graduation. That represents a 13.5% increase in compensation, including both salary and bonuses. That average is calculated across programs, however. Prestigious programs are associated with the biggest paychecks. (source)

The cohort structure of executive MBA programs often leads to lucrative partnerships and business opportunities. After all, the average EMBA workgroup almost always includes senior managers, vice presidents, and directors. (source)

University and Program Name Learn More

How average EMBA tuition rates in Washington, DC stack up

Full-time and part-time executive MBA programs tend to cost more than other graduate-level business degree programs, including professional MBA programs. The average cost of an EMBA falls somewhere between $75,000 and $85,000. Top business schools price their EMBA programs a lot higher. An Executive MBA from Georgetown University‘s McDonough School of Business costs close to $150,000, a potentially startling figure. An EMBA from George Mason University‘s School of Business or Howard University, on the other hand, costs around $70,000.

You are likely wondering whether a more expensive program will lead to more opportunities for advancement. The frustrating answer is: maybe. The priciest EMBA programs often boast the most striking student outcomes, but that doesn’t mean you can’t accomplish just as much with a degree from a more affordable school.

The universities in Washington, DC with the top executive MBA programs

George Mason University

School of Business

This 16-month Executive MBA program is unique among EMBA programs in Washington, DC, because of its national security focus. Most students have at least seven years of significant military or business-focused work experience, and many are military leaders, government executives, and corporate defense contractors. Faculty members work in the security sector; government, military, and corporate leaders (including George Mason alumni) are regularly brought in as guest speakers. The curriculum includes both advanced business courses and core courses focused on the business side of national security. Classes convene on one Saturday and one Friday per month; students advance through the program in cohorts.

Georgetown University

McDonough School of Business

Georgetown University ranks #25 on U.S. News & World Report’s list of the best business schools; it’s #1 in the DC area and sixth in the nation overall, according to the Financial Times. The School of Business offers a 20-month, no-GMAT EMBA program with a global focus. Students complete an on-campus “Structure of Global Industries” residency in year one and tackle a business problem faced by companies with overseas operations in a course with an international residency component. The EMBA program culminates in a research-focused global capstone residency. The program emphasizes hands-on learning, and cohorts work together closely—building lifelong business relationships in the process. All EMBA candidates can apply to participate in the school’s exclusive mentorship program to facilitate career advancement.

Howard University

School of Business

Howard University is home to the #1 graduate business program at an HBCU and ranks #70 in the nation, according to U.S. News & World Report. The 18-month Executive MBA program at Howard is offered exclusively online. Unlike many online MBA programs, this one has the same kind of small, intimate classes and breakout teamwork that are the hallmark of the world’s best MBA programs. Virtual office hours make it easy to connect with the faculty for advice and mentorship.

Distance learners at Howard University’s School of Business have access to the same study abroad opportunities as students on campus, and online EMBA candidates are recruited by the same national and international corporate partners and government agencies that regularly recruit on-campus. Howard University also stands out for the sig­nificant amount of financial assistance it provides to its students. All EMBA candidates have access to a team of financial aid advisors who help students secure scholarships, loans, and other forms of aid.

New York University

Leonard N. Stern School of Business

If you’re surprised to see Stern on a list of Executive MBA programs in Washington, DC,—because it’s headquartered in NYC—that’s probably because NYU only launched its DC metro program in 2018. NYU’s 24-month EMBA program is ranked fifth in the nation by U.S. News & World Report for its globally-focused program; its faculty that includes entrepreneurs, CEOs, and senior executives; and its extensive network of 500,000+ alumni.

EMBA candidates at Stern in DC work in intimate cohort groups and high-performance teams. They can choose from among four specialization options: finance, leadership. strategy, and tech/business analytics. Live classes convene once each month on a consecutive Friday, Saturday, and Sunday to limit work disruptions; EMBA candidates must submit a time sponsorship form from their employers. Students only take significant time off work for a week-long global residency, a nine-day residency on the NYU Stern New York City campus, and a Westchester, NY residency.

University of Virginia (Main Campus)

Darden School of Business

UVA’s Darden School is another institution you might not expect to see on a list of top Executive MBA programs in the heart of Washington, DC, but this program is based out of a facility close to Reagan National Airport and Union Station, with 360-degree views of the capital region. Students can choose between an EMBA and a Global Executive MBA (GEMBA). The curriculum in these 21-month programs is virtually identical, but the international residency requirements differ. GEMBA students take part in four experiences abroad in Brazil, China, India, and a European location that changes from year to year.

Like many EMBA programs, the Executive MBA at Darden is essentially a hybrid program. Students take classes in person once a month. At other times, coursework is delivered via a distance learning platform. The UVA EMBA offers an unusually broad selection of electives. All students complete electives, which can be formal courses, independent study, case writing, or a Global Consulting Project.

Where EMBA grads in Washington, DC work

Executive MBA students don’t have to worry about landing an internship because most EMBA candidates have jobs. In Washington, DC, there’s a good chance the people in an Executive MBA cohort will be federal employees. However, they might also work for a large multinational corporation or a growing tech startup. The average EMBA cohort typically includes senior managers, vice-presidents, and directors, so students in these programs aren’t hurting for opportunity.

That said, getting an executive MBA in Washington, DC can lead to jobs with the military and the Department of Homeland Security and at notable companies like Amazon, Bank of America, Citigroup, EY, Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan Chase, and KPMG. George Mason EMBA graduates, for instance, go on to work for AT&T, Booz Allen Hamilton, the CIA, and Microsoft. Some EMBA holders go on to found their own firms. Howard University graduates more company founders than any other business school on the above list.

The bottom line is that with an Executive MBA from one of the colleges and universities in Washington, DC, you can do almost anything you set your mind to. One of the hallmarks of Executive MBA programs is the career support students receive. Georgetown University EMBA candidates, for instance, are paired with leaders from corporate and government organizations for an entire year of mentoring. Large national and international firms regularly recruit students from Howard University’s graduate business programs. And networking is built into the EMBA programs at all the schools we’ve listed. Students meet industry leaders on career treks and international excursions, work on real-world projects with university partners, and receive career advisement designed for ambitious executives.

How graduating from one of the above executive MBA programs will affect your income

Return on investment (ROI) is the metric commonly used to measure MBA and EMBA programs’ overall value. This involves looking at a program’s overall cost and comparing it to typical graduates’ post-graduation salaries. Executive MBA programs are often more expensive than the traditional, part-time, and online MBA pathways at the same school, but EMBA graduates usually earn more than graduates of those other programs.

According to an Executive MBA Council exit survey, 40 percent of executive MBA graduates received promotion before graduation and saw a 13.5 percent increase in compensation after graduation ($205,008 on average versus $232,663). Executive MBA graduates who have to fund their degrees tend to pay them off within two years, much faster than the 55 months it takes most MBA grads.

With an EMBA, you get what you pay for. These exclusive programs tend to be taught by schools’ star professors and overseen by world-class faculty. Executive education usually includes expert career coaching, and cohorts are populated by professionals with 10+ years of experience. Relationships forged in Executive MBA classrooms often lead to lucrative partnerships and business opportunities. Earning an Executive MBA in Washington, DC, also means graduating in a locale with one of the highest concentrations of managerial jobs in the country. Is earning an EMBA in Washington, DC, a guaranteed ticket into the C-suite, or a high-powered career in lobbying? Absolutely not. It is, however, a smart way to kick off the next phase of your career.

(Last Updated on February 26, 2024)

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About the Editor

Tom Meltzer spent over 20 years writing and teaching for The Princeton Review, where he was lead author of the company's popular guide to colleges, before joining Noodle.

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MBA/Business and Executive MBA Programs You Should Consider


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