What Are the Different Types of MBA Programs?

Getting an MBA can open up a world of opportunity for professionals across various industries.

With an extensive selection of MBA programs available, doing your due diligence in researching which MBA type is right for you is key when it comes to accelerating your career. There are a plethora of one- to two-year MBA programs designed to help you unlock your leadership potential, ranging from part-time to full-time online MBAs:

Full-Time MBA

Full-time MBA programs typically take two years to complete; however, there are some accelerated MBA programs that can be completed in 12-18 months. In many programs, you’ll begin your coursework with class in business fundamentals, then delve into classes with a specific focus based on your learning interests. In addition to a fruitful academic experience, some MBA programs offer additional services to help you kickstart your career after graduation, including networking events, social or professional organizations, or career counseling.

Executive MBA

Executive MBA (or EMBA) programs also span a one- to two-year duration and are tailored for seasoned professionals with extensive experience in management roles. Most EMBA students simultaneously work full-time and, in turn, classes are typically held on Fridays or weekends to accommodate their busy schedules. Many EMBA programs will require a statement of support from employers, should time away from work be necessary to complete the program. In some cases, companies are willing to cover all or part of the costs associated with an EMBA program for a highly valued employee. This program is ideal for professionals with demonstrated managerial experience and who aspire to become core leaders of their company.

Part-Time MBA

For those who prefer more flexibility, a part-time MBA program could be the best avenue for balancing other priorities such as working full-time or raising a family. These programs tend to last from two to five years, depending on how a student paces their coursework. Students are in control of deciding how many classes they take each semester, and programs typically help the student to decide which classes to take in which order to complete the degree within a set time period. The two types of part-time MBA programs include:

      • Lock Step: This program structure emulates full-time MBA programs by allowing you to take classes with a cohort.
      • Self-Paced: As demonstrated by its name, self-paced programs offer the ability to take classes at your leisure. Students can take on a more accelerated track or space out their course load based on what works best for them.

Online MBA

Online MBA programs also offer flexibility and provide learning material in the form of recorded lectures or live classes. These programs can take two years or more depending on how many classes a student takes each semester. Most online programs mirror the full-time version and students also have the freedom to digest the learning material at their own pace, on-demand. Online MBA programs are ideal for those who prefer to learn at home or from any other remote location.

At Wharton, we empower you to become a leader by offering Executive MBA, Full-Time MBA, and Integrated or Joint MBA programs. Wharton does not offer a part-time or online MBA program. With a Wharton MBA, you’ll live into what it means to be a lifelong learner, level up your earning potential, and gain access to an expansive professional network spanning 153 countries around the world.

MBA Quick Guide

Full-Time MBAExecutive MBAPart-Time MBAOnline MBA
DurationTypically two years to complete; accelerated MBA programs can take just 12-18 months.Executive MBA (or EMBA) programs span a one- to two-year duration.Part-time MBA program tend to take two to five years.Online MBA programs can take two years or more depending on classes taken each semester.
Average work experienceStudents interested in full-time MBA programs usually have 3-6 years of work experience.EMBA programs are ideal for professionals with 8+ years of work experience, plus some managerial experience on their resume.Part-time MBA programs are a great fit for working professionals, usually with around 6 years of experience, who wish to continue working while learning.Like part-time MBA programs, online MBA programs are ideal for those who prefer to learn at home or from any other remote location. Typical applicants have more than 3 years of work experience,

Types of MBA Specializations

Hone in on Your Interests

When evaluating what type of MBA program you may want to pursue, you’ll notice that many programs offer specializations that allow you to hone in on your career interests. Unlike other MBA  programs, Wharton offers students the option to declare a major. Students have 19 majors to choose from in the full-time Wharton MBA program. Many courses count towards more than one major, giving students the option to double major, which nearly half of our current students choose to do. Majors include:

  • Accounting
  • Business Analytics*
  • Business Economics and Public Policy*
  • Business, Energy, Environment and Sustainability*
  • Entrepreneurship & Innovation
  • Finance
  • Healthcare Management
  • Individualized MBA Major
  • Insurance and Risk Management
  • Management
  • Marketing
  • Marketing & Operations (Joint Major)
  • Multinational Management
  • Operations, Information, and Decisions*
  • Organizational Effectiveness
  • Quantitative Finance*
  • Real Estate
  • Statistics*
  • Strategic Management

Integrated Programs

Another benefit of our majors is for international students. Six of our majors are designated as STEM majors, which make students eligible to obtain a STEM OPT extension. These majors include: Business Analytics; Business Economics & Public Policy; Business, Energy, Environment & Sustainability; Operations, Information & Decisions; Quantitative Finance; and Statistics. For international students who choose one of these majors, you will be eligible for 36 months of post-completion OPT (compared to 12 months for a non-STEM major).

If you are passionate about other disciplines, pursuing a dual-degree can broaden your horizons even further. You can obtain joint degrees with Wharton’s dual-degree programs, which enable you to receive a Master of Arts (MA) or Juris Doctorate (JD) alongside your MBA. These programs are fully integrated, so you can earn two degrees in just three years. There are several integrated joint degrees offered at Wharton and the University of Pennsylvania, including the MBA/MA Lauder Joint Degree in International Studies, which combines advanced language studies alongside a strong base in global business practices. Students focus their studies on a particular region of the world, becoming well-versed in the cultural, political, and economic areas of those regions.

Another dual-degree program Wharton offers is the MBA/JD Francis J. & WM. Polk Carey program, which is the nation’s first fully-integrated three-year JD/MBA. This program melds legal and business knowledge, allowing students to simultaneously pursue their Juris Doctorate law degree alongside an MBA, giving them a unique skill set that sets them apart from others in various industry spheres. Unlike other joint JD/MBA programs, the Carey JD/MBA program in located on one campus, with the Wharton School and Penn Law located just blocks away from each other.

In addition to dual-degree programs, Wharton is proud to cultivate tomorrow’s healthcare management leaders with our leading MBA in Healthcare Management program. The healthcare sector is a thriving field and interest in our acclaimed program has only grown more over time, making it one of the more competitive MBA avenues at Wharton. In this program, you’ll become well-acquainted with internationally recognized faculty dedicated to expanding your knowledge about health services delivery, finance and management, health economics, law and policy, and decision analysis.  You’ll also gain full access to academic resources available at the University of Pennsylvania and have the opportunity to collaborate with the Perelman School of Medicine or find opportunities within the UPenn Health system.

Learn more about the 13+ dual degree and interdisciplinary programs that we offer between the Wharton School and the University of Pennsylvania. Additionally, Wharton offers  dual MBA programs with partnership schools including John Hopkins University (School of Advanced International Studies) and the Harvard Kennedy School.

Types of MBA Courses

Wharton’s MBA curriculum is rigorous yet flexible to accommodate your unique needs. Our flexible curriculum is broken up into three categories: courses that fulfill the core curriculum, courses that fulfill your major’s requirement, and your choice of elective classes that align with your career or learning interests. Together, these add up to 19 credit units required in order to complete your degree. The different types of MBA courses touch on:

  • Accounting
  • Ethics
  • Finance
  • Macroeconomics
  • Marketing
  • Management
  • Microeconomics
  • Operations
  • Statistics

To gain a full understanding of your academic experience as a Wharton MBA student, visit our MBA Courses & Curriculum page.

How Do I Choose an MBA?

Now that you have an idea of what to expect with an MBA program, you may be wondering where to even begin with choosing one. When considering what type of MBA program is right for you, it’s important to define your priorities and think about the following:

  • How flexible are you with balancing an MBA on top of other commitments? Do you want to work full-time and do a part-time MBA program or be a full-time student?
  • How soon do you want to achieve your degree? Is a 1-year or 2-year track ideal?
  • What are your future aspirations? What courses are necessary to provide you with the career skills you desire?

Reflect on your goals and what you hope to achieve by pursuing an MBA. Network with colleagues or peers that have completed an MBA program themselves to gain insight into navigating your own journey. Research schools that have specializations that you are interested in and explore their course curriculum to determine how you can translate your learnings to being in the field.

Earning an MBA is not an easy endeavor, and contemplating how it will empower you to grow personally and professionally will only bring you closer to taking that next step and applying.

Start the Application Process Today!