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Oct 13, 2016

How Executive MBA Programs Differ From the Norm

Sponsored Content provided by Robert Burrus - Dean , Cameron School of Business - University of North Carolina Wilmington

There is a lot of excitement these days around UNCW’s Cameron School of Business. So, what is the buzz all about? 

Cameron is now proud to offer an online Executive MBA program. This is an exciting opportunity for Cameron to meet the needs of individuals and firms in the region and, beyond that, their desire to develop the knowledge and skills needed to lead in a fast paced business environment. 

While most business professionals know the value of an MBA, many may wonder, What is an Executive MBA program and how does it differ from other MBA programs? There are several distinguishing characteristics of Executive MBA programs including: the target market; inclusion of residency requirements; size of the program; and program selectivity.

Target Market

An Executive MBA typically conjures images of universities catering only to C-suite executives. Our program, however, follows the more recent EMBA trend of targeting aspiring executives, as well as those who have already reached the executive level with their companies, including Fortune 500 companies. 

In fact, we envision the actual participants for this program being very similar to that of our hybrid Professional MBA program, except that the EMBA program will attract students from around the Southeast United States because of the convenience of completing the program online.

In other words, the EMBA program targets students with more than five years of professional experience who have a demonstrated record of career effectiveness. This target market will value the flexibility that an online program affords for those busy executives with very little precious time to spend in a classroom. 

Also, with this online Executive MBA program, Cameron has the opportunity to expand our reach beyond our corner of North Carolina.

Residency Requirements

One of the standard characteristics of Executive MBA programs is residency experiences, where students travel to a high-impact destination for intensive face-to-face learning.

These residencies help overcome one of the major deficiencies of other online MBA programs - soft skill development. Fully online programs often work quite well for learning concepts and some skills, but they don’t always prepare managers for the people side of management. 

Effective managers need to present their ideas, persuade others, negotiate effectively, build networks and lead diverse work teams.  These soft skills are every bit as important, if not more so, than the analytical skills a student might learn in a finance or economics class. Our residencies will focus largely on the soft skill development that is an essential aspect of our Executive MBA program.

One of the most attractive aspects of the online Executive MBA program is the weeklong international residency. This residency will expose students to international business practices and issues. Students will have a chance to apply concepts they have been learning to real world cases. 

We will be rotating these international residencies among our partner universities located in Germany, France,
Spain and the U.K., with the cost mostly built into our tuition and fees.

Program Size

One of the common characteristics of Executive MBA programs is small cohorts of students who progress through the program together. This format allows participants to develop relationships among classmates that span over their careers. 

Many online MBA programs feature hundreds of students working their way through the program at their own pace. Consequently, there is a lower level of connectivity among the students. 

Cameron’s EMBA program will foster student engagement and promote student relationships though smaller cohorts of 20 to 30 students.  


One of the factors that differentiates learning at the graduate level from the undergraduate level involves peer

At the undergraduate level, students learn primarily from the instructor and other mentors. At the graduate level, students generally learn as much from one another as they do from the instructor. Thus, it is vital to the quality of the educational experience that student peers have knowledge, experience and insights that they can share. 

We seek students with a demonstrated record of success in their professional careers and a minimum of five years of professional experience. By developing a program that is intentionally smaller and more selective, Cameron is opting for quality over quantity and the highest level of student experience. While our program will be selective, we value the diverse backgrounds of students that will lead to career development, personal growth and solid business skills.

You are encouraged to apply and give flight to reimagining your career development.

We are excited to talk to you about this new program. Please call Candace Wilhelm, Director of Graduate Programs for the Cameron School of Business, at (910) 962-3903 or visit our website to learn more.

Robert T. Burrus, Jr., Ph.D., is the dean of the Cameron School of Business at the University of North Carolina Wilmington, named in June 2015. Burrus joined the UNCW faculty in 1998. Prior to his current position, Burrus was interim dean, associate dean of undergraduate studies and the chair of the department of economics and finance. Burrus earned a Ph.D. and a master’s degree in economics from the University of Virginia and a bachelor’s degree in mathematical economics from Wake Forest University. The Cameron School of Business has approximately 60 full-time faculty members and 20 administrative and staff members. The AACSB-accredited business school currently enrolls approximately 2,000 undergraduate students in three degree programs and 200 graduate students in four degree programs. The school also houses the prestigious Cameron Executive Network, a group of more than 200 retired and practicing executives that provide one-on-one mentoring for Cameron students. To learn more about the Cameron School of Business, please visit Questions and comments can be sent to [email protected].


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