Program Highlights

How does The Executive MBA differ from a traditional MBA program?
MBA programs, whether they are part-time or full-time, provide a strong grounding in key business areas such as accounting, economics, finance, statistics, management, marketing and information systems to name but a few areas.

An Executive MBA, particularly the one at ILLINOIS, focuses on the needs of more experienced students. Our goal is preparing you to be more than just a better manager. We shape tomorrow's leaders and entrepreneurs. At ILLINOIS, the lock-step nature of our experience creates a "spirit" within each class which is hard to describe. The accelerated format delivered by brilliant faculty where you work with extremely accomplished fellow students creates an unparalleled learning experience.

What are entry points in to the Program and what's the Program's length?
Classes are lock-step and start only once per year in early October. Your final class occurs overseas in April, approximately nineteen months after beginning the program. Commencement is held on the University's main campus in Champaign in mid-May.

What impact will an EMBA have on my career?
Several studies show that EMBA students advance in their career after graduating. Moreover, it's not uncommon for many students to be promoted while they are still in the Program. In many classes, it is not uncommon for you to find key ideas or takeaways that you can apply at work the following week. This can work to your advantage.

One can never definitively prove how the degree will affect a given student, yet there is no doubt about how this Program will change your perspective on business or how it will shape your leadership potential. In many settings, an Executive MBA provides what you need to gain additional responsibility. For the promising entrepreneur, the broad-based knowledge and the strategic vision you will develop can easily make the difference between success and failure in a highly competitive, resource-constrained environment.

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What is the Program's schedule?
The Executive MBA begins in October and falls into a rhythm of meeting on alternating Friday-Saturday weekend sessions. The exceptions to this rhythm include two extended class sessions during the Program and an extended trip as part of our unique capstone experience - the international consulting projects.

I travel a lot for my job. What if I miss class?
We know that demanding students also hold demanding job assignments which often require travel. With enough advanced notice and planning, even road warriors can continue with our Program. Once our class calendar is published, most students sync their calendars' to match up with ours. Our students travel to class weekends from all over North America - you likely can too.

Missing a class, or worse a class weekend, is problematic and will pose a challenge for you and your study group. Our approach, though, is designed to help you through these rare conflicts. Aside from help through your study team, we also record all lectures for viewing later online and class documents are always accessible via a secure network through our "virtual classroom." The "virtual classroom" is a great resource that also enables students to focus on learning and on carefully listening to in-class discussion; many students use the videos on a regular basis to help with reviewing and mastering course materials as a normal part of their study routine.

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Where are classes held?
Classes are held in the Illini Center in downtown Chicago at 200 South Wacker, directly across from Union Station. The only exception is Immersion weekend in Urbana-Champaign and the international trip.

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How many courses will I take?
There are 20 courses totaling 72 credit hours.

Why is your approach to international studies so different from that at other universities?
Yes, our approach is unique. Our approach is motivated by several factors. We cannot think of a better way to introduce students to the global dynamic of business than to place them in these all-encompassing, real-world assignments. They not only provide an exceptional capstone experience, but really immerse the student in the global nature of business.

How can we do this? One key advantage is our size. We are large enough to be a major EMBA program, however with a maximum class of approximately 45 students we are small enough to manage these projects with the deep experience and oversight of Illinois Business Consulting. IBC has been providing student driven consulting assignments for decades and is a key factor allowing us to produce this unique experience.

I travel internationally and feel I am a global citizen now. Is the international consulting project optional?
No, the ILLINOIS approach to global studies is not optional as it is far more than a "field trip." This capstone experience is integral to who we are and is something all students will want to carefully review before committing to this EMBA Program. Your tuition covers most of the costs associated with the international study trip, with the exception that you need to cover the costs associated with commuting to class whether your class is held in Chicago or in this case, China.

Are students allowed to contact the professors during and after each session?
Yes. While faculty are extremely busy, they nearly always have an "open-door" policy with their students. Email and phone contact are easy to arrange. Many faculty choose to stay in the same hotel as the students, thus it's not uncommon to see your professor in the hallway or lobby of the hotel.

Do I need a laptop computer?
No. We are a technology driven program. Because of this critical aspect, we issue all EMBA students a new laptop computer on the first day of orientation so that everyone has a uniform computing platform to work with. The hardware and software cost for this is included in your tuition. During the program, the computer remains university property in your care. After you successfully complete the program, the machine is transferred to you to keep.

What happens if I withdraw from the Program?
Given the intense, integrated learning environment within our Program, the curriculum is not designed for students to start and stop at will. Generally, all students work through the lock-step program together. Yet involuntary departures in extreme cases need to be considered - this understandably happens with students who in live and work in demanding roles. Decisions to withdraw are dealt with on a case-by-case basis with the intent of keeping students on track to eventually earn their degree.

What teaching approach or method does ILLINOIS focus on?
Each faculty member is distinguished within their area and as such, chooses the best learning approach for their material. ILLINIOS does not impose the case method, a lecture approach or an activity-based pedagogy although all three learning styles are evident. All professors assume you are working in a team environment and will leverage that in their classes. As such, your team members are equal partners in your learning journey.

What is ILLINOIS' approach to study groups?
For your first-year as a student, we carefully form teams of teams of 4-6 people to balance background, experience, and industry among a host of factors. The key determinant is not always geographic location, but rather a well-balanced team structured to maximize learning potential within.

As you talk with our alums, you will learn that these teams are key to your learning experience and vital to helping you through class projects and exams. Furthermore, your teammates often develop into great confidants to turn to for advice on work or career issues during and after the Program.

In the second year of the Program, teams are reformulated to accommodate the international consulting assignment. Introducing this second set of colleagues can be stressful, but is an excellent way to reinforce your skills and experience in designing and delivering high-impact, highly effective teams.

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Admissions & Qualifications

What qualifications should a prospective student have?
Generally, most ILLINOIS EMBA students have an undergraduate degree from nearly any academic discipline (from an accredited college) and between 7 to 15 years of professional experience. Most successful candidates are mid- to upper-level managers with budget and/or people "authority". Alternatively, our students are working as mid-level operational staff with direct line functions within their companies. Some students are self-financed entrepreneurs or come from the public or not-for-profit sectors.

The Admissions Committee places a very high value on your work experience, the future plans you share with us during the admissions process and our assessment of the promise you hold as a future business leader.

If you feel your background departs from the traditional profile, this is common but in no way indicates that your studies might be problematic. Please contact Lisa Koengeter for additional perspective and advice on the unique aspects of your particular background and how that might compare with our applicant pool.

What type of time commitment is involved?
In addition to classes, you should plan on spending between 10 to 15 hours per week on homework individually and with your study group. The amount of homework per week depends on the individual course, your Professor, and your own business and academic background. When you visit our program, please take time to talk with current students to learn their perspective on this question and how they balance home, work and school demands.

Alumni can also be a great resource as you weigh through these questions. Please call Lisa Koengeter to see if she can connect you with an alum in your industry or perhaps even in your company who can share with you their experience in the program and how to weigh the competing demands of work, home and school life.

Do I need to take the GMAT?
In general, we have not found the GMAT to be a good indicator of executive potential in experienced students considering our Program and as such do not require it of all applicants. Instead, we focus on work experience, career goals, employer's endorsement, the future plans you share with us and your desire to succeed. In some cases where the admissions committee has concern, we may require the GMAT for further consideration, particularly if you lack a strong quantitative or analytical background.

Is corporate sponsorship required?
All applicants are required to provide a letter of "sponsorship" from their employer stating that the company is aware and supportive of the student's enrollment in the Program and of the necessary time commitment involved. Your employer's endorsement of your participation in our EMBA program and the time this will take away from your company are critical to your success. In this letter, it is also helpful to the admissions committee if the letter speaks to how your company views your leadership potential in your firm.

When are the admission dates?
We have a rolling admissions process. Admission into the Program is competitive and we encourage you to submit your application early. The Admissions Committee meets on the 15th of each month to evaluate completed applications. If your application is not initially accepted, it may be retained for consideration in a later round thus helping your eventual chance at admission the earlier you provide us with a complete application. In all cases, you should expect to receive an update as to your admissions status shortly following the 15th of any given month.

I have taken some graduate level courses. Can I transfer them to your program?
No. Our program uses a lock-step curriculum, meaning you start and end your program with the same group of executives. Even if you are a CPA, you too will take the same accounting class as your classmates. Your background will be a boon to your study group and will affect their learning. Conversely, their collective learning experiences will immensely add to what you learn in other courses. What your professors bring to class is critical, yet what you learn from your fellow students, particularly in our lock-step format, is immeasurable.

Can other people who know me inquire about my admissions status?
We welcome written information from others who can speak to your credentials and experiences and who can help us get a better understanding of your business success and future leadership potential. However, we cannot nor will not communicate with anyone other than you, written or otherwise, regarding the status or your admissions case.

Can I defer admission?
You may request such an extension to a subsequent year, yet generally admissions are limited to the cohort being formed. Deferrals may or may not be extended depending on the circumstances of the Program and the motivation supporting a particular case. Irrespective, whatever support or scholarship assistance that might be offered in one year cannot be assured for another. Moreover, students who are granted a deferral will be subject to the tuition and fees prevailing at the time of the matriculation.

Is an interview required?
Not all applicants for the program are interviewed. In some cases, where a candidate's credentials suggest less than a good fit, we may halt the process and not ask for an interview. An interview is required though of all candidates who are in the final stages of the application process and where the admissions staff has recommended the candidate for full consideration. Admissions interviews (approximately 30 minutes) can be scheduled at any time in the application process.

Is it possible to apply without current employment?
The program is focused on those with advancing careers. All students are expected to be and maintain their employment throughout the program. Yet in today's economy we do and have considered exceptions. If an applicant is not actively employed, we expect them to be aggressively searching for employment consistent with that of our student body. Generally, if an applicant is just starting a new job, this may not be an opportune time to initiate a demanding degree. As such, newly employed applicants who are admitted often do appeal for a deferral of their case.

Is a bachelor's degree required for admission?
The admissions committee does consider cases where a candidate does not have a bachelor's degree. These cases are uncommon but are usually motivated by extraordinary professional experience. In these cases, the admissions committee may request that the candidate sit for the GMAT exam.

Who should write my letters of recommendation?
The program requires three letters of recommendation which are carefully reviewed as part of your admissions packet. The best letters come from supervisors, either past or present, who can attest to your growth as a manager and as a leader. Those who observe these same skills in a not-for-profit or volunteer environment make for equally good letter writers.

Former alumni of our EMBA program who can appreciate your talents and place them in the context of our program also make great choices (to see if there are alums from our program who are in your firm, please contact Lisa Koengeter). Fellow work colleagues in your company who know you well and can speak to your capabilities also tend to provide meaningful letters to the admissions committee. For those who know you primarily in a social capacity or who are a relative (either direct or via marriage) are not good choices.

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Class Profile

Who attends The Executive MBA?
ILLIOIS EMBA students are a diverse group of professionals from a variety of backgrounds and industries who all share a common desire to grow in their ability to strategically manage and lead organizations. Our students are naturally driven and inquisitive people who demonstrate a willingness and ability to meet the time and course requirements of our Program. Admissions is based on a number of factors, including professional performance and future promise, academic records, professional recommendations, and previously-demonstrated ability to accomplish graduate-level business coursework.

The Program focuses on the quality and duration of work experience and does not distinguish on the basis of age. Generally though, the typical student has been between 7 to 15 years of professional work experience. For students with exceptional work or life experiences we have admitted students in their late 20s or early 30s, yet the median age is generally 35. Many students (particularly those seeking an entrepreneurial path) start our Program in their late 40s or early 50s.

Do I need any special preparation before starting the Program?
Generally speaking, no special coursework is required prior to enrolling. All admitted students will receive pre-read and preparatory electronic materials to complete prior to the start of the Program. Many students go further and choose to take a preparatory course in algebra, business statistics, economics, and/or accounting in the summer prior to the Program. (The Program can advise you on good options, if you so choose.) In some cases, the Program may request that a candidate take such a preparatory course as a part of your admission.

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What is the cost of The Executive MBA?
Tuition and fees for the cohort beginning fall 2015 are $97,000 - all inclusive of tuition, meals, accommodations during regular class sessions in Chicago and the immersion week in Champaign, airfare to China, a laptop computer, textbooks and other pedagogical materials. Compared to other Executive MBA programs where costs of lodging, travel, and equipment are tacked on throughout the program, our all-inclusive tuition ensures that you know the bottom line going in, and that you maximize your return on investment.

Is financing or student aid available?
Financial aid is available through many different types of student loans. Students may apply for federal loans or for a number of private loans. Students who have served in the military may be eligible for additional support at either the Federal level (through the New GI Bill) or through the State of Illinois. Click here for more detail.

What flexibility exits in billing tuition and fees?
We have several options. First, we work with your employer's educational support policy to maximize the support you can receive. We know that for each student the terms and conditions of support can vary and we try to be as flexible as we can to this. The University is now able to implement a month-to-month payment plan which can extend payments beyond your final semester thus lowering your average monthly payment.

What type of support must I receive from my company?
Financial sponsorship is not a requirement; in fact, more than half of all students receive less than full financial support from their employer. We do require a sponsorship letter from your company, preferably from your direct supervisor stating that they support and advocate your participation in the EMBA program.

Are Tuition and Fees or other EMBA expenses tax deductible?
They may be. Many educational expenses are generally not deductible. However some educational expenses related to enhancing your role in your current job or with your current employer may be deductible. The mission and purpose of an EMBA is generally aligned with the principle of helping you advance along the career you have already started.  For some students these expenses may fall within IRS deductibility guidelines. Before making any presumptions, it's important that you seek clear advice on how the ILLINOS EMBA might relate to your tax situation.

Who can I speak to about additional financial aid questions?
For financial aid assistance, please call or write Lisa Koengeter, Director in Chicago. Her phone number is +1 312.575.7905. Also, please see our website for additional information.

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Additional Information

How can I learn more about the program?
Enrolling in an EMBA Program, any program for that matter, is an important investment. Like any investment, you need to do your homework. The first step in this process is to attend an in-person or online information session or an on campus immersion event regularly held for applicants. A key second step is to spend time visiting our classroom and talking with our current students and our alumni.

Please visit our event calendar for information session dates and locations. You may also email and request a brochure.

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