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Female enrolment highest ever, continuing upward trend toward closing the gender gap

The @EMBACouncil (EMBAC) announced today the results of its 2020 EMBAC Membership Program Survey, which revealed an increase in distance learning options among executive education programs – with 73.9% of schools now reporting offering some form of distance learning compared to just 55.3% in 2019. "While the percentage of schools offering some form of distance learning has been increasing slightly each year since 2016, the big jump from 2019 to 2020 is evidence that EMBA programs responded quickly to the impact of the pandemic," said Michael Desiderio, executive director of EMBAC.

The results also show that more than nine out of 10 programs are now utilizing electronic delivery of course materials, and more than three out of four programs purchase cases electronically, an increase of more than seven percentage points since 2016. This substantial increase shows how Executive MBA (EMBA) programs around the world have adapted since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

"Despite the challenges brought about by the current global pandemic, the value of EMBA programs has never been higher," said Desiderio. "Executive MBA programs equip students with the knowledge and skills needed to navigate times of uncertainty. And while working professional education programs have certainly been impacted by the coronavirus, the amount of inquiries, completed applications received, and applications accepted have trended slightly upward since 2016, showing continued demand for such programs even during challenging times."

In addition to these trends, the findings also show that the percentage of female enrollment in EMBA programs is at its highest ever – now reaching 32% in 2020, compared to 29.7% in 2016. This year-over-year increase continues the upward trend toward closing the gender gap in executive education programs. 

As for pricing, the total cost of programs has remained nearly flat at an average of $82,883, and the trend toward more self-funded students and fewer fully funded students continues in 2020, with nearly 54% of students self-funding compared to 41.2% in 2016. Across all EMBA programs, female students are slightly more likely to be self-funded than male students and are also less likely to receive funding from their employers. The findings show that 54% of women report having received no funding from their employers as compared to 51.4% of men.

Additional insights from the 2020 EMBAC Membership Program Survey include:

  • A vast majority (91.5%) of EMBA programs offer career services to help students manage their career and program goals.
  • For industries in 2020, healthcare/pharma/biotech made up the highest category – at 12.7% – where incoming students are currently employed. Year-over-year, this category continues to outpace others with technology next in line at 9.8%.
  • Nearly 18% of students received full sponsorship in 2020, which is down from 22.5% in 2016.

Historically, a majority of people apply to EMBA programs to enhance their skills, gain new business perspectives, and further their career trajectories. This remains true in 2020, with the average age of EMBA students remaining at 38 years old with approximately 14 years of work experience and about nine years of management experience. The collective experience of students is clearly significant and leads to a level of discussion and engagement that is not easily replicated by other programs. 

The EMBA Council currently includes 200 colleges and universities that administer 300 plus programs in more than 30 countries worldwide. Each year, EMBAC conducts a Membership Program Survey using the current methodology annually since 2003. In 2020, the survey was conducted by Percept Research, held from May 5 to Aug. 17, 2020, and was completed by approximately 85.1% of the EMBA member programs.

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