EMBA: Full-time, 1-year Executive MBA Programs

I Intro
II MIT Sloan, Sloan Fellows Program
III Stanford MSx Program
IV USC Marshall IBEAR Program

I Intro

Many of the professionals I speak with in their 30’s and early 40’s are at a crossroad in their lives and in their careers. Sometimes they’ve aged-out of a traditional, full-time MBA but still want the immersive experience that a traditional program provides. Other times they just don’t need the benefit of the internship and fulll-time recruiting that comes with a two-year program. You may be in a similar position. A full-time, one-year executive MBA is a great fit when you’re looking to take a year off work, clear your mind and recalibrate or reinvent your career.

Given the demand, I’m often frustrated by the fact that there aren’t more of these programs available be – but there are a few! The programs I’d like to introduce to you today may not even be on your radar. Because they don’t fit the typical EMBA format they’re often overlooked by traditional ranking outlets like the Financial Times or US News. Fear not! These are four, truly awesome, high ROI programs with great brand value from schools like (drum roll please) Stanford, MIT, Kellogg and the University of Southern California (USC).

Sloan Fellows Programs Back in the 1960’s General Motors Chairman, Alfred P. Sloan, and his foundation granted money to MIT, Stanford and London Business School to create the Sloan Fellows program for executives. Today these programs have evolved and changed names. In this article I’m going to cover the two most prestigious programs:  the Sloan Fellows program at MIT and the MSx program at Stanford (formerly the Stanford Sloan Masters Program). I tend to think about these three programs in terms of the populations they cater to. LBS requires a minimum of 15 years of work experience while Stanford requires 8.

  • Stanford MSx Average Age: 36; Minimum Years of Work Experience: 8
  • MIT Sloan Fellows Average Age: 38; Minimum Years of Work Experience: 10
  • LBS Masters in Leadership & Strategy Average Age: 40; Minimum Years of Work Experience: 15

I don’t discuss the LBS program in this article but you can access their website here: Masters in Leadership & Strategy. The MIT Sloan and Stanford MSx programs are the two most prestigious, sought-after, and therefore, competitive EMBA programs in the world – thanks to the reputation of the schools and the caliber of students the programs attract. Kofi Annan (former Secretary General at the UN) and Carli Fiorina (former CEO of HP) are graduates of MIT’s Sloan Fellows program. Paul Deneve (former VP of Apple and currently CEO of Yves St. Laurent) and Karl Slym (CEO of Tata Motors) are graduates of Stanford’s MSx program. But don’t let a little name dropping discourage you – both programs have played host to less renowned (but nonetheless successful) students as well.

Beyond the Sloan programs, there are a few other 1-year, full-time MBA programs available to older applicants: USC Marshall’s IBEAR program and Kellogg’s 1-year MBA.

USC Marshall’s IBEAR program is similar to the Sloan Fellows programs in that it’s a full-time, 1-year MBA for mid-career professionals. While its average age at 33 is younger than even Stanford’s MSx program, the age distribution is flater at Marshall (that means that you’ll find just as many people at 33 as you would at 38+). Marshall is a good choice for people on the fast-track but who are still on their way to their career peak. In fact, one of the selling points of the Marshall program is the fact that it allows students to reinvent their careers.

1-year MBAs: There are a number of 1-year MBA programs that mid-career candidates ask about: Kellogg’s 1-year MBA, Columbia’s J-Term MBA, Cornell Johnson’s 1-year MBA etc. Essentially these 1-year programs are geared for the same cohort as traditional 2-year MBA programs. There is no significant difference in the class profile of 1-year and 2-year MBAs (Average Age: around 26-28; Average Work Experience: 5-6 years). The difference is that students admitted to the 1-year program don’t need an internship in order to achieve their career goals. Often they plan to return to the same function, industry and/or employer. If you have 7 or more years of work experience know that you can apply to a 1-year program but your chances of being admitted are quite low.

The table below gives you a snapshot of all four programs. It’s best viewed on a laptop or tablet. Kellogg data (except for class size) reflects statistics drawn from the 1-year and 2-year programs. The school does not release individual data sets.

 CostClass Size (Degree)Work Experience Average (Range) [Minimum]GMAT Average (Middle 80% Range)GMAT Waiver?Age Average (Range)% Women (% Internationals)Industry
MIT Sloan Fellows$132k110
(MBA or MS)
14 years
[10 min]
650 minimumYes38
30% (80%)18% Tech, IT, Telecom16% Financial Services13% Goverment, Education
Stanford MSx$125k90
12 years
[8 min]
25% (64%)25% Government, Nonprofit, Military21% Financial Services15% Technology
USC Marshall IBEAR$104k56
10 years
[6 min]
n/a (74%)36% CPG22% Financial Services17% Tech, Engineering
 GMAT/GRE RequiredGMAT/GRE Waiver Available?Number of RecommendationsOffers Loans without a Co-signerRound 1 DeadlineRound 2 DeadlineRound 3 Deadline
MIT Sloan FellowsYesYes2YesSeptember 26, 2016November 14, 2016January 31, 2017
Stanford MSxYesNo 3YesSeptember 21, 2016January 10, 2017March 15, 2017
USC Marshall IBEARYesNo2NoNovember 1, 2016
...May 15, 2017

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II MIT Sloan, Sloan Fellows Program

The MIT Sloan Fellows program is a global leadership development program. Sloan’s 12-month, full-time executive MBA program designed to prepare an elite group of global mid-career managers who want to magnify their impact as leaders. Sloan Fellows are generally not career switchers – the program is best suited to people who plan to stay in their company, industry or functional role after leaving MIT. In fact, adcom members emphasize that while a little career pivot (grounded in past experience) is ok, the Sloan Fellows program cannot meet the needs of people looking to make a major change in their career (Example: IT Consultant who wants to work in finance). Sloan Fellows is a family-friendly cohort. 80% of students are married and many have kids. Students (and their families) live on or near campus.


MIT Sloan’s Fellows Program attracts students from Global 500 companies as well as experienced entrepreneurs and professionals from more diverse industries. While the average age is 38 years old, students range in age from 31-52. Applicants need a minimum of 10 years of work experience to apply to Sloan Fellows. Around 45% of students have corporate sponsorship and return to their employers after graduating. The student body is 80% international and represents 35 countries and 36 industries.

The mission of the Sloan Fellows program at MIT should give you an idea of the caliber of students they look for: Sloan prepares outstanding executives with the critical skills to create and lead visionary organizations in the 21st century – yet these students accept that they are still a work in progress (have room for personal and professional growth). When I evaluate a candidate’s profile for the Sloan Fellows program during a free consultation, I look for three things: 1) impact within their organization; 2) leading progressively larger teams/more important deliverables; 3) rapid career progression.

The program delivers an MBA (students can opt for a MS instead if they are willing to submit a graduate thesis). If I had to choose my favorite executive MBA degree, MIT’s Sloan Fellows program would be #1 or #2. The MIT brand name combined with the quality of network you’re able to build over the course of a year trumps any commuter EMBA program around.

The core curriculum is a step beyond what you would find in a typical MBA program, and a bit more advanced than the Stanford MSx curriculum. Although the Sloan Fellows do have typical core courses in Finance and Marketing etc., the academics are geared to push leaders to the next level (not to give them a basic business education). Courses like System Dynamics, Managing Supply Networks, Innovation Driven Advantage and Leadership Seminars are unique to Sloan. To give you a better sense of what I mean, for regular Sloan MBAs these courses are optional, for Sloan Fellows they’re obligatory.

The MIT Sloan Fellows Program is that rare chance in modern life to take a deep breath. To get your bearings and map your future. To build your skills and your global leadership network and define your place in the world. It’s the time and space to craft powerful solutions and investigate the intersecting realms of leadership and innovation. The MIT Sloan Fellows Program is designed to be the most profound—and the most productive—year of your life. Many fellows enter the program because they want access to the best thinkers of our day—in biotech and high tech, in state-of-the-art media and political science, and, of course, in economics and management.
MIT Sloan Adcom

A couple other neat features of the MIT Sloan Fellows program include your personal 360 leadership assessment at the beginning of the program and MIT’s unique Independent Activities Period (IAP) during the entire month of January.

Link: MIT Sloan Fellows Dates

  • The next Sloan Fellows program begins in June 2017 (ends June 2018)
  • Deadlines: R1) September 26, 2016 – Decision Notification January 1, 2017; R2) November 14, 2016 – Decision Notification March 15, 2017; R3) January 31, 2017 – Decision Notification April 7, 2017; International applicants (people who don’t have U.S. citizenship or a Greencard) are encouraged to apply in R1 or R2. Internationals can apply in R3 but a) will need to travel to Cambridge to interview b) may encounter issues getting a student visa in time. The annual application (and new application dates) become available in mid to late July of each year.

Link: MIT Sloan Fellows Application Requirements

  • Online Application
  • Business Resume
  • GMAT or GRE accepted; GMAT or GRE is required. The GMAT/GRE may be waived if you have received a grade of “B” or better in three advanced university-level courses: calculus, statistics, differential equations, accounting, finance or microeconomics (not macroeconomics).
  • If your undergraduate degree wasn’t in English or you are not a native English speaker you need to submit the TOEFL/IELTS unless you attended an English speaking university
  • Essays: 2016-17 application season (no word limit)
    • Statement of Objectives What are your immediate and ultimate professional objectives and, specifically, how will the MIT Sloan Fellows Program help you to achieve them?  What unique contributions will you bring to enrich the experience and diversity of the Sloan Fellows community?
      (500 words or less, limited to one page)
    • Essay 1) Think about an instance when you were on a team which did not work well together.  What challenges did you face and what did you learn from this experience?
      (500 words or less, limited to one page)
    • Essay 2) Please describe a time when you made a significant positive impact to an organization that demonstrates your ability to lead. (500 words or less, limited to one page)
    • Video Essay Please choose one of the questions below, and upload a video (90 second maximum) of you responding to the question.
      • What are you passionate about?
      • Tell us something that we would be surprised to learn about you.
      • What do you like to do for fun?
  • Two Recommendation Letters: ‘Your recommenders should have an in-depth understanding of the MIT Sloan Fellows Program and speak to how the experience will benefit your professional and leadership development.‘ If you are a company-sponsored applicant, a recommendation letter must come from your direct supervisor or superior. You’ll find the Sloan Fellows recommendation questions below.
    • Leadership: Consider how well the applicant demonstrates ethical and innovative leadership. Please describe the applicant’s progression as a leader and provide an example of how the applicant has had an impact on a person, group or organization.
    • Teamwork: We are interested in knowing how well the applicant works collaboratively with others. Please give an example of the applicant’s ability to adapt to diversity and different perspectives, and defend his/her own ideas/position.
    • Personal Development: Consider the applicant’s past and future career trajectory. What areas for development would you recommend the applicant focus on to maximize the benefit of our program and achieve both personal professional success?
  • Interview: By invitation only
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Link: MIT Sloan Fellows Application Requirements

Link: MIT Sloan Fellows Curriculum

Link: MIT Sloan Fellows Student Profiles

Student Profile: Robert Goldie LinkedIn
Technology Director, Razorfish, New York, NY (BA Hamilton College, Computer Science)
Led teams to design and implement technology platforms and digital strategies for Fortune 500 clients.

Student Profile: Shikha Dubey LinkedIn
Independent Consultant, The Bridge School, San Francisco, CA, (BA UC Berkeley)
Led strategic consulting and technology integration into education; managed international growth; built transformative programs in partnership with corporations, NGOs, and governments.

Student Profile: Sergio Saravia LinkedIn
Finance Director, CFO-Central & South America, Western Union, Argentina, (BA Business, Universidad Nacional de La Plata Argentina)
Led the finance, treasury, and procurement areas in Latin America within the remittance and payments industry; implemented innovative solutions for revenue growth and margin improvements.

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III Stanford MSx Program

The Stanford MSx Program is a 12-month residential experience for mid to executive-level managers. MSx participants are generally not career switchers – the program is best suited to people who plan to stay in their company, industry or functional role after leaving Stanford. Students (and their families) live on or near campus.

Stanford’s MSx program is also known as the Master of Science in Management for Experienced Leaders. The name is a fitting one in that the program attracts students from Global 500 companies take classes alongside experienced entrepreneurs and professionals from more diverse industries. While the average age is 36 years old, students range in age from 32-47. Applicants need a minimum of 8 years of work experience to apply to MSx.

Stanford MSx Students

Even though the program delivers a MS instead of an MBA, the MSx has always been the equivalent of an EMBA at Stanford (which reserves the MBA degree exclusively for its full-time program). If I had choose my favorite executive MBA degree, Stanford’s MSx program would be #1 or #2. Stanford is looking for students who have ‘made the most of the professional opportunities’ that have presented themselves. If you’re trying to figure out whether you have what it takes for the MSx program, consider what Stanford says about choosing your recommenders.

  • Have had significant direct involvement with you within the last few years.
  • Know you well and can provide details and examples that support their assertions.
  • Is a C-Suite or top-level executive, who make the most significant decisions regarding a company’s direction.
  • Are truly enthusiastic about writing a recommendation for you and will devote the necessary time and thought to complete the recommendation form

Strong candidates at MSx should be able to approach recommenders who a) have had direct involvement with you and b) are top-level execs or decision makers in your organization.

The Stanford brand name combined with the quality of network you’re able to build over the course of a year trumps any commuter EMBA program around. The core curriculum is essentially what you’d find at a traditional 2-year MBA program with fundamental topics in accounting, finance, strategy, data analysis etc. Students can tailor their academic experience through electives at the business school or from Stanford’s wider campus. You could walk through the door at Stanford without any formal business education and not have any issues keeping up with the coursework.

We are looking for ambitious individuals with a demonstrated record of accomplishment, intellectual vitality, and clarity of focus. Each brings his or her distinct perspective and experience to both classroom and informal discussions, which enriches the learning for their peers. Fellows choose the program to gain deep knowledge of the art and science of leadership in a concentrated, energetic environment. And, they commit to a full-time residential experience that closes the door on distractions and enables them to focus on learning. Student life is unique. Fellows live on or near campus, creating a challenging intellectual community that thrives long after the year is over. Because most Fellows are already established in both their careers and their lives, their partners and families often come to campus with them, and are an integral part of the MSx community, as well.
Stanford MSx Adcom

Link: Stanford MSx Dates

  • The next MSx Program begins in July 2016 (ends July 2017)
  • Deadlines: R1) September 21, 2016 – Decision notification December 2016; R2) January 10, 2017 – Decision Notification March 2017; R3) March 15, 2017 – Decision Notification April 2017; International applicants must apply in R1 or R2

Link: Stanford MSx Application Requirements

  • Online Application
  • Business Resume
  • GMAT or GRE accepted (No waiver available, you must sit GMAT/GRE to apply to MSx)
  • If your undergraduate degree wasn’t in English TOEFL/IELTS/PTE (Academic)
  • Essays: 2016-17 application season; No word limit if you’re only applying to MSx; 1200 word limit if you’re applying to MSx and the MBA
  • Three Recommendation Letters:
    • How does the candidate’s performance compare to those of other well-qualified individuals in similar roles? Please provide specific examples. (E.g., what are the applicant’s principal strengths?) – Up to 500 words
    • Describe the most important piece of constructive feedback you have given the applicant. Please detail the circumstances and the applicant’s response. – Up to 500 words
    • (Optional) Is there anything else we should know?
  • Interview: By invitation only

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Link: Stanford MSx Curriculum The required core curriculum assumes limited prior knowledge of academic business subjects

Link: Stanford MSx Student Profiles View full profiles for the entire MSx class. Below I’ve listed a couple of student profiles as an indicator of the caliber of student Stanford looks for.

Student Profile: Catherine Cushenberry
Engagement Manager IMS Consulting Group, New York, NY (AB, Princeton University, Public and International Affairs)
Catherine has nearly 10 years of experience consulting in the life sciences industry. Most recently, she was an engagement manager with IMS Consulting Group, a global life-sciences consultancy. Catherine was a senior member of the Strategy & Portfolio Analysis Center of Excellence, responsible for designing, selling, and managing strategy engagements and leading global, cross-functional teams. Working in the areas of pharmaceuticals, biotech, and financial services, Catherine advised clients ranging from Big Pharma, to entrepreneurial firms preparing their first launch, to private equity companies seeking health care investments. She has focused on corporate strategy, due diligence, M&A, forecasting and valuation, life-cycle management, portfolio optimization, and new-market entry strategy.

Student Profile: Saurabh Jha
Business Manager Pepsico India, Gurgaon, India (MBA, Institute of Management Technology, Ghaziabad, Marketing; BCOM, University of Delhi)
Saurabh is a multidisciplinary consumer goods and retail executive. Before coming to Stanford GSB, he was responsible for the Pepsi Lipton JV business for India, including development and delivery of the annual operating plan and profit and loss statements. In his earlier role with PepsiCo, he led one of the largest organized trade and premium go-to-market sales operations in India. Previously, Saurabh was a founding member of the private-label department at Aditya Birla Retail. He was instrumental in developing strategy, established key processes, and spearheaded the launch of 100-plus product lines. Saurabh started his career with United Spirits as brand manager for Black Dog Scotch. He was involved in managing literacy campaigns while working with a nonprofit, The Oceanic Group.

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IV USC Marshall IBEAR Program

The International Business Education and Research MBA or IBEAR MBA, is a one-year, accelerated, full time, international MBA program designed for mid-career professionals being groomed to assume senior global positions. Students (and their families) live on or near campus.

IBEAR students are very different than those attending a traditional two-year MBA program. Students tend to be multi-lingual and demonstrate a strong understanding of international business and culture. Being significantly more experienced than a traditional two- year MBA student, the typical IBEAR participant seeks to re-enter the job market at a more senior level upon completion of their diploma.

IBEAR Studentsv2

While doing a career 360 probably isn’t the norm among IBEAR students, many will join a new employer post-graduation (rather than return to their former employer). While the average age is 33 years old, students range in age from 28-48+. Applicants need a minimum of 6 years of work experience to apply to IBEAR.

IBEAR delivers an MBA degree to participants. While it’s not easy to land one of the 56 places in USC’s IBEAR program, overall, admissions is less competitive than Sloan Fellows or the MSx program. The IBEAR curriculum is on par with what you’d find at a typical 2-year MBA although certain courses have a more international leaning like the International Business Consulting Project and International Trade and Finance. There are plenty of courses in the curriculum which are optional – giving students the opportunity to tailor the MBA experience to their liking.

One highlight of the program includes time spent overseas working on a consulting project. At IBEAR, small teams of 4-5 IBEAR participants with diverse language, culture, industry and functional skills work together for 41/2 months to solve a pressing global business issue for a client. International travel for research is a vital part of this engagement.

Link: USC Marshall IBEAR Dates

  • The next IBEAR Program begins in July 2017 (ends July 2018)
  • Deadlines: Rolling applications begin in November and continue until April 20th or until the class is full. Example: If you’re applying for the program starting in July 2017, the earliest you can submit an application is November 2016. International applicants should submit their application as early as possible. A decision is rendered approximately two weeks after the candidate completes his/her interview

Link: USC Marshall IBEAR Application Requirements

  • Online Application
  • Business Resume
  • GMAT or GRE accepted
  • International applicants must submit TOEFL/PTE (Academic)
  • Essays: 2016-17 application season
    • Essay 1) Please discuss your post-IBEAR short-term and long term career goals. Please do not exceed 500 words.
    • Essay 2) Please tell us something about yourself that you feel will strengthen your application.  Please do not exceed 500 words.
  • Two Recommendation Letters: Please take note that Marshall does not offer up specific recommender prompts either on their website or in the online recommendation form! You may want to share the following lines (from the IBEAR website) with your recommender.

    Letters of recommendation are used as a gauge of your professional achievements and managerial potential. We prefer that one of your two recommendations be provided by a direct supervisor. This person should provide specific observations and examples of your leadership, teamwork, analytical skills and personal qualities. Letters of recommendation must be submitted online.

  • Interview: By invitation only

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Link: USC Marshall IBEAR Curriculum

Student Profile: Hui Rong (Rommy) Dai LinkedIn
Director, Head of Wealth Mangement, UBS Securities, Shanghai, China
Enrolling in the IBEAR MBA program proved a perfect fit for Rommy, who parlayed an undergraduate degree in investment and economics into a successful career in finance, but wanted to take her managerial skills to the next level. At Citibank China and UBS, Rommy had distinguished herself as a top performer in the field of wealth management, working her way up the ranks and winning recognition from key industry players. As her responsibilities increased, however, so, too, did the challenges; the IBEAR MBA provided the solution, expanding her knowledge, honing her abilities and enhancing her career development. “I’ve always worked for multinational banks,” she says, “and my family is international, as well. So at Marshall, which has students with such different backgrounds, I fit right in.” With her MBA in hand, Rommy plans to return to Asia to explore new opportunities in China’s emerging market for private wealth management.

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