Executive Education

Man holding a newspaper that says "Business"

What is Executive Education?

Executive education programs are typically non-credit, non-degree courses designed to provide professional development opportunities to corporate leaders. Often offered within a university’s business school, these courses are targeted at employees who are in executive and leadership positions and help to foster lifelong learning. 

Executive education isn’t just for individuals. Most schools, along with their individual offerings, also offer customizable group programs. Organizations can collaborate with a school to design a program based on their specific corporate needs and aligned to their company values. A group of employees can then participate in the program as a cohort – networking, learning, and growing together.

According to an annual survey conducted by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business, many business schools dealt with a decline in enrollment within their executive education programs in 2020, largely due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the sudden shift to online learning. Universities quickly pivoted, however, and are now utilizing various methods to deliver these executive education opportunities including live virtual classes and greater collaboration within remote learning through the use of breakout rooms and chats. 

How does Executive Education differ from a Master of Business Administration (MBA)?

  • While MBA programs are often open to students with an average of 3-5 years’ work experience, executive education is tailored for mid to senior level professionals who have 10-15+ years’ experience.
  • An MBA program results in a degree upon completion. Executive education courses can vary in format (online, in person, full-time, part-time) but typically don’t award academic credit.
  • Since an MBA is a degree granting program, it may take an average of two years to complete. Executive education courses are designed with flexibility in mind for individuals who are working full-time. You might find courses that are self-paced or range in length from one day or one day per week for multiple weeks.
  • Executive education tends to focus on targeted business topics that are relevant for leaders’ current or future positions whereas MBA programs deliver a broader business curriculum.

Which schools offer Executive Education programs?

Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management offers in-person, online, and group programs covering topics such as Women’s Senior Leadership, Executive Development, Family Enterprise Boards, Corporate Governance, and Business for Scientists and Engineers.

Cornell University offers 100+ certificate programs in various disciplines through eCornell, their online professional and executive development education unit. All eCornell courses are developed by Cornell University faculty and are facilitated by subject-matter experts. Examples of certificates include Leadership Agility, Diversity and Inclusion, Business Ethics, and Conflict Resolution. eCornell is a member of the EdAssist Education Network and offers a 30% discount on most programs to EdAssist participants.

The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania offers live online, self-paced, and in-person programs spanning topics such as Advanced Corporate Finance, Global Strategic Leadership, and The Adaptable Leader: Leading in a Virtual World. 

If you’d like to browse programs offered by some of the world’s top business schools, check out ExecOnline. They offer professional development opportunities from schools such as University of California Berkeley, Yale School of Management, Stanford Graduate School of Business, Columbia Business School, and many more.

Written by: Kayla Dietz

November 29, 2021

Kayla Dietz

Kayla Dietz headshot

Kayla joined Bright Horizons EdAssist Solutions in 2021. She has worked in various student-centered roles in higher education for 10 years. Kayla holds a Master of Arts in Professional Counseling.