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Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently asked questions concerning the Executive MBA Program in the Smeal College of Business.

What is an Executive MBA?

The Penn State Smeal College of Business Executive MBA program provides an opportunity for experienced professionals to earn a Master of Business Administration (M.B.A.) degree on a schedule that minimizes disruption to business careers. The Executive MBA program is structured to enable professionals to learn while they're working and put what they learn to work right away on the job. Building leadership effectiveness and preparing for increased responsibility requires an investment in career development. An Executive MBA is an effective way of making that investment in yourself without slowing up your career.

Penn State's Smeal College of Business Executive MBA program is specifically designed for working professionals who are looking to be more effective, efficient, and successful in their careers. Meeting on alternate weekends, executives can earn the same nationally ranked and internationally recognized degree that can be earned in the full-time MBA program at the University Park campus.

How does the program work?

The executive MBA program starts with a new class of students each August. The program continues for 21-months ending in May. There are four "segments" to the program roughly corresponding to the traditional fall and spring semesters of a typical academic year. There are three components to the program: class weekends on alternating weekends in Philadelphia, residency weeks at University Park, and the International Immersion.

The first and third segments includes a residency week at University Park and nine or ten class weekends in Philadelphia. The second segment includes nine class weekends and one three-day retreat. The fourth and final segment includes nine class weekends and the global immersion.

The program has a one-week residency at University Park each August of the program. The week-long session immerses you into the learning environment and allows us to take advantage of the vast resources available on campus. The program holds three-day retreats (Thursday, Friday, Saturday) at University Park each May. These "retreats" are designed to immerse you into subject matter that is better learned in a collaborative environment.

Between residence weeks, the program meets on alternating weekends at the ACE Conference Center in Lafayette Hill, just 10-miles from Center City Philadelphia. Classes run from 1:30 p.m. until 5:45 p.m. on Friday and go from 8:00 a.m. until 5:15 p.m. on Saturday. Students spend Friday night at the ACE Center to allow for additional activities, group meetings, supplemental lectures, and other exercises.

The international immersion takes place in April near the end of the program. The international immersion consists of approximately 10 days visiting business leaders, government officials, and policy makers in a location selected by the class. Students typically leave on a Friday and return on Sunday one week later.

Is this program just for "executives"?

No. The term "executives" describes the format of the program. While there are "executives" in the program, typical students have eight or more years of experience and are moving up the managerial ranks of their firm.

Where do classes meet?

Classes meet every other weekend at the ACE Conference Center, just 10 miles north of Center City Philadelphia. The ACE Center is a first-class executive education and training facility with a wide array of amenities to enhance the learning environment.

The program also includes two one-week residence sessions at our University Park campus. During these one-week sessions, students will stay at the Nittany Lion Inn with classes being held in the Penn State Business Building. Near the end of the program, students will travel overseas for an international immersion. The destination of this trip will be chosen by the class.

What are Residence Weeks, and why are they a vital component of the program?

The program is divided into four segments over a 21-month period. The first and third segments includes a one-week residence program on the Penn State University Park campus. During on-campus residence weeks, students will learn in unique environments such as the Smeal College Trading Room. Guest lectures from experts in fields outside of business will expose students to the breadth and depth of Penn State while providing insights into the business applications of cutting edge research in areas such as engineering, meteorology, biology, and nanotechnology. Residence weeks also allow students to forge strong personal connections and working relationships with fellow students and faculty.

Who will be teaching the classes?

The program is lead by the same world-renowned faculty who teach the MBA program at Penn State's University Park campus. Known for thought leadership, as well as practical insight in working together with professionals in industry, these scholars will provide the driving force for the Smeal Executive MBA program.

The teachers you will encounter as you go through the Smeal Executive MBA program are distinguished professors, directors of research centers, and heads of departments. They all have extensive teaching experience; these are not "adjunct" faculty or part-time faculty. They are the best faculty in the Smeal College.

Doesn't Penn State Great Valley offer an MBA Program? How is the Penn State Smeal Program different?

Penn State Great Valley offers a part-time program with classes offered on evenings and weekends. Typical students take 3-5 years to complete part-time programs. Students take classes as their schedule permits and do not complete the program as a cohort. Classes are taught by a mix of full-time and part-time faculty based in the Philadelphia area.

Though based near Philadelphia, the Smeal Executive MBA program is taught by the same faculty as the nationally-ranked and internationally recognized, University Park Smeal MBA program. Students complete the program in 21-months, taking courses in lockstep with a cohort of experienced professionals. Real problems from your firm form the basis for many assignments. Learning is enhanced in this close-knit environment with students forming relationships with classmates and faculty that will last far beyond the program.

Why is an overnight stay required on class weekends? I live close to the ACE Center, can't I just go home?

Staying with your classmates is a required part of the program. Most teams take advantage of Friday evenings to work together and complete group assignments. This time also provides a great opportunity to develop close personal relationships with classmates and faculty that will last a lifetime.

Students also benefit from maintaining an immersion within the learning environment through the duration of a class weekend. Staying at the facility eliminates distractions from home and work that can interfere with the desired learning experience.

Can I still continue to work full-time while completing the course work?

Yes. One of the main benefits to enrolling in an Executive MBA program versus a full-time or evening program is the ability to maintain current career employment and progress.

What is the application deadline? When will I learn of the decision?

Admission decisions are made on a rolling basis throughout the year. Additional details can be found on our admissions page.

Click here to begin the application process.

How will students be selected into the program?

Students will be selected based upon their background, work experience, and their anticipated contribution to the program. Admission to the Smeal Executive MBA program will be competitive. Support and mentorship will be provided to ensure that once you enter, you have every chance of succeeding.

I think I'm interested in pursuing an Executive MBA through Smeal but I would like to speak with someone further. Who should I contact for more information?

If you are interested in the Smeal Executive MBA program, you are encouraged to email emba@smeal.psu.edu or call toll free 1-866-999-EMBA.