May 4, 2016

Oxford EMBA vs. Bay Area EMBA?

I just answered the following post on Poets and Quants for Execs and because it raises a lot of questions about the feasibility and desirability of a non-local EMBA, I’d thought I’d share it here as well:
“Hi Paul,

I’m 37 and currently looking for the 16 month Oxford EMBA program starting in Sept 2016. I live in the Silicon Valley. Due to my schedule and things I’m involved in, I’m not sure if I’d be able to take my GMAT anytime soon and Oxford program does have an option of skipping GMAT as long as I qualify for the experience they’re looking for.

I have mostly worked in Product/Program Management in Financial Services and Healthcare. I did however start a consulting company in 2010 which has now grown into 5-6 consultants, we’ve also delved in end-to-end product development/management of mobile apps. I along with another partner manage the business. Along with the business, I’ve always taken full-time consulting gigs but recently wrapped up my final project and now would like to concentrate on a new product idea full time. I’m planning to meet with some potential seed money investors this month. Along with that, I’ve recently started a non-profit but it’s in really early stages.

I would love to stay in the bay area and be able to do this EMBA course but I’m not sure if I’ll be able to skip taking GMAT. Do you think Oxford would be a good idea if I still want to live and work in the Bay Area.

I would also appreciate if you could also suggest other schools that I might be able to consider.



Here’s my response:

Great question. Oxford has a CV review option where you can upload your CV, though they warn that “it is not possible for us to comment on an individual’s suitability or chances of success prior to application.” That said, there’s no harm in asking the likelihood that they would want you to take the GMAT. They require the GMAT for applicants with under 10 years of experience. You have more than that, so even though they do say that “submitting a GMAT score is still highly recommended” I think you can be optimistic that they would not require a GMAT from you. EMBA programs like Oxford’s are not especially selective, and your background looks like it will meet Oxford’s expectation of “practical experience at the managerial level” given your consultancy startup. So I think your odds of admission are good.

Whether Oxford’s EMBA makes sense for you given your Bay Area focus is another question. You will need to be able to travel to and from the UK for 14 5-day “residential modules” plus another 2 modules overseas in places such as China and India. That’s a lot of traveling for an EMBA program that Poets & Quants ranked #14 globally in 2014. Given your Bay Area focus I would look at Berkeley Haas’s EMBA or Wharton’s SF EMBA (Stanford’s MSx may be a stretch for you) or even less prestigious local programs such as USF, Hult, Santa Clara, or Pepperdine’s Silicon Valley EMBA. All of these programs will have big local networks (of varying quality, of course) so even if they lack brand visibility they may still benefit your career. If you’d like to send me your resume, I could give you a better idea of your chances at the top Bay Area schools:”

Wondering whether your own EMBA plans make sense given your current work and life demands? Post your question to me at P&Q’s Ask Our Expert or share your profile here.