• The Darden School offers one world-class MBA program in three formats:  MBAMBA for Executives (EMBA) and  Global MBA for Executives (GEMBA). In all three formats, students earn the same Darden MBA degree and are taught through the case method by the same top-ranked faculty. In these FAQs we will focus on the EMBA and GEMBA formats.

    Who should consider Darden's executive MBA formats?

    The EMBA and GEMBA formats are designed for experienced managers who are looking to propel themselves forward in their career, and are structured in a way that accommodates the students'  demanding schedules, allowing them to work full-time while earning their degree.

    How long is the program?

    Classes for EMBA and GEMBA begin in August each year and continue through the following 21 months. Both programs are “lock-step,” with each student in a cohort beginning and concluding the program at the same time.

    Students accepted to our program will receive the schedule for the entire 21 months prior to matriculation, allowing incoming students to plan and talk with important stakeholders in their lives (co-workers, supervisors, family) well in advance of the start of classes.

    What is the schedule for the EMBA format?

    The EMBA format is taught using a combination of distance learning, monthly weekend residencies and at least one, week-long international residency.

    What is the schedule for the GEMBA format?

    The GEMBA format includes a combination of distance learning, monthly weekend residencies and four, one-week-long international residencies in India, China, Brazil and Europe.

    Do you offer majors or concentrations?

    Our EMBA and GEMBA formats are built on the same general management foundation as Darden’s full-time MBA. This integrated curriculum is designed to help you develop cross-functional, enterprise thinking. We believe this is a defining attribute of strong organizational leaders.

    Students in both executive formats have the opportunity to enroll in an independent study – allowing them to work closely with a faculty member and pursue a topic of interest in depth.

    In addition, EMBA and GEMBA students have the opportunity to take six electives. Electives are offered on the basis of faculty availability and student interest; they do not constitute a major or concentration.

    How much of the program is completed online?

    In both formats, approximately one-third of the core curriculum is delivered through distance learning. To provide a highly engaging learning experience between residencies, students participate in live online classes each week with classmates and professors.

    Distance classes currently take place twice a week on Tuesday and Thursday evenings.

    These online classes are recorded so if you are unable to attend live, you are able to view the material at a time convenient to your schedule.

    How many students are in the program?

    EMBA: About 60-65 practicing managers from diverse industries and functions begin the MBA for Executives format each August.

    GEMBA: About 30 practicing managers from diverse industries and functions begin the Global MBA for Executives format each August.

    Is there a required international trip?

    EMBA: Yes. Each EMBA student is required to attend at least one international residency, with the option to add additional residencies during the program.

    GEMBA: Yes. The program includes four, week-long international residencies in India, China, Brazil and Europe..

    How are students evaluated?

    Students are graded on a number of criteria, depending on the particular course. Darden uses case-based instruction, so an important component of student evaluation is class contribution — both virtual and face to face. Other elements of assessing student performance include completion of papers, exams and other written assignments.

    How are Darden’s executive MBA formats different from the full-time MBA format?

    One of the biggest differences between the students in our executive formats and those in our full-time format is level of experience. While students in our Full-Time MBA program typically have an average of four years of experience, Darden has a preferred minimum for seven years of work experience for executive format candidates. Our EMBA and GEMBA cohorts usually average 13-14 years of work experience.

    As previously noted, at Darden, you will learn in the case method – a highly interactive instructional approach in which students actively shape the classroom discussion. In light of this pedagogy, it is critical that students be matched with the format of the Darden MBA and cohort that best fits their experience profile.

    Consequently, when reviewing your file, the Admissions Committee will not only evaluate your qualifications, but also your level of experience and fit with the various formats of the Darden MBA.

    What are the requirements for admission?

    We review three dimensions of your background when considering an offer of admission:

    Professional — breadth and depth of your professional background and level of management responsibilities and demonstrated leadership. [Note: a minimum of seven years of professional experience is preferred.]

    Intellectual — potential to succeed academically as demonstrated through your undergraduate/graduate academic record, standardized test scores, letters of recommendation and work experience.

    Personal — the unique traits you will bring to the Darden learning community, your ability to work in a diverse group as part of a learning team, leadership potential, your commitment to others, your interpersonal communication skills, etc.

    Can I apply to Darden if I already have an MBA?

    The Darden School of Business does not admit students who have already completed an MBA from an AACSB accredited institution. To find out if a school is accredited by the AACSB, please refer to the AACSB website.

    Is an interview required?

    Interviews play an important role in our assessment of candidates and are required prior to acceptance into the program. An evaluative interview is conducted by invitation only after your application has been submitted and reviewed by the Admissions Committee. Candidates living in the United States typically interview on the Darden Grounds or in the Washington, D.C., area with a member of the Admissions staff. Candidates living abroad are welcome to interview on the Darden Grounds, but are not expected to do so. International interviews are conducted by Admissions Committee members traveling overseas or by phone or Skype.

    Do applicants need to take the GMAT or GRE?

    Executive MBA applicants are required to take the Graduate Management Admissions Test (GMAT), GRE or Executive Assessment (EA). The EA is a graduate admissions test developed by the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) expressly for executive MBA applicants with the demands of executive MBA programs in mind. The EA requires less preparation time than the GMAT and can be taken in 90 minutes. Darden is pleased to be one of seven global business schools currently accepting the EA. Click the link  here to learn more about the EA.

    You can self-report your unofficial GMAT (Graduate Management Admissions Test), GRE or EA score(s) on your online application. The Darden code for the Executive MBA program is KC7-OX-30. You may also email a copy of your unofficial score to  ExecMBA@darden.virginia.edu.

    If you have previously taken the GMAT or GRE but your score has expired, please contact us at  ExecMBA@darden.virginia.edu to discuss further.

    Waiver Process

    In certain cases, a waiver of our standardized test requirement may be granted. Such cases include but are not limited to:

    • Preexisting standardized graduate admissions test. Examples of such tests include but are not limited to the LSAT, MCAT and PCAT;
    • Advanced degree in an analytic discipline; and
    • Quantitatively-oriented professional certification (for example, CFA, CPA, Series 7, Series 63, PMP). 

    To request a waiver, candidates should submit a  waiver request form including the following materials:

    • A copy of their resume
    • Unofficial transcripts from all degree-granting institutions
    • A short statement outlining any aspects of their current work or background they feel are particularly relevant to the Admissions Committee’s consideration of their waiver request. 

    If you have any questions regarding our standardized test requirement, please feel free to contact us at  ExecMBA@darden.virginia.edu


    What is the range of GMAT at Darden? What is the average score?

    Please refer to our EMBA and GEMBA class profile pages.

    Do students need to be employed full time?

    Yes. Our expectation is that students are in managerial-level positions or can demonstrate strong leadership potential. Our curriculum is based on applying classroom knowledge to individual work situations, and is based on the give-and-take among faculty and every person in the class.

    Is there a minimum requirement for years of work experience in the executive MBA formats?

    The preferred minimum years of professional experience is seven. The typical executive MBA student may have anywhere from six to 25 years of work experience.

    What are the deadlines for applying? Can I apply before the deadline?

    Visit the  Executive MBA Application Deadlines page for details. You can submit your completed application at any time before the final deadline, but we encourage you to submit early, when the maximum number of class seats and scholarship awards are available.

    If you are invited for an interview, we encourage you to consider interviewing on a day during which class visits are offered. Please note the target interview days for the round in which you are applying and consider these dates when scheduling your interview.

    May I request an application fee waiver?

    The following are eligible for application fee waivers: Teach for America corps members and alumni (Code: 10029), Peace Corps volunteers (Code: 10039), Education Pioneers fellows (Code: 10049), Forté MBALaunch members (Code: 10059) and U.S. military members (Code: 10019). Citizens of countries on the UN's list of least developed countries also qualify for an application fee waiver (Code: 10089). If you qualify for a waiver, please use the appropriate code when prompted in the application. If you have further questions, please email us at darden@virginia.edu.

    When will I receive a decision?

    Decisions are released within four weeks of each application deadline. For example, applicants who submit a completed application by 2 November will receive a decision by 30 November.

    Are admissions deposits refundable?

    You will be asked to pay a deposit of $3,000 in either one or two installments depending on the round in which you apply. The deposit is non-refundable and will be applied to your tuition account as credit when you enroll.

    What types of financial aid are available to EMBA and GEMBA students?

    Financial aid is available to students in EMBA and GEMBA in the form of federal and private loan programs. These loans are not "need-based"; therefore, students with an acceptable credit rating will be eligible. For details on the three types of financial aid available, please see the Financial Aid and Fees page.

    What career services are available to the EMBA and GEMBA students?

    EMBA and GEMBA students have access to relevant and compelling career information and education. Students learn how to effectively manage their careers through a combination of face-to-face workshops, one-on-one coaching and online career modules. See a full description of  Career Services. Career support will be available to students in both our Charlottesville and DC area locations.

    I'm interested in switching careers. What will my job search look like?

    Career switchers are an increasing portion of the executive format applicant pool and current student population. If you are a student looking to use an executive MBA as a springboard to a new job, we have resources to support your search.

    As an executive format student, your job search will be a network-driven search and will likely begin with information-gathering and research before transitioning to interviewing and the hiring process.

    You will begin by working with the two Career Development Center (CDC) professionals exclusively dedicated to our executive format students to develop a strategy and action plan for your job search. This process will likely include self-reflection as well as identifying members of the Darden alumni network, your own personal and professional networks and other individuals within the Darden enterprise who can be of assistance to you in your search.

    You will then connect with these individuals, scheduling informational interviews and gathering information, as you work to identify next steps. Throughout this process you will continue to work with the CDC as you refine your action plan. As a Darden student, you will have the CDC staff, career-oriented programming and the powerful Darden alumni network (more than 15,000 alumni in 90 countries) at your disposal.

    After completing the core curriculum, students may attend career fairs and networking events in Charlottesville and several major U.S. cities. In addition, students may submit résumés for invitations to interview on-Grounds for full-time, entry-level MBA positions.

    To learn more about on-Grounds recruiting opportunities, view Darden’s  Employment Reports.

    I’m familiar with the career search process for full-time MBA students. What will my job search look like as an executive MBA student?

    As an executive format student, your job search will look very different than that of our full-time students. This makes sense when you consider your level of experience relative to our residential MBA students and what this differential means for the types and kinds of positions you are both seeking. Our residential students are interviewing largely for MBA entry-level positions. As a more seasoned working professional, you will be seeking a more senior role with greater responsibility.

    Furthermore, as our executive formats require students to be employed throughout the course of the program, internships, a staple of the full-time MBA employment search, will not be part of your search.

    Please visit our Career Transition Resources website for more information.

    What kind of support do students need from their employers?

    For some companies, sponsorship means providing students with complete tuition assistance and days off to attend classes. For others, it is an endorsement of the student’s future value to the organization. Ideally, sponsoring an employee in a Darden executive MBA program is part of his or her career development plan.

    At a minimum, sponsorship means that an employer endorses the student as a valuable member of its management team who is expected to make even greater contributions in the future, along with a statement that the company recognizes the student must be away from the office to attend classes. Visit the Sponsorship section for more information.

    Are employers required to provide financial support for students to attend the program?

    No. While we encourage employers to make a financial contribution, allowing students to participate is the only investment on their part that we require.

    Can sponsors talk with someone during the admission process?

    Yes. Contact darden@virginia.edu and we will put you in touch with someone who can speak about sponsorship.