Frequently Asked Questions


EMBA - Admissions FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

Due to the recent test center closures related to the novel coronavirus, we have modified our application process for the remainder of our 2020 cycle. View our updated application guidelines, including fee waivers and testing flexibility.


You've Got Questions? We've Got Answers

Darden's executive formats are based in the Washington, D.C. area and designed for busy working professionals. In this section you will find answers to questions prospective students often have. Topics include program structure and design, admissions requirements, test waiver requests, scholarship consideration and more. Learn about our Executive MBA (EMBA) and Global Executive MBA (GEMBA) formats.

  • General

    The Darden School offers one world-class MBA program in three formats: MBA, Executive MBA (EMBA) and Global Executive MBA (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.

    I'm interested in Darden's Executive MBA Program. What are my options?

    The Darden Executive MBA Program consists of two formats: Executive MBA (EMBA) and Global Executive MBA (GEMBA), and all students, regardless of format, graduate with the exact same degree: a Darden MBA.

    Both formats are based in the Washington, D.C. area, and classes are held at UVA Darden DC Metro grounds in our brand new state-of-the-art facility on 30th and 31st floors at 1100 Wilson Boulevard in the Rosslyn district of Arlington. For more information, please read our news article on the facility.

    How many students are in the class?

    In the Executive MBA Program, we have capacity for approximately 135 students, and each enrolled class is divided into two sections of roughly 65–70 students.

    Both sections are based in Rosslyn, and each section consists of EMBA as well as GEMBA format students. Sections are shuffled throughout the program, allowing students to learn alongside a broad array of classmates and maximize networking opportunities.

    When submitting an application, you are applying to our Executive MBA Program, not a particular format. On the application, we will ask your format preference (EMBA/GEMBA/Both), but this answer is not binding in any way. Admitted students are offered their choice of formats (EMBA or GEMBA), and students then indicate their format choice when accepting their offer.

    When does the program start and end?

    Both EMBA and GEMBA are 21-month, lock-step (i.e. all students begin and conclude the program at the same time) formats of the Darden MBA. All executive format students start in August and graduate in May. For example, an EMBA student matriculating in August 2020 would graduate May 2022.

    Students receive the full program calendar several months prior to the official start of school in order to plan both personally and professionally for the months ahead. Be sure to check out our Calendar page for additional details.

    Can you explain the schedule in more detail? 

    The core program structure is the same for EMBA and GEMBA: Ten, two-month long quarters, with roughly two-thirds of the program delivered in person and one third through distance learning.

    Both formats consist of the following components: 

    • Leadership Residencies
    • Weekend Residencies
    • Distance Learning
    • Global Residencies

    Darden's executive formats are built upon a once-a-month weekend residency model. Each quarter consists of two weekend residencies as well as distance learning. Distance learning includes a mix of live online classes and self-paced asynchronous activities.

    In addition, all executive format students participate in two, weeklong leadership residencies  one leadership residency at the start of the program and one leadership residency at the conclusion of the program. Both of these residencies take place on the Darden Grounds in Charlottesville.

    Lastly, all executive format students have a required global experience. These weeklong residencies are designed to be immersive, and programming includes a mix of company visits, talks with industry leaders, meetings with executives, cultural excursions and more.

    The Executive MBA program arranges for a diverse array of global residencies and students choose from a menu that typically includes 10-12 trips. EMBA students participate in one global residency, with the option of adding additional residencies. There is an additional charge for each additional global residency (approximately $4,200).

    There are additional opportunities for global study for both EMBA and GEMBA students in the form of Global Consulting Projects. These courses are also available at an additional charge of approximately $4,200.  

    Global residences are offered during four distinct travel periods, with the first travel period occurring in February, after the conclusion of Quarter 3. Approximately two to three trips will be offered in each period:

    • February 2021 (after Q3)
    • June 2021 (after Q5)
    • October 2021 (after Q7)
    • February 2022 (after Q9)

    Global residency destinations will likely include Brazil, Argentina, China, Germany, Japan, Ghana, Israel, India, Estonia, Australia, Cuba, Indonesia and Vietnam.

    How do the quarters work? 

    Both executive formats consist of ten, two-month long quarters. The core curriculum is primarily delivered in the first year of the program. The second year of the program is primarily electives. Students take a total of 12 electives during their time in the program.

    How many classes will I take per quarter? What will my work load be?

    Executive format students take 3-4 classes per quarter. While preparation time varies, students report spending, on average, approximately 15-20 hours per week on school work. 

    When do I choose my format? Do I choose when I apply?

    Applicants are encouraged to consider both formats — EMBA and GEMBA — as they determine the option that best fits their life and schedule.

    Applicants apply to our Executive MBA program (not a particular format), although our application does ask candidates to indicate their format interest at the time of applying. This request is simply for information purposes, and it is in no way binding. 

    Those applicants who receive an offer of admission will formally indicate their format preference when accepting their offer of admission.

    I'm trying to determine my preferred format. What are some similarities/differences between EMBA and GEMBA?

    Our executive formats are very similar. Both formats feature the same core curriculum and all students graduate with the same degree (a Darden MBA). In fact, during weekend residencies, EMBA and GEMBA format students sit in class together, and they travel together on the global residencies.

    However, the principal differences between the formats are three-fold:

    1. How many global experiences are required
    2. Schedule
    3. Cost

    Number of required global experiences

    EMBA students participate in one global residency, with the option of adding additional residencies, while GEMBA students participate in four global residencies. For EMBA students who wish to participate in more than one global residency, there is an additional charge for each additional global residency (approximately $4,200).

    Prior to the start of school, students will rank the global residencies in order of preference, and the program office will slot students accordingly to the best of our ability to satisfy students’ preferences.


    The schedules for our executive formats are very similar. The only difference is the number of weeklong global residencies:

    EMBA consists of 20 weekend residencies, 2 leadership residencies, 1 global residency and distance learning. Total class days out of the office: 35.

    GEMBA consists of 20 weekend residencies, 2 leadership residencies, 4 global residencies and distance learning. Total class days out of the office: 50.

    As noted above, over the 21 months of the program, despite GEMBA’s additional weeklong experiences, the GEMBA format only requires 15 more days out of the office than the EMBA format.


    One additional factor to consider is cost. There is a tuition difference between the EMBA and GEMBA formats, and if you are considering Darden’s executive formats and believe you may want to have more than one global experience during your course of study, this differential may be of particular relevance to you. 

    EMBA students may participate in more than one global residency, and there is an additional charge for each additional global residency (approximately $4,200).

    However, it is also worth noting that travel to and from the residencies (weekend, leadership and global) is not included in the tuition and fees for either executive format, and these travel costs should also be included in your cost comparison as you explore which format and location is the right fit for you.

    Can you tell me more about the Rosslyn location?

    All executive format students will be based at the state-of-the-art UVA Darden DC Metro Grounds in the Rosslyn district of Arlington, Virginia. This convenient location is less than five miles from Washington’s Reagan National Airport and Union Station (Amtrak). Dulles International and Baltimore Washington International airports are also within a short drive.

    For students less familiar with the Washington, D.C., area, Rosslyn is located immediately across the Potomac River from D.C.'s Georgetown neighborhood.

    In many ways, Darden's executive formats offer the best of both worlds, as students spend time in both Charlottesville and the D.C. area over the course of the program. All students, regardless of format, come to Charlottesville at the beginning and end of the program for two week-long leadership residencies. And all weekend residencies take place at UVA Darden DC Metro, a sleek, modern space offering panoramic views of the capital region.

    Darden's top-ranked faculty travel to the D.C. area to lead classes during weekend residencies, and faculty, staff and students have worked hard to ensure the Darden culture is a defining feature of the program experience.

    Will I get to spend time in Charlottesville?

    Yes! All students, regardless of format, come to Charlottesville at the beginning and end of the program for the week-long leadership residencies. In addition, there are also curated, extracurricular experiences offered in Charlottesville throughout the program.

    What are leadership residencies?

    All executive format students, regardless of format, start and end the program together on the historic Darden Grounds in Charlottesville, Virginia, with a week-long leadership residency. During these weeks, students explore different aspects leading organizations and form bonds with their classmates.

    Leadership residency 1 is entitled "Leading with an Enterprise Perspective." Leadership residency 2 is entitled "Creating the Future."

    What are global residencies?

    Global residencies are week-long trips executive format students take with Darden faculty and staff to select countries. Current residency locations (subject to change) span the globe and include Argentina, China, Ghana, Vietnam, Estonia, Israel, Cuba and more. These experiences are immersive and designed to allow students to explore the business, sociocultural and political contexts of each location.

    During each residency, students meet with executives and business leaders, tour factories and plants, network with Darden alumni, participate in speaker events and visit cultural attractions. To learn more about the global residencies, please visit our global study page.

    What is distance learning? How does it work?

    All executive format students, regardless of format (EMBA or GEMBA), have distance learning as a part of their educational experience. Executive formats are two-thirds in person and one-third online. At Darden, distance learning means online classes. These classes are typically synchronous (i.e., "live") and delivered via Zoom Meeting.

    These class meetings take place between the residencies on Tuesday and Thursday evenings from 7 to 8:30 pm ET. Students do not usually have distance classes during the week of a weekend residency. Most classes are an hour and a half in duration and attendance is required

    Want to learn more about distance learning at Darden? Watch this short video.

    How do electives work?

    All executive format students take 12 electives, and electives are primarily delivered in the second year of the program.

    Executive format students choose from a slate of electives offered specifically for executive format students. The program office develops the elective offerings in consultation with both students and faculty. Students also have the opportunity to pursue an independent study, case writing or a Global Consulting Project to fulfill their elective requirement.

    Recent electives include Entrepreneurial Thinking, Design Thinking, Strategy, Negotiations, Mergers & Acquisitions, Intro to Real Estate Finance & Development, and The Business of Healthcare. Darden does not offer tracks or specializations in the executive formats.

    I'm an international student considering Darden's Executive Formats. What are my options?

    International students enroll at Darden on an F-1 visa and may pursue either format  Executive MBA (EMBA) or Global Executive MBA (GEMBA). 

    Students should plan to travel to the U.S. for residencies, and the amount of travel to the U.S. will vary depending upon format. Both of executive MBA formats – EMBA and GEMBA - require a minimum of 22 trips to the U.S. over the 21 months of the program. In addition, our EMBA format requires one weeklong global residency while our GEMBA format requires four weeklong global residencies. 

    For additional information and rules affecting F-1 student employment, please consult the International Student and Scholars Program.

  • Admissions

    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 five (5) years of professional experience is required.]

    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.

    All interviews are conducted by a members of the Admissions Committee. Candidates are offered a range of interview options including in-person - on the Darden Grounds or in the Washington, D.C., area. – or via Skype. The Admissions Committee offers these options as a convenience to our executive applicants, and we encourage each invited applicant to select the option that works best with his/her schedule.

    Our interviews are conversational in nature and typically last around 35-40 minutes. Applicants should be prepared to share their narrative during the interview, and key questions include:

    • What’s your educational background?
    • What’s your professional background?
    • Why are you interested in pursuing an MBA?
    • Why are you interested in Darden? 
    • What are your goals post-MBA?

    Other relevant topics include leadership experience, global exposure as well as hobbies and interests.

    Do applicants need to take the GMAT or GRE?

    Executive MBA applicants are required to take the Executive Assessment (EA), GMAT, GRE, MCAT or LSAT. These tests are viewed equivalently. We also offer standardized test waivers in select circumstances.

    We recommend choosing the test that best aligns with your strengths and your application plans. In recent years, the EA has become the most popular test with our applicants, and we hope you will take time to learn more about this test. The EA was designed in consultation with top Executive MBA Programs and with executive format applicants (and their busy schedules in mind), and it requires on average 20 hours of preparation. Learn more about the Executive Assessment

    You can self-report your unofficial EA, GMAT, or GRE 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 [email protected]

    Waiver Process

    Due to recent test center closures and uncertainty around the availability of standardized test administrations in the near term, we have modified our test waiver request process for the remainder of our 2020 cycle. Please refer to our recent blog post for additional detail.

    We have updated the Test Scores section of our application to include a test waiver request. Candidates who wish to be considered for a waiver request are encouraged to select “Yes” when responding to the waiver request question.

    Waiver requests will be considered concurrently with the full application. At the time of decision, our Admissions Committee will indicate whether a standardized test or additional coursework will be required. In this instance, additional coursework refers to quantitatively-related online courses. 
    With this update, there will now be four decision outcomes for applicants: 

    • Admitted (no test or additional coursework required)
    • Conditional Admission (test or additional coursework required)
    • Waitlist (in which case a test or additional coursework would be ways to strengthen the application)
    • Deny

    Candidates who were previously granted a waiver request should select “No” when answering the waiver request question. The waiver will automatically be noted in your application. No additional action required. 

    Candidates who previously submitted a waiver request and were not granted a waiver but have not been able to sit for a standardized test due to coronavirus-related test center closures may submit a new request with their application. Please include any new or updated information that may be relevant to our committee’s evaluation with your new request.

    Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions regarding this process. We can be reached by email at [email protected]

    How does Darden maintain a fair admissions process?

    At Darden we do not tolerate conflicts of interest, and all UVA Darden personnel are prohibited from engaging in any outside employment or consulting which presents a conflict of interest with their duties ( Individuals with any ethical or other concerns in the admissions process are able to report such concerns by email so that they can be independently reviewed and investigated.

    Do students need to be employed full time?

    Yes. Our Executive MBA Program is designed for working professionals and students are expected to be employed during the program. 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 5. The typical executive MBA student may have anywhere from 5 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.

    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?

    A nonrefundable application fee of $250 is required to process your application. Fee waivers are available in select circumstances:

    All Executive MBA class visitors receive an Executive MBA application fee waiver. Class visits are currently suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic. If you’ve started an application, once you participate in your visit, a fee waiver code will be added to your application.

    In the absence of class visit availability, we are excited to share a new fee waiver opportunity for Executive MBA applicants. This fee waiver offer will be available through the remainder of our 2020 cycle, even if our class visit program resumes before our final deadline(s).

    Here’s how to qualify for a fee waiver:

    1. Connect. Participate in a phone conversation with a member of our Executive MBA Admissions Committee OR attend an Executive MBA Virtual Coffee Chat; AND

    2. Join. Attend one of our upcoming webinars. We have an exciting slate of webinars on deck, including career-related sessions, application tips, a program overview, student life highlights and more. We look forward to seeing you online!

    The following are also 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)
    • 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 [email protected].

    When will I receive a decision?

    Decisions are released roughly within 3 weeks of each application deadline. For example, applicants who submit a completed application by 10 October will receive a decision by 31 October.

    Each application round has a target interview period, decision release date and deposit deadline.

    Are admissions deposits refundable?

    You will be asked to pay a deposit of $4,000 to accept your offer and confirm your intention to enroll. The deposit is non-refundable and will be applied to your tuition account as credit when you enroll.

  • Financial Aid

    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 do I need to do to be considered for an merit scholarship award?

    All admitted students will be evaluated for this scholarship, which is competitively awarded based on a variety of metrics and considerations. No additional documents are required for scholarship consideration. These competitive awards are based upon a variety of metrics and considerations, including but not limited to, indicators of academic merit such as Undergraduate GPA, Graduate GPA, Advanced Degree, Professional Certification(s) and Standardized Test Score. Admitted students are typically notified of the outcome of the scholarship review process when they receive their admissions decision.

    How many students typically receive a scholarship award? What is the average award amount?

    As previously noted, while all admitted students are considered for a merit scholarship, not all students will receive a scholarship award.

    In a given class, approximately 35-40% of the students will receive a merit scholarship, with awards typically ranging from $10,000 to $35,000 total. Most awards are usually $15,000 to $20,000 total. As a general rule, we have more scholarship money to award earlier in the cycle, and candidates are encouraged to apply as soon as they feel they can put together a strong application.

    All awards represent a student’s total award for the program. For billing purposes, a student’s merit scholarship award is broken into equal increments and applied at each of the program’s five billing dates. For example, if a student receives a $10,000 scholarship, her tuition payment would be discounted by $2,000 ($10,000 / 5 = $2,000) at each billing date.

  • Career Services

    What career services are available to 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 advisers are present during leadership and weekend residencies, as well as other program-related activities.

    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 Career Center (CDC) professionals who support 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 17,000 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 different than that of our full-time students. This makes sense when you consider your level of experience relative to our full-time MBA students and what this differential means for the types and kinds of positions you are both seeking. Our full-time 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.

  • Company Support

    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. 

    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 [email protected] and we will put you in touch with someone who can speak about sponsorship.