EMBA - Admissions FAQ


EMBA - Admissions FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions



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 the UVA Darden DC Metro, Darden's brand new, state of the art facility in Rosslyn. The facility occupies the 30th and 31st floors at 1100 Wilson Boulevard. 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 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 2017 would graduate May 2019. 

    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.

    Darden's executive formats are built upon a once-a-month weekend residency model. Each quarter consists of two weekend residencies (or a global residency) as well as distance learning. 

    In addition, all executive format students participate in two, week-long 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. The Executive MBA Program arranges for four week-long global residencies. EMBA students participate in one (up to two – space permitting) of these global residencies. GEMBA students participate in all four of the global residencies. 

    How do the quarters work? 

    Both executive formats consist of ten, two-month long quarters. The program’s first eight quarters alternate between domestic quarters (when all students come to Rosslyn for weekend residencies) and global quarters (when a global residency is offered). 

    During domestic quarters, EMBA and GEMBA students learn together, sitting in the same classes and learning from the same faculty. During the global quarters, GEMBA students, as well as the EMBA students participating in their global residency that quarter, travel to a global residency location. All EMBA students not participating in the global residency continue to meet in Rosslyn for the two corresponding weekend residencies.

    The last two quarters of the program are elective periods. All executive format students have the opportunity to take seven electives. Students take one elective in quarter 7 and six electives across quarters 9 and 10. 

    In the global quarters, will I also have to participate in the weekend residencies?

    It depends! For reference, the global quarters, i.e. those quarters in which a global residency is offered, are quarters 2, 4, 6 and 8.

    For EMBA format students: During the global quarter in which you participate in your one required global residency, you will not have weekend residencies. However, you will still have distance learning.

    During the other three global quarters (or two quarters, if you are able to participate in a second global residency), you will have weekend residencies, as well as distance learning.

    For GEMBA format students: During the global quarters, you will participate in a global residency, and you will not have weekend residencies. Each global residency eliminates two weekend residencies. However, you will still have distance learning.

    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.

    While applicants may signal format interest in their application, those applicants who receive an offer of admission will formally indicate their format preference when accepting their offer of admission. The Admissions Office will subsequently confirm each candidate’s format placement. 

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

    70% of our EMBA and GEMBA formats is the same. Both formats feature the same core curriculum, and all students graduate with the same degree (a Darden MBA). In fact, during the domestic quarters (i.e. those quarters in which a global residency is not offered), 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 really two-fold:

    1. How many global experiences are required
    2. Schedule

    These two factors are interrelated. However, cost is also a relevant factor as you consider your options.

    Number of required global experiences

    EMBA students participate in one of the four, week-long global residencies, while GEMBA students participate in all four global residencies.

    Prior to the start of school, EMBA students rank preference the four global residencies, and the program office slots students accordingly. EMBA students can possibly add a second global residency – for an additional charge (approx. $3,500). However, all EMBA students must be slotted for one global residency before any EMBA student can be slotted for two. Furthermore, whether an EMBA student can add an additional global residency depends upon several factors that will invariably vary from class to class — total program enrollment, total number of GEMBA format students, demand for a particular global residency, for example.

    There are additional travel options beyond the global residencies that are available to all Darden MBA students, regardless of format, and are worth noting here Global Study courses. These courses are also available at an additional charge (likely $3,000-$3,500).


    At a very high level, one way to think about these formats’ respective schedules is as follows: EMBA has more weekends. GEMBA has more week-long experiences. Drilling down further, the format schedules are as follows:

    EMBA consists of 18 weekend residencies, 2 leadership residencies, 1 global residency and distance learning. 

    GEMBA consists of 12 weekend residencies, 2 leadership residencies, 4 global residencies and distance learning. 

    Why the weekend residency difference? Each week-long global residency equals two weekend residencies, so for each additional global residency, two weekend residencies are eliminated from the calendar. This is the reason for the six fewer weekend residencies in the GEMBA format. 

    However, over the 21 months of the program, despite GEMBA’s additional week-long experiences, our GEMBA format only requires nine more days out of the office than our EMBA format.


    One additional factor to consider is cost. There is a tuition difference (about $7,500) between the EMBA and GEMBA formats. If you are considering our 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. However, it is also worth noting that travel to and from the residencies (weekend, leadership and global) is not included in the tuition & fees for either of our executive formats, and these travels 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 Darden's new, state-of-the-art facility in Rosslyn, Sands Family Grounds. For students less familiar with the Washington, D.C., area, Rosslyn is located in Arlington, Virginia, 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 the Sands Family Grounds, a sleek, modern space offering panoramic views of the capital region.

    Darden's top-ranked faculty travel to the DC 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. Past residency locations include Brazil, China, India, South Africa and Western Europe. These experiences are immersive and designed to allow students to explore the business, sociocultural and political contexts of each location.

    EMBA students participate in one (up to two – space permitting) of the four global residencies. GEMBA students participate in all four global residencies. During each residency, students learn core curricular material while meeting with business leaders, touring factories and plants, networking with Darden alumni, participating in speaker events and visiting 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 (our executive formats are 2/3 in person and 1/3 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 7:00 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.

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

    How do electives work?

    All executive format students take seven electives, and the elective period occurs during the last four months (or two quarters) of the program. Students take one elective in quarter 7 and six in quarters 9 and 10.

    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 Study course (these courses include faculty-led courses abroad, Global Consulting Projects, and more) 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. Our GEMBA format requires a minimum of 14 trips to the U.S. over the 21 months of the program (in addition to the four global residencies to locations around the world). Our EMBA format requires a minimum of 20 trips to the U.S. over the 21 months of the program (in addition to one global residency). 

    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 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.

    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.

    Do applicants need to take the GMAT or GRE?

    Executive MBA applicants are required to take the Executive Assessment (EA), Graduate Management Admissions Test (GMAT), or GRE. 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 a number of global business schools currently accepting the EA. Click the link here to learn more about the EA.

    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

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

    • Completion of another 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
    • Quantitatively-oriented professional certification (for example, CFA or CPA) 

    To request a waiver, candidates should submit a waiver request form and include the requested materials listed below. All waiver requests are considered on a case-by-case basis:

    • 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.

    Additional guidance:

    • If you have an expired GRE or GMAT score and have access to your test score results, you may simply apply with your existing score(s).
    • If you have an expired GRE or GMAT score but no longer have access to your test score results due to expiration/age and wish to request a waiver of our standardized test requirement, please use the form linked above.

    If you have any questions regarding our standardized test requirement, please feel free to contact us 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 (https://uvapolicy.virginia.edu/policy/HRM-025). 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 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 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.

    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 [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.

    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?

    If admitted, students will be evaluated for this scholarship, which is competitively awarded based on a variety of metrics and considerations. 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 30% of the students will receive a merit scholarship, with awards typically ranging from $10,000 to $30,000 total. Most awards are usually $15,000 to $20,000 total.

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