Top Executive MBA Programmes in the World 2021

By H. Young

Updated November 2, 2021 Updated November 02

Released today, the QS Global EMBA Rankings 2021 reveal the top executive MBA programmes both globally and regionally, helping you find the perfect EMBA programme for you, wherever in the world you might like to study.

HEC Paris surpassed The Wharton School this year with the number one Executive MBA programme in the world in the QS Global EMBA Rankings 2021.

Let’s take a look at this year’s top 10 executive MBA programmes in the world in this year’s EMBA rankings 2021.

EMBA Rankings 2021: Global


Global Rank





HEC Paris

Executive MBA



The Wharton School

MBA for Executives



IESE Business School


Global Executive MBA



MIT Sloan

Executive MBA



Saïd Business School


Executive MBA



Chicago Booth


Executive MBA




Global Executive MBA



London Business School


Executive MBA



ESADE Business School

Executive MBA




Executive MBA



What makes each programme popular?

Arve Utseth, Associate Director of International Executive Programs at IESE Business School, says international exposure is the most important feature of the school’s top-ranked Global Executive MBA.

He said: “The Global Executive MBA at IESE is unique in terms of its global exposure and extremely international nature. The blended learning format allows for participants to live anywhere in the world, and therefore we typically have 30 to 35 different countries represented in the class. Also, this 17-month long programme is itinerant through four continents, as the on-campus periods take place in Barcelona, New York, Munich, Silicon Valley, Shanghai and electives additionally are offered in Brazil, Ghana, India, and Southeast Asia.

“IESE also counts with a very internationally diverse faculty body. Thus, the Global Executive MBA guarantees its participants a strong global awareness, since we also complement the academic learning with locally embedded activities in each city, such as company visits, local panel speakers, and social/cultural activities to holistically understand each local setting. We are one of the very few to offer a truly global Executive MBA that is supervised and delivered by one business school only, guaranteeing a seamless and personalised learning journey throughout.”

IESE’s Global Executive MBA is structured around nine two-month modules, each combining part-time at-home studying and full-time on-campus classes. Participants spend a total of 15 weeks together on campus in blocks of intensive two weeks, which Prof. Utseth believes to be a unique networking experience.

He said: “Above all, we look to build a diverse cohort, where everyone can contribute to the learning of the others. It is therefore important that the class is balanced in terms of age, years of management and leadership experience, and previous international exposure.

“We seek candidates who value participative learning, who are generous in terms of sharing their skills and knowledge with others, hard-working and highly motivated, smart and competent, but also excellent human beings who embrace our vision of good leadership and our ESG focus.”


Rachel Maguer, Global Director of Marketing and Recruitment at INSEAD, says the school’s Global EMBA is ideal for professionals looking for a dynamic learning format.

The programme is highly interactive and varied, combining in-depth theory, soft skills development, management challenges, team-based business simulations and a Leadership Development Programme.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic, the school has implemented a hybrid model for its EMBA programme, combining in-person and online teaching.

Maguer said: “INSEAD was already leveraging technology to deliver some online content and facilitate interactions around the world to bring our community together online. We have really taken this to the next level this year, bringing VR and AR solutions into our teaching environment. We have made significant investments to ensure that our facilities provide an exceptional dual learning experience for those on campus and peers joining from their homes and that online delivery is not just a retransmission of what would have been planned on-campus.”

INSEAD received a perfect score for employer reputation and one of the highest scores for diversity in the European top 10, a reflection of the school’s commitment to fostering an inclusive learning environment.

Maguer said: “The INSEAD EMBA programme is named Global and this is what we feel sets it apart from other programmes. Each year we welcome over 200 participants from over 60 nationalities and 60 percent of the executives who join are working outside their home country. This incredibly diverse cohort brings a wealth of experiences and viewpoints into the classroom and results in exceptional peer-to-peer learning.

“We also have class sections in France, Singapore and the UAE, through which students benefit from regional delivery of their core courses, but also have the opportunity to come together as one cohort throughout the programme through online interactions and in-person for electives.”


As the top EMBA programme in the US and second in the world, there are a number of reasons as to why students choose the prestigious school. But what makes the programme appealing?

According to Wharton’s EMBA team, there are a number of things that make the programme unique – but there are four main takeaways:

  1. Campuses in both Philadelphia and San Francisco, and second-year students can take classes on either or both coasts
  2. Wharton embraces lifelong learning; EMBA students can return at any point in their career to audit most elective choices at no charge
  3. The experience level of Wharton’s cohorts. EMBA students learn from highly experienced peers as well as from the faculty and coursework
  4. The residential component and the diversity of Wharton’s cohorts provides a unique and supportive learning environment. Students from a wide range of backgrounds, industries, life experiences, and geographic areas immerse themselves in the programme together every other weekend, sharing different perspectives and creating tight-knit bonds that last for the rest of their lives.  

When asked what sets Wharton’s programme apart from the rest, Wharton’s EMBA team said: “Wharton EMBA students earn the full Wharton MBA. The programme mirrors Wharton’s full-time programme in terms of the number of credits, classroom hours, and faculty.

“In no way is it MBA light. The Wharton EMBA is one of the most robust and academically rigorous programmes with the largest selection of elective choices. Students have opportunities for hands-on experiential learning through week-long courses around the globe, leadership development, independent study projects, and individual career and executive coaching -- everything you would expect to find in a full-time MBA programme and more.” 

MIT Sloan

MIT Executive MBA Faculty Director, Georgia Perakis says the MIT Executive MBA not only connects a distinctive cohort of students with each other but also with distinguished, world-renowned faculty.

She said: “The programme is inherently mid-career focused, with a curriculum designed to highlight the science of management.

“Each of our courses features elements of applied learning, are data-driven, and connected to research all due to the programme being a part of the MIT ecosystem. The learnings will help students develop an edge in their management capabilities and build a network that lasts a lifetime.”

Perakis admits the MIT Executive MBA was the first programme at MIT Sloan to move to a virtual format, pivoting course delivery from in-person to online on the first weekend of the pandemic in March 2020.

She said: “Our faculty and instructors were dedicated to providing the same quality of education students expect and hope to receive from MIT Sloan but also opportunities to network and interact despite being online.

“They were also more accessible than ever, ready to engage through extended office hours and breakout sessions to ensure that students gain a better understanding of the curriculum and are able to continue applying their learnings into their professional career. Faculty also engaged with students virtually in a social way through virtual mocktail hours.”

This article was originally published in June 2021 . It was last updated in November 2021

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