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What is Executive Education?

After working for a few years, you might increasingly hear about people attending executive education programs. You might even encounter people suggesting that you should do one.

But, if you’re thinking, “What exactly is an executive education program?,” “Is it really for me?,” “Where can I find executive education program?,” “How do I know which one to do?,” “What happens after I’ve done one?” Then here is everything you need to know about executive education.

Read: Executive Education Trends 2023

What is Executive Education?

Executive education refers to academic programs specialized for working professionals. They are usually offered by elite and mid-sized universities, as well as business schools and other academic institutions and are targeted at executives, business leaders, and functional managers globally. What is unique about executive education programs is that they are usually non-credit-granting and non-degree-granting. They often are certificate-granting and sometimes grant continuing education units.

The purpose of these executive education programs is to empower participants who might want to upgrade their knowledge, learn new skills, aim higher professionally, switch industries, etc.

Who is Executive Education for?

Executive education programs are usually for working professionals with a few years of experience or higher. Geography is not a restriction at all and these programs are offered to professionals globally.

  • Executives with just a few years of experience might do it to gain an edge at their place of work, for the purpose of a promotion or a new job, or to enhance their current skill set.
  • Entrepreneurs might do it to better understand how to manage their own business, to compete in their market, to expand their businesses, etc.
  • Mid-level employees, senior executives, and managers might do it to move up higher into C-level positions or move companies or industries. They might also do it for better exposure and networking.
  • C-suite executives and senior executives might do it to update their knowledge of the current skills, best practices, and intricacies of global business. They might also do it for networking.
  • Companies might sponsor their employees to do an executive education program or might even organize executive training at their company.

Why do Executive Education?

Depending on where they are in their professional journey, an executive education program can help them achieve different things. There are many reasons why working professionals would do an executive education program; it is usually a combination of some of these aspects.

  • Upgrade and update their knowledge and get an edge at their job
  • Upskill in order to apply for a promotion or a new job
  • Move into senior roles
  • Be more adept in their current role
  • Gain industry knowledge in order to switch industries
  • Gain global knowledge and expertise
  • Expand their opportunities
  • Start their own business
  • Explore new opportunities for their company
  • Improve their business acumen and strategy
  • Improve their leadership abilities


Executive Education Jargon

Some of these words are uniquely used in the executive education space, while others are used in other academic areas too. And while you might know some of these and not some others, these are terms regularly used in the world of executive education.

  • ExEd or Exec. Ed
    ExEd or Exec. Ed is short for executive education. People within the world of executive education often refer to it as one of these terms, but it is not as popular to others.
  • School vs university
    Simply put, a university is a collection of schools. Schools are institutions that provide certain degrees, certifications, diplomas, etc. And many of these schools exist within a university. Eg. UCLA Anderson School of Management is a school at UCLA.
  • Program vs course
    A program is made up of smaller courses that each target a specific topic or subject under the broader main program subject matter. Eg. Management programs might have courses on leadership, innovation, strategy, etc.
  • Multi-modular
    This simply means that the curriculum of the executive education program is divided into multiple modules and is taught as such.
  • Online and offline modules
    Some executive education programs are held only online, while some others are held only offline, and yet others are held both, online and offline.
  • In-class learning
    This refers to when teaching and learning occurs inside a classroom. It asks for participants to be present for the lesson to be taught.
  • Self-paced learning
    Executive education programs are usually taught in a modular format. Where every module is akin to a semester and might either cover one broad topic or course. Since these programs are held part-time, often times in-between modules is enough time for one to learn a certain portion of the curriculum by themselves which is assigned as ‘self-paced learning’.
  • Blended
    Many programs employ a combination of mediums to disseminate the programs. While some programs are taught in-class, others are taught online, or even live online. And, yet others are a combination of these.
  • Capstone project
    The term ‘capstone project’ is not reserved for executive education. It refers to a project that culminates the duration of academic study. Typically it includes the application of various training through the course of the academic program.
  • Cohort / Peer group
    The group of professionals you study with during an executive education program is your cohort or your peer group.
  • Alumni
    Alumni, alumna, alumnus, or alumnae is a former student of a specific school, college, or university. Together these former members form a group of professionals that sometimes actively involve themselves in events and activities with regards to the university they belong to. It also provides an extended professional network system for all involved.
  • Rolling admission
    This is a process of admission that functions on a first-come, first-served basis. Admissions are usually open until all spots are filled.
  • Self-pay
    Executive education programs have the option to be paid by either the participant, via a loan, or is paid for by the participant’s company. In the event that the participant pays for it themselves, the term used is ‘self-pay’. Again this is not reserved for the world of executive education only and is used in other areas too.

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Important Features of Executive Education

1) Usually certificate-granting

A unique feature about executive education programs is that they generally grant certificates or continuing education units. They do not grant credits or degrees. Even so, they are extremely valuable for working professionals and senior executives looking for advanced academic and business training.

2) Offered by universities

A large number of executive education programs are offered by universities. Many are also offered by colleges and other academic institutions as well. But, a significant portion of the most well-recognized programs are offered by elite and mid-level universities around the world.

3) Designed for working professionals

Executive education programs are targeted at working professionals. So, they are structured and designed keeping the commitments and requirements of them in mind. Most programs require a certain number of years of work experience before they take up a program. Unlike full-time MBAs for those following a traditional academic path, executive education programs are more suited to working professionals and are usually part-time. Many are also short-term and don’t require long-term commitment. They are structured so that there is minimal disruption to an executive’s existing professional duties. They are either concentrated around weekends or demand a minimal number of leaves that can be organized with prior planning.

While many executive education programs are purely online, many programs follow a blended modular format. This means they combine online as well as offline learning experiences. And during the online training sessions, participants can learn and study on their own time.

Popular Subjects/ Trends in Executive Education

  • General Management
  • Leadership
  • Digital Transformation
  • Family Business and Entrepreneurship
  • Technology and Innovation
  • Data Science and Analytics
  • Strategy
  • Marketing and Sales
  • Social Enterprise and Nonprofits
  • Finance
  • Health Care

Executive education programs

Here are some executive education programs for an aspiring CEO.

Berkeley Executive Program in Management (Berkeley EPM)

The Berkeley Executive Program in Management (Berkeley EPM) is a general management program that prepares you for the next level of leadership. This program is created in such a way that it helps transform proven leaders into global executives ready to lead the charge. The Berkeley Executive Program in Management encourages its participants to reflect, enhance strategic thinking, and develop authentic leadership. It is designed to create an immersive, relevant, and dynamic learning experience for senior executives, ready for the next level of the leadership challenge. It includes modules on advanced management competencies, leading innovative change, etc., which are a must for a person in C-level positions to ensure the growth of the company.

MIT Professional Education Technology Leadership Program (MIT TLP)

This is a multi-modular program delivered by MIT faculty on campus and virtually, geared towards the development needs of the next generation of technology CEOs, CTOs, CIOs, and emerging leaders.  The program is designed for technology leaders and experienced practitioners from large corporations as well as startups—innovation-oriented firms that are focusing on leveraging emerging digital technologies to remain relevant and competitive in the marketplace. After completing TLP, you will be part of a cohort of global leaders and practitioners. You will also become an integral part of the global MIT Professional Education network and will be considered an alumni of TLP as well as MIT Professional Education.

UCLA Post Graduate Program in Management for Executives (UCLA PGPX)

It is an extensive general management program offered by the UCLA Anderson School of Management, one of the world’s top business schools. It is a part-time program with a modular format that provides great flexibility for busy professionals, while the UCLA faculty and industry leaders ensure that the program covers all aspects of best-in-class management education expected from a highly respected and globally renowned institution. The UCLA PGPX will put you on the map of global leadership, with a combination of strategies, skills, and acumen that will stretch your thinking and hone your abilities as a leader and manager capable of achieving remarkable growth in your business. This program has been designed to expose the participants to management and business leadership essentials in an extensive general management curriculum that is designed to be experiential in learning and applied in focus.


Chicago Booth Accelerated Development Program (ADP)

The Chicago Booth ADP is a rigorous learning journey across 8 modules spread over 9 months and gives you access to the latest management thinking and tools. It is taught by an award-winning faculty at the Chicago Booth School of Business and accomplished senior business leaders. It creates an amazing opportunity to build a strong personal brand and competitively position yourself and your organization. ADP actively engages you in a collaborative learning environment with accomplished peers.

Outcomes of Executive Education

Since executive education is done for different reasons, the outcome also varies. Senior executives and managers use their executive education training to enhance their careers in different ways.

  • Boost their academic qualifications and give them an edge at their workplace.
  • Elevate their training in order to qualify for higher positions.
  • Upgrade their industry knowledge to improve the prospects of their company.
  • Gain the know-how and skills to better manage their own business.
  • Receive the training to hone their leadership skills.
  • Gain the knowledge to be able to compete in the global market.
  • Learn with like-minded peers to boost their network.
  • Refresh their academic training to update their knowledge of the industry best practices.


The world of executive education is ever-expanding and ever-dynamic. It is a haven for those who want to constantly improve not only themselves but their company and industry as well.

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