Home Education Higher Education MBA, EMBA, MAS: the different types of business degrees and programs
Last update on August 20, 2020

Continuing your education even well into your career is seen as almost necessary these days, especially in the cutthroat field of business administration.

Universities and other educational institutions have responded by developing broader, more advanced programs to better prepare business students to become the leaders of the future. Expatica, explains the different types of business degrees and certificates in Switzerland and around the world to make sure you find the right fit — and the right career path.

What is an Executive MBA degree?

Executive MBA degree programs are designed to help mid-career professionals expand their knowledge and become better, more rounded leaders. The first EMBA program launched in 1943 at the University of Chicago in the US; just under 40 years later, the Executive MBA Council was founded to ensure that all EMBA programs, counting just about 50 at the time, strive for excellence in education. Now, there are hundreds of EMBA programs around the world, all of which battle to rank among the best. Switzerland, in fact, has six MBA programs ranking on the Financial Times’ Executive EMBA Ranking.

Average EMBA students are about 40 years old and have approximately 14 years of work experience, both of which have risen in the past few years. Programs typically last one to two years, and most programs are joint offerings from universities in various countries to allow students to take advantage of each university’s strengths and local expertise. Students are often sponsored by their employers or receive scholarships to fund the programs, whose tuition are relatively high (anywhere from €60,000 to 100,000 and up) due to the inclusion of several international trips, accommodation and meals — over 90% of EMBA programs, according to EMBAC, offer international trips as part of the program.

It is the format of the program that most clearly differentiates itself from standard full-time or part-time MBA programs. Whereas full-time MBA programs are immersive, executive MBA programs are structured so that students may maintain their jobs outside school. Classes are typically held on weekends or during full weeks spaced months apart and cover the same core subjects found in the MBA, but more tailored towards the students’ collective experience in the workplace. The type of EMBA program you choose is based, in part, on the structure of the program they offer.

What is an MBA degree?

An MBA, or Master of Business Administration, is a typically full-time degree program that began in the early 20th century in response to the industrializing world. The first MBA program in Europe followed in 1967 in France, but now there are equally excellent programs all over the world. Students are typically younger than those in EMBA programs — often in their late 20’s to early 30’s — and many have come directly after earning undergraduate degrees. These students have little to no actual work experience just yet, and they are often earning their degrees to make themselves more marketable to future employers, rather than EMBA students who are often developing their skill-sets for current employers.

Because MBA programs are more intensive — they often do not allow for students to maintain a full-time job outside school — they provide more opportunities for students to specialize as they generally offer a larger number of electives. Modular or part-time MBA programs have grown in number over the past few years, as students are more eager to combine real-life work experience with higher education — and many cannot afford to forgo work to continue studying.

What is a Master of Advanced Studies?

A lesser known degree, the Master of Advanced Studies (MAS) degree is a postgraduate degree available in select countries — in Switzerland, the MAS is an official postgraduate diploma from higher education institutions. The curricula of such programs are comparable to MBA’s but are tailored towards very specific fields such as architecture, international affairs and engineering, among others. Some universities may offer entirely unique programs, such as a MAS in Healthcare Organisation Leadership. These degrees are particularly useful for mid- or late-career business individuals who plan to remain in a specialized field.

Non-degree programs: the DAS and CAS

The Diploma of Advanced Studies (DAS) comprises a postgraduate study program that aims at educating those who have already undergone undergraduate education and are currently in the workforce. The purpose of the DAS is to encourage continuing education for business leaders, as it is not often a requirement as in other industries that base their practices on evolving knowledge, such as medicine.

The CAS, or the Certificate of Advanced Studies, has a similar aim but require fewer course credits — it is a useful tool to add to a curriculum vitae, or to further specialize your skill-set according to the industry in which you work. Course credits from these programs are sometimes transferable to a qualifying master’s degree, allowing you to later shorten the duration of the program should you choose to continue your education.

Because these non-degree programs are shorter, intense programs, they are often completely customized to the relevant field: you can earn a DAS in Financial Management or a CAS in Banking, which can be even further tailored to asset management or real estate, for example.

There are numerous types of business degrees, diplomas and certificates that can help executives and leaders strengthen their knowledge and make them better managers — but only if they choose the right program, whether it’s an EMBA, MBA, DAS or even CAS.