Aimed at executives with significant business experience, the executive masters of business administration (EMBA) graduate management programmes help leaders to challenge concepts and explore business initiatives they can apply to real life.
In addition to accommodating busy people to complete their degrees in shorter periods, EMBA programmes usually feature modules that go beyond those of traditional full-time or part-time master of business administration (MBA) programmes.
While the first EMBA programme was introduced by the University of Chicago in 1943, these days top EMBA programmes are offered in Hong Kong, often in partnership with other leading regional and international universities.
Highlighting the international mix of Hong Kong EMBA students, EMBA providers report that students fly in to Hong Kong from as far away as Russia and other parts of Europe. They say the casserole of sharing and interaction is a key component of the EMBA experience.
According to the senior associate dean of the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) Business School, the diverse student makeup of the world's top-ranked Kellogg-HKUST EMBA programme is one of its key strengths.
'Our classes are made up of culturally and geographically diverse students who have the ability and commitment to make a real difference in the world of business and the strength of character to motivate others,' Professor Steven DeKrey says.
Another key feature is the international mix of faculty, collaboration networks and exchange opportunities.
Jointly offered by the HKUST Business School and the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, the Kellogg-HKUST EMBA programme remains the world's number one EMBA programme, according to the Financial Times 2011 EMBA global rankings.
Applicants to the programme must possess a bachelor's degree from a recognised university or an approved institution, or possess recognised professional qualifications equivalent to a degree. They should also have 10 years of significant full-time work experience.
According to the FT ranking, Kellogg-HKUST EMBA alumni have achieved the highest average salary three years after graduation, reaching nearly US$420,000 (HK$3.3 million) a year - a 63 per cent increase from their average pre-EMBA salary. They also rank as the global number two, in terms of the extent to which they fulfilled their most important goals for doing an EMBA, and are the world's number three in terms of work experience.
The programme's student and faculty diversity also rank among the world's best. Its research ranking stands high at 14th in the world.
Andr?Leung, assistant director at Moody's Analytics and current Kellogg-HKUST EMBA student, says the unprecedented learning platform is able to equip him to compete in a challenging economy and volatile financial market.
'I used to set too many rules to keep my subordinates from making decisions,' says Leung. 'Now, I focus on trust, collective responsibility, caring and pride. I give my team members more freedom to show their personal commitment to the company.'
The Chinese University of Hong Kong's (CUHK) Executive MBA programme has also scored high marks in the FT 2011 rankings. In the latest global survey of 100 EMBA programmes worldwide, CUHK's EMBA was ranked number 14. Alumni salary is ranked the third highest in the world at over HK$2 million.
'We were the first EMBA programme in Hong Kong, and are a truly made-in-Hong Kong product,' says Professor Andrew Chan, director of the CUHK programme.
'As always, ranking is not our foremost pursuit,' Chan says. 'What is important is maintaining our ability to nurture top-notch management talent to meet the needs of Hong Kong, the mainland and the region.'
Chan says CUHK would continue with its tradition of keeping a good balance between theory and practice, and keep innovating to make sure the programme keeps pace with the dynamics of the market. 'Since 2002, we have enriched our programme by providing more opportunities for students and alumni to share insights from business leaders,' says Chan.
For example, the CUHK partnered with the EMBA programmes of Peking University and the National Taiwan University to conduct the first 'Greater China EMBA Elite Study Week' in Hong Kong, in May last year. The aim is to strategically provide a platform for the three groups of EMBA students in Greater China, to interact and develop friendships.
EMBA student Peter Pan, assistant general manager with Orient Overseas Container Line, says the CUHK EMBA programme is taught by world-class professors who are able to provide global and local perspectives. 'Instead of just learning theory, we formulate pragmatic frameworks we can put to use in the workplace,' says Pan.
Designed for dynamic, globally focused executives and managers, the EMBA Global Asia - offered through the University of Hong Kong, Columbia and London Business Schools - is structured to deepen students' understanding of Western and Eastern practices.
Teaching is shared equally among London Business School, HKU Business School and Columbia Business School faculty members, who travel to teach wherever the class is in residence. Applicants are required to possess at least five years of experience at managerial level, on top of prior experience in reaching management ranks, for entry to the part-time executive stream.
Typically, students are expected to complete the programme in 20 months, but certain elective choices may enable completion in 16 months. The intensive timetable features full days of lectures, group work and assignments.
The programme's residential study-block format means students learn over several consecutive days per month in Hong Kong, London and New York. Students are also expected to study in one or more other markets, as part of the essential international seminars and assignments.