Admissions Criteria

Who should apply?


Executives who seek a Vanderbilt MBA represent a wide range of backgrounds, industries and sizes of companies—from successful entrepreneurs to emerging and senior leaders in Fortune 500 companies. Most typically, they are:

  • Mid- to senior-level corporate executives who already are proven professionals in their chosen fields and seek to advance their careers within their companies.
  • Successful entrepreneurs who need to move their business to an even higher level.
  • Professionals—such as accountants, attorneys and physicians—who seek to “manage” instead of “practice.”
  • Professionals in technology-driven industries (such as health care, biotechnology, and information systems) where the pace of change makes spending two years away from the job unwise.
What is the best timing for an MBA if you want to keep working?

Professional career life cycles fall into recognizable phases by age and experience:

Phase 1. Your early career is a time for trying new things.

Phase 2. The next 5-10 years are a time for honing skills that provide momentum for the rest of your career.

Phase 3. In your seasoned career, you leverage the knowledge and experience you have gained, master your craft and lead others in pursuit of similar skills.

Both the Vanderbilt Executive MBA and the Americas MBA for Executives are designed for those well within the second phase or who want to excel in the third.

Here, you can equip yourself with the expertise to accelerate your progress within or toward senior leadership. In interviewing applicants, we look for those in management or professional roles for five years as well as other characteristics that indicate a good fit for the programs:

  • We want individuals in positions of influence within their organizations and communities; these individuals have demonstrated experience leading projects, departments, people, budgets or entire organizations.
  • We don’t want students who are simply looking for a diploma to hang on the office wall. Ideal Vanderbilt candidates want new insights that will pay rich dividends in their organizations, new ways of identifying solutions to persistent problems and a deep dive in quantitative methods compared to many Executive MBA programs.
  • We seek students who are dedicated to working hard. The program requires approximately 20 hours per week outside of class time. The interdependent nature of the C-Teams and cross-border study groups means that there are others counting on you and many group-based arrangements. You will be pushed hard for excellent work outcomes by your teammates.
  • For the Americas MBA, we specifically seek individuals who already have--or aspire to have--leadership positions that require a strong understanding of an experience within the Americas.

Are you ready for a Vanderbilt Executive MBA?


  • Can you dedicate 20 study hours each week outside of class and your personal and professional responsibilities?
  • Have you spent adequate time to complete community leadership obligations to remove yourself temporarily from these commitments and make time for an MBA program?
  • Are you willing to dedicate two Saturdays per month for 24 months (or two Saturdays per month for 12 months and four 10-day in-country residencies) to this intense educational commitment?
  • Have you talked with your family about this program?

Is your employer ready?


  • Can you arrange time away from the office for your required residencies?
  • Is your employer receptive to your new ideas so that your new MBA skills and solutions have a chance of gaining implementation?
  • Is your employer willing to offer financial sponsorship? (The majority of executives seeking a Vanderbilt MBA are self-funded.)

Is your family ready?


  • Is your support system (spouse, partner, children) prepared for your individual and group study commitments outside of the classroom?
  • Is your family committed to participating in family events at Vanderbilt and connecting with your C-Team’s families?
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Ingrid Calvo, Executive MBAIngrid Calvo
Executive MBA 2009

International Corporate Controller
Gibson Guitar

Today's business leaders need a degree that transcends textbooks and the classroom to provide real-life business application. The Vanderbilt MBA for executives equipped me with cutting-edge business knowledge and skills, and transformed the classroom into a place to learn from faculty and peers.


brad-tidwellBrad Tidwell
Executive MBA 2010

Engineering Manager
ADTRAN, Inc.

Vanderbilt’s reputation was a big draw. It also came highly recommended by several colleagues who either graduated or were enrolled in the EMBA program. I knew that a significant part of the learning experience would come from the other students. In this regard, Vanderbilt’s high standards were attractive to me.