Executive MBA | Academics

Academics Learn more about the EMBA curriculum below.


The Executive MBA (EMBA) core coursework equips you with skills and agility to effectively compete in today's digitally driven world. It focuses on four key drivers of business growth: strategic innovation, information technology, analytic decision-making and collaborative execution.

Program Structure

  • Classes begin every September and take only 21 months to complete
  • Each quarter consists of 4 class weekends
  • Classes meet on Fridays from 3:30 p.m. - 8:30 p.m.; Saturdays from 8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.; some Thursday evening electives
  • Three off-site immersive residential courses: Thinking Strategically in the Digital Age for Executives (September in first year), Global Immersion (mid program), Executive Leadership (June in second year)


Academic Calendar



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Program Curriculum

The EMBA curriculum consists of core business foundations, immersive experiences and elective flexibility to allow you to align your interests with your professional goals.

Introduction to AI for Executives (Fall - Year 1)

  • This course will provide students with an understanding of AI technologies at a level suited to executives, including Predictive AI and Generative AI.
  • Students will learn what AI is (definitions and key concepts), understand how predictive and generative AI systems work and their main use cases, and be able to identify the associated business opportunities and challenges.
  • The class will include significant hands-on use of major AI systems to deepen students' understanding of how to leverage these systems to augment their capabilities.

Business Applications of AI: The Executive Perspective (Winter - Year 1)

  • This course will focus on teaching students about the real-world opportunities and challenges of adopting AI by businesses.
  • The course will examine a series of key managerial decisions/activities associated with AI, including identifying use cases and their business value, making informed investment decisions, learning assessment frameworks, studying unique challenges of adoption at mature companies, building tech capabilities, reskilling talent and governing AI systems.
  • This course will involve the coordinated participation of senior executives who will be asked to illustrate the key concepts of the course by sharing their experiences with the class and by engaging in a moderated conversation with the students.

Tech Residential (Fall - Year 2)

Designed to complement Introduction to AI for Executives and Business Applications of AI, which are both focused on the present, the Tech Residential is designed to better prepare students to anticipate the future. The rate of progress in AI technologies is accelerating making it difficult for companies to keep up. Through a series of visits to (or by) venture capital and private equity firms, technology providers, and tech-forward user firms, this class is intended to:

  • Inform students about trends in AI technologies.
  • Showcase novel applications that frontier companies are developing.
  • Provide case examples of leading companies that are designed for change.


Business Foundations are core courses that ground you in the fundamental disciplines of business taught through the latest research insights, real-world projects and industry case studies.

  • Thinking Strategically in the Digital Age for Executives (Opening Residential)
  • Business Analytics: Decision-Making for Executives
  • Organizational Leadership for Executives
  • Financial Reporting Policies for Executives
  • Microeconomics for Executives in the Digital Age
  • Marketing Leadership
  • Competing with Digital: Technology, Analytics, Business Models
  • Operational Excellence: Processes, Strategy, and Analytics
  • Managerial Finance for Executives
  • Executive Strategy: Foundations and Dynamics

Executive Leadership prepares you to analyze critically, lead confidently and articulate strategically. Through this series of modular courses, you will strengthen your management acumen, analytical tools and interpersonal skills to build effective teams and successfully navigate challenges. In addition to coursework, you will have access to an Executive Coach who will integrate lessons from the classroom to apply it to your work. 

Executive Leadership modular courses are offered quarterly each Sunday on your first class weekend.

Key Objectives of Executive Leadership include: 

  • Leadership Foundations: Learn how to evaluate personal leadership strengths and weaknesses, create and execute a communication strategy for executive team members, and enhance your understanding of the critical interface between execution issues and internal and external strategic challenges to the organization.
  • Comprehensive Executive (EMBA) Leadership Plan: The EMBA program integrates Executive Coaching in tandem with coursework—resources typically for high-level executives at Fortune 500 companies. Your Executive Coach will help you create SMART goals, select key stakeholders (feedback) and identify measures of success through regular check-ins.
  • Mastering Teamwork: Our prominent faculty dive deep into many of the leadership skills and practices to provide you with a better understanding of team and organizational dynamics and how your personal leadership skills can strengthen teams and improve organizational growth/success.

The Executive MBA program provides a sequence of three off-site immersive learning experiences (residentials), including an international experience which is invaluable in today's global environment.

Opening Residential: Responding to Dynamic Times: Thinking Strategically for Executives
Scheduled prior to your first regularly scheduled class weekend, this experience is designed to introduce you to being a student again.

  • Held at a business-class hotel in Orange County.
  • Topics include organizational design, organizational culture and power, group processes, competitive analysis, corporate strategy and business ethics.
  • Instructive methods include case study analysis, group presentations and group-based teamwork.

International Residential: Global Immersion
A highlight of the EMBA program, the international residential takes a thematic approach to exploring global business. You will have the opportunity to experience global business first hand from a corporate, academic and cultural standpoint. Recent international residentials have been held in Thailand/Myanmar, India and Israel.

  • Held for 6 days, students stay in four- and five-star business-class hotels in major urban centers.
  • Typical topics include: major issues faced by U.S. companies overseas, investment climate, banking and finance, supply chain management, manufacturing, technology, government, marketing and economic transition in emerging economies.
  • Senior-level executives from U.S. and foreign-based companies discuss the challenges they face. Company tours follow most on-site presentations by executives.
  • Optional cultural events may include visits to museums and historic sites of interest.

Closing Residential: Executive Leadership Practicum
This residential provides a time to reflect on what you have learned, how you have developed professionally and how you will shape your future as a leader and executive.

  • Held at a Southern California retreat hotel.
  • Provides a clear perspective on your skills as a leader.
  • Presents a variety of tools to continue to develop your leadership capabilities.
  • Prepares you to take control of your career by creating an explicit career action plan.

Note: Immersive experience courses content are subject to change. All program costs, speakers, events, transportation and hotels are included in your tuition with the exception of your round-trip airfare for the international residential. We make the arrangements for your accommodations for all three residentials.

Program Schedule

Year 1

Fall Winter Spring Summer
Responding to Dynamic Times: Thinking Strategically for Executives, Organizational Leadership for Executives, Financial Reporting Policies for Executives, Introduction to AI for Executives
Microeconomics for Executives in the Digital Age, Business Analytics: Decision Making for Executives, Business Applications of AI: The Executive Perspective
Marketing Leadership, Managerial Finance for Executives

Year 2

Specializing Your MBA

You will have the opportunity to tailor your MBA to your interests through a variety of electives spread across different academic areas. You may also choose to enhance your MBA by completing the Healthcare Leadership Track or one of our immersions.

EMBA Anchor Electives

Anchor electives are courses offered for EMBA students only and are offered on the EMBA schedule. These courses focus on strategy, leadership, general management and decision-making providing core knowledge and capabilities required to lead an organization. Sample anchor electives include:

  • Global Business
  • The Leader's Role in Sustaining Growth in a Global Enterprise: Perspectives from the C-Suite
  • Driving Profitability in a Digital World
  • Negotiations

Elective Options

EMBA students also have the option of enrolling in elective courses outside of the EMBA program—in the Fully Employed MBA (FEMBA), Full-Time MBA or Specialty Master's programs (Finance, Business Analytics or Innovation and Entrepreneurship). These electives are based on space availability, but more importantly based on your availability. Students are advised to meet with their Program Manager to develop an academic plan. 

We offer between 50-60 electives annually across all disciplines. Below is the current elective list:


  • Driving Profitability Through Managerial Accounting
  • Financial Statement Analysis and Valuation I
  • Financial Statement Analysis and Valuation II
  • International Accounting
  • Cybersecurity Risk Management
  • Intro to Data Analytics for Accounting (MPAc)

Economics & Public Policy

  • Business of Medicine
  • Macroeconomics
  • Understanding Risk in Health Care


  • Bonds and Fixed Income
  • Derivatives
  • FinTech and The Digital Economy
  • Programming and Data Analysis for Business (MFin)
  • Investments
  • Multinational Finance
  • Venture Capital and Private Equity

Information Systems

  • Introduction to AI for Executives
  • Business Applications of AI: The Executive Perspective
  • Technologies & Analytics Consulting (MSBA)
  • Business Intelligence
  • Data & Program Analytics
  • Digital Strategies
  • Software Thinking for Managers
  • Advanced Data Analytics (MSBA)
  • Blockchain and Cryptocurrencies
  • Data Architecture (MSBA)
  • Deep Learning Applications (MSBA)
  • Python for Management
  • Big Data Analytics with Hadoop (MSBA)
  • EDGE
  • Big Data Management Systems (MSBA)

Interdisciplinary Studies

  • Analyzing Organizations from the Inside
  • Applied Game Theory
  • Business Law
  • EDGE
  • Intrapreneurship
  • Media & Entertainment
  • Merage Consulting Projects
  • Sustainability & Competitive Advantage


  • Consumer Behavior
  • Brand Management Simulation
  • Insight Marketing
  • Marketing on the Internet
  • Marketing Research
  • Social Media Marketing
  • Sales Management
  • Digital Marketing for Business Analytics (MSBA)
  • Micromarketing with Digital Footprints

Operations and Decisions Technologies

  • Analytical Decisions Models
  • Predictive Analytics
  • Supply Chain Management

Organization and Management

  • Global Negotiations
  • Managing Performance in 21st Century
  • Negotiations
  • Organizational Change
  • Strategic Communication

Real Estate

  • Applied Real Estate Security Analysis and Portfolio Management
  • Introduction to the Real Estate Process
  • International Real Estate
  • The Real Estate Development Process
  • Introduction to the Real Estate Process
  • Mixed-Use Community Land Development
  • Real Estate Capital Markets
  • Seminar in Management of the Real Estate Enterprise


  • Competitive Intelligence
  • Corporate Strategy
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Networks, Platforms, and Ecosystems in Business Strategy
  • Practice of General Management
  • Strategy in a Digital Age
  • Media & Entertainment

Sample Course Descriptions for Electives that Prepare You For the Digital Age

Media & Entertainment

Inter-disciplinary course provides a detailed understanding of the overall ecosystem, the path to monetization and the impact of digital disruption.

Industries examined in the course include gaming, the music industry, publishing and the film industry. The course explores the impact of digital distribution as well as trends in development, and marketing driven by digitization and big data.

Networks, Platforms, and Ecosystems in Business Strategy

This course provides a rigorous, economics-based and real-world-grounded development of the theory of networking effects and standards competition, platform economics, ecosystems management and regulatory impacts.

Students will learn models, synthesize strategies and apply the tools to contemporary and historical situations via class discussions, problems and assignments.

Strategy in a Digital Age

This course examines continuing digitization, including: Blockchain transaction control, digital manufacturing, cheap robotics and automation, and the application of artificial neural networks to large data sets.

Students will focus on applying the unchanging basic principles of strategy, economics and organization to these new developments.

Digital Transformation: The immersion in Digital Transformation prepares students to lead their organizations to success in the digital economy. The economics of the digital world are fundamentally different from those of the physical world, and imply new rules of competition. They change business strategy, structure and practices in profound ways. Students will learn how to analyze technology-enabled change broadly and how to leverage digital technologies across businesses, from the perspective of both incumbents and startups. Completion of the MBA immersion requires 4+ academic courses and participating in the Center for Digital Transformation’s annual Road to Reinvention conference.

Innovation and Entrepreneurship: The Beall Center for Innovation & Entrepreneurship provides students with academic and practical training so that they gain a solid understanding of launching and/or growing a business in today’s competitive environment. The immersion in Innovation and Entrepreneurship prepares students who are either planning to or have already embarked on a career as an entrepreneur (innovating to form new companies) or an intrapreneur (innovating within existing companies). Through participation in the Merage School New Venture Competition and completion of key electives focused on Entrepreneurship and Innovation, students earn the MBA immersion in Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

Health Care Management and Policy: The immersion in Healthcare Management and Policy prepares you to excel in today’s complex healthcare business environment. Developed and administered with the Merage School’s Center for Health Care Management and Policy, this immersion builds on the Center’s mission to engage its partners in collaborative education, research and community service programs. You will develop a deep understanding of not only the underlying economics of healthcare, but also the policies, regulations and institutions that impact healthcare markets. Students at the Merage School can earn the MBA immersion in Healthcare Management and Policy by successfully completing a set of key electives and participating in the Center’s annual Health Care Forecast Conference.

Real Estate and Urban Development: The Center for Real Estate provides world class resources and research to future leaders and entrepreneurs working in real estate. To that end, the Center focuses on the pursuit of emerging best practices in the real estate profession. The MBA immersion in Real Estate and Urban Development provides students the practical skills and theories needed to succeed in an ever-changing marketplace. It takes a holistic approach to real estate, drawing from the lessons of past cycles and current trends in order to best prepare students for their careers. Through successful completion of five academic courses focused on Real Estate, students earn the MBA immersion.


As an EMBA student, you join an exceptional learning community. Our professors are top scholars who have been educated at many of the nation’s most prestigious universities. They consult at Fortune 500 companies, advise global enterprises and counsel executives at the highest levels. Our real-world practitioners include CEOs and senior leaders from global enterprises. You benefit from the same faculty and practitioners who teach in all the Merage School MBA programs.

Faculty recognition extends far beyond the classroom to include scholarly research that is published in top-tier academic publications. Rather than passing along old information, they create new knowledge, new business models and bold new solutions. Merage School faculty offer you exceptionally high standards. The level of expertise, rigor and enthusiasm they bring to your education is second to none.