EMBA - Admissions FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

View our updated application guidelines, including fee waivers and testing flexibility.


You've Got Questions? We've Got Answers

Darden's executive formats are based in the Washington, D.C. area and designed for busy working professionals. In this section you will find answers to questions prospective students often have. Topics include program structure and design, admissions requirements, test waiver requests, scholarship consideration and more. Learn about our Executive MBA (EMBA) format, and Global Executive MBA (GEMBA) option.

  • General

    I'm interested in Darden's Executive MBA Program. What are my options?

    The Darden Executive MBA program consists of two options: Executive MBA (EMBA) and Global Executive MBA (GEMBA), and all students, regardless of format, graduate with the exact same degree: a Darden MBA.

    How many students are in the class?

    We have capacity for approximately 135 students, and each enrolled class is divided into two sections of roughly 65–70 students.

    Each section consists of EMBA as well as GEMBA students. Sections are shuffled throughout the program, allowing students to learn alongside a broad array of classmates and maximize networking opportunities.

    Where are classes held?

    The program is based in the Washington, D.C. area, and classes are held at UVA Darden DC Metro grounds. For more information, please read our news article on the facility.

    When does the program start and end?

    The programs is a 21-month, lock-step (i.e. all students begin and conclude the program at the same time) format. All Executive MBA students start in August and graduate in May. For example, an EMBA student matriculating in August 2024 would graduate May 2026.

    Students receive the full program calendar several months prior to the official start of school in order to plan both personally and professionally for the months ahead. As an example, view the full calendar for the Executive MBA Class of 2026 here.

    Can you explain the schedule in more detail? 

    The core program structure is ten, two-month long quarters, with roughly two-thirds of the program delivered in person and one third through distance learning.

    Both formats consist of the following components: 

    • Leadership Residencies
    • Weekend Residencies
    • Distance Learning
    • Global Residencies

    Darden's Executive MBA program is built upon a once-a-month weekend residency model. Each quarter consists of two weekend residencies as well as distance learning. Distance learning includes a mix of live online classes and self-paced asynchronous activities.

    In addition, all students participate in two, weeklong leadership residencies – one leadership residency at the start of the program and one leadership residency at the conclusion of the program. Both of residencies take place on the Darden Grounds in Charlottesville.

    Lastly, all students are required to have at least one global experience. These weeklong residencies are designed to be immersive, and programming includes a mix of company visits, talks with industry leaders, meetings with executives, cultural excursions and more.

    The Executive MBA program arranges for a diverse array of global residencies and students choose from a menu that typically includes 10-12 trips. EMBA students participate in one global residency, with the option of adding additional residencies. There is an additional charge for each additional global residency (approximately $5,000).

    Global residences are offered during four distinct travel periods, with the first travel period occurring in February, after the conclusion of Quarter 3. Approximately two to three trips will be offered in each period:

    • February 2024 (after Q3)
    • June 2024 (after Q5)
    • October 2024 (after Q7)
    • February 2025 (after Q9)

    Past global residency destinations include Chile, Argentina, China, Germany, Ghana, Israel, South Korea, India, Finland/Estonia, Australia, Morocco, Spain, Ghana, Cuba and Vietnam.

    How do the quarters work? 

    Both executive formats consist of ten, two-month long quarters. The core curriculum is primarily delivered in the first year of the program. The second year of the program is primarily electives. Students take a total of 12 electives during their time in the program.

    How many classes will I take per quarter? What will my work load be?

    Executive format students take 3-4 classes per quarter. While preparation time varies, students report spending, on average, approximately 15-20 hours per week on school work. 

    When do I choose my format? Do I choose when I apply?

    Applicants are encouraged to consider both formats – EMBA and GEMBA – as they determine the option that best fits their life and schedule.

    Applicants apply to our Executive MBA program (not a particular format), although our application does ask candidates to indicate their format interest at the time of applying. This request is simply for information purposes, and it is in no way binding. 

    Those applicants who receive an offer of admission will formally indicate their format preference when accepting their offer of admission.

    I'm trying to determine my preferred format. What are some similarities/differences between EMBA and GEMBA?

    Our executive formats are very similar. Both formats feature the same core curriculum and all students graduate with the same degree (a Darden MBA). In fact, during weekend residencies, EMBA and GEMBA format students sit in class together, and they travel together on the global residencies.

    However, the principal differences between the formats are three-fold:

    1. How many global experiences are required
    2. Schedule
    3. Cost

    Number of required global experiences

    EMBA students participate in one global residency, with the option of adding additional residencies, while GEMBA students participate in four global residencies. For EMBA students who wish to participate in more than one global residency, there is an additional charge for each additional global residency (approximately $5,000).

    Prior to the start of school, students will rank the global residencies in order of preference, and the program office will slot students accordingly to preference and overall demand.


    The schedules for our executive formats are very similar. The only difference is the number of weeklong global residencies:

    EMBA consists of 20 weekend residencies, 2 leadership residencies, 1 global residency and distance learning. Total class days out of the office: 35.

    GEMBA consists of 20 weekend residencies, 2 leadership residencies, 4 global residencies and distance learning. Total class days out of the office: 50.

    As noted above, over the 21 months of the program, despite GEMBA’s additional weeklong experiences, the GEMBA format only requires 15 more days out of the office than the EMBA format.


    One additional factor to consider is cost. There is a tuition difference between the EMBA and GEMBA formats of approximately $11,000. If you are considering Darden’s executive formats and believe you may want to have more than one global experience during your course of study, this differential may be of particular relevance to you. 

    EMBA students may participate in more than one global residency, and there is an additional charge for each additional global residency (approximately $5,000).

    However, it is also worth noting that travel to and from the residencies (weekend, leadership and global) is not included in the tuition and fees for either executive format, and these travel costs should also be included in your cost comparison as you explore which format and location is the right fit for you.

    Can you tell me more about the Rosslyn location?

    All executive format students will be based at the state-of-the-art UVA Darden DC Metro Grounds in the Rosslyn district of Arlington, Virginia. This convenient location is less than five miles from Washington’s Reagan National Airport and Union Station (Amtrak). Dulles International and Baltimore Washington International airports are also within a short drive.

    For students less familiar with the Washington, D.C., area, Rosslyn is located immediately across the Potomac River from D.C.'s Georgetown neighborhood.

    In many ways, Darden's executive formats offer the best of both worlds, as students spend time in both Charlottesville and the D.C. area over the course of the program. All students, regardless of format, come to Charlottesville at the beginning and end of the program for two week-long leadership residencies. And all weekend residencies take place at UVA Darden DC Metro, a sleek, modern space offering panoramic views of the capital region.

    Darden's top-ranked faculty travel to the D.C. area to lead classes during weekend residencies, and faculty, staff and students have worked hard to ensure the Darden culture is a defining feature of the program experience.

    Will I get to spend time in Charlottesville?

    Yes! All students, regardless of format, come to Charlottesville at the beginning and end of the program for the week-long leadership residencies. In addition, there are also curated, extracurricular experiences offered in Charlottesville throughout the program.

    What are leadership residencies?

    All executive format students, regardless of format, start and end the program together on the historic Darden Grounds in Charlottesville, Virginia, with a week-long leadership residency. During these weeks, students explore different aspects leading organizations and form bonds with their classmates.

    Leadership residency 1 is entitled "Leading with an Enterprise Perspective." Leadership residency 2 is entitled "Creating the Future."

    What are global residencies?

    Global residencies are week-long trips executive format students take with Darden faculty and staff to select countries. Current residency locations (subject to change) span the globe and include Argentina, China, Ghana, Vietnam, Estonia, Israel, Cuba and more. These experiences are immersive and designed to allow students to explore the business, sociocultural and political contexts of each location.

    During each residency, students meet with executives and business leaders, tour factories and plants, network with Darden alumni, participate in speaker events and visit cultural attractions. To learn more about the global residencies, please visit our global study page.

    What is distance learning? How does it work?

    All executive format students, regardless of format (EMBA or GEMBA), have distance learning as a part of their educational experience. Executive formats are two-thirds in person and one-third online. At Darden, distance learning means online classes. These classes are typically synchronous (i.e., "live") and delivered via Zoom Meeting.

    These class meetings take place between the residencies on Tuesday and Thursday evenings from 7 to 8:30 pm ET. Students do not usually have distance classes during the week of a weekend residency. Most classes are an hour and a half in duration and attendance is required

    Want to learn more about distance learning at Darden? Watch this short video.

    How do electives work?

    All executive format students take 12 electives, and electives are primarily delivered in the second year of the program.

    Executive format students choose from a slate of electives offered specifically for executive format students. The program office develops the elective offerings in consultation with both students and faculty. Students also have the opportunity to pursue an independent study, case writing or a Global Consulting Project to fulfill their elective requirement.

    During the elective period, student may also pursue seven different focus areas:

    • Data Analytics and Technology
    • Entrepreneurship
    • ESG and Social Impact
    • Finance
    • Leadership
    • Marketing
    • Strategy

    Students who complete three electives in any of these areas will automatically receive a letter from the Registrar indicating they earned that focus area. It is worth noting that students have broad flexibility to pursue their interests when choosing electives, and students are not required to specialize at any point during the program.

    Recent electives include Entrepreneurial Thinking, Design Thinking, Strategy, Negotiations, Mergers & Acquisitions, Intro to Real Estate Finance & Development, and The Business of Healthcare. 

    I'm an international student considering Darden's Executive Formats. What are my options?

    International students enroll at Darden on an F-1 visa and may pursue either format  Executive MBA (EMBA) or Global Executive MBA (GEMBA). 

    Students should plan to travel to the U.S. for residencies, and the amount of travel to the U.S. will vary depending upon format. Both of executive MBA formats – EMBA and GEMBA - require a minimum of 22 trips to the U.S. over the 21 months of the program. In addition, our EMBA format requires one weeklong global residency while our GEMBA format requires four weeklong global residencies. 

    For additional information and rules affecting F-1 student employment, please consult the International Student and Scholars Program.

  • Admissions

    How do I indicate my preference for the Executive or Global Executive option of the program?

    When submitting an application, you are applying to our Executive MBA Program, not a particular option. In the application, we will ask your format preference (EMBA/GEMBA/Both). This answer is not binding in any way.

    Once admitted students, are offered their choice of formats (EMBA or GEMBA), and then indicate their choice when accepting their offer.

    What are the requirements for admission?

    We review three dimensions of your background when considering an offer of admission:

    Professional — breadth and depth of your professional background and level of management responsibilities and demonstrated leadership. [Note: five (5) years of professional experience is the preferred minimum level of work experience]

    Intellectual — potential to succeed academically as demonstrated through your completed bachelor's degree (conferred prior to matriculating to the School), undergraduate/graduate academic record, standardized test scores, letters of recommendation and work experience.

    Personal — the unique traits you will bring to the Darden learning community, your ability to work in a diverse group as part of a learning team, leadership potential, your commitment to others, your interpersonal communication skills, etc.

    Can I apply to Darden if I already have an MBA?

    The Darden School of Business does not admit students who have already completed an MBA from an AACSB accredited institution. To find out if a school is accredited by the AACSB, please refer to the AACSB website.

    May I apply to more than one of UVA Darden’s MBA formats at once? 

    No. Applicants may only be evaluated for one format of the Darden MBA at a time, and simultaneous applications to Darden’s MBA formats will not be accepted. When starting an application, you will be asked to choose a deadline corresponding to your preferred MBA format, and you should target the format that best aligns with your desired schedule, experience and interests. If you have questions about which format of the Darden MBA may be right for you, we encourage you to schedule a conversation with a member of our Admissions team. If your format interest changes after you've submitted your application, simply contact our admissions team, and we will share a form in which you may request your application be moved to another format evaluation process. 

    Our MBA format evaluation processes are discrete, and, by extension, if an applicant has received a decision for one MBA format, that decision will not transfer to the new format process. If an applicant requests to be evaluated for a new MBA format, their previous decision is voided, and the applicant must be evaluated anew for the new MBA format, including, if applicable, interviewing again.

    Is an interview required?

    Interviews play an important role in our assessment of candidates and are required prior to acceptance into the program. An evaluative interview is conducted by invitation only after your application has been submitted and reviewed by the Admissions Committee.

    All interviews are conducted by a member of the Admissions Committee. For the foreseeable future, all interviews will be conducted virtually via Zoom.

    Our interviews are conversational in nature and typically last around 35-40 minutes. Applicants should be prepared to share their narrative during the interview, and key questions include:

    • What’s your educational background?
    • What’s your professional background?
    • Why are you interested in pursuing an MBA?
    • Why are you interested in Darden? 
    • What are your goals post-MBA?

    Other relevant topics include leadership experience, global exposure as well as hobbies and interests.

    Do applicants need to take the GMAT or GRE?

    In the Executive MBA application process, you have two options - submit a test waiver request or take a standardized test.

    Check out this blog post for recent updates about test waivers: Expert Tips for Darden's Executive Application Process.

    Submit a test waiver request. Our test waiver request form can be found in the “Test Scores” section of the application. All candidates who feel they have a strong case for a test waiver are welcome and encouraged to submit a waiver request. Waiver requests are considered along with the full application. Updates regarding the outcome of the waiver review will be provided at the time of decision. 

    Applicants may use the text box in the waiver request field to highlight any aspects of their educational or professional background they feel are relevant to our Admissions Committee’s evaluation. In considering waiver requests, our Committee will pay particular attention to your prior coursework (both degree-related and non-degree-related), advanced degrees, professional certifications and work responsibilities.

    Take a standardized test. We accept several standardized tests - Executive Assessment, GMAT Focus, GMAT, GRE, MCAT and LSAT. We view these tests equivalently. We will also accept older or expired scores for any of these tests, but candidates who wish to submit an expired score will need to have access to their full score breakdown.

    Applicants planning to submit a test score with their application do not need to have taken the test by their target deadline. As long as we receive the test scores at least two days prior to the decision release date for the round in question, we can keep an applicant on schedule for an on-time decision release. 

    Our Admissions Committee will provide an update regarding the outcome of the waiver request review at the time of decision. There are four decision outcomes for Executive MBA applicants: 

    • Admit 
    • Conditional Admit (additional action required - for example, quantitative coursework)
    • Waitlist (in which case, additional action - like a test or quantitative coursework - would be ways to strengthen the application)
    • Deny

    Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions regarding this process. We can be reached by email at ExecMBA@darden.virginia.edu.

    How does Darden maintain a fair admissions process?

    At Darden we do not tolerate conflicts of interest, and all UVA Darden personnel are prohibited from engaging in any outside employment or consulting which presents a conflict of interest with their duties (https://uvapolicy.virginia.edu/policy/HRM-025). Individuals with any ethical or other concerns in the admissions process are able to report such concerns by email so that they can be independently reviewed and investigated.

    Do students need to be employed full time?

    Our Executive MBA program is designed for working professionals and students are expected to be employed during the program. Our curriculum is based on applying classroom knowledge to individual work situations, and is based on the give-and-take among faculty and every person in the class.

    Is there a minimum requirement for years of work experience in the Executive MBA Formats?

    The preferred minimum years of professional experience is 5. The typical executive MBA student may have anywhere from 5 to 25+ years of work experience.

    What are the deadlines for applying? Can I apply before the deadline?

    Visit the Executive MBA application deadlines page for details. You can submit your completed application at any time before the final deadline, but we encourage you to submit early, when the maximum number of class seats and scholarship awards are available.

    May I request an application fee waiver?

    A nonrefundable application fee of $250 is required to process your application.

    Here’s how to qualify for a fee waiver:

    1. Connect. Participate in a phone conversation with a member of our Executive MBA Admissions Committee AND

    2. Join. Attend one of our upcoming webinars or in-person events. We have an exciting slate of webinars on deck and we look forward to seeing you online!

    If you have started an application, once you complete these two steps, a fee waiver code will be automatically applied to your application. If you have not yet started an application, a fee waiver code will be applied to your application once you do so.

    The following are also eligible for application fee waivers:

    • Teach for America corps members and alumni 
    • Peace Corps volunteers 
    • Education Pioneers fellows 
    • Forté MBALaunch members 
    • U.S. military members 
    • Citizens of countries on the UN's list of least developed countries also qualify for an application fee waiver

    If you qualify for a waiver, no additional action is required. Your fee waiver will be automatically applied to your application. If you have further questions, please email us at darden@virginia.edu.

    Is there additional guidance for reapplicants?

    If you applied in our prior admissions cycle for our Executive MBA program, we would be happy to copy your application over to our new application period. To request this action, please complete and submit our Reapplicant Request Form

    Please note that you will need to provide answers to any new questions, and it is always a best practice to review previously submitted information for accuracy. In addition, all reapplicants are required to submit a new recommendation with their application.

    When will I receive a decision?

    Decisions are released roughly within 3 weeks of each application deadline.

    Each application round has a target interview period, decision release date and deposit deadline. For additional details, please review our Deadlines page.

    Are admissions deposits refundable?

    You will be asked to pay a deposit of $4,000 to accept your offer and confirm your intention to enroll. The deposit is non-refundable and will be applied to your student account as a credit when you enroll.


    Not Required: Candidates who received their bachelor's degree from a university where the medium of instruction was English are not required to take an English language assessment test (i.e., they are exempt).

    Required: Candidates who received their bachelor's degree from a university where the medium of instruction was not English are required to take an English language assessment test.

    Strongly Recommended: Candidates who received their bachelor's degree from a university where the medium of instruction was not English, but received a master's or PhD degree from a university where the medium of instruction was English are strongly encouraged to take an English language assessment test.


  • Financial Aid

    What types of financial aid are available to EMBA students?

    Financial aid is available to students in EMBA in the form of federal and private loan programs. For details on the types of financial aid available, please see the Financial Aid and Fees page.

    What do I need to do to be considered for an merit scholarship award?

    All admitted students will be evaluated for this scholarship, which is competitively awarded based on a variety of metrics and considerations. No additional documents are required for scholarship consideration. These competitive awards are based upon a variety of metrics and considerations, including but not limited to, indicators of academic merit such as Undergraduate GPA, Graduate GPA, Advanced Degree, Professional Certification(s) and Standardized Test Score. Admitted students are typically notified of the outcome of the scholarship review process when they receive their admissions decision.

    How many students typically receive a scholarship award? What is the average award amount?

    As previously noted, while all admitted students are considered for a merit scholarship, not all students will receive a scholarship award.

    In a given class, approximately 35-40% of the students will receive a merit scholarship, with awards typically ranging from $10,000 to $35,000 total. Most awards are usually $15,000 to $20,000 total. As a general rule, we have more scholarship money to award earlier in the cycle, and candidates are encouraged to apply as soon as they feel they can put together a strong application.

    All awards represent a student’s total award for the program. For billing purposes, a student’s merit scholarship award is broken into equal increments and applied at each of the program’s five billing dates. For example, if a student receives a $10,000 scholarship, her tuition payment would be discounted by $2,000 ($10,000 / 5 = $2,000) at each billing date.

  • Career Services

    What career services are available to EMBA and GEMBA students?

    EMBA and GEMBA students have access to relevant and compelling career information and education. Students learn how to effectively manage their careers through a combination of face-to-face workshops, one-on-one coaching and online career modules. Visit our dedicated Career Services page for additional details and descriptions. Career advisers are present during leadership and weekend residencies, as well as other program-related activities.

    I'm interested in switching careers. What will my job search look like?

    Career switchers are an increasing portion of the executive format applicant pool and current student population. If you are a student looking to use an executive MBA as a springboard to a new job, we have resources to support your search.

    As an executive format student, your job search will be a network-driven search and will likely begin with information-gathering and research before transitioning to interviewing and the hiring process.

    You will begin by working with The Career Center professionals who support our executive format students to develop a strategy and action plan for your job search. This process will likely include self-reflection as well as identifying members of the Darden alumni network, your own personal and professional networks and other individuals within the Darden enterprise who can be of assistance to you in your search.

    You will then connect with these individuals, scheduling informational interviews and gathering information, as you work to identify next steps. Throughout this process you will continue to work with the Career Center as you refine your action plan. As a Darden student, you will have the Career Center staff, career-oriented programming and the powerful Darden alumni network (more than 19,000 alumni in 90 countries) at your disposal.

    In the second year of the program, students may attend career fairs and networking events in Charlottesville and several major U.S. cities. In addition, students may submit résumés for invitations to interview on-Grounds for full-time, entry-level MBA positions.

    To learn more about on-Grounds recruiting opportunities, view Darden’s Employment Reports.

    I’m familiar with the career search process for full-time MBA students. What will my job search look like as an Executive MBA student?

    Please visit our Career Transition Resources website for more information.

  • Company Support

    Can you tell me more about the company support letter?

    The company support letter is NOT an admissions requirement. It is a pre-matriculation requirement. 

    For this reason, you will not find a place to include your support letter with your application. However, if you already have your support letter in hand, you are welcome to email it to us, and we will add it to your file. 

    A few more things to know about the support letter:

    At minimum, the letter should:

    • Indicate that the company is aware of your interest in applying to the program. The letter may also speak to the company’s belief in your strength as a high potential manager.
    • Acknowledge the time commitment required to attend the required residencies.
    • If applicable, indicate the level of financial support your employer will provide.

    This letter must be submitted on company letterhead with an original signature from your supervisor. The letter may be scanned and uploaded to your application as a PDF. View a sample company support letter.

    If you are self-employed, please submit a letter acknowledging the schedule requirements of Darden's executive MBA format, noting that you have the time and resources necessary to complete the program.

    Are employers required to provide financial support for students to attend the program?

    No. While we encourage employers to make a financial contribution, allowing students to participate is the only investment on their part that we require.

    Can sponsors talk with someone during the admission process?

    Yes. Contact ExecMBA@virginia.edu and we will put you in touch with someone who can speak about sponsorship.