Everything You Need to Know Before Choosing an Executive Education Program

As an ambitious professional in today’s volatile business environment, embracing change is the only way to secure success. But this is no easy task—executives must have up-to-the-minute skills and relevant sector knowledge to make sure their careers and organizations continue to advance. In this climate, executive education programs are the key to staying ahead of the curve.

The benefits of executive programs for career development are widely understood, with many senior professionals enrolling on a yearly basis. Yet the vast array of programs on offer can make it difficult to know which to choose. As these programs represent a considerable investment in terms of time and effort, it’s important to be sure it will boost your professional acumen and empower you to drive impact in your organization.

Your search should always begin by assessing what you want to achieve, something that requires a surprising degree of reflection as you take both personal and professional needs into account.

Once you’ve identified your base criteria, you can begin to narrow down your options and be more selective, making sure you choose an experience that will be enriching and impactful.

Understand What You’re Looking For

Executive programs are entirely practical, designed so the skills and insights obtained can be immediately put to use in a professional environment. If a program doesn’t cover these needs, it doesn’t matter how respected the faculty is, or how engaging the course content.

In this initial process, it can be helpful to gather the opinions of your superiors or colleagues. Self-identifying areas for improvement is difficult without feedback, so asking your peers will give you some insights to help structure your objectives. Plus, going to your superior for their opinion will demonstrate that you value the opinions of your coworkers, which may even increase your chances of obtaining company funding for your program.

In addition, drawing on educational experiences you’ve had—whether in the workplace or at an institution you’ve attended—is a good exercise for defining your program criteria.

Different programs will use distinct teaching methodologies, from lecture-based learning to case studies or more hands-on approaches. Whichever you prefer, understanding your learning style will help you filter the programs that play to your strengths.

This should always be balanced alongside advice from your family or anyone close to you. During the program, between work and program participation, much of your time will be engaged in professional activities. If you have a young family or other similar commitments, it might be worth considering more flexible options that reduce commutes or long-distance travel. In that situation, you can explore, online, virtual or blended programs.

Sorting Through Your Shortlist

Once you know exactly what you’re looking for, you’ll be well positioned to draw up a shortlist and research your options in more depth. Learning more about curricula, professors and course material is a good way to gauge whether the program is for you. Most will offer an overview of course content on their website, so make sure your potential program looks to provide a thorough exploration of the areas that are important to you.

Aside from content, doing your research on the faculty will help you get a sense of a particular program.

Top-tier faculty is a vital component of a high-quality executive program, both for educational and networking purposes. It’s worth reading the bios and any relevant writings of key professors, attending masterclasses or even watching videos of them to get an idea of their teaching style.

Due to the global orientation of both executive education and business, it’s good to stay open-minded about studying overseas, depending on your personal circumstances. It might be that you need to travel in order to learn a specific skill or attend the institution that suits you most. Even if you can study closer to home, it’s worth noting that a program abroad could offer you insights and connections in an international market, advancing your professional prospects.

What’s more, the diversity of experience and opinion in an international program is sure to enrich your perspective even if the scope of your business is local, as this will take you out of your comfort zone. Be aware that nowadays it’s not always necessary to travel to participate in a program abroad, as there are online, virtual or blended programs available.

In addition, there are some programs that provide you with valuable benefits for the rest of your life, for example by giving you the lifelong status of an alum of the institution. Don’t forget to analyze this feature when comparing different programs!

Finally, it’s good practice to consider the reputation of any institution you consider. There are some institutions that possess an impressive track record with many top executives over the course of several decades, and this can help you narrow down your shortlist.

When exploring this element, you should also ensure that programs are accredited and meet any international quality standards required in the field.

If possible, aim to gather your own information by talking to those who have attended the program or by reading testimonials online. Although it isn’t always recorded, participant experience is a crucial factor in determining the rigor and reputation of a program.

In addition, talking to former participants will give you an idea about the kinds of people you can expect to meet and network with. Networking should be one of the key benefits of any executive education program. For this reason, you should consider the type of network you want to build, whether local or international. In this context, a relevant feature to understand is the program’s experiences beyond the classroom, as these will help you to build strong relationships with other participants.

IE Executive Education Programs: Designed to Maximize Professional Growth

IE University’s executive programs are expertly designed to empower senior professionals as they advance their vision, knowledge and skill set. Our overarching objective is simple—we want to support ambitious professionals to develop a lifelong learning mindset and unleash their full potential for growth.

We are aware that the thousands of executives who come to our programs every year have tight agendas, so our priority is to ensure they experience what we call Exponential Learning—an exponential impact in their careers and organizations during the time they invest with us and beyond.

With extensive expertise held among our world-class faculty, we offer a variety of programs ranging from comprehensive business and leadership courses to specific training in fields such as data science, finance or law.

In all of our programs, we’re proud to emphasize diversity and technologically advanced teaching methodologies, equipping executives for today’s dynamic work environments.

Moreover, our Liquid Learning methodology allows participants to attend face-to-face sessions from other cities, which provides the important flexibility required in today’s world. This means that, whether or not you decide to attend these sessions, you’ll still be able to participate with a similar experience.

To discover how you could start driving growth in your company and making strides in your career, see our selection of executive programs or get in contact with our team today.



Jorge Sanchez Paniagua

Marketing Director at IE Exponential Learning

+34 650 36 53 12