Executive vs Traditional

I often hear people say that an executive program is a “dilute” version of a traditional doctorate degree. I have even had conversations with potential students who overlook executive programs out of fear and embarrassment from their peers (who might I add don’t have a terminal degree). To give you all of the information you need to discredit any reservations you may have about an executive program I’ve compiled a list of fourthings you probably didn’t know.


1. Traditional programs focus on the skills required to pursue a career in teaching and research.

These programs contribute new knowledge aimed at solving real-world problems. An Executive program has a similar mission, however, they are structured to meet the needs of the working professional who can’t or simply don’t want to take time off to pursue a terminal degree. Most students in an executive program are senior-level administrators.


2. You can finish an Executive program in less time.

Many traditional programs may last between 3-5 years. While executive programs can be completed in as little as 2 years. In a traditional program you complete so many years of course work then you work on your independent research (dissertation) for a year. In an executive program, you are doing course work and research at the same time. This can be difficult but the idea of finishing your degree in as little as two years is amazing!


3. In an executive program, your employer may be willing to pay for your degree.

Many companies and institutions offer professional development and terminal degree support as an incentive for their employees to earn a terminal degree. According to EdAssist’s Annual Review of Employer Tuition Assistance Programs, more than 60% of employers offer tuition assistance.


4. Executive programs provide a quicker return on your investment.

Executive programs normally enroll students that are senior-level administrators. Which means these candidates have an extensive resume. With the work experience already in hand, they are only missing the degree credential to take them to the next level. On average, these students can expect to see a 14% salary increase after graduation and a 43% wage increase over a three-year period.


It is my hope that this helps to debunk the misconceptions about traditional vs executive programs. Both are great options and offer career advancement. Ultimately, deciding which program type is best for you should start with assessing your career goals.


I chose an executive program because of the flexibility it afforded me. I have been able to gain a quality education while still working full time to build an extensive resume. I used the skills learned in the classroom on a daily basis throughout my career from administration to the classroom.

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