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What is Executive Education?

What It Is, Why It’s Important and How to Choose What's Best For You

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What is Executive Education?

Executive education is topic-based, intensive academic programming for professionals and business executives designed to improve their business, management, and leadership skills. Universities offer executive education courses, however executive education does not count towards a degree or award credits. Executive education programs are typically short-form—ranging from several days to a couple of weeks, with certain comprehensive programs being longer in length (3-months to a year). 

What is the Purpose of Executive Education?

After higher education, there are limited opportunities for business professionals to continue learning throughout their professional careers. Despite modern business environments continually evolving due to technology changes and innovative disruptors, professionals are expected to informally learn through internal trainings, industry conferences, or independent research. Informal learning can often lead to broad inefficiencies or incompetencies on the optimal processes to leverage. 

Executive education provides professionals at various stages of their career the ability to learn research-driven curriculum in a formal environment from world-renowned faculty at a leading university. 

Whether you’re a new manager that has been recently promoted or a senior executive that is seasoned in their career, executive education is the perfect vehicle for you to learn new business skills or retool your existing expertise. Executive education programs are designed for enhancing the capabilities of business leaders, thus, gaining pragmatic skills that will improve your daily work performance are at the heart of the curriculum. 

Taking an executive education program will not only enable your professional growth, but also your personal development as an individual. Many executive training programs focus on leadership, authenticity, and how to connect with others. Mastering these soft skills will empower you to shepherd positive impact in your relationships, work, and career. 

Why is Executive Education Important?

Executive education can be a great mechanism over traditional education if you are a business professional. Executive education can facilitate great professional development because it is intensive, concentrated, and specifically designed for working business professionals.

On the contrary, traditional educational is constructed for a multitude of audiences and experience levels making the curriculum much more broad and general.

Challenges of Traditional Education

  • Time-Consuming: Traditional education, such as MBA programs or other degree programs, can take two to four years to complete. Most professionals have a hectic schedule that requires balancing of their work, family, friends, and hobbies. Respectively, many business leaders lack the time required to commit to traditional education formats.
  • Expensive: Degree programs can cost anywhere from $20,000 USD to $100,000+ USD. Completing a degree program may not feasible for working professionals given the financial responsibility. 
  • Broad: Degree programs require a broad collection of subjects to be completed to achieve your degree. Many of the subjects are typically general with the intention to provide backdrop for the rest of your degree. Throughout your degree journey, you may not be able to participate in the specific subjects that interest you due to credit requirements or class capacities at your university. 

Benefits of Executive Education

  • Skills-Focused: Executive education programs are centered around specific business subjects that affect how professionals work daily and effectively lead. Attending an executive education program will enable you to specifically concentrate on the pragmatic skills that you want to learn or improve on. You will be able to immediately apply your learnings from an executive course to your role at work.
  • Accessible: Executive programs are offered in multiple delivery modalities - in-person, online, or hybrid making it effortless to find a program that fits your personal preferences. Immerse yourself in the iconic university atmosphere when you attend an in-person program, or learn from anywhere in the world when you attend a program online. 
  • Fits into a Busy Schedule: Executive training programs are shorter in length, enabling the busy professional to fit learning into their lifestyle. 
  • Learn Latest Best Practices and Industry Trends: Executive development programs are taught by top faculty from the university that have conducted notable research and industry practitioners. Hence, the curriculum combines credible research with industry best practices. 
  • Grow Your Professional Network: Executive education attracts international professionals from a diverse range of industries and job roles. Attending an executive education program will give you the opportunity to connect with an assortment of professionals and business leaders. Due to the intensive nature of the program, participants often quickly bond forging lasting professional relationships.
  • Can be Sponsored by Your Employer: Many employers set aside funds for employee development. Your employer could offer a yearly professional development allowance that could be applied to attendance at an executive program.

Is Executive Education a Degree?

Executive education programs are non-degree courses provided by a university but they are different from degree programs like the executive master’s. Business professionals with more than five years of experience typically take executive education courses to improve specific skills like leadership, finance, strategy, or negotiation. Participating in executive education not only enhances people’s skill sets but also helps career progression by being a tangible badge that shows your knowledge and expertise in specific areas or your commitment to work on your skill gaps.

After completion of an executive education program, universities provide students with a certificate of completion that can be shared physically and digitally across their social media platform. 

Executive Education vs. an MBA

If you’re unsure if executive education or an MBA is a better fit for you, your personal goals can help you determine the right program for you to attend. Here are a few questions you might ask yourself:

Do you want to advance your skills in a specific area or topic? Or do you want a comprehensive education that will cover a broad range of topics?

Executive education programs address a specific topic or skill gap, while MBA programs are a degree program that cover a broad range of topics. 

Do you want to earn a degree? 

Executive education programs are non-degree and non-credited, while MBA programs yield a masters degree in business administration. 

How much time are you able to commit to your education? 

MBA programs typically require anywhere from a year to four years to complete. While executive education programs are shorter in length, several days to a couple of months. 

Are you hoping to achieve a career pivot? 

MBA programs can be an excellent resource for advancing your career and gaining additional experience. If you are expecting to career pivot soon, you should examine if having an MBA degree under your belt will be relevant or add value to your desired career. If not, you may be better off enrolling in an executive education program that is related to your new role.

Executive Education Certificate

Certificates are a great way to signal your skills and knowledge to your professional community. At the completion of each executive education program, participants receive a Certificate of Completion. The Certificate of Completions are digital, making them always accessible and easy to share. Promote your newfound skills effortlessly on your LinkedIn or directly on your resume by linking to your digital certificate. 

Are Executive Education Programs Worth it?

Although executive education programs do not offer a degree or credits, attending an executive program at an esteemed university can distinguish you from others. Completing an Exec Ed program at a notable business school may have greater significance and prestige among your peers and management, than a degree from an averagely ranked college or university.

If you are a professional in a technical field but lack the soft skills to lead your team, attending an executive program in leadership can be a great platform to establish your leadership style without a huge time commitment. Or if you’re a senior executive that wants to learn a new component of business, like artificial intelligence, you can quickly expand your knowledge and expertise on the subject while returning to work in an opportune amount of time.

What is UC Berkeley Executive Education

UC Berkeley Executive Education is the executive education department at the Haas School of Business of UC Berkeley. Founded in 1898, the UC Berkeley Haas School of Business is the second oldest business school in the United States. Embracing innovation and progressive thinking since its inception, the business school prides itself on challenging convention to positively shape the future of business. Ranked the #8 Best Business in School in the United States for 2022 (US News), Haas proudly sustains its mission to develop leaders, advocate for diversity & inclusion, and promote sustainability.

At Berkeley Executive Education, we carry on the legacy of Haas by providing business professionals, leaders, and executives with a superior education. Boasting an impressive list of world-renowned faculty, we design each program intentionally with a mix of research, case studies, and the latest industry best practices.

Types of UC Berkeley Executive Education Learning Experience


Attend an in-person program at the breathtaking UC Berkeley campus in Berkeley, California. Over two to five days, you will immerse yourself in a learning experience that will transform both your professional skills and personal mindset. Nestled in the Bay Area, neighboring Silicon Valley, UC Berkeley encapsulates innovation and forward-thinking. Throughout the week, you will participate in rich discussions, constructive group exercises, and network with global professionals from various industries. In addition, in person programs offer a unique convenience to combine educational learning with rich cultural experiences - you can explore a plethora of the Bay Areas and nearby San Francisco’s attractions, restaurants, art, music, and more during your time at the UC Berkeley campus. 


Learn from a laptop at your desk, on the road, or wherever you are inclined to by attending an online program. Online programs bring the unparalleled UC Berkeley experience to you wherever you are in the world. Unlike many online courses, UC Berkeley Executive Education online programs equip you with research-backed skills that you can immediately apply to your work throughout the duration of and after the program. Online programs allow for the unique opportunity to test, iterate, apply, and adjust your new skills as you attend the program. Participants are encouraged to experiment with their learnings throughout the online course to determine what works best and to greater enable learning retention. 

Online programs are also a great outlet to meet and collaborate with a diverse group of professionals. At UC Berkeley Executive Education, our faculty format online programs with many exercises, discussions, and simulations to increase engagement and alleviate “online fatigue”. 


Blended programs can offer the best of both worlds. If you are interested in the convenience of attending an online program but also want to experience the campus and in person learning, then blended programs are a great solution. Blended programs consist of a percentage of the course modules being held in-person at the campus, while the rest of the modules are online. Typically blended courses are longer in length (three months to more than a year) with a break between each of the modules. The greater length of the blended programs allow for better learning retention and accommodate the executives busy schedule. 

Hybrid Learning or Dual Delivery

Have you ever attended an in-person program while your classmates are on-screen virtually? In 2022, we introduced blended learning in pursuit of revolutionizing the learning classroom. A Dual-delivery program is a singular program offered to participants in-person and virtually at the same time. In-person participants will be physically in the classroom with the faculty member while online participants will be displayed on large screens within the classroom. The dual delivery classroom is equipped with state-of-the-art technology such as 360 cameras and microphones, which enables Virtual participants to proactively follow the faculty as they move about the classroom. 


Custom programs are tailor-made programs for companies and their distinct needs or challenges. Working closely in partnership with the organization, the client solutions team at Berkeley Executive Education develop custom programs holistically by assessing your company’s goals, its business requirements and any challenges that are plaguing the organization. Custom programs can vary widely in duration (from a few days to months) and the delivery modality (in-person, online, hybrid). 

Most Popular UC Berkeley Executive Education Courses

  • Berkeley Executive Leadership: Reach your full potential and develop your personal competitive advantage in a flagship leadership program for executives. 
  • High-Impact Leadership: Learn how to connect with your audience through  your authenticity, storytelling, and effective communication. 
  • Financial Data Analysis for Leaders: Gain an understanding of the fundamentals of corporate finance and financial analysis.
  • Negotiation & Influence: Master the art of negotiation - including how to approach each negotiation, grasp how to diffuse conflict, and putting your emotions aside.
  • Venture Capital Executive: Expand your knowledge of the venture capital, the VC investing cycle, and the VC deal structure.

Emerging Programs

  • Blockchain: Learn the ins and outs of blockchain and cryptotechnology, emerging trends in the crypto market, and strategic applications in businesses, governments, nonprofits, or new ventures.
  • Artificial Intelligence: Learn how to integrate artificial intelligence into your business from operations, performance, and more. 
  • Fintech: Learn how to identify innovative fintech opportunities and any apply fintech strategies to differentiate your organization.
  • Data Science: Become data literate to effectively communicate and interpret data to answer specific business questions. 
  • Marketing Analytics: Leverage data to make informed marketing decisions and develop a strong marketing strategy for customer acquisition, development, and retention.
  • Intelligent Investing: Learn the fundamentals of data analysis of companies, stocks, and new financial technologies to evaluate the right investment opportunities. 
  • Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence: Learn machine learning and artificial intelligence concepts, its business applications, and how to implement the ML/data science life cycle.  
  • Future of Technology: Learn how to assess key disruptive technology trends and create a roadmap to implement innovation strategies.

How to Choose the Right Program

Choosing the ideal program can be difficult when there are countless options to choose from. Citing your personal ambitions throughout the decision process can help guide you. While you make your choice, refer to the specific skill gaps that are affecting your performance or new skills that you would like to learn. If you are interested in a career pivot or transitioning into a new job role, attending an executive training program can be a great asset in your arsenal to showcase the crucial qualifications. 

Why UC Berkeley Executive Education?

Grounded in the Haas Defining Leadership Principles—Question the Status Quo, Confidence without Attitude, Student Always, and Beyond Yourself - Berkeley Executive Education’s core mission is to cultivate the growth of business leaders and executives through transformative learning experiences. Each of our programs center around the growth and development of business leaders, so that they can create a positive impact on their team, company, and beyond. 

Exhibit your growth and commitment to furthering your improvement by attending an executive education program. View our myriad offerings of programs, by visiting the Program Calendar

"This program is an opportunity to share and learn from experience of senior managers from all around the globe. The program combines experienced tutors and practitioners from the Silicon Valley providing a unique mix that boosts your creativity and thinking about the implementation of the knowledge you have just learned."

Vice President for R&D, BUMAR Ltd.