Jan 22, 2022  
2019-2020 Graziadio Academic Catalog 
2019-2020 Graziadio Academic Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Executive MBA

The Executive MBA (EMBA) program is a 45-unit curriculum that provides a comprehensive framework for the strategic management of business organizations. The central theme of this highly acclaimed program is the development of strategic leadership competencies through a collaborative learning environment. Designed for the experienced practitioner and planned around small-group seminar sessions, this program provides the cognitive knowledge and skills necessary to achieve the following objectives:

  • Manage and motivate others in increasingly complex and dynamic organizational environments.
  • Access, organize, and analyze important economic and management information.
  • Identify and forecast trends and changes in domestic and global markets.
  • Develop functionally integrated business and organizational plans in pursuit of strategic goals.
  • Make strategic decisions, operationalize strategic plans, and provide strategic leadership.

Key Features of the Executive MBA Program

The EMBA is an integrated program designed to provide synergy across content, delivery, experiential and cognitive learning, and real-world application. Its content is organized around five trimesters:

  • Leading People in Changing Organizations
  • Managerial Control and Financial Management
  • Global Economics and Information Systems
  • Strategic Marketing and Global Business
  • Strategic Management in Competitive Global Environments

In addition, many core topics run through the entire program and do not always take place within the confines of a single trimester. For example, the themes of values-centered leadership and ethics are explored within each module; other topics are covered in segments during the 19-month program. Students enroll each trimester in 7 - 12 units of courses that meet on weekends (usually, Friday afternoon and evening and Saturday morning and afternoon) either five or six times per trimester at two- or three-week intervals. Students are enrolled continuously until the program is completed. On occasion, classes are held over an extended weekend session. The program begins with a four-day effective executive residential workshop and also includes an eight-day international residential session held at locations of emerging importance in global business. At the end of each trimester, students undertake applied research projects which provide them with the opportunity to apply the knowledge and skills acquired in that trimester to a business or industry of their choice, thus allowing Executive MBA students the opportunity to customize the program to businesses and/or industries of their choice. In the final trimester, the strategic management capstone project provides a means of applying the concepts and knowledge gained in the program to a substantive strategic analysis of a real-world business opportunity or problem.

To offer an effective and compelling learning experience, several innovative and integrating approaches are utilized within the Pepperdine EMBA program to create a robust learning opportunity that surpasses traditional approaches to executive MBA education.

A Dedicated Faculty Team

A core team of six professors plus a class advisor is assigned as a dedicated faculty team to each EMBA class cohort before the program begins. The teaching team meets before the class commences to plan the overall curriculum, identify the specific points of integration, lead the class during the four-day opening residential session, and remain in close contact throughout the entire program.

A Class Advisor

This seventh member of the faculty team attends all class sessions throughout the 20-month period. The class advisor assures that appropriate class preparation and learning progress is maintained by meeting with individuals and learning teams as needed. The advisor also provides continuity throughout the program and helps integrate the content and the experiences across trimesters. Advice is provided to students on how to formulate and complete each trimester’s applied research project and the strategic management capstone project.

The Effective Executive Workshop

Each Executive MBA class begins with a four-day, residential effective executive workshop. The workshop provides an overview of the entire program and develops working relationships with the faculty team. The workshop also builds a learning community among the students by developing a shared understanding of learning goals, identifying individual differences, and developing communication and team skills. While the privacy and individuality of the students are respected and valued, students are expected to be willing to examine and learn from their own behavior and the behavior of others in the class.

The Cohort as Learning Community

A great deal of executive-level learning takes place through discussions, collaborative projects, presentations, and sharing of personal experiences. To optimize the participants’ diverse styles and learning needs, the class is treated as a learning community in which everyone collaborates to share and affirm new knowledge, learning, and critical thinking. Skills associated with active listening, appreciation and management of individual differences, leadership styles, and learning preferences are developed. Members create and implement a collective vision of an effective learning community that interacts for the duration of the program and typically continues after graduation from the EMBA program.

Learning Teams

Each class cohort forms into learning teams that meet outside of class sessions on a regular basis to dialog, work on team assignments, share learning, and discuss course readings and topics relevant to them beyond the class requirements. Members of an effective learning team are committed to the development of each other’s skills, knowledge, and executive leadership. Learning teams are an important part of the learning community. They provide resources for the cohort and each person throughout the 20-month EMBA experience and often continue to meet after graduation.

The Applied Research and Strategic Management Capstone Projects

One of the key requirements for graduation from the Executive MBA program is completion of a series of applied research projects culminating in a strategic management capstone project. Participants will complete one project in each trimester. This integrated series of projects is expected to demonstrate the participant’s mastery of program content. The final strategic management capstone project should reflect a capacity to craft and implement an effective business strategy. Because the overall exercise is expected to be multifunctional and to have long-range implications for the organization’s future position in the marketplace, participants should have access to organizational data such as marketing, operations, financial, and competitive data. The final strategy document must be data-based and include a summary of relevant literature and other reference materials. The faculty and class advisor will provide individual guidance on the projects.

The Business Management Simulation

The business simulation is typically embedded within the strategic implementation module. Student teams engage in a highly dynamic learning experience in which they manage a fictitious firm operating in a dynamic, computer-simulated global competitive marketplace. Students must develop a strategic plan in advance of the simulation and then learn firsthand the consequences of their individual and team decisions on the implementation of their strategic plans. They react to the subsequent responses of the competing firms and to the consequences of changes in global economic, regulatory, social, and political environments. At a more macro level, this highly interactive simulation highlights the dynamics of industry evolution and the development of markets and firms within them.

The International Residential Session

This session involves an eight-day international study tour comprising class sessions, meetings, and site visits held in a region or country that is undergoing significant economic development with substantive implications for U.S. firms. The international residential session includes faculty-directed discussions and interactions with business, government, political, and community leaders. Following identification of the region to be visited, students will be assigned advance preparatory work. The students will apply integrated concepts and tools from EMBA courses to complete a required cross-cultural analysis embracing economic conditions, competitive strategies, and business practices for effective global business implementation.

Values-Centered Leadership

Consistent with the missions of Pepperdine University (to strengthen lives for purpose, service, and leadership) and the Graziadio School (to develop values-centered leaders and advance responsible business practice), the underlying themes of values-centered leadership and ethics will be explored across the entire curriculum. The concept of values-centered leadership will be introduced and developed during the opening workshop and first trimester leadership module and will be subsequently explored and revisited in all modules and activities of the EMBA program.

Standards and Measurements of Achievement for Executive MBA Students

Satisfactory completion of 45 units of course work and faculty approval of all project work is required for successful completion of the Executive MBA program. The maximum time for completion of the degree is eight trimesters. On completion of the fifth trimester, leaves of absence are not permitted; a student must be enrolled continuously until the program is completed. If additional time is needed to complete the research project, students must remain registered in a minimum of 1 unit per trimester beyond the completion of program coursework.

If the student has not satisfactorily completed all course requirements at the end of a term, the professor has the option of assigning a mark of “Incomplete” (I).  An incomplete mark must be resolved and replaced by a valid grade (e.g., A, B, C, etc.) by no later than the end of the term following the one in which the “I” was issued. If this does not occur, the “I” will default to a grade of “F.” In order to be allowed to enroll in future coursework, any missing assignments associated with the “I” mark must be completed and evaluated by the professor prior to the first full weekend of class meetings in the following term.

A minimum grade point average (GPA) of 3.0 is required to maintain satisfactory academic standing throughout the program. Courses in which the quality of work is lower than “C-” must be repeated. Students who wish to repeat a course in which a grade lower than “B” was awarded must petition the Executive MBA Committee which, in turn, will make a recommendation to the program associate dean. Courses may be repeated only once; however, in cases where courses have been repeated, both course grades earned remain on the transcript and count toward the cumulative grade point average. Students’ academic records are reviewed at the end of every trimester. If the academic performance falls below a 3.0 GPA, the student is placed on probation (warning status), given a specific period of time in which to raise his/her performance, and advised of any other conditions for removing the probationary status.

A student may be placed on academic leave for one trimester by the Executive MBA Committee when the student’s academic performance and/or participation is viewed to be below standard. The student will not be allowed to reenter the program unless all stipulated requirements are satisfied.

A student may be dismissed from the program at any time if, in the view of the faculty, the Executive MBA Committee, or Graziadio School administration, the student has demonstrated an inability to perform at cohort level, to contribute meaningfully to team-based assignments and activities, and/or to maintain standards of behavior and decorum that are consistent with the University Code of Ethics  and the Graziadio School Code of Academic Ethics for Students .

A student is subject to dismissal from the Executive MBA program for any of the following reasons:

  • Failure to maintain a minimum 3.0 grade point average (GPA) at any time in the program.
  • Failure to earn a minimum 3.0 GPA during a trimester in which a student is on probation.
  • Failure to raise the cumulative GPA to 3.0 within one trimester of enrollment after being placed on probation.
  • Failure to earn grades of “B” or better in more than two courses.

Leave of Absence

Students may petition the Executive Program Committee for a leave of absence. The leave of absence petition must be submitted prior to the beginning of the term the student is requesting, stating the reasons for the leave and the projected time of return. Leaves of absence are limited to three years from the date of leave, after which time the student must reapply to the program. Degree work in the EMBA program must be completed within five years from the date the student is originally enrolled in the EMBA program. In rare cases, the associate dean may grant a limited extension of time to complete the degree. Enrollment must be continuous until completion of the requirements for the degree, unless the student is on an approved leave of absence. International students in F-1 visa status must obtain clearance from the Office of International Student Services before taking a leave of absence.

Course Requirements for the Executive MBA

The Executive MBA requires 45 units of course work, normally taken in the following sequence:

Additional Trimesters

 Additional trimesters are offered to students for completion of the strategic initiative project:


  1. This course can be scheduled in an alternate trimester.