By Peter Walker for CNN
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(CNN) -- Executive MBAs, part-time MBAs for working managers, are a major -- not to mention very expensive -- commitment.
According to a new study, they are also an increasingly global one.
The latest annual ranking of EMBAs compiled by the Financial Times newspaper has shown that ever greater numbers of top programs are offered jointly by two or more schools, giving students that extra international perspective.
Of the top five programs in the ranking, drawn up from questionnaires filled in by more than 4,000 alumni who graduated with EMBAs three years ago and more than 100 schools, three are offered jointly, and five in the top 15.
Two of the high-ranked EMBAs are newcomers to the survey -- the EMBA Global offered jointly by Columbia and London business schools, and at four, the Trium Global EMBA, put together by the HEC school in Paris, the London School of Economics and New York University's Stern school.
Sandwiched between these at three is the EMBA offered jointly by Northwestern University's Kellogg School and Management and Hong Kong University of Science and Technology.
The latter is slightly different, however, in that students spend most of their study time in Hong Kong, rather than split between campuses as with the other joint courses.
Leaders of the joint courses believe they help give students the edge in an era of increasing globalization, as explained by Lyn Hoffman, program director for the Columbia/London EMBA Global.
"The two cities (New York and London) are the greatest learning laboratories and we have a serious portfolio of assignments outside the U.S. and the U.K.," she told the survey.
Bernard Moingeon, associate dean for executive education at HEC, said the Trium Global EMBA was designed from the very beginning with an international perspective at its core.
"When we started we said: what are the needs of top guns in global companies? All the content focuses on the impact of globalization on companies."
Students taking the joint EMBAs tend to be more international anyway -- 31% of participants in joint programs had previously worked in three or more countries, against 15% of the overall sample.
In the overall rankings, however, it was a single-base EMBA which came out top, the MBA for Executives offered by the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton school.
After the the three joint programs, the final spot in the top five is taken by the EMBA at Spain's Instituto de Empresa.
A top EMBA does not come cheap -- the Wharton qualification costs anything up to $145,000, the Columbia/London one $120,000 and the Trium program $116,900.
However, there are rewards for this commitment.
The 2003 graduates of the Wharton course reported that they now earn an average annual salary of just over $263,000, a figure that rises to nearly $295,000 for graduates of the Kellogg/Hong Kong course.
Overall, in the 2005 survey, four schools had alumni earning more than $200,000, a figure which has now hit 11.
In the city: EMBA Global students split their time between London and New York.
FACT BOXFT's Executive MBA Rankings
1. Wharton, U.S.
2. Hong Kong UST, China
3. London Business School, UK
4. Instituto de Empresa, Spain
5. Fuqua, Duke, U.S.
6. Chicago GSB, U.S.
7. Columbia, U.S.
8. Kellogg, U.S.
9. Stern, NY, U.S.
10. Cass, City University, UK
Source: Financial Times 2006
FACT BOXEMBA SNAPSHOT
Executives taking the top EMBA courses in the U.S., Europe and Asia have average salaries of around $130,000 to $200,000.
A typical EMBA student is likely to be aged in the early 30s, with 6-10 years of working experience.
A top EMBA course can cost $100,000. Customized courses start at a few thousand dollars.