Top Executive Education in 2021: Fully Online and Blended Programmes

online learning

By Pamela Martinez

It is without a doubt 2021 brings with it a newfound sense of purpose, a breath of fresh air from the lonesome year that has just passed. Likewise, there is no better time than ever to take advantage of this clean slate to dedicate time out of your busy day to work on developing yourself intellectually.

As the previous year has put a spotlight on just how interconnected our world is, it also highlighted the demand for corporate leaders to take on new perspectives to better navigate through difficult situations and offer key figures the foresight to handle potential risks with ease.

With an executive education program, it ensures your company’s executive leaders and managers are well-equipped to meet and surpass expectations beyond what is forecasted, especially during this turbulent time. These developmental programs will have senior executives and business leaders prepared for the worst to come, be it with the constantly changing environment of globalisation or a financial recession waiting to happen. 

The global market is constantly shifting gears and changing directions, which means top executives and managers will need new viewpoints, methods, and experience to combat challenges posed by COVID-19 along with other unexpected threats. Having the proficiency required to address such principal concerns will save your company from future complications and supply them with the edge they need to stay relevant in today’s oversaturated industry.

With that said, The European Business Review has curated a special list of top business schools offering their executive education courses online for those eager to lead their companies to triumph. These online open executive programs can be attended within the comfort of your own home, done alongside your current job, and can be finished within a short time period. 

Open programmes

If you find yourself unable to commit to a curriculum for long periods of time due to work-related or personal reasons, these short online programs are perfect for any busybody still looking to enrich their minds. All of these programmes listed below are fully virtual and offer flexible study hours, so you can continue with your other commitments without education getting in the way.

Most open, online programmes can either span for a week or two, but never more than a year. With these highly-intensive and compact learning sessions that will provide all the essential information you might need without the pressure of time restriction holding you back, you can become an expert in any field in no time.

1. Live Online and Online Programmes, Columbia Business School

Columbia Business School

General Profile: Now, more than ever, executives need knowledge and insights to help them adapt to change and solve complex problems. Columbia Business School Executive Education offers you a variety of programs, approaches, and means to excel. And as the business world has evolved, Columbia has applied new best practices to continuously improve your learning experience. With their live online programs, Columbia has translated their in-person programs to a fully live and virtual format, delivering the same interactive sessions with faculty that you would experience in person. Their long-standing, asynchronous online programming offers real-time impact on a flexible learning schedule. Their virtual sessions for organizations bring their faculty’s thought leadership to your organization live and virtually. When you partner with Columbia Business School Executive Education, you enter a proven partnership that puts you at the very center of business. Together, you will lead positive change through the new world of business.

Key strength or unique selling point: 96% of past participants said Columbia Business School Executive Education is pertinent to succeeding in today’s rapidly changing business climate.


2. Wharton LIVE Virtual Programs, Wharton University


General profile: Experience Wharton LIVE: Real-time synchronous learning in finance, leadership, strategy, and marketing, expertly delivered live online by Wharton’s world-class faculty with the same rigour and immediate impact as their on-campus programs. Their live, virtual format connects global cohorts of about 35-40 individuals in a structured, interactive learning environment with a high level of peer engagement and networking, and exclusive access to Wharton faculty.

Key strength or unique selling point: Wharton LIVE programs are also available for teams and can be customized for your organization, which gives you the freedom to choose different programme plans specifically tailored to your needs.


3. Open programs for individuals, ESMT Berlin

ESMT Berlin

General profile: ESMT Berlin’s open programs for individuals are here to help you improve your behaviour as a leader, increase functional competencies, and grow your general management capabilities to the next level. Choose from a variety of programs, grouped into five clusters: advanced management, leadership, innovation and digital transformation, strategy, marketing and sales and finance, negotiation and decision making. All of these sessions take on the brand new asynchronous programs that can be taken in a self-paced mode, so you can better use the time of social distancing to boost your skills and enhance your professional influence.

Key strength or unique selling point: The functional skills and knowledge acquired throughout your career are still relevant as executives move into general management or C-level positions. 


4. Online programs, IMD Business School

IMD Business School

General profile: With IMD Business Schoo’s online courses, your experience is fully customised. You, your needs, your aspirations are at the heart of the journey from day 1, as your coach will connect with you to determine your personal learning objectives and monitor these with you throughout the journey. IMD online programs do not leave you on your own as your dedicated coach interacts with you throughout the journey and provides bespoke feedback on every individual assignment you submit. Safe to say, your assignments and summative assessment will not enable you to rely on past achievements.

Key strength or unique selling point: IMD means ‘Real World, Real Impact’ so the teachings you have learned can be deployed in your workplace immediately through structured assignments. Every week you will see for yourself the impact you are making in the professional field.


5. Leadership Development Programmes, Center for Leadership at Florida International University

General profile: Award-winning. Actionable. World-class faculty. Based in Miami and serving the world through both in-person and online leadership development programs, the Center for Leadership at Florida International University has helped individuals and organizations find and act on small changes with a large impact. “I’ve been to many leadership programs – but I’m leaving THIS program with new skills and an actionable plan. I appreciate how I was simultaneously pushed and supported.” To learn more about their programs – visit, or email them at Future-proofing leadership since 2009.

Key strength or unique selling point: Florida International University’s live online programs take place in real-time with live instructions and continue to include all the hallmarks of the Center’s development programs – interactivity, research-backed insights, a focus on self-discovery, small and large group discussions, in-class practice, and opportunities to interact with world-class instructors.


6. High Impact Online Programs, IE Business School

IE Business School

General profile: With IE Business School’s High Impact Online Programs that take an agile, online format, you can be more connected to your education more than ever. The university’s more than 15 years of experience as a world-leading online education institution has provided them with unique insights into the power of remote learning. This time spent growing an agile and innovative virtual environment allows the institution to provide experienced professionals with key sector tools and strategies for success across many business disciplines: from marketing and finance, to data science and leadership. With a challenging mix of discussions, case-based exercises and teamwork, program participants can increase sector-specific skills and become leaders in their fields.

Key strength or unique selling point: IE Business School’s WOW Room is an innovative space of virtual education utilised especially for online programmes. Along with their world-renowned technology is the ability to allow program professors to lead a global classroom using state-of-the-art technology and innovative learning tools.


7. IESE Online Programs, IESE Business School 

IESE Business School 

General profile: Upskilling has never been easier with IESE Online Programs, where all programs are founded on an interactive blend of individual learning, group discussions and varied levels of interaction with faculty be it live, remote sessions, or recordings. Each student’s unique experiences and skills will add value to the classroom and ensure that the curriculum covers necessary and desired goals. With their program you can join classes with, and learn from, fellow knowledgeable executives. Their admission process guarantees a valuable peer-to-peer education, with many different opportunities to learn from each other and network.

Key strength or unique selling point: Surveys, games and microformats will make IESE Online Programs an active and dynamic experience digitally. They also offer synchronous sessions with the professor in which you interact, in real time, with your fellow executives.



8. Online Programs, ESSEC Business School

ESSEC Business School

General profile: ESSEC Business School’s Online Programs will help you develop a comprehensive understanding of digital transformation through a new offer of executive online programs. During a time when most companies are digitising their business procedures, they consider it their duty as a pioneering and leading business school to provide a bundle of courses and real case studies on the topic of digital transformation. ESSEC Professors have designed a certificate exploring the ongoing developments of Artificial Intelligence, Big Data, Internet of Things, Blockchain, and many more.

Key strength or unique selling point: These online certificates are best taken up by senior managers who aim to initiate/or take part in innovative projects, or administrators who want to gain digital skills to reach higher positions.


9. Open Online Programmes, INSEAD


General profile: INSEAD Online leads the world with unparalleled access to its pioneering next generation programmes, a network of international campuses, world-renowned faculty, and rich diversity of perspectives—from anywhere, without compromise. Connect to ever-evolving and immersive learning experiences that develop responsible leaders and organisations capable of making an immediate and meaningful impact on a global scale.

Key strength or unique selling point: INSEAD Online participants can earn points as they go, with a ‘leaderboard’ featuring the most engaged participants each week. Every week, questions are posted by participants for the INSEAD faculty, who then respond through just-in-time videos and live calls.


10. Live virtual programmes, London Business School

London Business School

General profile: Challenging times call for innovative solutions which is why London Business School has adapted their world-class programmes to a new virtual format that will ensure you and your business thrive through disruption. Designed specifically for the times we find ourselves in, their in-person programmes are now delivered through a dedicated live virtual format with programmes taking place over 5-10 days. Through this you’ll gain access to up to 40 hours of live learning with their world-class faculty, join an enriching learning experience in a truly global classroom, study alongside and interact with a cohort of participants from every corner of the world – just like you would on campus.  

Key strength or unique selling point: Once things are safer, you’ll have the opportunity to live the London experience by joining London Business School on campus for an exclusive day of networking with like-minded professionals and with the latest thinking from our world-class faculty.


About the Author

Pamela Martinez is a writer for The European Business Review. She is dedicated to crafting timely blog pieces about business acumen, changing leadership dynamics, emerging finance and technology trends, global breakthroughs and how these spaces intersect from a millennial’s perspective. She also works as an editor and content strategist and the sister publications of The European Business Review.


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