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Back to school at 40? Why it’s worth investing in executive education as a mature student

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We have left behind the idea that we are finished with our studies in our early to mid-20’s. These days, the benefits of further education later in life are well recognised, and there are many types of professionals who could benefit from executive education as a mature student.

If you are someone who climbed the career ladder without ever studying business, learning as you went along, gaining a formal business qualification later can allow you to further your career to the executive level. Equally, if you already have general qualifications but want to go further, returning to study allows you to increase your specialised knowledge.

Mature student

Key challenges for mature-aged students

Although further study can have a range of benefits for professionals at later stages in their career, there are a number of challenges that mature-aged students face. These challenges make it difficult for professionals to return to study, and may deter them from doing so completely.

Some challenges may be:

  • Reluctance to go ‘back to school’. The traditional learning methodology designed for young students is not applicable to older professionals and executives. Although you want to develop your skills and gain a qualification, you want to do this in a learning environment that is appropriate for you.
  • Not enough time. As a busy professional, it is difficult to find the time and energy to attend classes on-campus at a traditional university while balancing family and personal responsibilities. Not to mention that you may not be in a position to take time off from work, or may not want to leave your current job or company.
  • Fear of not fitting in. As a mature student, you may be afraid that you won’t fit in at university. You probably have an image of the typical student being a kid in their early twenties. However, the truth is that the modern student cohort is actually a diverse group of all ages and levels of experience, particularly at institutions such as EDHEC Online.

Benefits of online learning for busy older students

Studying at an established online institution like EDHEC is ideal for mature students, offering a learning environment that is perfectly suited to busy professionals. Online courses like the Msc in International Business Management and Advanced Strategic Management give executives (or those that want to become executives) the chance to develop their knowledge and gain a valuable qualification without needing to attend a traditional university.

1. Study with your peers

One of the big advantages of online business courses is that you will be studying with plenty of other mature students, mostly professionals with established careers. EDHEC online executive education programmes have an overwhelmingly older student base.

Many of the students in these courses are over 40, with a range of professional experience. This means that you can study with your peers, rather than feeling out of place in a group of young and inexperienced students.

2. Diverse cohort of mature students

EDHEC’s online courses also have a very diverse cohort of students. Students range from expats seeking new career opportunities from abroad to professionals pivoting their career or their life in general.

Students in your class might be executives seeking a change of lifestyle or change of business sector, those entering civilian life after a military career, or professionals returning from extended parental leave. Connecting with a diverse group of people such as this also represents excellent networking opportunities.

3. Flexibility

Online courses also offer mature students a high degree of flexibility. Because you can study in your own time and from anywhere, you can schedule your education around work, family, and life in general.

For busy professionals with families to look after and other personal commitments, this flexibility lets you to find a balance between work, life, and furthering your education. 

This also makes EDHEC’s online programmes a great choice for digital nomads looking to study while travelling, and for professionals based anywhere in the world. 

4. Custom Online Programmes

Unlike some brick-and-mortar university programmes that have been quickly and hastily thrown online, EDHEC Online is specifically designed as an online programme. This is a high-quality programme adapted to typical executive education online student profiles, not just an online version of the in-person programme.

As a prestigious school, not only will you receive a quality education online, but you’ll also gain a qualification that will allow you to advance your career within your current company, or seek new opportunities.

Find out more: How to get a business degree online?


Despite the many benefits of further education for professionals looking to advance or pivot their careers, returning to study as a mature student can seem daunting. However, by choosing a quality online education programme like EDHEC, you will find flexibility you need, while being able to develop your skills and knowledge in a cohort of professional peers.