The Booth School of Business at the University of Chicago offered the first Executive MBA in 1943. The initiative was a wartime response to a perceived shortage of managers in the United States. Source: Chicago Booth.
With a depleted labor force, a need arose for experienced workers to learn management skills in a non-traditional way. Executive MBAs tend to dispense with academic learning to an even greater extent than other MBA programs. They also cater to the work demands of students; for example, by offering weekend and online learning options.