Should You Choose A Masters In International Business Or MBA program?

Which program is right for me?

So you know you want a career in international business. You know you want a one-year business degree. But which one? Master of International Business or MBA? When we first start speaking to students about which program they’re interested in, we often find they’re unsure about the differences and which one is best for them.

Here, we break down the differences and similarities between our Master of International Business (MIB) and our Global One-Year MBA programs, and the typical student profile that best suits each program.

MIB vs MBA student profile

The simplest way to describe the differences between the two programs is the typical background of students. Most MBA programs require a minimum of three years’ work experience, whereas Master of International Business programs are open to those with no work experience.

This means that the average age of students on MBA programs tends to be higher than those taking a Master of International Business degree. At Hult, the average age of MBA students is 31, with an average of 6 six years of work experience. Our MIB students have an average age of 24 and 1 year’s work experience.

In terms of diversity of nationalities, our global graduate programs have students from more than 160 nationalities with a spread of students from all regions of the world.

Credits and academic rigor

Master of International Business programs typically require less credits to complete than an MBA. This is because the MBA requires you to complete more courses than the MIB, within the same time period.

There is the assumption that having worked in industry for at least three years, and, in most cases, having taken the GMAT, students on an MBA program will have a deeper level of business and subject knowledge. For example, MBA students are expected to have a working knowledge of finance.

In many cases, the actual courses and the subject matter across the two programs are very similar, if not identical. So there is no difference in the academic value of the courses themselves or the manner in which they’re taught. The difference lies in the level at which students are able to engage with the material as this is dependent on the amount of on-the-job experience they have.

International experience

The amount of international experience offered will depend on the school but at Hult, our Master of International Business and MBA programs enable students exactly the same choice. Students are able to study at up to any three of our six campus locations. They chose one campus to complete their core course – San Francisco, Boston, London, or Dubai – and then have the option to take electives at a further two locations – Shanghai, or New York.

“Hult sent me to three campuses: London, Dubai, and Shanghai. It challenged me to visit nine countries and saw me interact with people from over 100 cultures. Never has my life been so transformed in the space of a year.” – Xiwen Wang, China/U.S., MBA 2015, Operations Analyst. MBK Homes LLC

We also find that students learn as much about business culture across the globe and working in cross-cultural teams from their classmates as they do from being on the ground in a different country. This is due to the spectacular diversity of our student body, across all programs. So, regardless of whether someone is studying for an MBA or an MIB, they are exposed to an array of international perspectives without even leaving the classroom.

“The student diversity at Hult is outstanding. It’s like you’re traveling the world without leaving the classroom. I could gain the perspective of someone from the United Kingdom, Canada, Angola, China, and Columbia – all on the same day.” –  Michele Bianchi, Italy, MIB Class of 2015, Analyst, Deloitte

Quality of faculty

As in most leading business schools, many of the same Hult faculty teach both Master of International Business and MBA courses. In many cases, the courses are very similar so professors seamlessly move from one program to another.

Some professors have more experience teaching one student demographic and this may be reflected in the classes they choose to teach. But, regardless of the program they’re on, all our students are taught by internationally renowned academics that bring years of business experience to the classroom and have a passion for teaching.

“The professors are respected professionals with successful careers in both business and academia, and the balance of both perspectives creates a unique and vibrant classroom environment.” – Milena Ivanova, Bulgaria, Class of 2015, Talent Enablement Partner EMEA, Hewlett Packard

Choice of electives

Hult’s Master of International Business and MBA programs both offer students a wide range of electives that they can use to tailor their degree to their personal interests and career goals. Due to the increased number of credits required to complete an MBA, a one-year MBA program will typically offer students the chance to take more electives than one-year master programs.

“My goal after graduating from Hult’s Master of International Business program was to forge a career in marketing. My choice of electives focused on marketing and proved very rewarding – I am now a Marketing Manager.” – Sofia Lundstedt, Sweden, MIB Class of 2013, Marketing Manager, PGA European Tour Sweden.

Practical work experience

The opportunity to gain practical work experience may be particularly important to Master of International Business students if they have limited experience prior to starting the program. But for those MBA students wanting to switch careers, hands-on, practical application of knowledge and skills is equally important.

Most business schools encourage internships or offer a capstone project, but it’s important to look at how practical the degree really is day-to-day At Hult, students on both programs participate real-world challenges as an integral part of their studies. It’s a safe environment where students can apply everything they’ve learned in the classroom, learn from their mistakes, and build on their successes.

“The business challenges were exciting, hands-on experiences, and invaluable lessons in teamwork.” – Marc Seipp, Germany, MIB 2013, Management Consultant, PwC

Leadership development

Leadership development programs will differ considerably from school to school. Whereas most leading MBA programs will include a leadership element, not all Masters programs will. At Hult, we believe that learning leadership skills should be an integral part of all graduate business programs. That’s why we incorporated our award-winning leadership skills program from our MBA program and into all our masters programs.

Students work on developing observable skills across key competencies identified as essential by global employers and business leaders. Skills such as persuasively selling an idea, coaching teammates for performance and growth, and seeing underlying patterns in complex situations. Their progress is systematically measured throughout their entire degree program.

It’s good to talk!

If you’re still undecided about which program you are most suited to, the best thing to do is contact the school to discuss your personal profile and career goals. Once you’re further down the decision-making process, visiting the school, taking a taster class, and meeting current students and alumni can give you a real feel for whether or not the program and the school is a good fit for you.

Shanice  is the Global Head of Brand & Program Management at Hult International Business School and is based in London. Her specialisms include brand management, product and customer insights, training, and people development. Shanice is a passionate and regular guest speaker at higher education and marketing institutes.

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