MBA vs. Master’s in Management
You aspire to be a business executive, but you aren’t sure whether to pursue a Master’s in Management or an MBA.
Illana Kowarski, a reporter at US News, recently spoke to some experts on how the two degrees differ and what each can offer.
Master’s in Management
Master’s in Management degrees often cater to recent college grads who are looking to jump straight into a business career.
“MIM students are younger than MBA students,” Thomas Graf, of mba.com, writes. “For instance, typical MBA full-time students are between 28 and 32 years old whereas MIM students are between 22 and 24.”
The degree can be especially useful for students who studied humanities and social science majors—especially if you’ve had minimal work experience.
“Students in this program can amplify their employability by combining a general management degree with a non-business undergrad; the (master’s in management) greatly improves the overall career outlook for those without work experience,” Stephen Taylor, the associate dean of graduate programs at Arizona State University’s W.P. Carey School of Business, tells US News.
Graduates of Master’s in Management programs generally will start their business career post-grad in an entry level role.
“Typically, because they are just earlier on in their career, what my expectations would be is that that person would have a very sound understanding of business fundamentals, but would probably be more starting in an individual contributor role and working their way up to a management role,” Kristian von Rickenbach, a co-founder of Helix Sleep, a mattress company based in New York City, tells US News.
MBAs are geared towards business executives who have had a few years of work experience under their belt.
Whereas Master’s in Management grads are starting their careers, MBAs typically are already half way through theirs.
“Someone coming out of an MBA program – especially someone with prior work experience – my expectation is that that person should be able to start in a managerial role,” von Rickenbach tells US News.
MBAs also can have a higher opportunity cost as it takes two years to complete.
“When you’re considering a full-time, two-year MBA program, one thing that people may not fully weigh appropriately is that there’s a very high opportunity cost to those two years,” von Rickenbach tells US News. “They typically come at a really important time in your career, and certainly there’s a great return on your investment typically, but you’re losing out on earnings potential (and) you’re losing out on advancing your career over those two years. So being able to accelerate that through a program that gives you sort of a similar skill set and a similar education over a shorter period of time has … very real advantages.”
Yet, those two years can teach you a lot.
“With a two-year degree, there’s even more depth and breadth … There’s a differentiation in the content, in terms of how much you learn,” Gareth Howells, the executive director of London Business School’s MBA program, tells US News.
Each degree serves its own purpose. And experts say if you are deciding between the two, it’s best to ask yourself what you want the degree to accomplish.
“What we’ve seen probably over the past 20 years or so is that the degree classifications are probably less relevant today. … I think sometimes people get a little hung up on what degree it is that they want to see after their name,” Mike Hochleutner, the director of Stanford’s MSx program, tells US News. “But the reality is – four years after you graduate – that’s probably not going to be that relevant, but what is really going to be relevant is what are the skills that you have developed, what network do you have (and) can you continue to engage to your ongoing professional development?”