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MBA vs Masters What you Should Know

September 23, 2020
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Earning an advanced degree can help advance your career, but when it comes down to an MBA versus a master’s degree, which wins out? The answer depends on several factors that deserve careful analysis. We have a guide to help determine whether there is a clear winner for you.

What’s the Difference?

A Master of Business Administration degree focuses on business skills, such as accounting, leadership, and economics, and is usually designed especially for working professionals who are determined to find better career opportunities and higher salaries.

An MBA degree is typically in demand for careers in finance, consulting, investment banking, private equity, and technology. Since business schools first began offering the degree at the beginning of the 20th century, the degree has become a must-have for those who aspire to be a successful business executive.1

To compare the MBA versus a master’s degree, consider that universities offer Master of Science degrees in many diverse subjects. In a traditional MS program, students may be required to write a thesis or complete a research project. Many students, but not all, enter an MS program directly after earning their bachelor’s degree and professional experience is not a prerequisite. Like the MBA, a master’s degree can be a gateway to many interesting careers.

What are Your Career Goals?

Your career goals should be the primary factor in choosing between an MBA or a master’s degree program.

An MBA program is especially designed for students who have been in the workforce for a few years and hope to leverage their degree to gain a promotion or lean into executive management roles. Through courses and case studies, students can expect to develop cross-functional understanding of business operations, such as marketing, finance, negotiations, and international business, and gain a more strategic approach to business leadership. That’s the approach taken by Seattle University’s Albers School of Business and Economics Online MBA, a leadership-focused program that helps students understand and solve emerging business challenges.

If leadership is your goal, an MBA might be the next logical step in your career progression. Still not sure? One important exercise that might help in the decision-making process is to connect the dots between what you’ve done in the past and what you’d like to do in the future.2 How does an MBA fit into that vision?

While an MBA is focused on practical, hands-on study of contemporary business practices, most master’s degree programs take a more theoretical approach in a specific area.3 If you want to study a single issue in depth, a master’s degree might be a satisfying intellectual challenge and also lead to rewarding careers in research or teaching, especially if followed by a PhD program.4

Which Degree Makes Sense?

Another way to help settle the MBA versus master’s degree question is to talk to your managers at work to see which degree they and their colleagues value, as well as what skills and knowledge they look for in managerial candidates.5 You can also research job-posting sites to see what kinds of jobs require each degree. Which jobs are most appealing to you? The answer may lead to a clearer understanding of your goals and interests, as well as what degree to pursue. Practical considerations can help you weigh the MBA versus master’s degree decision, too. For example, how a graduate degree program is offered may make a big difference. The popularity of MBA programs means that there are many choices in one or two-year programs, full-time, part-time, executive and weekend programs, and online programs. This can be crucial for professionals who need to balance their careers, family, and other demands while earning a degree. Because they are often smaller and more specialized, some master’s degree programs may offer fewer options in terms of convenience and delivery of courses.6 In the end, whether you choose the MBA route versus a master’s degree, you are wise to consider continuing your education. It’s a worthwhile investment of your time and energy, paying dividends well into the future.

Earn an MBA from Seattle U

The Online MBA program at Seattle University combines a rigorous curriculum designed to help you identify, understand, and solve emerging business challenges with the flexibility of a part-time MBA experience. Learn more about how the Online MBA curriculum sets Seattle U graduates up for successful and meaningful careers.

  1. Retrieved September 2, 2020, from http://www.mbainsights.com/a-very-brief-history-and-development-of-the-mba/
  2. Retrieved on September 2, 2020, from https://www.themuse.com/advice/should-i-get-an-mba
  3. Retrieved on September 2, 2020, from https://www.businessbecause.com/news/mba-degree/6351/mba-vs-specialized-masters-3-important-differences
  4. Retrieved on September 4, 2020, from https://e-gmat.com/blogs/mba-vs-ms-which-is-better/
  5. Retrieved on September 4, 2020, from https://www.gradschools.com/get-informed/before-you-apply/mba-vs-ms-business-administration
  6. Retrieved September 4, 2020, from https://www.gradschools.com/get-informed/before-you-apply/mba-vs-ms-business-administration