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  • Writer's pictureLauren Wong

MBA vs. Masters: which is right for you?

MBA vs. Masters of Business/Marketing/Entrepreneurship/Finance anything business related - a common question I often receive from prospective clients. As you start planning which to pursue, here’s some information to help you decide which is right from you. To start, an overview of both degrees. 

Overview of MBA

  • MBAs tend to focus on the “Management” part of business focusing on teaching high level skills that can be used in any business setting, regardless of industry, such as leadership, decision-making, and strategy

  • MBAs also tend to be more comprehensive and holistic in covering various aspects of business and management and most curriculum will at minimum include leadership, accounting, finance, marketing, HR, operations, and strategy

  • While an MBA covers all of these topics, typically there is an option to specialize and focus on various concentrations; these differ from program to program and should be part of your research when selecting which MBA program to apply for

  • MBAs also tend to pride themselves on their network and much of the experience will be based on interactions with your classmates; because of this, MBAs often require at minimum 2 years of working experience, with an average of 4-5 years–so that you have experience and insights to contribute

Overview of Masters of Business/Marketing/Entrepreneurship (MSc)

  • In general, Masters tend to focus more on research and theoretical/analytical approaches. It’s more about learning from instruction. It’s also not uncommon for Masters to expect your thesis project to be research based

  • Masters also tend to be more focused; as I listed above, you can pretty much specialize in any topic related to business; because of this Masters tends to be more in-depth in a specific area of business vs. the holistic approach of an MBA

  • Because a Masters is more about learning a specific topic, work experience is not as important here. One can apply to a Masters to learn about that specific topic as part of their career pivot

With that in mind, which is right for you? Well, first and foremost I think it’s important to think about what it is you want and also evaluate your current situation–what are your priorities when it comes to pursuing a Masters/MBA?

If you have limited work experience or set on pursuing a specific field, then a Masters may be the right path here. There tends to be many Masters programs so depending on what ranking of school you’re looking for, your chances may be slightly higher here–especially if you have limited years of working experience. 

Now, if you’re looking to explore your career path a bit, or searching for something more holistic that can be adaptable to any industry in the future and you enjoy or seeking to be better at networking, I believe an MBA is the right path. I may be biased here as an MBA graduate, but I believe that an MBA helped me develop my confidence and general leadership skills so even though I originally pursued a specialization in Technology and Entertainment Management, because an MBA is overall so holistic, I was able to use what I learned to pivot into Entrepreneurship. Additionally, the network you get from an MBA is like none other. A lot of MBAs tout their network because ultimately that’s an essential part of the experience: your fellow classmates and alumni will “show up” for you. Masters, depending on the program, usually have a more limited network. 

With that being said, both choices are solid ways to propel your career forward and as long as the program is solid, should provide resources and international exposure that will help you develop further. When it comes to competitiveness or the application process both are grueling in their own ways and one should not choose one or the other purely based on these factors; a high ranking Masters program is equally as challenging as applying for an MBA. And while Masters may seem “easier” since they usually only require a Statement of Purpose (SOP), having less “items'' to submit also makes it competitive. Additionally, some Masters may still require additional items in their application. Finally, while Masters sometimes are more lenient regarding test scores, a competitive Masters program will still prioritize applicants who submit them. Please note that while MBA takes both GMAT and GRE, Masters usually only GRE. For that reason, if you’re still unsure of which you’d like to pursue, I encourage taking the GRE as it can be used for both. In general, if you know that you’d like to pursue a Masters or MBA abroad I highly encourage you to start the studying process as early as possible. As scores are valid for 5 years, even if you decide not to apply this year, you’ll at least get the “hardest” part of the application over with and then further research and decide which is the right choice for you. 

For any further questions regarding whether an MBA or Masters is right for you, I invite you to schedule a FREE 30 minute consultation call with me here. During our call I’llI provide a personalized overview, evaluation, and advice of your situation. 

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