MBA vs Master's in ManagementWith so many graduate business degree options, from the well-known Master of Business Administration (MBA) to specialized degrees like a master’s in management, it can be hard to decide which path is right for you.

Some sources may lead you to believe that an MBA is best suited for someone with a business undergraduate major and several years of work experience, and that it takes more time to complete than a master’s in management. You might have also heard that an MBA is more expensive than an MS in Management. While that may be the case at some universities, it isn’t for all.

So, with that in mind, how should you decide whether to pursue a master’s in management or online MBA? It’s important to consider your career goals and the skills you’d like to gain.

In general, an MBA offers an in-depth exploration of business functions and leadership techniques, focused on real-world examples, while an MS in Management is more centered on theory and provides a base level of knowledge of key business concepts. Additionally, a master’s in management is geared toward recent college graduates looking to launch their careers whereas an MBA is applicable to all stages of your professional life.

MBA Master’s in Management
Experience Provides students a pathway to advance their current career or pivot to a new opportunity Students typically enroll in a master’s in management program without business experience
Program Length In as little as 1-2 years or up to 4 years depending on full or part-time status. In as little as 1-2 years or up to 4 years depending on full or part-time status.
Avg. Advertised Salary $122,800 $85,400
Positions Financial Manager
Management Consultant
Operations Research Analyst
IT Manager
Investment Manager
Capital Markets Analyst
Mergers and Acquisitions

What is an MBA?

An MBA, or Master of Business Administration, is a graduate business degree program that has been available for over 100 years. Commonly offered by a university’s school of business, the program helps students advance their careers in their current organization or make the switch to a different path, as well as increase earning potential. The MBA degree is typically considered a terminal degree, meaning it’s usually the highest business degree that students earn.

What is a Master’s in Management?

The master’s in management (MiM) is a newer graduate business degree option, first available in Europe. Some universities offer a bachelor’s and MiM degree combination, allowing students to complete both in five years. It also might be feasible to earn your MS in Management early in your career before getting your MBA later on.

Master’s in Management vs. MBA

Wondering about the differences and similarities between an MBA and master’s in management?

The structure of both degree types is similar, typically consisting of:

  • Core Courses
  • Elective and/or Concentration Courses
  • Capstone Course

Core course offerings and requirements vary by university, but often include accounting, business ethics, finance, marketing and operations, to name a few. Although there may be some overlap of courses between both degrees, the approach to course content is different.

An MBA focuses on the application of advanced concepts whereas the master’s in management provides a foundation of business knowledge. This is because MiM students typically enter the program without business experience and, oftentimes, with an undergraduate degree outside of the business field. MBA students can be at various stages of their careers and may or may not have a business background. In an MBA program, students might be asked to bring their work experiences into discussions, but students are more likely to learn about business concepts from a theoretical viewpoint in a master’s in management program.

Some programs may offer concentrations or a variety of electives. The Pace University online MBA curriculum offers Business, Corporate Finance, and Marketing Management concentrations to allow students to customize the program to best fit their goals.

Admission and Application Requirements

Some MBA programs may require an undergraduate degree in business or a minimum number of years of work experience. Others, like the Pace online MBA, accept students from any bachelor’s major and don’t require professional experience for admission.

A master’s in management is commonly noted as a good option for those without a business undergraduate degree and without any work experience. Some universities will restrict the application to non-business bachelor’s graduates only.

For both the MBA and MiM, depending on the university, additional application requirements may include:

  • GMAT or GRE test scores
  • Resume
  • Personal statement
  • Letter(s) of recommendation

Credit Hours Required and Completion Time

The credit hours required and time for completion for the MiM vs. MBA vary by university. Programs range from 30 to 72 credit hours and might take anywhere from 1-4 years to complete. This time commitment depends on the number of credits required, as well as if the program can be completed full- or part-time, and how many courses students are permitted to take each semester.

MBA and MiM Salary and Career Outcomes

According to job posting analytics from Lightcast for 2022-23, the median advertised annual salary for job listings requiring an MBA was $122,800, a 39.8 percent increase since May 2020. The 2020 median annual starting salary for new MBA hires was $115,000, almost 77% higher than the $65,000 salary reported for those with a bachelor’s degree.

Lightcast reported the median advertised average annual salary for positions listing an MiM was $85,400, a 28.1 percent increase since May 2020.

When considering these salaries, it’s important to note that industry and position also play a role, with the highest earnings reported in the consulting, finance, and technology industries.

From 2021-2031, management positions are expected to grow 8%, faster than the average for all occupations. While entry-level jobs commonly require a bachelor’s degree, a master’s can increase your earning potential and help you progress in your career at your organization. Popular positions for MBA graduates include:

  • Financial Manager
  • Management Consultant
  • Operations Research Analyst
  • IT Manager

MiM graduate careers often overlap with the career outcomes of MBA graduates. Examples of careers for MiM graduates include:

  • Investment Manager
  • Capital Markets Analyst
  • Consultant
  • Mergers and Acquisitions

About the Pace University Online MBA and Lubin School of Business

The Pace University online Master of Business Administration (MBA) gives professionals a hands-on learning experience to master the ins and outs of business theory through real world application. This 100% online program has been handcrafted by expert faculty to ensure that students are career-ready upon completion. Choose a Corporate Finance, Marketing Management, or general business concentration.

For over a century, Pace University’s Lubin School of Business has been preparing professionals for fulfilling careers in business. From responsive professor communication to hands-on, project-based learning, we do everything we can to help students succeed.

Pace’s Lubin School of Business has dual accreditation by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) International, an elite distinction shared by fewer than 2% of business schools in the world. With graduates thriving in companies like AIG, Nickelodeon, L’Oreal, Tesla, and many others, Pace equips students with vital business knowledge, while also creating innovative thinkers that companies want.

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