So, you’re ready to take the next step in your business career and study for a postgraduate degree. But which one should you choose? An MBA or a Master’s degree?
Though they might sound similar, there are a few key differences between the two degrees, including their length and career prospects. We’ll take you through the main differences and what you can expect from each degree, so you can choose the right one for you and your future career.
What are the Differences Between an MBA and a Master’s Degree?
Firstly, the biggest difference between an MBA and a Master’s degree is the curriculum. An MBA is a broad business degree, intended to give you an overview of a range of subjects pertinent to business. This usually means you’ll get courses in marketing, finance, accounting, leadership, operations management, and strategy.
A Master’s degree, on the other hand, will be more specialised. You might study just one of these aspects for one or two years. This means you will gain a thorough knowledge of your chosen subject and won’t gain broad business knowledge.
Secondly, MBA and a Master’s degrees also differ in the age of the participants. The average MBA student is in their late-20s (though some students could be as young as 25). Master’s students, by comparison, usually enter their postgraduate degrees straight after a Bachelor’s programme, making them around 21-24 years old.
However, there’s an important reason for this difference: the different levels of work experience required for the degrees. An MBA will usually require 3-5 years of work experience, whereas a Master’s degree assumes you are coming directly from an undergraduate programme.
Who is a specialised Master’s degree right for?
To summarise, a Master’s degree is a postgraduate degree usually lasting for one year – though some specialist versions may go on for two years, for example, if you’re preparing for a PhD.
Most importantly, a specialised Master’s programme is a great way to build on top of the knowledge you have already received from a bachelor’s business degree. A postgraduate degree is taught at a higher level and is more intensive, thus preparing you to find work in your chosen area after you graduate.
However, a Master’s degree is a great choice if you felt a strong interest in something in your undergraduate programme but didn’t get a chance to study it in-depth. For example, you may have studied a few courses on data analysis, but you would like to find out more and perhaps follow a career in this subject. In this case, you could study for a Master in Data Analysis.
Specialisation: Cass is ideal for a masters degree if you are looking for niche programmes and highly specialised masters. Of course, there are also many programmes, like the one I did (Shipping, Trade and Finance) which are niche but do not limit you in your career prospects because of their wide applicability. I had never before seen a place where so many people had such diverse career paths planned yet all doing the same degree.
Reputation: I did not know it that much before starting my masters degree, but Cass enjoys an incredibly good reputation in the industry and consistently ranks among global leaders in their fields. Many prospective companies spoke very highly of my degree as well as the Business School in general and it really opened some doors. Excellent Reputation!
Network: You meet a lot of people that like I said will end up in all kinds of jobs all over the World. The diversity both culturally and professionally is an ideal place to build a rich network that can be of great help in the future, Additionally, the alumni network is extensive and well connected to the business school, happily providing assistance and coming in to give talks on a regular basis.
A Master’s degree is also a good opportunity to study abroad. Many people choose to follow their postgraduate degree in a different country and spend a year immersing themselves in a new culture while they study. You can make new friends and grow your network at a different university, potentially leading to lucrative career opportunities later down the line.
On this subject, a Master’s degree is a great way to boost your career prospects. In fact, 87% of people who pursued graduate management education said that they enhanced their careers by doing so. As such, a Master’s degree is a great way to stand out in a crowded and competitive space, and you could find that employers favour you over other candidates because you have a specialised Master’s degree.
The MSc Business with Entrepreneurship program is, in my opinion, one of the most enjoyable and useful at Northumbria University. The tutors are engaging and have real experience in business. Academically, we learn the theory behind good business practice and entrepreneurship which aids our practical understanding. Northumbria also offers a fantastic opportunity for socialising, with a huge range of societies and a fantastic social space in the SU, it can be easy to find friends. Friends can also stretch across borders, with Northumbria being incredibly inclusive to international students. This is important because it helps UK students expand their networks and learn about new cultures. Finally, in terms of employability, I trust Northumbria to be able to find me a role after I graduate. With constant careers support and one of the most successful business schools in the country, if you work hard here you will succeed in the years afterwards.
On the whole, a Master’s degree might be right if you:
- Have just left undergraduate education but want to learn more
- Want to increase your knowledge in one specific subject
- Might want to study abroad for up to a year
- Want to increase your career prospects
Who is an MBA right for?
An MBA is an intensive, two-year degree that delves into all aspects of business. For this reason, business schools ask prospective MBA students to have at least a few years of experience in business in order to get the most out of the degree.
With an MBA degree, you’ll study a variety of aspects of business, including finance, economics, management, and marketing. Because of the wide scope of the degree, you’ll be prepared for a wide range of careers. Consequently, many people use an MBA to change industries or roles.
I highly recommend the Global Business University for any student who is willing to put in the time and effort, in exchange for locational flexibility and current, real-life education at a wonderful educational institution.
The counselors, tutors and staff are extremely helpful in guiding you to the right course of study for your personal career goals. They are always there throughout your studies for any help or questions you may have.
The online resources are extensive, the course of studies (for MBA in my case) are challenging and thus very satisfying. You come out of the course of studies with vast knowledge, and self confidence to achieve your goals.
Additionally, an MBA is an intensive degree, and you’ll usually do a few large group projects with your peers. These degrees attract diverse participants who may have worked all over the world, so you’ll learn how to communicate and work as a team with different people. For this reason, many people use the degree to gain more soft skills and build their networks.
Very good and demanding programme. Most professors are very experienced and well known within their field of expertise. Some are outstanding and provide you with great knowledge.
The program was a good mix of theory and practical application. Throughout the 2 years, we worked on many business cases, in some cases directly given to us from international companies.
As part of the program, we spent time in the US, China as well as India.
WHU staff, as well as students, were good fun.
However, an MBA is also a good choice for people who want to start their own business. You’ll be introduced to a wide range of concepts, and you may even take specialist courses in entrepreneurship to boost your leadership and management skills.
With this in mind, an MBA might be right if you:
- Already have a few years of professional experience but want to learn more about business
- Want to start your own business
- Didn’t complete an undergraduate business degree and feel like you need more knowledge to progress in your job
- Want to switch the industry or role you are working in
- Want to build your network and work with people from around the world
Choosing between an MBA or a Master’s degree can be a difficult decision, especially if you’re interested in both. However, some of the key differences between the degrees such as the work experience required can be a good pointer as to which degree might be a better fit.
Consider how far into your career you are, and what exactly you want to learn. Do you want to go in-depth into one topic? Or gain a broader business degree? Do you want to start your own business? Have a think about these questions and then compare your personal aspirations to the specifics of each degree.
When you’ve decided which degree to go for, make sure to take a look at the verified student reviews on EDUopinions. Browse reviews for some of the top European business schools, and hear from students about what their programme was actually like.