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Difference between MA and MSc in Business, and difference between MBA and Masters in Business Degrees

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Business And Management Studies

For those contemplating a postgraduate degree in business and management, there are three viable options available: the MA, MSc, or MBA. The main objective of these three postgraduate business programmes is to introduce advanced-level subject matter within the areas of finance, accounting, marketing, human resources, and operational management. While there is the opportunity to specialise in a particular area of concentration from the start of a programme, most schools offer a multitude of elective courses to help round out a student’s business education.

The Master of Business Administration, or MBA, remains the most popular choice for business and management studies for both students as well as hiring managers. Although the MA (Master of Arts) and MSc (Master of Science) are not as highly favoured, there are still many good reasons for students to pursue these two degrees.

What is the difference between MBA and Masters in Business degrees?

MBAs and other postgraduate business degrees have nearly the same requirements for their applicants, including high GMAT/GRE scores, academic accomplishments, and proof of language efficiency. The major difference in prerequisites is that the MBA applicants need to have at least two to three years of professional experience. Those looking for an Executive MBA programme will need to have more years of work experience under their belt before they can even apply.

Other types of Masters in Business degrees, like the MA and MSc, focus on a good undergraduate academic record. Some Masters courses may require students to have a background in a similar topic, such as economics or business administration, but most will accept students of any educational background as long as they have a solid undergraduate degree within that subject. It is therefore arguable that a key difference between MBA and Masters in Business courses would be the intensity of the MBA course and the expectation of pre-existing practical, on-the-ground knowledge among all MBA candidates.

Because of a MA and MSc’s more relaxed acceptance policy, it may be a wiser choice for students who have little to no work experience, but who want to embark on a postgraduate programme straight after their undergraduate studies. Another difference between MBA and Masters in Business programmes is that the latter is more amenable and therefore more suited to those without a business-focused academic background, so that they can be more readily brought up to speed.

Differences in course content and specialisations

Both the MBA and the Masters in Business courses cover a broad scope of topics in basic business subjects and they permit students to specialise within a subject matter and to tailor their learning by choosing a number of elective courses. The MBA programme generally provides a broader overview of business and the mandatory courses are aimed at preparing students for a wider range of business-related roles.

The MA or MSc, on the other hand, allow for greater specialisation through a rigorous academic framework designed to help students become experts within a specifically chosen field. This format grants the students the ability to find employment upon graduation in more functional roles.

Differences in costs

Ultimately, the cost of any postgraduate course in business and management will vary depending on the particular institutions. Across the board, however, a notable difference between MBA and Masters programmes is that the MBA would generally be more expensive, sometimes even up to $100,000 USD more than the other Masters in Business degrees.

Differences in teaching methods

Another major difference between MBA and Masters programmes is that the former would generally be taught through case studies or real-world examples from business, thereby requiring students to discuss and explore the viewpoints of active managers. The MA and MSc courses use a teaching method similar to undergraduate study like presentations and small group projects. Masters in Business programmes also generally employ case studies as part of their curriculum, but they tend to focus more on the theories and techniques of business behind the examples.

For students who may be interested in pursuing a PhD further on down the road, an MA or MSc is actually better suited for that path; because, unlike with MBA programmes, they focus more heavily on research.

Differences in career prospects

Although it is already widely known that any graduate degree can help improve future career prospects; due to the nature of MA and MSc degrees, most graduates of these programmes will still be entering the workplace after graduation with entry-level positions. In contrast, students from MBA programmes will already have had work experience and will be able to increase the responsibility that they undertake at work and command higher salaries as “experienced hires” within managerial and leadership roles.

Difference between MA and MSc?

After weighing the pros and cons of the different business and management studies, if you decide that a Masters in Business is the route for you, you still must determine whether you want a MA or a MSc. Traditionally, because of its more scientific and technical aspect, the MSc is the more popular and widely offered programme of the two.

Often times, the difference between MA and MSc is determined by the individual school so it is important to see what the course content is of a particular programme in order to ensure that you are taking the one that best matches your educational background and professional goals.

It is also important to keep in mind that many institutions also offer their business degrees in combination with a wide range of subjects or specialisation, thereby casting a particular perspective on the realm of business. Some common combination degrees include MSc in Business Analytics, MSc in International Business Management, MSc in Business Psychology, and MSc in Digital Business. (And if, having read the article above, you decide that you might want to reconsider and see what is most suited to you, there are many other academic programmes discussed here.)

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