An M.S. or an MBA degree - Can't Decide on the Best Option for you?
By Gail Whitaker, DM, Former University Dean, College of Business
Previously, Whitaker explored the differences between an M.S. in business management and an MBA. In this follow-up post, she offers insight to help you decide which degree is best for you.
A Master of Science degree is typically focused on a specific career path, while the MBA degree offers a broader view of general management. When faced with a choice between the two, it’s less important which degree you pursue. Rather your attention should be on how you intend to leverage your degree professionally.
In other words, don’t let your degree decision paralyze you. Instead take fairly simple – but hugely beneficial – steps to investigate the best path for your interests and purposes. Here are four ideas to get you started:
1. Talk to other students.
Seek out recent graduates of the degree programs you’re considering, especially those who have found success in the career path you’re interested in pursuing. Ask about their work, how they’ve navigated their career path since graduation and what opportunities they’ve found upon graduation. What aspect of their degree program most attractive to employers? What motivated them to choose their degree program? How do they see their degree supporting their career development?
2. Research the job ads.
Job ads are very revealing and helpful in providing guidance about your career. Look for job postings that closely describe the kind of position and workplace that interests you, and then study the job requirements and qualifications. Generally, the minimum requirements, including specified degree requirements, are listed. This information lets you assess the expectations of potential employers.
3. Review the curriculum.
An MBA certainly stands out on a resume. The program usually requires courses like economics, statistics and finance. An M.S. program will have slightly different requirements. After examining the curriculum, you may realize that you want to focus your learning on project management. You have little interest or desire to pursue classes in economics or finance, so an MBA may not be the better option for you. Spend time getting to know the curricula for both programs and notice what speak to you, your interests and your strengths.
4. Talk to professionals.
Experienced professionals who have already launched and found success in their careers can be a valuable resource. Identify some who are in the field you want to enter and find out what degree they received and how they leveraged it in their career. While you’re at it, grow your perspective by asking what skills and knowledge they need to do their job effectively. This will help you identify any gaps in your own background so you can choose the degree program that might close them.
Whether you choose an MBA or an M.S., ultimately, you hold the key to its value. It’s what you make of it that matters.
Image credit: Flickr/Dinuraj K