Which Business Degree is Right for You?
Business Degree : When you think about business degrees, the first type of program that comes to mind is probably the Master of Business Administration degree or MBA.
When you think about business degrees, the first type of program that comes to mind is probably the Master of Business Administration degree or MBA. The MBA has become almost synonymous with executive education, and not without good cause: MBA programs offer comprehensive, thorough formation, which is very likely to produce competent business leaders.
However, MBAs are not the only type of business degree out there. There are alternative and generalist programs, such as the Master in Management (MiM) and the Master of Business Analytics (MBAn), which may be better suited to you depending on your level of experience and on the specific kind of business leadership you have in mind. Additionally, a host of specialized business degrees has now been developed, including the Master of Health Administration (MHA), the Master of Supply Chain Management (MSCM), and the Master of Accounting (MAcc). These degrees may well be a better choice for you if you are interested in becoming an executive leader in a specific field. Here are some of the differences between these programs.
The Master of Business Administration (MBA)
The MBA is a generalist business degree geared towards those who already have several years of business leadership and are looking to accelerate their career progression. MBA students tend to be in the latter half of their twenties or in their thirties, and their goal is often to increase their income and/or to access executive roles, which will allow them to set strategic goals for their company. MBAs are also popular among managers who wish to work outside of their home country, and some universities offer dedicated International MBA programs.
As a generalist degree, the MBA educates leaders across fields of expertise, offering modules in areas such as finance, marketing, entrepreneurship, and critical thinking. If you have a few years of management experience and are itching to advance your career, an MBA may well be the right program for you.
The Master in Management (MiM)
The MiM is another generalist degree, and as such, it covers similar areas of teaching and learning to an MBA. The key difference between the two is that while the MBA targets students who already have a few years of management experience under their belt, the MiM is geared towards those who have no or little executive work experience. Applicants are generally in their early to mid-twenties and can enter many MiM programs straight after their undergraduate degree. After graduation, those who have earned a Master in Management can work in many different sectors and will have job titles which include words such as ‘Consultant’ or ‘Analyst’, whereas MBA graduates will have access to more senior leadership roles such as ‘Chief Executive Officer’ or ‘Chief Operating Officer’.
In summary, while an MBA is a career accelerator, a MiM is a career kickstarter. If you are a recent graduate and you don’t want to spend years working in entry-level and junior positions before you can progress in your career, consider enrolling in a Master in Management program.
The Master of Business Analytics (MBAn)
Data analysts are some of the most in-demand professionals in today’s rapidly evolving business world. As business decisions become increasingly data-driven, a Master of Business Analytics — also sometimes called Master of Science in Business Analytics, or MSBA — will give you an edge over other candidates for business analyst, data analyst, machine learning officer, data scientist, and information technology officer jobs, among others. An MBAn is another generalist business degree in the sense that it can be applied to many different sectors, from technical services to finance to public administration and beyond. If you choose to study for an MBAn, your curriculum is likely to include business and finance education modules similar to those offered in an MBA or a MiM, alongside more specialized data-related modules such as those covering Python and other programming languages, data analysis, and machine learning.
To successfully complete an MBAn, you are likely to need an academic background in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (the so-called STEM subjects. Many programs allow you to enroll straight after completing your undergraduate degree, although some prior work experience is often recommended. An MBAn will turn you into a competitive, confident business analyst with an edge. If you have a background in a STEM subject and enjoy coding software and analyzing trends, this may well be the business education program for you.
The Master of Supply Chain Management (MSCM)
Expertise in supply chain management is likely to become increasingly sought after as the COVID-19 pandemic continues. The double whammy dealt to the global supply chain by the pandemic and the obstruction of the Suez Canal due to a stuck container ship in March of this year — and, in the United Kingdom, the additional wreckage caused by Brexit — have highlighted both the importance and the fragility of supply chains across industries. A Masters’s in Supply Chain Management will give you the skills to navigate these obstacles and will make you a sought-after business manager.
Unlike an MBA or a MiM, the MSCM is considered a specialized business degree. It focuses on teaching students about the technology, strategy, and analysis methods necessary to implement successful supply chain management policies. Nevertheless, curricula also contain education in broader business knowledge, and this type of degree, like those explored above, is applicable across industries. Applicants generally need a good head for numbers, and most come from a STEM undergraduate degree. Previous work experience is often not required, as graduates typically enter the workforce at the level of a junior manager; typical job titles include ‘logistics planner’, ‘operations manager’, and ‘supply chain analyst’. If you are a practical-minded person with a passion for organization, this business degree may be for you.
The Master of Healthcare Administration (MHA)
Another specialized degree with great relevance to today’s world and its challenges is the Master of Health Administration or MHA. This degree will prepare you for jobs such as ‘Hospital Administrator’, ‘Nurse Manager’ or ‘Group Practice Administrator’, as well as any other management position in a hospital or other healthcare setting. Previous work experience in a relevant job is required for admission to some MHA programs, though others have waived that requirement and simply list work experience as ‘recommended’. Nevertheless, given the highly specialized nature of this degree compared to those explored so far, it may be a good idea for you to spend some time working or volunteering in a healthcare setting prior to enrolling in an MHA program to ensure that this is the right sector for you. You don’t want to spend significant time and money learning how to be a leader in an industry that you’re not actually suited for!
There is an MHA vs. MBA debate raging on the Web, fuelled mainly by the fact that some universities offer MBA programs with a specialization in healthcare. The main difference between an MHA and a ‘healthcare MBA’ is that the MBA will offer general business, finance, and marketing modules alongside healthcare-related modules. In an MHA, all courses and case studies will be specific to healthcare. A healthcare MBA will therefore be a better option for those who think they would like to work in healthcare but also want to keep open the option to work as business leaders in other fields, whereas an MHA will suit those who are determined to have a career in healthcare administration and management.
The Master of Accounting (MAcc)
As the name suggests, a Master of Accounting will prepare you for a career in accountancy and will allow you to become a Certified Public Accountant, a chartered accountant, an auditor, or a corporate controller. Some MAcc programs are designed specifically as ‘conversion courses’ for those who wish to enter the accounting profession but have an undergraduate degree in another field, whereas others will require previous work experience in accountancy. MAcc degrees typically offer leadership education and encourage their students to question existing auditing practices and policies, as well as teaching more technical skills such as financial reporting, auditing, and research methods. This is the degree for you if you have your heart set on a career in accountancy and have the required mathematical and critical thinking skills.
So, which business degree is right for you?
Choosing a graduate business degree is an important step in your life that should be given appropriate consideration. A key factor that is likely to influence your final decision is the amount of previous work experience you have: if you are a recent college graduate with little experience, you will need to exclude certain programs such as most MBAs, whereas if you have several years of management work under your belt a MiM will probably be too basic for you. Furthermore, if you have your heart set on a specific field, you should consider studying for a specialized degree such as an MHA or a MAcc, whereas a more generalist degree will allow you to keep your options open.
Another factor to consider is that many universities will offer graduate executive education programs both as full-time and part-time courses. You can also choose whether to study in person or via remote learning, an option that has become more popular (and often unavoidable) during the pandemic.
In conclusion, graduate business degrees can look very different from each other. Take time to explore your options and make sure you choose the best program for your circumstances and career goals!