When you’re interested in earning an advanced business degree, it often comes down to one of two educational paths: a Master of Business Administration (MBA) or an area-focused business master’s degree. When it comes to MBA vs master’s programs, knowing which one to pursue can be difficult. This depends on your career goals, professional experience, and other factors. Since these advanced degrees can cost considerable time and money, you should make sure you choose the right one. Learning more about each option and comparing the two can help you decide which would suit you best. Keep the following details about MBA and master’s business degree programs in mind while making your decision.
Understanding the Traditional MBA Degree
A traditional MBA degree provides you with advanced training and education to help you succeed in business. MBA classes focus on business skills as well as other practical skills that business leaders should excel at. Having this type of degree can open up many career paths, including opportunities to start a business or find leadership or management roles in an organization. MBA degree programs are often aimed at those who have had some experience working in a professional environment. These individuals are usually interested in advancing current careers or pivoting to new career opportunities. However, those without professional experience might be interested in pursuing an MBA degree in order to learn and develop business skills.
When you’re in an MBA program, you can expect to take courses that teach you the skills needed for a successful career in business. While specific courses vary from one school to the next, there are general topics that are covered in MBA programs. Your MBA coursework might include classes in finance, marketing, leadership, accounting, teamwork, economics, decision analysis, business ethics, and business accountability. These courses prepare you to take on a leadership role in your current job (or as a business owner if you decide to start your own company). Your coursework in an MBA program might also include projects that involve collaborating with others or leading a team. These projects provide you with opportunities to put leadership, teamwork, and other skills to use.
MBA Career Path
Earning an MBA gives you several career paths to explore. You might want to stay on the same general career path but focus on landing a leadership role. You might find that you want to change career path entirely or become an entrepreneur. When you have your MBA, you can choose from a wide range of career paths. Some examples of career options for those who have an MBA include:
- Finance manager
- Business consultant
- Account executive
- Marketing manager
- Operations manager
- Healthcare administrator
- Sales manager
- Product manager
The career path you choose will depend in large part on your goals, skills, and interests. With an MBA, you can enjoy having more career paths and opportunities to consider.
When studying for an MBA degree, you don’t have to stay in a general program. If you have certain career goals and interests, an MBA concentration can help you focus your education on these areas. Different schools offer different concentrations, so you should look for one that fits your chosen career path. A few examples of MBA concentrations you might find include business analytics, healthcare administration, and finance. Business analytics typically includes courses in databases, data mining, advanced data analytics, and similar areas of study. Healthcare administration concentrations often include courses on healthcare management, health systems administration, and evidence-based management. Finance concentrations usually include courses on financial markets, advanced financial management, investments, and international finance.
Comparisons of MBA vs Popular Business Master’s Degrees
MBA degrees and business master’s degrees might seem similar, but they offer different learning experiences and training. Overall, MBA degrees are usually designed for individuals who have professional business experience. For example, someone who has worked at a company for a few years might decide to pursue an MBA in order to move up to a leadership role in the company.
Business master’s degrees are typically aimed at individuals who have little or no professional business experience. For example, someone who recently earned a bachelor’s degree in finance might choose to pursue a master’s in finance. In some cases, they may want to specialize in a specific area of business. Both master’s degrees and MBA concentrations offer this option.
MBA vs Master’s in Entrepreneurship
MBA programs provide you with a wide range of training in business skills, including the skills needed to be an entrepreneur. While your classes might not focus specifically on entrepreneurship, you can apply what you learn in your MBA program if you start your own business. A master’s in entrepreneurship offers more specific training on what it takes to be an entrepreneur or an entrepreneurial leader. This might include a strong emphasis on understanding business risks and learning other skills needed for opening and running your own company rather than working for someone else.
MBA vs Master’s in Finance/Accounting
MBA programs typically include classes in finance and accounting, such as financial management. This is an important part of being a leader or manager in a business setting. However, general MBA programs might not provide the in-depth focus needed for a career in finance or accounting. A master’s in finance or accounting focuses on helping students develop skills and learn concepts needed for a career in these fields. Those who want to specialize in finance or accounting for their career can gain the education needed through a master’s in finance or accounting program or an MBA program that offers a concentration in finance.
MBA vs Business Analytics Degree
The growing interest in big data is leading to more demand for those who specialize in business analytics. MBA degree programs might have some courses in business analytics to help students gain a basic understanding of these concepts. General MBA programs typically don’t offer a more in-depth understanding of business analytics, though. A master’s in business analytics provides students with the education and training they need for a successful career in this field. However, MBA programs with a concentration in business analytics are available and can also provide key analytics training. Those who just graduated and haven’t started working full-time yet may want to pursue a master’s in business analytics, while those who are already working full-time might do better earning an MBA with a concentration in business analytics.
MBA vs Master’s in Marketing
MBA degree programs often include classes that teach the basics of marketing, but this is part of an overall business curriculum. Future marketing professionals might be better off learning more advanced marketing concepts and skills from a master’s in marketing. Classes provide a deeper understanding of marketing concepts and teach students the skills needed for a professional marketing career. Those who earn a master’s degree might have additional career options to explore, such as marketing research or global marketing. An MBA program with a marketing concentration could be useful to entrepreneurs or employees in small businesses wanting to increase their knowledge of digital marketing or marketing analytics.
MBA vs Master’s in Management
For those who want to build a career in management, an MBA program can provide training and education in leadership and management skills. In fact, these skills are a core part of traditional MBA programs. Those who have been working professionally for several years might choose this option in order to take on a management role in their company. A master’s in management offers a more focused education on the principles of management and the kinds of skills it requires. Those who just graduated with a bachelor’s degree or have minimal professional experience might choose this type of degree for a management career.
MBA vs Master’s in Healthcare Administration
MBA programs might include classes in healthcare administration, although general MBA classes tend to focus on more general ideas and skills that can be applied across a broad range of industries. A master’s in healthcare administration can provide students with an in-depth education in healthcare administration since coursework is focused on the healthcare industry. While recent graduates might prefer a master’s in healthcare administration before entering the workforce, those with years of professional experience might consider earning an MBA with a concentration in healthcare administration instead. Both an MBA with this concentration and master’s in healthcare administration offer a more advanced and specialized education.
When you have professional experience and want to enhance your career options, an MBA program offers a great opportunity to do so. Please contact The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga Gary W. Rollins College of Business to learn more about our available MBA programs. Our online and flexible learning options give you the opportunity to pursue an MBA with a focus in business analytics, finance, or healthcare administration as well as general MBA studies.