Masters in Management vs. MBA. What's the Difference?

A degree may open the door to a variety of opportunities and diverse career paths. The degree programs offered at AIU will not necessarily lead to the featured careers. This collection of articles is intended to help inform and guide you through the process of determining which level of degree and types of certifications align with your desired career path.

Once you’ve decided to pursue an advanced business degree, you will then have a number of choices to consider, from the type of university you attend to the type degree program you will complete. Even if you know you want to pursue a master's in business management, there is more than one type of degree available in that arena. For this reason, one question to consider when looking into postgraduate business degrees is whether it's more advantageous to pursue a Master of Business Administration degree (MBA) or a Master in Management (MIM).

So how do you know whether to pursue a master's in management versus an MBA program? These are two different types of degrees and they each offer a slightly different curriculum designed for students looking at different career paths.

Is a Master's in Management the Same as an MBA Degree?

A master's in management and a master’s in business are both postgraduate degrees designed to help students prepare for advancement in business-related fields. Within the last decade, the MBA has become the most popular graduate degree in the US according the Department of Education, and this could be in part because it's designed for students who are returning to school with at least some professional experience.1

However, demand for graduates of MIM programs has also increased rapidly, especially among start-ups and family-owned business. Hiring of MIM grads increased approximately 15% from 2016 to 2017.2

An MBA is a professional degree that provides students with the opportunity to develop existing management skills through an efficient, focused course of study. A master's in management, on the other hand, is typically designed for students who often come directly from an undergraduate program with little to no professional experience. MIM programs are usually specialized in business areas like accounting or marketing for people in the start of their careers, whereas MBAs are typically for students looking to advance a career already in progress.3

However, it is important to note again that these degrees are not interchangeable and one is not a prerequisite for the other. Students do not typically earn an MIM in the beginning of their careers only to earn an MBA later. It is one or the other.

What Type of Management Role Do You Want to Pursue?

If you're interested in pursuing a specific type of management position or a manager role within a particular industry, you may consider an MBA with a management specialization so you keep a focus on management, but earn an MBA degree. MBA programs are designed to further develop specific skills relevant to a particular field or position; therefore you may have the option to take specialized courses. For example, AIU offers specializations in healthcare management, operations management, project management, HR management, and information technology management in addition to a standard master's in business management.

Getting Your MBA or Master's in Management Online

Do you plan to continue to work full-time in your current position while you pursue your advanced degree? While it's certainly possible to get an online master's in management, you may want to consider an accelerated online MBA program if this is the case. If you're having trouble deciding between two or more otherwise comparable programs, check to see how long it may take to complete each one with your work schedule and other responsibilities. Additionally, consider looking into whether classes are offered through an adaptive learning platform that cater course materials to your specific knowledge and skill level. Are features like a mobile learning app and virtual classrooms with 24-hour technical support offered? At AIU, all of these features are available to students.

For more information about AIU’s MBA in management specialization, or to speak with someone about your options, contact an AIU advisor today.

1. Byrne, John A, "Why the MBA Has Become the Most Popular Master's Degree in the U.S." Fortune. http://fortune.com/2014/05/31/mba-popular-masters-degree/ (Retrieved October 23, 2018).
2. Graduate Management Admission Council. "Corporate Recruiters Survey Report 2017." Fortune. https://www.gmac.com/~/media/Files/gmac/Research/employment-outlook/2017-gmac-corporate-recruiters-web-release.pdf (Retrieved October 23, 2018). Conditions in your area may vary.
3. Graf, Thomas. "The Key Differences Between a Master in Management and an MBA." MBA.com. https://www.mba.com/mbas-and-business-masters/articles/management-programs-and-careers/the-differences-between-masters-in-management-and-mbas (Retrieved October 23, 2018).

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