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What are the Differences Between an MBA and a MSM?

If you are looking for a way to get ahead in business and make yourself more appealing as a candidate for various positions, expanding your education may be a key to reaching your goals. Both a Master of Science in Management and a Master of Business Administration provide a way for individuals of all ages to grow personally and professionally. These two degrees have specific audiences they target. Understanding their differences will help you choose the right one for your goals.

What Is a Master of Science in Management (MSM)?

A Master of Science in Management works well for those students with little work history. It provides an introductory education into the business world.  This is the preferred degree for students who have recently finished their undergraduate and have not yet gained professional work experience. With a 50% growth in applications in 2016, it’s no secret the MSM is growing in popularity. An MSM teaches:

  • Functional business skills
  • Analytic capabilities
  • Management theory and practice
  • Theory and general business knowledge

This degree sets the stage for future leadership and upper-level roles in the business sector.

What Is a Master of Business Administration (MBA)?

The Master of Business Administration covers leadership, ethics, and a large number of business topics. This degree works well for those professionals who are already in their careers and need to add to their skill set. It covers:

  • Business ethics
  • Leadership
  • Data-informed decision making
  • Organizational innovation
  • Critical thinking

Many MBA programs expect students to implement what they learn directly in their work environments.

Admissions Criteria

For most schools, getting into an MBA program requires more stringent admissions criteria than an MSM. Many require the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) prior to acceptance, especially if the program is in high-demand with a limited enrollment. If the school doesn’t require the GMAT, it may have its own on-campus version of the test. In contrast, only 40% of MSM programs require this type of admissions test.

An MBA usually requires several years of working in business, while most MSM programs do not. The length of experience required varies from one school to the next, but those with no business background, such as recent graduates, should pursue the MSM instead of the MBA.

Finally, academic background plays a role in admissions. While an MBA focuses on work history over an undergraduate degree, a MSM may be of interest to those with business or economics undergraduate degrees. Some also accept those with a background in social sciences or psychology, while a few accept people from all academia. Having a degree in a business or related field increases the likelihood of being accepted into an MSM program.

Reputation of the Degree

Both the MBA and MSM give their graduates excellent training in the world of business. However, they have different reputations.

The MBA is considered a traditional advanced business degree in the United States. When hiring managers or recruiters see the MBA, they recognize it and what the graduate brings to the table. In fact, some positions require the applicant to hold an MBA to be considered.

MSMs are not as well-known, but it is steadily increasing. They make the applicant more appealing for an entry-level role, but they may not have the gravitas of an MBA and therefore are less qualified for advanced positions. As these professionals gather work experience in the field, this should offset any issues for advancement, as they have demonstrated both business and academic expertise by that time.

Bottom line: Because the two degrees cater to different groups, they shouldn’t be viewed as competitive. Students considering MBA vs. MSM should consider their career goals, as well as their current educational background and work experience, and choose the one that fits.

Benefits and Drawbacks of an MSM

The MSM carries several benefits. For recent graduates or young professionals that lack job experience, it makes them more qualified for new positions. It can make the applicant stand out in a pool of potential new hires and increases the chances of getting an entry-level position. It also provides additional understanding of the theory and practice of management and business.

An MSM is limited in that it does not immediately open the door to higher-level positions. That’s not its purpose. Instead, this program gives inexperienced employees a leg up as they enter a crowded field.

Benefits and Drawbacks of an MBA

MBA programs are widely recognized as the most popular business degree for advancing professionals. Those who have reached a point in their careers that they simply cannot move past with their current academic credentials can give themselves a competitive edge and more opportunities for growth with an MBA.

This program also targets working professionals and, thus, often offers an online learning option so students can continue working while pursuing their degrees.

While an MBA education does focus on standard business skills, like accounting, finance, operations, and marketing, it does not provide as much specialized knowledge as other degrees. Some hiring managers in specific industries may be looking for this in future employees. In addition, many MBA programs are higher in cost and take longer to complete when compared to a MSM.

Since MBA programs are geared toward those with work experience, new graduates can’t typically apply. They may require real-world work experience because a professional work environment gives students a place to apply the skills they’re learning in the degree. However, at ACU Online, students that don’t have enough work experience are still able to apply if they have a satisfactory GMAT or GRE score.

If you are looking for an online Christian MBA program or MSM program, consider Abilene Christian University. This diverse, welcoming school offers both undergraduate and graduate degrees in a flexible online environment. Learn more about our online MBA and online MSM options today.

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