Different Masters Degrees in Business: MBA, MA, MS
The Master of Business Administration (MBA) remains a popular choice for business-related studies, however there are many reasons why students may opt for a Master of Arts (MA) or Master of Science (MS) in business instead.
MBAs typically expose students to a general overview of business, with a larger range of compulsory courses designed to equip them to a wide range of business-related situations and roles. In contrast, an MA or MSc in Business tends to provide scope for gaining deeper skills and insights. These programs tend to focus on precise academic and theoretical models and may help students become experts in a specific field (e.g. accountant).
MA programs tend to be offered in the humanities, while MS programs frequently have STEM-infused curricula. However, the nuances of each program are set by individual business schools, so take note of different program requirements and read course lists before you move forward.
MBA | Master of Business Administration
The Master of Business Administration (MBA) is an internationally-recognized professional masters degree. It is designed to develop in graduates the skills required for careers in business and management.
The bulk of MBA course credits are devoted to compulsory courses in core subjects such as:
- Operations Management
- Managerial Economics
- Business Strategy
- Human Resource Management
- Managerial Finance
- Corporate Ethics
After these “core” courses are completed, students could focus their MBA through a concentration (E.g. healthcare administration, economic crime, finance) which allows them to follow their own personal or professional interests. Some schools require that MBA candidates complete an internship at a company or organization, which may lead to concrete job opportunities after the program.
MS | Master of Science in Business
A Master of Science (MS) is an academic degree with a technical focus in a business discipline. Students may be exposed to several business functional areas as they hone critical and creative thinking skills.
The aim of an MS is to help students learn to leverage organizational knowledge and navigate a data-driven business setting. Course plans tend to be holistic and cover a chosen subject from all angles while also covering
- Management Strategy
- Data Analysis
This could ready participants to identify effective strategies, improve managerial decisions and drive overall business growth. A choice of emphasis often provides fuel for research and further professional development and expertise. Students often need to complete a thesis, and may, depending on the subject, need to complete an internship.
We asked Co-founder Andrew Haller, of software design consultancy AirDev, about what he learned from his MBA program
My MBA truly showed me what “networking” – the effective, powerful kind – means. I learned how to network and prospect new clients, building my two businesses from the ground up. As the saying goes, people will forget all about what you say and do but they will remember how you made them feel.
MA | Master of Arts in Business
A Master of Arts (MA) in business is a graduate degree that often melds current theory, academic research and applied practice to help students lead effectively. Students often take a wide range of courses that could cover
- Principles of Administrative Leadership
- Community Engagement
Throughout their program, MA students might have the chance to develop practical skills through written and oral assignments and through the hands-on crafting of strategic or marketing plans. Often, a field-based practicum and a culminating capstone project are required.
Types of Master’s Degrees in Business
For students who have a plan for their career trajectory, a masters degree in business could focus exclusively on one particular area of interest right from the start. What do you want to earn an MBA or masters degree in? Below is a brief synopsis of some popular categories that fall under business masters degrees.
Popular Masters in Business Graduate Programs
Accounting master’s programs such as the Master of Accounting (MAcc) often prepare students to become a Certified Public Accountant. An accounting major in an MBA program might cover financial accounting and in-depth economic principles.
Business Administration & Management
A Master of Business Administration (MBA) or Master of Management (MM) could ready students to plan, organize, direct and take control of the various functions and processes of a firm or private enterprise. Concentration areas bring into focus specific tools and techniques that may be useful for executives and managers of certain departments (like human resources or budgeting).
Business Information Systems
A Masters in Business Analytics is planned-out for those who want to use data mining to advance their organization’s strategic priorities. In some schools, students may earn a Business Intelligence Certificate, certified by SAS in tandem with their MS degree.
eCommerce & Social Media
A Master of Science in e-Business Management could help students cultivate the skills needed to assess, oversee and improve the operational functions of an online enterprise. Students may learn to apply the concepts of systems integration to the design and development of products and services through market analysis.
A Masters in Economics (MS, MA, MEcon) program could refine skills in economic reasoning. Students could learn how to construct and apply economic models through the use of econometrics and other quantitative techniques.
A masters or MBA in entrepreneurship may cover the finer points of taking an idea from concept to market. Students may learn how to gage opportunity and risk, create a business plan, and raise capital.
Environment & Agriculture
Masters degrees in Agriculture cover the management of farmland, forestry, fisheries and livestock. They often focus on a wide range of topics, from agribusiness and green technology to sustainability and zoology.
A MS in Finance or MBA Finance could help students develop a capacity to manage a person or organization’s assets and maximize their growth. Banking and financial planning are two concentration areas.
Healthcare Administration & Management
A Master of Healthcare Administration (MHA), MS or MBA Healthcare all have at heart the skills and knowledge required to manage facilities, operations and services in healthcare settings. Key areas could include health informatics, health law, clinical issues and financial management.
A Masters or MBA in hospitality management could explore the specific leadership needed in the hotel industry, tourism and businesses, such as hotels, spas, restaurants, casinos, and resorts. Students might gain a solid grasp of how to maximize profits, market their brand, and improve guest experience.
Human Resources Management
A Masters or MBA in Human Resource Management (HRM) could help students understand what it takes to hire, fire, assess and train personnel. Course topics could cover workplace behavior and performance metrics.
A Masters in International Business could help students understand the global marketplace and how to achieve and maintain a competitive edge. Concepts such as diversity, economics and conflict resolution may add onto courses in leadership and strategy.
Marketing & Advertising
Marketing masters programs often help students make sense of market research, consumer behavior and digital media platforms. MS programs may cover technical subjects such as search engine optimization and analytics, while MBA marketing programs may help students develop as managers.
A Masters in Nonprofit Administration may cover the principles of fundraising and reaching budget goals in organizations and foundations dedicated to service or charity. Students may develop keen leadership skills and expertise in management.
Masters in Operations Management programs could help students learn the ins and outs of logistics, supply chain management and effective use of resources. A focus in construction management could help students plan, direct and oversee building projects with an eye to negotiate contracts, control budget and understand the regulatory environment.
A Masters in Organizational Leadership often provides a forum for students to develop as leaders who are able to manage projects and motivate teams. A less person-centric focus in this field is a Masters in Risk Management which could emphasize the calculations needed to make savvy decisions about opportunities.
A Master of Science in Project Management (MSPM) may help refine technical skills as participants study up-to-date and innovative management strategies. Students could learn how to initiate, plan, execute, control, and close a project –on time and on budget–using the latest project management software and technology.
Public Administration & Policy
A Master of Public Administration is similar to an MBA but focuses on the public and non-profit sectors. Students could learn how to manage projects and programs that benefit the community as they hone skills in policy analysis and ethical leadership.
Real Estate & Property Management
A Masters in Property Management could help students learn how to buy and sell property as well as how to manage real estate. Courses could include basic business, finance, accounting and real estate theory.
A MS or MBA in sports management is all about the business of sports. Students could refine skills in management, coaching, sports analytics, marketing and more.
A Masters in Technology Management could ready students with the skills to effectively lead in both technology and business sectors. Often, course plans focus on management, strategy, ethics, and industry trends such as information security.
|Metro Area||Annual Mean Salary||Employment|
|New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA||$136,040||67,110|
|Florence-Muscle Shoals, AL||$115,720||30|
|St. George, UT||$110,680||40|
Bureau of Labor Statistics
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, many chief executives have an MBA or masters degree in an area related to their work