Master’s and Master of Business Administration (MBA) qualifications are postgraduate degrees which both offer a range of attractive benefits and study options, such as part-time and online learning. However, deciding which one is best for you is sometimes not so clear. This guide will help you to choose the ideal degree to suit your career goals.

MBA degrees

MBAs are a business and managerial degree programme which are the traditional qualification of choice for those seeking a high-flying position as a manager or director. The study experience is usually centred on case studies that highlight real-world examples of business issues or problems that students then analyse and discuss collaboratively with their tutors and fellow students.

The programme itself generally provides a broad overview of business, with the compulsory modules designed to prepare students for a wide range of business-related roles. However, many MBAs allow students to select a specialisation such as oil & gas, marketing, finance, or project management, in order to contextualise all their learning within their chosen industry sector. Most MBA programmes culminate in an extended project, allowing you to showcase your knowledge and skills in an industry-related assignment.

MBA programmes gain a lot of their value from the professional experience that students bring to the course, which means that candidates are usually required to possess at least two or three years of professional experience.

Although formats vary from programme to programme, MBAs often take two years to complete, culminating in an extended project, allowing you to showcase your knowledge and skills in an industry-standard assignment. Since they are targeted at experienced professionals seeking high-powered and lucrative leadership positions, the tuition fees are usually higher than other postgraduate degrees.

Master’s degrees

Master’s degrees are aimed at talented individuals who are still in the early stages of their career, or have just graduated with their bachelor’s degree. Because professional experience is not usually required, they tend to attract younger professionals seeking to launch their careers, as well as older students looking to take their career to the next level.

Lectures, tutorials, and presentations lie at the heart of the learning experience, and although small group work can also be a feature of some programmes, the emphasis is often on individual or independent learning.

Typically lasting for a duration of 18 months, master’s degree programmes are respected all around the world as certification of the expert skills and in-depth knowledge that are sought by leading employers. They also allow students to select a specialism from a wide range of areas, all of which are built around a rigorous academic framework designed to help students become experts within a particular field of study. Indeed, due their specialist nature, master’s degrees are split into two main classifications depending on their subject: Master of Arts (MA) or Master of Science (MSc).

Which choice is right for you?

Your choice of degree depends on two critical factors. First of all, your goals and aims. If you have a certain career or specialism in mind, then make sure you find a postgraduate programme that caters to these specific needs. In some circumstances, a master’s degree might have significant advantages over the more generic, business-focused approach of many MBA programmes. However, to rise to the top of certain industries, the advanced business acumen of an MBA may be an advantage.

It’s worth remembering that those lacking the work experience needed to enrol on an MBA may be able to study for a foundation qualification that can act as a direct gateway to the programme. Similarly, if you have a lot of professional experience, you may be eligible for an exemption, even if you don’t have the formal qualifications that are usually required.

Ultimately, only you can decide which option to go for, but every school and institution we partner with to bring you great online degrees have a dedicated team of educational consultants on hand to help you find the right programme.
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