Difference Between an MS and MBA Degree

What’s the difference between a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree and a Master of Science (MS) degree? What degree is best for you?

The field of business has a wealth of disciplines that students can choose to pursue including such areas as organizational leadership, accounting, finance, marketing, international business, business analytics, etc. Identifying and selecting an appropriate degree program is a very personal decision that will come down to your professional career interests and aspirations.

When comparing a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree to a Master of Science (MS) degree one needs to explore the issue of breadth versus depth of the subject matter covered in the degree program.

A person with a Master of Science degree tends to become a subject matter expert within a singular discipline and desires to be recognized as the resident expert in a functional area within an organization. A person with an MBA tends to look at the big picture covering a wide area of functions within an organization.

The approach to the studies may vary significantly. A Master of Science degree guides a student through a substantial, deep exploration of the intricacies of the subject matter whereas an MBA will address a broad range of knowledge content areas across all business functions that are focused on application, limited in depth of singular, subject content coverage.

The MBA is the most globally recognized, academic business credential and still highest volume business degree awarded. That being said, there has been a substantial increase in the number of Master of Science degrees over the last 10 years. The percentage of Master of Science degrees has increased to approximately 20% of all graduate business degrees awarded and continues to increase.[1]

Benefits to Consider [2]

CriteriaMaster of ScienceMBA
Subject Matter ContentDepth over breadthBreadth over depth
Generalist vs. SpecialistSpecialistGeneralist
Career PerspectiveSubject matter expertManager across organization
Subject Matter RigorDeeply explore subjectSkills across many subjects
EducationLectures, labs, case studiesEmphasis on case studies
CommitmentTypically 30-33 creditsTypically 36+ credits

So why a Master of Science in Organizational Leadership instead of an MBA?

It has become increasingly challenging for organizations to operate effectively and improve their value chain, given the increasing rate of change occurring in the business environment driven by constantly improving technology, rapid new product and service development, supply chain globalization, and global economic uncertainties. This is exemplified in the following trends that are driving critical business decisions: [3]

  • There is clear focus on developing the next generation of leaders globally.
  • In today's fast-paced environment, organizations need to adopt a new way of looking at change and become more results-orientated.
  • As businesses struggle to fill critical positions at many levels, companies are putting renewed focus on building capabilities, not just finding them.

Today’s leaders need to be able to adapt and succeed in an ambiguous environment. Leaders need to analyze and develop an organization’s culture based on a highly diverse and global workforce. The ability to understand the dynamics of working with cross-cultural, self-directed, and cross-function teams will be paramount to both a leader’s and organization’s success.

Leaders and team members will be required to look at the organization and make decisions from a systems perspective. Learning at the individual, team, and organizational levels will be a constant activity. Leaders will be required to effectively communicate and inspire their team to commit to a shared organizational vision. Leaders, regardless of the level in the organizational, will need to be able to coach, mentor and drive effective organizational change as change will be the sole constant in every organization.

Organizations are flattening their organizational structures creating a critical need to develop leaders at every level within an organization. The Master of Science in Organizational Leadership at Charter Oak State College was chartered and is uniquely positioned to develop, provide, and enhance the requisite practical skill and tool sets that leaders in organizations so desperately need.

Your time to influence and lead has come. Our Master of Science in Organizational Leadership and Master of Science in Health Care Administration at Charter Oak State College will help you achieve that goal.

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