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After earning a bachelor’s degree, those wanting to continue with their studies will encounter a split road. You can continue your education by pursuing an MBA, or you could choose some other type of specialized master’s degree. If you are not sure which path to take, then we will help you make a decision by comparing the two programs in a number of categories, from the program formats they offer to the costs of pursuing each one. Our aim is to find the program that best fits your schedule and career goals so that you can succeed in whatever field you choose.

However, before we can start comparing these two degree programs, we must first understand what each program is. So, what does MBA stand for, what is a master’s degree, where do their similarities and differences lie? Read on to find all that out.

What Is an MBA?

A Master of Business Administration (MBA) is a postgraduate degree that focuses on business administration and management.

MBA programs help the students develop various skills that they need in the business world, like ethical decision-making, risk management, strategic analysis and research, interpersonal and people management skills, as well as it provides more general and business-related knowledge and experience. These skills are developed through the many subjects MBA programs encompass, such as accounting, business communication, applied statistics, finance, management, marketing, and various others.

What Is a Master’s Degree?

A master’s degree is another option for people who want to further their knowledge in a specific subject after completing their undergraduate studies.

Depending on the subject they focus most on, there are many types of master’s degrees, such as:

  • Master of Arts (MA)
  • Master of Science (MS)
  • Master of Research (MRes)
  • Master of Studies (MSt)
  • Master of Engineering (MEng)
  • Master of Architecture (M.Arch)


Some of them indicate that they are one program only, whereas others include different programs, for instance: Master of Fine Arts, Master of Arts in Political Science, Master of Science in Nursing, or Finance, Computer Science, and many others.

MBA is also a type of master’s degree. But the difference between MS and MBA, for example, would be their status. Generally, MBA is discussed as a title of its own. All the other types are considered disciplines of “master’s degree” as an umbrella term. This separation comes due to the many differences that we will discuss in the following paragraphs.

MBA vs. Master’s Degree: Format

When discussing MBA vs. master’s, it is important to take into consideration the formats they offer. Generally, both MBA and master’s are full-time programs. However, to accommodate students who work or have other responsibilities, they also offer part-time programs.

For a part-time master’s degree program, you would study the same course as a full-time program but at a slower pace.

Whereas if you want to tackle MBA part-time, then you would pursue an Executive Master of Business Association (EMBA) degree program. EMBA programs are slower-paced and specifically designed for employed people who have at least a few years of work experience in their field of study.

MBA vs. Master’s Degree: Duration


Furthermore, a difference between MBA and a master’s is the time it takes to complete them.

The duration of your MBA studies depends on the program format you choose. A standard full-time MBA takes two years to complete. However, in case you decide to pursue the aforementioned EMBA program, then it will obviously take longer. You can also choose to complete an accelerated MBA, and that would typically take only 11 to 16 months.

On the other hand, it can take one to three years to earn a master’s degree as a full-time student. The exact duration of the program depends on the institute you choose, its curriculum, and the format. Some schools have unique ways of arranging their academic schedule, and some even have specific requirements that can affect the duration of the program, such as a thesis at the end of the program or internships throughout the semesters.

MBA vs. Master’s Degree: Career Goals

When choosing between an MBA or a master’s degree program, the goals you have for your career life are an important factor to consider.

MBA programs are specifically designed for people who have some work experience but want to further their knowledge in the field and take on bigger responsibilities. Whereas for a master’s degree, it is normal for students to pursue it with no work experience right after they have finished their undergraduate studies.

If your goal is to develop leadership skills and partake in hands-on studying, MBA programs can offer you that. Whereas, if you would prefer a more theoretical approach and focus on a single matter in more depth, then pursuing a master’s degree in a particular subject might be a wiser choice.

MBA vs. Master’s Degree: Method of Teaching


Most MBA programs combine a few lectures with what is known as “The Case Study Method.” According to this method, in most classes, the students are divided into teams, and they must work together to solve a business problem that the professor presents to them. This way, the class is centered around the students and activities that help develop real-life business leadership skills.

The teaching style of a particular master’s degree program is similar to the traditional method used in undergraduate studies. Here the primary form of delivering information is through lectures, combined with some research activities.

The methods of teaching you will encounter oftentimes depend on the professor and the course content. Still, one factor that makes the difference in whichever degree program you pick is independent studying. As a graduate student, you must get used to working by yourself, with little to no supervision by your instructors, in preparation for the responsibilities you will have to undertake as a professional in your field.

MBA vs. Master’s Degree: Costs

Tuition fees vary depending on the institution and field of study. The tuition fees for other master’s degrees are more affordable compared to MBA programs.

The tuition fee for a standard two-year MBA degree can surpass $60,000. And if you plan to attend one of the ivy league business schools, then the fees can increase up to $100,000.

On the other hand, according to Peterson’s, the average cost for master’s degree programs is almost $30,000 in public universities and around $40,000 in private ones.

In addition to the tuition fees, other costs include housing, food, books, and supplies. However, there are many financial aid opportunities and scholarship programs that can help ease this financial burden.

Although it is not an easy choice to pick between an MBA and a master’s- try to establish what your career goals are, what you expect from your studies, and what you are capable of handling right now. That, in combination with the information we provided, will hopefully make it easier for you to make the right decision for your future.



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