MBA versus MScChen Wan Lim
Deciding on a Master degree could be a daunting task as there are many various Master degrees available in the market. The two most common Master degrees are; the Master in Business Administration or commonly called an MBA and a Master of Science degree or an MSc. A Master degree is basically a second academic degree after the completion of a Bachelor degree. There are also other various Master degrees offered by many various institutions such as Master of Art degree (MA) and Master of Philosophy degree (MPhil). We shall however, discuss the two most common Master degree available here in Malaysia which are MBA and MSc – perhaps just to clarify, an MBA does not necessarily involve business administration and an MSc does not necessarily involve science as the names suggest. These postgraduate degrees explore subject matters with a higher level of knowledge and deeper depth of understanding and research within a particular field of study. The main differences between the two aforementioned degrees are the eligibility, focus, duration, conduct and cost. MBA and MSc commonly focus around accounting, finance, marketing, human resource and management.
Before we look at the differences between an MBA and an MSc, perhaps it would be better to explore the similarities first. For starters, both Master degrees require potential candidates to have a certain level of proficiency in language especially in English as most Master degrees here are taught with. Candidates are then expected to meet the required GMAT or GRE scores along with sufficient undergraduate academic qualifications. Prior working experience is optional.
In terms of costs, MBA fees are generally higher than that of an MSc. This would however, differ vastly between various institutions. There are no particular reasons why an MBA is more expensive than an MSc but one thing for sure is that an MBA course typically takes longer to complete.
An MSc from UK universities will typically take one year or a full 12 months to complete whereas a full time MBA programme typically ranges from 18-24 months. Part-time MBA courses could stretch in excess of three years.
MBAs generally require candidates to have a certain amount of work experience; typically between two to five years depending on the awarding institution. The reason why an MBA requires prior working experience is because the programme was originally designed for middle level managers seeking higher qualifications to be promoted to a higher position. Compared with an MSc, candidates often do not need prior working experiences as the course is designed for candidates intending to have deeper academic understanding within a particular field. To put it simply, an MBA focuses on practical knowledge whereas an MSc focuses on technical knowledge.
MBA is more inclined to be taught using real world case studies, requiring candidates to openly discuss a particular scenario. Active participation from candidates is required where current working and managerial experiences could prove useful in the discussions. In contrast, an MSc is conducted in quite a similar fashion to an undergraduate course where teaching methods such as lectures, tutorials, presentations and group projects are employed. Although case studies are also often used in MSc courses, these case studies are discussed using theories and examples instead.
Because most MBA candidates are already expected to have prior working experiences, the career progression for an MBA graduate tends to be steeper as upon completion of the course, MBA graduates are typically able to command higher salaries, higher positions or even transition to another field of vocation as experienced hires. MSc graduates on the other hand without prior working experiences are still expected to ‘go through the mill’ starting off in entry level positions.
In essence, potential candidates must be able to establish an end goal before committing to either an MBA or an MSc as the financial and time commitments are heavy. A professional postgraduate advisor such as STUDYMASTERS.MY could advise potential candidates on the best path.