What's the Difference Between Management and Business Administration? | Top Universities

What's the Difference Between Management and Business Administration?

By Laura Bridgestock

Updated August 19, 2019 Updated August 19, 2019

Sponsored by IE Business School

Top business schools often offer both master’s in management (MiM) and master’s in business administration (MBAs). While either degree would give you a solid grounding in most areas of business and boost your earning potential, MBAs and MiMs are designed for different types of candidates at varying stages in their career, so it’s important to understand the differences before you send off your applications.

How much work experience should you have?

The best MBA colleges recruit top candidates looking to supplement existing knowledge and skills, who already have a number of years of work experience on their CV, a string of professional achievements behind them and academic distinctions.

MBA candidates tend to be older than MiM students. For example, at IE Business School, the average MBA student is 30 years old and has around seven years of work experience, while the average MiM student is 23 years old and has around one year of work experience, with ages on the 10-month MiM program ranging between 21 and 25.

In fact, work experience is rarely a deciding factor in the admission criteria of most MiMs, where having more than a year’s work experience on your CV could even disqualify you from admission. The MiM is reserved for fresh graduates looking to fast-track their career.

Of course, if an MiM makes more sense to you at this juncture in your career trajectory, the degree wouldn’t necessarily disqualify you from pursuing an MBA program a few years down the line. One does not necessarily exclude the other, and it’s actually quite common for students to consider doing both. According to a 2017 survey by GMAC, as many as three in four business school candidates with a master’s degree were thinking of applying to an MBA program.

What teaching style should you expect?

MiM programs feature a strong independent-learning component, with classes often held in lecture-halls. Most MBA programs, on the other hand, involve a great deal of group work and discussions and unpicking real life problems and case-studies in small groups of students.

Another difference between the two degrees is that MBAs tend to cover a broader range of business disciplines, while MiM programs will give you an opportunity to specialize in a business area such as marketing or human resources.

Will you be expected to pick a specialization?

MBAs are designed to prepare you for all the issues that may arise in a business that you might be confronted with in a managerial role. But if you are starting a master’s in management this year, you will almost certainly be expected to choose a specialization toward the end of the course.

For example, at IE Business School, the first two semesters are spent learning core modules, such as financial accounting, organizational behaviour, and entrepreneurship, which lay the foundation of management

In the third semester, students are asked to select between five specializations to deepen their knowledge in a specific business area, such as digital business or sales and marketing based on their interests and career goals.

Having specialized in a business area as part of your degree could give you an enormous advantage and even open up opportunities in that field, so it’s really important you start thinking about what career you might be interested in pursuing right away.

If you’re hesitating between specializations, IE Business School offer students the possibility to extend their MiM by a few months to take up a second specialization or spend three months abroad at a partner institution.

The bottom line…

Both MiM programs and MBAs have their unique selling points and target applicants, and both will open up opportunities, but depending on your situation, you may be more suited to one over the other.

This article was originally published in May 2018 . It was last updated in August 2019

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