Specialist Master's programme or Generalist Master's programme?

School selection
  • Posted by kartnite on 07/07/11 6:06am

    I need your opinion to help me sort out my dilemma.

    For starters, I am not too aware of how prospects are, post graduate study in the UK... I'd like to have your thoughts on what could be a better option between a specialist master's degree and a more general degree.

    A little about myself: I have close to three years' experience in the the field of ICT. I have had roles as a technical marketing person and my most recent profile was that of a consultant analyst. In the near future, I am looking at roles in the field of management consultancy.

    Having applied to a select A-list schools, I am now left with two options:

    A specialised master's degree in Business Analytics & Consulting (@Warwick Business School)

    And a more general master's programme in Management (@UCL or Strathclyde)

    The "problem" here is I am interested in both these courses, which is why I figured that the best way to decide would be in knowing which one of these programmes would stand me in good stead in the long run. Furthermore, both these programmes lead to roles in management consultancy.

    As I see it, Warwick's programme is something one cannot learn on-the-job. Furthermore Warwick has a business school associated with it, unlike UCL.

    But UCL is located in London - top_university_in_a_top_city is one heck of a combination when it comes to networking, career development, etc. And I believe UCL's programme has connections with London Business School - LBS faculty handle this course at UCL.

    Strath is a distant third option only because it gives me the option to upgrade the degree to the MBA after three years' post graduate work experience.

    Any suggestions, please..?


    • Posted by Thomas Graf on 07/07/11 4:38pm

      Hi Kartnite,

      thank you for your question. To be honest, I don't think that anyone in this world can give you a serious answer in "what could be a better option between a specialist master's degree and a more general degree" because everything depends... So let's try to narrow down your question a bit.

      First of all, you mention three years of experience in the Information and Communication Technology sector. So you have three years of professional experience? The ususal next step to develop your career in that case would be an MBA.

      Second, in which area have you done your Bachelor degree?

      Next, what do you wanna do in the next five years of your professional life? Do you want to stay in the ICT indusry or do you keep doors open also for other industries? Do you want to become a specialist in a specific area or do you wokr more on the "overview"-level, e.g. as project manager or consultant?

      Next, what benefits will you get with
      (A ) The Warwick Master
      (B ) The UCL Master
      (C ) The Starthclyde Master

      Finaly, Next, what benefits that are important for you will you NOT get with
      (A ) The Warwick Master
      (B ) The UCL Master
      (C ) The Starthclyde Master

      Best wishes

    • Posted by kartnite on 07/07/11 5:10pm

      Hey Thomas,

      Yes, I do have three years' professional experience. But prying deeper, I had graduated during the infamous recession (2008). So... Nearly 40% of the period that I have mentioned above was spent as a trainee.

      It was only after I looked elsewhere for opportunities did I get "actual" corporate experience. That would be around 22 months.

      I am not really interested in an MBA right now, though it is definitely in my "to do" list - which was why I was looking at other options. (for the record, I can always look at an executive MBA later)

      I graduated with a bachelor's degree in technology - electronics and communication engineering.

      Ideally, I would still like to remain in the ICT sector as it would do justice to my qualification - but I am also prepared to widen my scope.

      If you look at my most recent work experience, my profile was that of a consultant analyst. I was working in Bahrain - one of the emerging markets - where I was helping in business development by providing my expertise as a consultant. My responsibilities did include overlooking projects and seeing them to through their successful execution (apart from the obvious design aspects, of course).

      1. Warwick's programme is a specialist course. The reason I may look at one is 'cos now is the time to specialize. But the programme covers a lot of areas and at the end of it, I may only be a "jack of trades". No disrespect to the course, though. It is highly acclaimed! And one never questions Warwick Business School's credentials...

      2. UCL's programme is slightly new and UCL aren't really renowned for business studies (however highly they are rated globally, for other courses). But I have been told that their generalist programme in Management is influence by the London Business School - if you look at the MM programmes at UCL and LBS, you will find a lot of similarity. Furthermore, LBS faculty do handle a couple of modules in UCL's programme. And not to mention: the location. Top_college_in_a_top_city.

      (Sorry if I am sounding "biased" here. Not the intent, trust me. I really am open to suggestions.)

      1. Strathclyde is only a distant third option, purely because of the provision of converting their MBM to the MBA after three-odd years of work experience.

      Hope this gives you an insight to what is occupying my head atm. :S

      Thank you so much for your response, Thomas. Any info/advice that you give will go a long way in helping me.

      Take care.


      • Posted by Thomas Graf on 07/07/11 6:57pm

        Hi Kartnite,

        thank you. Your two key sentences for me are:

        "I am not really interested in an MBA right now."
        "Ideally, I would still like to remain in the ICT sector."

        My impression is that AT THE MOMENT a general management program is not what you are looking for: neither a Master in Management or Business nor an MBA. So, forget about them at least at the moment - as you said, you can do an EMBA later on. This means: Forget about the UCL and the Strathclyde programs that you mentioned.

        You are looking for a specialized Master and most probably a Management Master with a specific focus (in contrast to a general Management program or MIM). Now, I recommend to think about this focus and collect one, two, or three focuses that sound interesting to you, e.g. Masters in IT Management, Masters in Data Management, or Masters in Engineering Management or Management Science or Operations Management.

        • You can use our Search Filter "Program Focus" for this.
        • You can also choose some renowned business schools of your interest - e.g. those that you have researched on already - and screen their specialized Masters portfolio.

        Once you have a list of about:

        • 3 to 5 business schools
        • 3 to 9 specialized Masters
        • in 1, 2, or 3 areas of your interest

        you can contact the schools and confront them with your questions about their Career Placement, their experience with people form your academic, professional, and cultural background etc.

        From my perspective, with this approach you have a decent Road Map to move on (and avoid getting stuck in shadow discussions about general management courses).

        Best wishes

    • Posted by kartnite on 07/07/11 7:42pm

      Management Master with a specific focus.

      Hmmm, yeah - that will probably cater to both my immediate requirements: a degree in management (that should help me up the ranks) and a specialization that is included (so that there is something to rely on - as my forte).

      Will search out.

      But as I do not have time to apply for another school - I guess I might have to study certain verticals auto-didactically.

      To be honest, I can't believe I did not look at something like that... Guess I was too busy filtering out universities!

      Cannot thank you enough, Thomas. :-)

      One more question, please: knowing that UK is going to do away with PSW visas in 2012, these degrees I have short-listed have a global appeal too, right..? I do remember reading in one of your other posts that students could try and apply in a country like - say - Germany, where the economy is on the rise again.

      Of course, I do know that at the end of the day - when it comes to jobs and interviews - it boils down to the individual. But still - I shouldn't have a problem with employment, right? Just looking for your opinion...

      Vielen dank! :)

      • Posted by Thomas Graf on 07/07/11 8:30pm

        Hi Kartnite,

        to be honest, I don't know much about these Visas. However, I can bring you into contact with a business school representative from the UK and one from Germany if you like.

        Among the sponsoring partners of this website are some interesting schools, e.g. Manchester, Warwick, and Hult from the UK and KLU, HHL, WHU, and EBS from Germany.

        Just let me know if you want an answer from one or two of these schools and which schools in particular - then I will try to find someone form their career office who can anser.

        Best wishes

    • Posted by kartnite on 07/07/11 9:27pm

      Hmmm, ok!

      Will do a little more ground work and shoot you a PM. Hope that is all right with you.

      Thanks a lot for your input, Thomas.

      If there is anyway you'd like me to help in contributing to your forum - experience in applications, etc. - please let me know and I shall try my best.

      Have a wonderful day.


      • Posted by Thomas Graf on 07/07/11 9:57pm

        You contributed already a lot by your questions :)

        • Posted by Thomas Graf on 07/13/11 3:41am

          By the way: A big help for us would be if you

          • tell other people about our platform
          • tell the business schools that you are in contact with about us

          Thanks in advance :)