MSc, MA, MBA: Master in Management degrees

Published: 24 August 2022 | by Thomas Graf

For finding the right management program, understanding the different types of degrees is important. For example, imagine you are interested in a Master in Management (MIM), a Master of Business Administration (MBA), or a specialized course in management such as the Master in Marketing, the Master in Finance, or the Master in Supply Chain Management.

These courses are so-called postgraduate programs. This means that, in general, you need to have successfully graduated in a first academic program - a so-called undergraduate program - and, thus, achieved a Bachelor of Science or a Bachelor of Arts (for instance, the Bachelor of Business Administration or a Bachelor in Economics). Then you either continue directly with a postgraduate program or you start a professional career before you come back to University as a full-time or part-time student later. Then you would achieve the Master of Management degree as your second academic degree.

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Marketing Management degree programs: Master of Science (MSc) and Arts (MA)

Masters of Management can be divided into subgroups such as the Master of Science (MSc), the Master of Arts (MA), or the Master of Business Administration (MBA).

  • The Master of Science (MSc) traditionally is granted for successfully completing a postgraduate program with a science or technical focus.
  • By contrast, the Master of Arts (MA) traditionally refers to disciplines of the humanities such as history or philosophy. In reality today, however, this distinction is not strictly upheld anymore and, in fact, you can find both degree types for postgraduate programs in business and management.
  • While business schools and universities appear to name their programs "Masters of Science" when they require a first degree in business or economics, and "Master of Arts" when the program also targets graduates from other disciplines, even this distinction is not strictly applied. As a consequence, there is no general guideline as for the degree granted and the eligibility of the program. Future students for a Master of Management degree, hence, need to check the respective admissions requirements to find out whether they are eligible or not.

Masters in Management degree programs in a nutshell

Masters in Management programs are usually the Master of Science in Management (MSc) or the Master of Business Administration (MBA) although Master of Arts programs (MA) in management also exist.

  • Master of Science (MSc) in management: These programs are postgraduate studies for people who have recently finished their undergraduate studies and want to enhance their knowledge on a deeper and more scientific level. Often, these Master of Management degree programs target graduates with a first degree in business or economics.
  • Master of Business Administration (MBA): These programs, in contrast, focus on people with a minimum of three years of professional experience (some schools even accept two years) and are more practice-oriented than Master of Science (MSc) programs. The difference between MIM and Master of Business Administration (MBA), however, is not always clear at first glance as both types of Masters are postgraduate management programs.
  • Master of Arts (MA) programs in management or business are similar to Masters of Science in Management; sometimes this Master of Management degree is granted, however, to signal that the program specifically targets graduates from academic disciplines other than business or economics.

Master in Management as a Master of Science (MSc)

Postgraduate studies such as Masters of Science are abbreviated MSc. The Master of Science in Management or the Master of Science of Management are postgraduate programs in general management. This is the type of program that the Financial Times Ranking for Master in Management is about.

These Master of Management degree programs provide their students with a profound education in the field of management. This means that the students receive an academic education with the respective depth of reflection and abstraction that such courses can offer. At the same time the students cover a broad field of management functions. Courses in statistics or in general methods that help you analyze business or management issues from a scientific perspective are included on top of management disciplines such as Marketing, Strategy, or Controlling - or synthesizing subjects such as Strategic Marketing.

In addition, most business schools try to bring their students into contact with local or regional businesses so that they can apply directly what they learn in class. This is an important point as - in contrast for example to Master of Business Administration (MBA) programs - Master in Management students aiming for a Master of Science (MSc) usually do not have any professional experience. These Master of Management degree programs are specially designed for graduates of undergraduate programs (for example, those with a Bachelor ) and not for young professionals or executives.

Since Master in Management students do not have professional experience but need to be attractive to businesses after their graduation with a Master of Science, in-company projects or internships offered by business schools as part of the program mitigate this problem. Indeed, these in-company projects or internships may even provide the Master of Management degree students with a network that they may utilize at the end of their studies, for instance as a job entry platform.

Master of Management degree as a Master of Arts (MA)

Masters of Arts programs have the title "Master of Arts", "MA" or "M.A." As Master of Science programs (MSc) or Master of Business Administration programs (MBA), Masters of Arts are postgraduate programs that can be taken after graduating in an undergraduate program (Bachelor). As the name suggests, programs with the title "Master of Arts" traditionally include liberal arts subjects such as philosophy, history, or literature. Today there are also management studies granting a Master of Arts. To the best of our knowledge there is no superior and definable logic why some schools grant a Master of Science or a Master of Arts for their Management Masters. Both degrees are equally valuable. Some schools such as the Steinbeis University offers a Master of Science in International Management for students with an undergraduate degree in business or economics and a Master of Arts in Management for students from all subjects. But in general this distinction between "of Arts" and "of Science" is not a good indicator for the entry requirements.

Master of Business Administration (MBA)

Masters of Business Administration (MBA) are postgraduate programs in management "of their own". The MBA is the traditional academic offer for management education and the universities answer to requests from business for a systematic and profound qualification for future and current managers based on a standardized title. The standardization for this type of Master of Management degree, actually, is not provided by business schools or universities themselves but by internationally accepted accreditation agencies such as the AACSB, AMBA, or EQUIS where many schools at least require similar admissions methods such as the GMAT. Nevertheless, the MBA from its origins at Harvard in 1908 to the present managed to become THE degree for young professionals, experienced professionals, future executives, executives, and senior executives.

The Master of Business Administration is neither a Master of Science nor of Arts but a Master title of its own. It is often abbreviated as MBA or M.B.A. and in contrast to the Master of Science (MSc) or the Master of Arts (MA) it clearly points to one program only. It is worth remembering that the Master of Science just points to programs rooted in the Sciences or Social Sciences and can mean a Master of Science in Management, a Master of Science in Psychology, or a Master of Science in Biology. The same applies for the Master of Arts (MA) which can refer to a Master of Arts in History, a Master of Arts in Management Studies, or a Master of Arts in Liberal Arts.

Doctor of Business Administration (DBA)

The DBA sounds similar to the MBA but is actually fundamentally different compared to a Master of Management degree. Please read our articles on similarities and differences between the DBA and the MBA to get a better understanding of it.

By Thomas Graf

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FAQ - Frequently asked questions

A MSc degree in Management refers to a Master of Science in Management. These programs are designed for students who already have a Bachelor’s degree and are seeking to further their education in a postgraduate program.

The titles MS and MSc refer to the same degree: a Master of Science. MA degrees refer to the Master of Arts. The difference between these titles is not based on identifiable differences. Some schools have designed their MSc programs for students who have attained a Bachelor of Science (BSc) in a field related to business or economics, while the MA programs are intended for students who have degrees in different fields such as the humanities. However, the exact qualification requirements vary from school to school.

While a MSc refers to a Master of Science that can be gained in a variety of fields including management, the MBA or Master of Business Administration is a postgraduate education degree specifically intended for students in management. It is a title of its own and clearly points to only this one program.