MS or MBA? How Do I Choose?

You’ve made the decision to attend business school—congratulations! You might be wondering what type of degree you should pursue, a Master’s in Business Administration or a Master’s of Science? At Simon, students can only apply to one program at a time, so it’s important to be well-informed about which program will be the best fit. There are several factors to consider, but ultimately, the answer may depend on where you currently are in your career and where you envision your career taking you.

Work experience
Although the Admissions Committee will consider both the quantity and quality of your experience, generally, the amount of work experience you have will be the best guide for choosing a master’s degree. If you are planning to get your master’s immediately after you finish your undergraduate degree, or if you have less than two years of work experience, you’re an ideal candidate for a specialized MS program. At Simon, you can pursue a Master’s of Science in Accountancy, Business Analytics, Finance, or Marketing Analytics.

If you have two or more years of full-time work experience, consider an MBA. Simon’s full-time MBA program allows you to focus your studies and customize your elective classes to pursue a career in fields such as financial services, consumer products, technology, and consulting, among others.

Use your work experience and your career goals to guide your choice between an MS and an MBA.

Your work experience and career goals will guide you when choosing between an MS and an MBA.

Program length
You can earn your MS from Simon after one year (generally 10 months) of full-time study, while the full-time MBA takes two academic years to complete. This means those in the MBA program typically pursue internships between the first and second year, while those in the MS programs will seek full-time positions at the conclusion of the program.

Course content
The purpose of an MBA is to build business knowledge that leverages prior work experience. This includes an understanding of a variety of subjects that shape a future manager’s ability to successfully manage his or her own enterprise, or to serve in a managerial role in a company. Your MBA studies will focus on core material in areas such as finance and economics, marketing, management, communication, and analysis. You may also choose elective courses that can be oriented toward one or more areas of interest and will allow you to customize your degree. In the MS programs, the academic coursework is concentrated in a specific field. For example, students in the Master’s of Finance program will take mostly finance coursework, Master’s of Accountancy students will take mostly accounting coursework, et cetera.

Post-graduate employment
The program that you select will also inform your post-graduation full-time position. Pursuing internship and entry level positions that require in-depth industry knowledge are most suited for those who have gone directly from their undergraduate study to the MS programs. Examples of companies that have hired Simon MS talent include Accenture, Deloitte, JP Morgan Chase & Co., Nielsen, PricewaterhouseCoopers, and The Walt Disney Company, among many others.

For individuals pursuing the MBA, it is often used as a tool to assist with a career change, or to advance in the mid-management level of a targeted company. Many students seek employment from the company that sponsored their summer internship or use that experience as leverage with their targeted industry. Companies that have hired Simon MBA talent include Amazon, Bain & Company, Facebook, Johnson & Johnson, and MorganStanley, among many others.

Could I get my MS and then my MBA?
Absolutely. An MS degree from Simon is a powerful tool for career success. However, as your career develops, educational goals may change and we offer the option to apply to Simon’s world-renowned MBA program within one to five years after the Simon MS degree. Accepted students receive credit for a majority of the courses completed from their Simon MS studies and typically finish the MBA program with one additional year of full-time study. Part-time study options are also available.

Regardless of the master’s degree you pursue, we believe you will see great returns on your business school investment. We hope you choose to invest in your future and your career at Simon!

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