Master's Vs MBA

Masters vs MBA: How Do I Decide?

February 12, 2021 | Read Time: 6.5 Minutes

By Brianna Radicioni

Ready to pursue an advanced business degree, but don’t know which option is right for you? Here, we’ll help you understand the differences between specialized masters degree vs MBA programs. We'll also help you to compare such programs as:  

  • MBA vs Masters in Entrepreneurship 
  • MBA vs Masters in Finance  
  • MBA vs Business Analytics 
  • MBA vs Masters in Marketing  

Key takeaway: Deciding which program is best for you, masters vs MBA, usually depends on how many years of professional experience you have, how specialized you wish to be in your career, or if you wish to have the flexibility to change career paths and apply your newfound skills and expertise across a variety of industries.

Why get an MBA?

Regardless of the program, says U.S. News & World Report, investing in a graduate business education can be a worthwhile pursuit, “yielding strong returns in knowledge, contacts with classmates and alumni—who may become investors or collaborators—and easier access to resources and capital.”

Business Masters vs MBA Degree

How do you decide between a business masters vs MBA? It depends on how many years of professional experience you have since earning your undergraduate degree.

You might be wondering, what is an MBA for? The most generalized of all advanced business options, an MBA degree offers a comprehensive education in business administration. As a result, an MBA requires taking classes in all business disciplines. 

In that case, what is a Master’s degree? Masters program are typically designed for those just starting out in their career. They may help graduates earn additional qualifications before searching for a full-time job opportunity. Masters programs also are better suited for candidates who want to hone in on a certain specialty or topic area. 

You don’t have to decide between a masters or MBA right now. It’s absolutely possible, and common, to pursue both types of degrees.  

Some graduate students jump into a masters degree to gain an advantage when entering the workforce, and then after a few years of professional experience, pursue an MBA to transition to a leadership role or venture out on their own.

Masters vs MBA salary—let's talk about it. Is one option better than the other? That depends on several factors. According to the Graduate Management Admission Council's Alumni Perspective Survey, business school alumni report that, on average, it takes less than four years to recoup the cost of their education, and then some. Learn about the latest Master in Finance forcasting, including about the best paid finance jobs.  

While specialized business masters program alumni report slightly faster ROI times than MBA alumni, it's entirely dependent on an individual's personal situation (cost of education, time it takes to complete the degree, and current economic conditions).

Babson MBA: Full-time and part-time programs. The full-time program includes 12- and 21-month options and requires 5+ years of professional experience. The part-time program is self-paced, including an online option, and requires five to 10 years of experience.

MBA vs Masters in Entrepreneurship

Entrepreneurial MBA programs are often a top choice for established professionals who are ready to pursue a new idea or to make a bold career move. According to Best Colleges, MBA programs often help students master the managerial, leadership, and critical-thinking skills needed to run a business.  

Unlike an MBA, or even an MBA in Leadership, a leadership masters program in entrepreneurship is focused primarily on the student’s development as an entrepreneurial leader, not just an entrepreneur. Learn more about the constant innovations happening within the Babson MBA program.  

Entrepreneurial leaders are uniquely equipped to take action, solve problems, and create value—no matter the industry, type of organization, or their position. This is because these types of leaders have been developed as strong risk managers, and have learned how to navigate ambiguity.  

Babson MSEL: Babson's entrepreneurial leadership program is like a Masters in Entrepreneurship, but better. Offering hands-on experience in launching a venture or transformation project, students graduate with the skills of a true entrepreneurial thinker. This offering is designed for students right out of college, without the three to five years of work experience many graduate programs require. It’s a full-time, nine-month program.

MBA vs Masters in Finance

Looking to set yourself apart as a finance professional? A Masters of finance degree helps you accelerate your expertise in financial modeling techniques, coding languages, and communicating financial data effectively.   

While MBA graduates find career opportunities in various functions, including marketing, consulting, and operations, most Masters in finance graduates jump into financial services sectors or become finance consultants at major consulting firms. According to Piyush Ranjan, founder of admissions consultancy Management Masters, these advanced finance graduates end up with strong fundamentals in finance-related fields, instead of developing a general understanding of all business areas, as a graduate with an MBA would.  

After just a couple of semesters, students graduating with a masters in finance typically command strong salaries relative to their early-career peers. Payscale lists the average annual pay for a new Master of finance graduate at $85,000.  

When deciding between an MBA vs Master of Finance, the real question is: how specialized do you want your education to be? If you attended business school for your undergraduate degree but are seeking a career in finance, a Masters of finance may be the best next step. If you feel that you could still benefit from a more holistic business degree, then you could pursue an MBA and find a program that also offers finance concentrations and other ways to personalize your degree.

Babson Master of Finance: Full-time, nine- or 16-month options, designed for students with one to three years of professional experience. And, at Babson, 100% of 2022 graduates from the Master of Science in Finance program had accepted a job offer within six months of graduation. 

Babson's Finance MBA Concentration allows you to give your MBA a focus, one particularly geared toward careers in investments or corporate finance.  

Babson's MBA in Quantitative Finance STEM Concentration places heavy focus on programming and financial modeling, helping MBA students develop the skills needed to analyze financial markets.

MBA vs Business Analytics Degree

The demand for analytical experts—those who are able to convert analytics into practical insights and viable business solutions—is higher than ever. The influence of big data on business decision making is now a must-have rather than nice to have.  

With that in mind, an advanced MBA in data analytics is now a high-demand, high-return option.  

With respect to salary and career progress, LinkedIn ranked data science as the most promising job in America in 2019. The median base salary is listed at $130,000, and the year-over-year growth of job openings in this space is up 56%.  

When choosing between an MBA vs Business Analytics degree, you must decide just how much you wish to set yourself apart via specialty, and whether you're hoping to jump into an advanced degree before a full-time career or after a few years of professional experience.

Babson STEM Master's in Business Analytics: Full-time, nine- or 16-month options, designed for students with three or fewer years of experience. This program, known as the MSBA, trains future business leaders on state-of-the-art business analytics tools and techniques, and entrepreneurial thinking and acting. Together, these skills equip students to navigate complex business problems and create innovative solutions using data analytics. 

Babson's MBA in Business Analytics Concentration is another great option for those a little further along in their career, looking to gain new skills needed to make data-driven decisions.​​ 

Babson's MBA Business Analytics STEM Concentration is similarly designed to offer MBA candidates customization in business analytics, with a focus on machine learning, programming, and technical training.

MBA vs Masters in Marketing

Both an MBA and a Masters in Marketing relate to and include the study of marketing, but depending on the program, students will experience different approaches to education and structure.  

In an MBA program, marketing will just be one piece of a full core curriculum, also likely to include entrepreneurship, finance, organizational behavior, business analytics, operations and information management, and strategy.  
According to Grad School Hub, a Masters in Marketing, or an MBA in digital marketing, will focus primarily on studying customers and potential markets in order to better understand issues of demand, supply, and global trade. If you were to pursue this type of program, you could choose to specialize in global marketing, social media marketing, or marketing research, for example.  

According to, there's little to no difference between the average salary of someone with an MBA vs Masters in Marketing.

Babson's MBA in Marketing Concentration gives MBA students the tools and frameworks to create, communicate, and deliver value in any marketing role.

Masters vs MBA: Take Next Steps

Still deciding between a Masters or MBA? Here are a few simple next steps to help you in the process: 

  1. Get familar with different graduate school academic programs, including full-time, part-time, and hybrid programs.
  2. Use a comparison tool, like this one from Babson, which helps you filter by format, location, duration, and degree.
  3. Attend business school events, especially  those with admissions. 
  4. Speak with an admissions counselor.
  5. Learn more about the community and network you'd be joining. At Babson, graduates gain a global network of more than 44,000 entrepreneurial leaders from 128 countries.
Babson Graduate School of Business Admissions Information

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About the Author

Brianna DiPietro Radicioni is a digital marketing and communications professional who has worked closely with large consumer and B2B brands, nonprofit organizations, startups, and thought leaders to develop and deliver strategic communications and media strategy. She is a proud Babson College alumna.

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