M.S. in Business Administration vs. MBA

Professionals pursue graduate business to increase their earning potential or pursue senior-level roles within their organizations. However, there are a variety of advanced education options to consider. Two common paths for graduate business education have a significant amount of overlap, making it difficult to know which advanced degree offers the best path to achieving your career goals. Read below to learn more about the key differences between Master of Business Administration and M.S. in Business Administration programs.

Difference Between MBA and M.S. in Business Administration

A Master of Business Administration (MBA) is a general business graduate program, while an M.S. in Business Administration (MSBA) focuses more on a specific area of business or a certain industry. Both types of degrees cover topics essential to business management, but they vary in their eligibility requirements, admissions processes, career prospects and curriculum design.

Related content: The Difference between a Master’s in Finance and an MBA

Master of Science in Business Administration vs. MBA – Key Factors

M.S. in Business Administration (MSBA)

  • Ideal for those who already have an MBA or wish to pursue a highly specific focus area
  • Specialized area of study that includes development of technical research skills
  • Opportunity to focus on a certain industry
  • Typical MSBA cohort sizes are smaller than their MBA counterparts

Master of Business Administration (MBA)

  • Offers long-term flexibility for varied business careers
  • Concentrations allow for focused areas of study
  • Admissions requirements may include a certain amount of professional work experience
  • Maximizes graduate earning potential

MBA – Master of Business Administration

Master of Business Administration (MBA) graduates can find employment in a variety of industries and organizations. MBA programs prioritizes leadership development and typically emphasizes practical application of business knowledge over theoretical or academic exploration.
mba vs msba
While many assume that full-time MBA programs take two years to complete, there are accelerated MBA degrees that require less time. For example, students can complete Lynn University’s online Master of Business Administration in as little as one year.

Many MBA programs allow students to choose a specialization to personalize their experience and degree. If you value the long-term flexibility afforded by an MBA but also have a specific area of interest, an MBA with a relevant specialization offers a balance of broadly applicable business knowledge and specialized expertise.

Lynn University’s Online MBA, for example, offers 10 different specializations including finance, healthcare management, and sports management. Students may decide their MBA concentration upon enrolling or wait to choose a specialization until they’re further along in the program.

M.S. in Business Administration

Graduate students can develop more extensive expertise in a business subject by pursuing an M.S. in Business Administration. MSBA programs offer opportunities to gain research experience and technical knowledge for more specialized employment within a given field.

These programs typically involve between one and two years of study, and many require completion of a master’s thesis. If you have an area of research in mind, this path may prove especially rewarding, as many programs will offer opportunities to conduct advanced research in your area of interest. Individuals may choose to pursue their MSBA while already working in management or organizational leadership.

Professionals who already have an MBA may benefit from also completing an MSBA degree. According to Graduate Management Admission Council’s 2022 Report, obtaining any kind of graduate business education helps job candidates reach higher career levels, especially those at more junior levels.

Master of Science in Business Administration vs. MBA Salary Outlook

The National Association of College and Employers 2023 report shows higher average starting salaries ($80,305) for those holding any variety of business master’s degree compared to professionals with just a bachelor’s ($62,069). While all disciplines within business education offered higher starting salaries when compared to the undergraduate level, MBA graduates, on average, earned the highest starting salary ($93,000 (PayScale)) of any discipline reported.

About the Lynn University Online MBA

The Lynn University online MBA prepares individuals with the managerial and decision-making skills they need to be successful in today’s business world, with up to 11 specialization offerings available to customize the degree. The program offers two paths for students to earn their degree: our Standard Online MBA and our 10-Month Online MBA. No matter their path, all online MBA students get to know their professors and classmates thanks to small class sizes. Lynn is an Apple® Distinguished School for innovation, leadership, and educational excellence. No GMAT or GRE is required for admission.

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