A guide to the different types of Master’s Degrees in Business
We all know that education is important. On a personal level, it helps us to improve our skills and knowledge and gives us better prospects in terms of employment and financial security. It’s also linked to longer life expectancy and healthier lifestyles. In terms of benefits to society, education boosts a country’s economy, promotes equality and civic involvement, and reduces crime rates. So, if you've been considering going back to college to gain a graduate degree, there are plenty of reasons why that's a great idea.
For many people who already have a bachelor’s degree, studying for a master's degree is the next logical step in your academic career. What’s often less clear is which subject to gain the qualification in. Sometimes the answer is obvious, for example if you work in a field with a specific career path that you wish to follow. However, at other times the choice is more nebulous, coming down to personal preference and future goals.
If you’re thinking about going to graduate school but are unsure exactly which subject to take, one great area to consider is business. This field is very versatile, and the skills you’ll learn are highly transferable. From an MBA to a business analytics degree, there are many different possibilities within the field, many of which are open to all students regardless of the subject their first degree is in.
Here’s a quick guide to some of the options available to help you decide which is the right one for you.
Why study business?
Before going into the specific niche subjects, let’s consider business more generally and why it's a good area to train in. Business is a field that’s relevant to almost every job and every industry, meaning that the knowledge you gain from studying it will likely be applicable in whatever career you go on to have.
Many of the skills which you will hone on a business analytics degree, MBA, or management master’s will be the sort of transferable talents that employers love. For example, you can expect to work on your communication, both in verbal and written form, as well as presentation, research and leadership skills. There’s also a strong focus on teamwork, problem-solving, and critical thinking, all of which are useful in all spheres of life. As with any master's course, a business program will enable you to work on valuable soft skills such as time management, motivation, and organization.
One of the areas a business course can be most helpful in is networking. At college you'll meet many interesting people studying alongside you, from a variety of backgrounds and industries. Having a network of like-minded professionals can be extremely beneficial to your future career, and also makes the experience itself more enjoyable.
As you can see, studying for a master's in business helps you to stand out from the crowd. It demonstrates a dedication and commitment to your career, helps you to access specialized roles, and trains you in highly valuable, sought-after skills. Business is also a field in which you can earn a high salary and enjoy a wealth of perks, so it is a great choice for ambitious and driven people.
Different types of master's degrees in business
If this has convinced you of the merits of studying for a business degree, the next step is to start looking at the different types of program available. This will help you narrow down which would be the best choice for you. Below is an overview of the main types of courses that you can study. Of course, it's impossible to cover them all here, so it's worth doing your own research too – especially if there's a very specific, niche field that you're interested in. Business is a sphere that is changing all the time, so there are always new opportunities to explore.
One of the first things to think about is whether you want to study a general program or a specialized one. General programs tend to cover all the fundamentals of business, giving you a broad overview of the different operations and how they function together. Specialized programs on the other hand, such as a master's in entrepreneurship or a business analytics degree, provide a deep dive into a specific area. Neither option is objectively better than the other, and the right option for you will depend on factors such as your previous experience and qualifications, your personal passions, and your future career aspirations.
Another thing to consider is how you would like to study. Most programs these days can be done on either a full-time or part-time basis, either on-campus or online. A part-time degree can be easier to fit around work and other commitments, but will take longer to complete. Similarly, an online course offers much more flexibility in terms of when and where you learn, but for some people it misses out an important social aspect that you get when attending college in person.
One of the most well-known business degrees available is the MBA, or master of business administration. This is a generalist program which aims to educate students in a broad business curriculum, and has a very prestigious reputation. MBAs are intended to transform you into an inspiring and effective leader in whatever industry you choose to work in. For those who are already advanced in their field, an executive MBA designed for people with considerable work experience might be more appropriate.
Compared to a program with a narrower focus, such as a business analytics degree, you can expect to cover a wide variety of modules on an MBA. These include topics such as economics, accounting, finance, marketing, organizational behavior, innovation, human resources, entrepreneurship, strategy and much, much more. The program will likely be made up of a mixture of both compulsory and elective modules, giving you some degree of freedom to tailor the course to your specific interests.
Doing an MBA can be extremely advantageous for your career. It helps you develop a wide range of valuable skills and knowledge, offers plenty of networking opportunities, and opens doors to a staggering number of jobs in different industries. It teaches you to be adaptable and confident working in an ever-changing environment. While studying you can expect to complete group project work as well as individual projects, attend seminars, and perhaps also have the chance for real-world business immersion.
Master of Science
For students who are hoping for a more specialized study experience, a master of science in a business field, such as a business analytics degree, might be preferable. This allows you to really focus on the area that interests you most and is best suited to your experience and existing qualifications. It is also ideal for people who know exactly what career path they wish to follow, and want to get highly trained in one specific sphere.
In comparison to master of arts courses (see below), master of science courses tend to be more technical in nature. They often focus on areas linked with mathematics, statistics, computing, and other similar fields. This doesn't necessarily mean you have to have a science-related qualification already, but it is worth keeping in mind when it comes to choosing a degree that suits your strengths.
There are a great variety of master of science business courses to pick between. The following are just a few examples to give you a better idea of what's out there and inspire you to find out more.
A business analytics degree focuses on data and how to use it in order to make better, evidence-based decisions in any company. You’ll learn how to analyze and interpret data through the use of statistical techniques, data visualizing tools, and powerful technologies. Some of the topics you can expect to cover include machine learning, data warehousing, data mining, data modeling, and lots of different types of analytics. The program is ideal for those who wish to go on to a role such as data specialist, business modeler, or various kinds of analyst positions.
A management degree is perfectly suited to those who want to learn how to motivate others, develop strategies, and make effective decisions. You can expect to study modules such as organizational behavior, strategic management, business strategy, managing finance, and innovation management. It’s great if you are hoping to progress to a managerial role in any industry.
Finance is a key part of business, and there are several different master of science courses you can take in this field. They tend to cover core finance theories and models, aiming to prepare you for a career in areas such as investment banking, asset management and consultancy. Modules may include financial econometrics, corporate finance, hedge fund strategies, wealth management, and private equity. Some programs can focus more specifically on issues such as accounting, investment, risk management, or financial technology.
One exciting new area you can focus on is entrepreneurship. This is ideal for people who want to focus on innovativeness and start their own business. You’ll learn how to conduct rapid prototyping, pitch ideas and raise investor finance, all with an emphasis on experimentation and collaboration. Some possible modules you could study include design thinking, intellectual property, venture capital, product development, and technology entrepreneurship.
Depending on the exact career you want, there are many other specialized subjects that may be more appropriate for you. Unlike a business analytics degree or similar programs, there are courses that are only relevant in certain specific fields, such as international health management. Some of the other topics you can study include programs focusing on the impact of climate change and sustainability on business, degrees that are centered around marketing, global business specialties, and much more. If there is a niche area you are particularly keen to focus on, do some research and see what you can find. You might be pleasantly surprised!
Master of Arts
Master of arts business programs tend to be more focused on liberal arts-related subjects such as policy, rather than being heavily statistical or computing-based like a business analytics degree. This means they are particularly suited to those who have a bachelor’s degree in an arts field. Some of the areas these types of courses focus on include:
- Business communication – looking at the sorts of communication strategies that are used in the business field, and focusing on modules such as business writing, group communication, strategies for business presentations, and global communication
- International business – looking at global business issues from the perspective of international relations, and focusing on modules such as sustainability, managing across cultures, global networks, international economics, and international entrepreneurship
- Media – looking at media organizations and digital media technologies, and focusing on modules such as marketing, media production, and globalization
Hopefully this overview has shown you that the world of business master's degrees is much broader than you might initially have thought. The above list is only a fraction of the types of courses that are available, and there’s much more to discover. Before you get carried away with the idea though, there are some points worth thinking about.
Firstly, studying for one of these programs can be expensive. This is more relevant to MBAs than a business analytics degree for example, but still worth taking into account. The good thing about studying business however, is that the investment generally pays off in terms of the increased salary and promotion prospects it brings. There may also be financial support available for you, for example, from your employer. Studying part-time while working can also ease the financial burden.
Secondly, studying for a master's in any field is a big commitment in terms of time and effort. Before you enroll, make sure you have enough of both to dedicate to the task. Don’t worry though, because your college will have plenty of support services available to help you throughout your studies. When you've got that certificate for your business analytics degree in your hand, you'll know that it was all worth it!