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MBA vs MS – What’s the right choice for you?

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Written by  Rachit Agrawal, MBA

Reviewed by  Priyanka Bhargava, MBA - Marketing and HR

Published on Thu, June 8, 2023 11:22 AM   Updated on Thu, June 8, 2023 11:22 AM   13 mins read

Feeling torn between pursuing an MBA vs MS degree? Don’t worry; we’ve got you covered! 

Choosing the perfect graduate program can be a major decision, and it’s only natural to want to ensure it aligns with your goals.

Whether you’re leaning towards a Master of Business Administration (MBA) or a Master of Science (MS) degree, both options offer a comprehensive business education at the graduate level.

Here’s the catch: an MBA gives you a panoramic view of how businesses operate across departments. At the same time, an MS delves deep into a specific business area, offering a specialised understanding. 

But that’s not all! 

We’ll dive into the significant differences between these degrees, explore exciting job prospects and career opportunities, and even uncover the pay scale for both programs overseas. So, join us as we unravel the burning question: What is the right choice for you: An MBA or an MS?

Get ready for a captivating journey of discovery!

What is an MBA Degree?

What is an MBA Degree
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MBA stands for Master of Business Administration and is a prestigious postgraduate degree that equips you with a solid foundation in business and management. 

From accounting to finance, marketing to operations, you’ll gain a comprehensive understanding of how businesses work. Accreditation bodies ensure top-notch education quality, giving you confidence in the value of your degree. 

With various program options, including full-time, part-time, and executive, tailored to your career stage and goals, an MBA sets you up for success. 

Whether you’re a recent graduate or a seasoned professional, seize the opportunity to enhance your knowledge, skills, and network for a thriving business career.

Eligibility criteria for an MBA program

Eligibility criteria for an MBA program
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  • Completion of a bachelor’s degree or its equivalent
  • Work experience ranging from 2 to 3 years
  • Resume outlining professional background and achievements
  • Statement of Purpose explaining the applicant’s goals and reasons for pursuing further education
  • Letter of Recommendation from a credible source highlighting the applicant’s abilities and qualities
  • Documentation of English language proficiency through tests such as IELTS or TOEFL
  • Submission of GMAT scores to assess quantitative, verbal, and analytical abilities

Pros of Pursuing an MBA program

Pros of Pursuing an MBA program
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Choosing to pursue an MBA from a renowned business school offers numerous advantages in today’s competitive world.

1. Developing Management skills

  • Learn how to create, promote, and sell products or services effectively.
  • Understand how to maintain a positive image of the company and manage its reputation.
  • Acquire the skills to keep the company’s finances healthy and make informed financial decisions.
  • Learn how to gather and interpret industry data to make informed business decisions.
  • Gain insights into hiring and motivating the right people to drive organisational success.
  • Develop the ability to create effective hierarchies and structures within an organisation to foster growth and productivity.
  • Enhance your decision-making skills to make the right choices at the right time for the company’s benefit.

2. Build an extensive business network

During your MBA journey, you’ll have incredible networking opportunities as you engage closely with professors, fellow students, and seasoned professionals. By connecting with these individuals, you’ll gain valuable industry insights and experience and develop a deeper understanding of the dynamic business landscape.

3. Increased Career Opportunities and Salary

Having an MBA degree opens up a world of exciting career opportunities with impressive earning potential. Individuals with an MBA can expect higher average incomes compared to those with an MS degree. 

Popular career paths for MBA graduates include management analyst, market research analyst, HR manager, top executive, business operations manager, and more.

4. Average Salaries for MBA Graduates

  • In the US: Approximately 84,650 EUR/year
  • In European countries: Around 100,000 EUR/year

With the increased earning potential, you can recover your MBA education investment within two to three years.

Average Two-Year MBA Costs at Top Business Schools:

  • In the US: Approximately 101,200 EUR/year
  • In Europe: Ranging from 9,800 to 35,600 EUR/year

5. Expands your Professional Horizons

A vast majority of MBA graduates aspire to pursue entrepreneurial ventures or secure managerial positions in renowned organisations globally. With an MBA degree, you gain access to a plethora of opportunities for higher-level administrative roles. 

More than 50% of MBA graduates worldwide hold esteemed positions as senior managers or board directors. These positions not only offer higher salaries but also come with greater responsibilities, propelling your professional growth.

6. Boost Your Entrepreneurial Abilities

If you dream of becoming a successful business owner, an MBA program is the perfect choice. An MBA equips you with invaluable knowledge and skills in business practices, enabling you to start a new venture or enhance existing ones. 

Many individuals who aspire to entrepreneurship choose an MBA to gain the necessary expertise and insights. If launching your own business is on your mind, pursuing an MBA is an ideal path to turn your aspirations into reality.

What is an MS Degree?

What is an MS Degree
Source: Canva

The M.S. degree, which stands for Master of Science, is a comprehensive two-year program offered by universities in various fields such as science, engineering, and medicine. While traditionally associated with these disciplines, universities may also extend the M.S. degree to encompass subjects within the humanities and social sciences, depending on their conventions.

An M.S. degree program focuses on advanced studies in a specific subject or field and typically involves the completion of a thesis or research project. Some universities now offer the option to substitute the thesis with a research project. 

Prior work experience is often not a prerequisite for enrolling in an M.S. degree program compared to other graduate programs.

Eligibility criteria for an MS degree

Eligibility criteria for an MS degree
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  • A bachelor’s degree in a relevant field of study.
  • Many universities require the submission of GRE scores as part of the admission process.
  • While work experience is not always mandatory, it is often preferred.
  • Proficiency in the English language is assessed through tests such as IELTS or TOEFL.
  • A letter of recommendation from a credible source is required.
  • A comprehensive resume outlining the applicant’s professional background and achievements.
  • A statement of purpose explaining the applicant’s goals and motivations for pursuing further education.

Pros of pursuing an MS program

Pros of pursuing an MS program
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In the current competitive landscape, a master’s degree is becoming increasingly crucial. By the year 2024, an estimated 18% of job positions will require a master’s degree, as reported by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. Earning a master’s degree sets you apart from the competition and positions you as a valuable asset in the workforce.

1. Gain Specialised Expertise

A graduate degree provides invaluable specialised knowledge in a particular domain. By pursuing a master’s degree, you demonstrate your commitment to enhancing your industry experience and becoming more competitive in a specific field. 

Through focused study and deep exploration of a specific area, a master’s degree equips you with the expertise needed to excel and thrive in your chosen field.

2. Career growth

A master’s degree offers a clear path to senior positions, fostering career advancement. Employers highly value the advantages it brings and frequently promote its pursuit among their staff. 

By acquiring a master’s degree, you open up excellent career prospects, unlocking access to higher-level roles. It represents a strategic investment in your professional development, leading to a prosperous and gratifying career trajectory.

3. Unleash Your Earning Potential

A master’s degree can significantly enhance your earning potential, with an average salary of $68,064 per year, representing a 35 percent increase compared to the average salary of $50,360 for those with a bachelor’s degree.

4. Continuous Learning

Pursuing a master’s degree provides a pathway for lifelong learning, enabling you to develop research, writing, and analysis skills. With a master’s degree, you can enhance your problem-solving abilities and effectively manage complex projects while expanding your knowledge.

5. Building a Professional Network

Whether you pursue online courses or engage in full-time studies, you can connect with classmates from diverse backgrounds, providing access to a vast network of successful professionals.

Difference between MS and MBA Degree

Difference between MS and MBA Degree
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An MS degree, also known as a Master of Science, is a postgraduate program that provides specialised and advanced studies in a specific scientific field. In contrast, an MBA degree is a professional postgraduate program that imparts students technical, managerial, and leadership skills.

FocusBusiness and management education.Specialised studies in a specific field.
Career PathsCorporate management, consulting, entrepreneurship, business-related fields.Specialised career paths in engineering, technology, healthcare, finance, etc.
AdmissionWork experience is often required.Work experience is not always required.
RequirementsConsider professional achievements, leadership potential, interpersonal skills.Emphasise academic qualifications, relevant coursework, research experience
CurriculumBroad range of business disciplines.Specialised courses within a specific field.
DegreeProfessional postgraduate degree.Postgraduate degree focusing on science.

Factors to Keep in Mind While Deciding Between an MBA & MS?

Factors to Keep in Mind While Deciding Between an MBA & MS
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When it comes to choosing between an MBA and an MS degree, considering the following factors can be helpful:

1. Return on Investment (ROI)

MBA and MS degrees offer increased pay and professional growth opportunities. It’s essential to consider the financial investment required for each degree and weigh the potential return in terms of career advancement and salary prospects. 

MBA programs have been shown to provide a significant return on investment within a few years after graduation.

2. Career Goals

An MBA degree provides a strong business and management principles foundation. It allows specialisation in specific sectors or functions such as finance, operations, or human resources. 

If your goal is to develop a well-rounded business profile and have relevant work experience in your field of interest, an MBA may be the right choice. However, if you aim to gain technical expertise in a specific field before entering the industry, an MS degree would be more suitable.

3. Specialisation & Generalization

Determine whether you prefer an MBA or an MS for extensive specialisation in a specific sector. Consider your skills, interests, and the level of technical expertise needed in the field you want to enter.

4. Work Experience

While MS programmes are often pursued right after earning an undergraduate degree, MBA programmes frequently favour applicants with significant professional experience. Consider how your professional experience level may affect your eligibility for admission to the desired programme.

5. Networking Opportunities

Through alumni networks, guest speakers, and internships, MBA programmes frequently offer a wealth of networking opportunities. An MBA can offer a more extensive network if networking is essential for your job progress.

Value of MS vs MBA Programs in Different Countries

Value of MS vs MBA Programs in Different Countries
Source: Canva
  • In the USA, an MS program is generally more valuable than an MBA for individuals with less experience. In comparison, those with more experience and higher budgets opt for an MBA program due to its comprehensive course structure and extensive career prospects.
  • In the UK, MBA and MS programs offer equal career prospects as they provide practical knowledge and insights in a shorter duration.
  • In Australia, MBA programs are generally preferred over MS programs due to their potential to significantly boost careers and the recognition they receive from industries both within Australia and internationally.
  • In Germany, MS programs, particularly in fields such as Mechanical Engineering, Mechatronics, Automobile, and Biotechnology, offer good career options with ample research facilities.
  • In Canada, both MS and MBA programs are considered good options due to lower tuition fees for international students, longer work visa durations, and a secure job market with ample opportunities.

Whether you choose an MS or MBA program in Sweden, the country’s highly-ranked education system and student-driven approach provide creative and challenging coursework options.

Bottom Line

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It’s essential to recognise that MS and MBA programs offer distinct pathways to enhanced career opportunities. While they share the goal of advancement, they differ significantly in other aspects. An MS degree provides specialised knowledge in a specific area, allowing you to deepen your expertise. It’s a great option to quickly acquire new skills and gain professional certification in a specific field.

On the other hand, an MBA program focuses on developing broad managerial skills. It is designed for individuals who aspire to work in organisational management roles. Unlike an MS degree, an MBA is suitable for individuals from diverse academic and professional backgrounds who desire career flexibility, managerial responsibilities, or even starting their own business.

When choosing between an MBA and an MS, it’s crucial to understand your career path and future aspirations clearly. Once you clearly envision your career goals, the choice should not be difficult!

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Frequently Asked Questions

1. Is MS easier than MBA?

There is no direct comparison between the difficulty of an MBA and a master’s degree, as the suitability of each degree depends on the individual’s aptitude and circumstances. However, if you have prior professional work experience, an MBA degree may be easier to grasp than a master’s degree.

2. Can we do both MS and MBA together?

To be awarded both the MS and MBA degrees, students must complete both programs simultaneously. Students who wish to combine the Full-Time MBA Cohort or Professional MBA Evening Cohort program with an MS Degree will only apply to the MS Program once they have already been admitted to the MBA Program.

3. Can you have two MS degrees?

Earning two master’s degrees is a viable option and offers numerous benefits. It allows individuals to delve into multiple academic fields, expand their qualifications for positions with greater responsibilities and opportunities, and enhance their competitiveness for higher-paying job roles.

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About the Author & Expert


Rachit Agrawal

Author • MBA • 20 Years

Rachit believes in the power of education and has studied from the top institutes of IIIT Allahabad, IIM Calcutta, and Francois Rabelias in France. He has worked as Software Developer with Microsoft and Adobe. Post his MBA, he worked with the world's # 1 consulting firm, The Boston Consulting Group across multiple geographies US, South-East Asia and Europe.


Priyanka Bhargava

Expert • MBA - Marketing and HR • 13+ Years

Priyanka possesses more than 13 years of extensive experience. Having pursued a Master's in International Business from a reputed university abroad, she has first-hand insight into the entire gamut of the study abroad admissions process. She has collaborated extensively with all categories of study abroad aspirants be it for Undergrad, Master’s (technical and non-technical), MBA, MPH and PhD. She boasts of an impeccable university placement record, including top-notch global universities such as Stanford, UPenn, UCLA, UC Berkeley, UCSD, Cambridge, and several others. She has an overall perspective of the admissions process of countries such as the USA, Canada, UK, Ireland, Singapore, Hong Kong, European Union.

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