MBA vs Master’s: What’s the Right Program for You?

Nov. 23, 2020

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Both a master’s in business administration (MBA) and a specialized master’s degree are worthwhile additions to your education and professional life, but which one is best for you? And, what’s the difference between the two? When comparing the two options, it is important to first think through the job opportunities and fields you are interested in, as these decisions will better help you choose a program.


Is an MBA the Same as a Master’s Degree?

The difference between an MBA and a master’s is simply that an MBA is a master’s degree that focuses on the fundamentals of business as well as how to lead and manage a company or business. An MBA is designed to help you build your skills and knowledge in foundational areas such as finance, marketing, accounting, management, communication and leadership.

Learn more about MBA program offerings at the Eller College of Management at the University of Arizona.

Other master’s degrees allow you to specialize in an area of choice, whether that be finance, management information systems, healthcare management or another business field.


What Jobs Can I Get with an MBA or Specialized Master’s?

While specific job titles may vary, careers for MBA graduates generally fall into the management realm of business—managing teams and budgets, overseeing projects and analyzing progress and success.

Here are examples of entry level jobs for MBA graduates:

  • Project Manager
  • Product Manager
  • Product Specialist
  • Business Consultant
  • Financial Analyst
  • Project Analyst
  • Information Technology (IT) Manager
  • Marketing Manager
  • Human Resources Manager
  • Finance Manager

As for a specialized master’s program, there are numerous job titles you can pursue, depending on the degree received.

Master of Accounting/Master of Science in Accounting

  • Senior Accountant
  • Accountant
  • Financial Controller
  • Accounting Manager
  • Senior Financial Analyst

Master of Science in Business Analytics

  • Data Analyst
  • Data Scientist
  • Business Intelligence Analyst
  • Senior Data Analyst
  • Analytics Consultant

Master of Science in Cybersecurity

  • Cyber Security Analyst
  • Security Engineer
  • Information Security Analyst
  • Security Analyst
  • Software Engineer

Master of Science in Management Information Systems

  • Software Engineer
  • Data Analyst
  • IT Manager
  • Senior Software Engineer
  • IT Business Analyst

Master of Science in Econometrics and Quantitative Economics

  • Data Scientist
  • Economist
  • Data Analyst
  • Risk Management Control Director
  • Financial Analyst

Master of Science in Entrepreneurship

  • Business Development Manager
  • Supply Chain Manager
  • Program Manager
  • Product Manager
  • IT Consultant

Master of Science in Finance

  • Financial Analyst
  • Finance Manager
  • Investment Analyst
  • Data Analyst
  • Portfolio Manager

Master of Healthcare Management

  • Practice Manager
  • Healthcare Consultant
  • Health Information Management Director
  • Performance Improvement Director
  • Program Coordinator

Master of Science in Marketing

  • Marketing Manager
  • Digital Marketing Manager
  • Marketing Specialist
  • Market Analyst
  • Marketing Coordinator

Average MBA and Master’s Degree Salaries

Average salary varies depending on the degree that you have, but can also be affected by your job title, location, company and amount of experience. Here are the current average salaries, according to Payscale:

Master of Business Administration
Master of Accounting
Master of Science in Accounting
Master of Science in Business Analytics
Master of Science in Cybersecurity
Master of Science in Management Information Systems

$88,783

$79,226

$86,896

$73,197

$86,441

$88,269

Master's of Economics
Master of Science in Entrepreneurship
Master of Science in Finance
Master of Healthcare Management
Master of Science in Marketing

$61,020

$69,211

$79,150

$70,135

$67,426


Should I Pursue an MBA or a Master’s?

There is no right answer as to which program to pursue! Each program is designed to develop your professional skills in a different way. In order to choose the right program for you, weigh whether you want to specialize in a specific field or gain general management skills. If you are leaning towards specializing—find a master’s program that allows you to dive deep into that field. If you want to build your business management skills, an MBA may be a great option for you.

Eller offers all of the programs mentioned above, as well as a number of online graduate business degree options so that you can choose the format that best fits your schedule and lifestyle. Whether you’re looking to boost your current career or find new professional development opportunities, pursuing a master’s program will be a catalyst to your future.  

Learn more about the different kinds of MBA programs and concentrations here.

Learn more about specific master’s specializations comparisons here.


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