MSBA versus MBA: What's the Difference?

Oct. 14, 2021

Eller Business Blog

A Master’s of Business Administration (MBA) and a Master of Science in Business Analytics (MSBA) can easily be confused, given how similar their acronyms are. While both are intended to help you expand your business knowledge, there are some differences that set each program apart. Here is some helpful information to help you distinguish between the two programs and select the right one for your goals and needs. 

1. What is an MBA Degree?  

MBA programs are designed to give students a general idea of how business works; the tools and knowledge gained in an MBA can be applied to numerous industries. An MBA is designed for individuals who already have a bachelor’s degree; some professional experience is generally required. Students review the problems facing real businesses today and develop the skills to lead organizations through those challenges. While most full-time MBA programs take around two years to complete, MBA’s are offered in a variety of formats and timelines to fit your personal and professional schedules.  

Learn more about the MBA formats offered at the Eller College of Management.  

2. What is an MSBA Degree?  

 An MSBA program generally takes around one year to complete and is focused on helping students to develop analytical skills, data management and statistical expertise, all within the realm of business. MSBA graduates are equipped with the skills needed to make data-driven decisions for businesses and organizations. The curriculum includes a blend of technical, business and professional development courses. While helpful, work experience is not required for admission into an MSBA program. 

Learn more about the MSBA program at the Eller College of Management. 

3. What is the Difference Between an MBA/MSBA Degree?  

An MBA is focused on the overall management of businesses, organizations and projects, while an MSBA is more technical and focuses on how to harness the power of data to make business decisions. In addition to the technical skills needed to run a business, MBA students also develop their soft skills, including problem solving, teamwork and communication. 

At the Eller College of Management, our MSBA program is built on the foundation of our top-five MIS program, which helps students to understand the intersection of people, technology and organizations.  

An MSBA program can take two to three semesters to complete, while a full-time MBA program takes around four semesters. 

4. What can you do with each degree? (career outcomes, average salaries)  

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 

Here are examples of entry level jobs for MSBA graduates: 

  • Data Analyst 

  • Data Scientist 

  • Business Intelligence Analyst 

  • Senior Data Analyst 

  • Analytics Consultant 

Average salary varies can be affected by your job title, location, company and amount of experience. Here are the current average salaries, according to Payscale:





5. What are the Degree Requirements for each?  

Degree requirements for MBA and MSBA programs vary per school, so be sure to review the admissions requirements for programs you are interested in. 

MBA and MSBA programs may have the following degree requirements: 

  • An undergraduate degree from a regionally accredited college or university (domestic students) or a U.S.-comparable bachelor's degree (international students)

  • GMAT or GRE scores  

  • TOEFL/IELTS score (this is a proof of English proficiency requirement for international applicants born in a country where English is not the official language) 

  • Official transcript from each university, college or community college attended 

  • Statement of Purpose (Blog post: How to Write a Statement of Purpose

  • Letters of Recommendation  

  • Relevant Application Forms (provided by program) 

6. Which degree is right for you? 

There is no right answer as to which program to pursue! Both programs are 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 data and analytics or gain general management skills. If you are leaning towards specializing you may want to pursue an MSBA. If you want to build your business management skills, an MBA may be a great option for you. 

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. 

Learn more about the MSBA program. 

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