Read the FIND MBA article: Master in Management Programs vs. MBAs
We spoke to Thomas Graf, director of the recently launched website Master in Management Compass, about the pros and cons of doing an Master in Management (MiM) program versus an MBA.
How is the MiM different from the MBA?
In my opinion, there are three key differences: age of students, their professional experience, and program tuition fees.
MiM programs are designed for people in the early stages of their career – right after their undergraduate degree or after about a year on the job. As a result, MiM students are typically younger than MBA students: 23 years on average (with a range from 20 to about 27) compared to the 27-32 average age for MBA programs.
Accordingly, the MiM students have no or only a little bit of professional experience. Most business schools, actually, do not require professional experience at all for their MiM programs. In contrast, MBA program are designed for people with about three to five years of being in the job. A diversity of different professional backgrounds is one of the key benefits that you may get from an MBA program because you may profit not only from books or professors, but also from your fellow students.
As for the tuition fees, the MiM programs are cheaper than MBA programs. Whereas tuitions at the most expensive full-time MBA programs can reach as high as €60,000, the most expensive MiM programs cost only about half of that.
Are they equally recognized degrees, the MBA and MiM?
Maybe a fourth difference (between the MBA and MiM) is reputation. That is a gut feeling. Though the MBA may still have problems getting recognized by smaller companies in some countries, the marketing activities for the MBA over the last ten years have been strong, and at least in HR departments of globally acting businesses, the MBA is well-known and recognized (depending of course on the reputation of the business school that granted the MBA).
In contrast, the MiM is still relatively new and maybe something that some HR departments need to learn to deal with. In the end it will turn out that both MiM and MBA have their legitimacy because they attract different target groups with different needs. Undergraduates can directly study an MiM and professionals, especially those without a business or economics background may go for the MBA.
Are there any major differences between the MBA and MiM curriculum?
Some students I talk to think there are no differences at all. I think this is probably too strong to say, but overall the differences in terms of content are not that big. Both offer general management courses, integrated team work, case studies, and a practical-oriented approach.
The MiM is officially a Master of Science, and idea is to provide in-depth theoretical knowledge. But many schools also say their programs are practically oriented. So there is a tension between the normal understanding of a Master of Science, and between the approach of an MiM program that seeks to provide a practical and more general orientation.
Many programs provide in-depth knowledge of several management disciplines, perhaps even deeper than in MBA programs (in MBA programs, you just work with formulas, but you don’t necessarily care where they come from). Case studies and internships are ways to bring the practical side into a program.
So, there are internship opportunities in MiM programs.
Yes, I have seen many programs that offer internships. It’s helpful for the students to get experience, have something for their CVs, but also have something to connect with companies. This makes the placement process after the MiM easier.
What are the career opportunities open for an MiM grad, compared with a Bachelor or MBA ?
The average age when finishing an MiM is about 24. They have a 4- or 5-year education. They are ambitious and successful people. I would say that they have all kinds of career avenues available to them, from traineeships to normal jobs.
But HR departments know it’s different to go to a business school to recruit a 24-year-old MiM student with no professional experience than if they go there to recruit a 30-year-old with an MBA and who has worked for three years in advance. They need to offer them different positions and salaries.
Do MBA and MiM recruiters look for the same things among program applicants?
It’s very similar to the MBA, as I see it. The only difference is that the professional experience is not that important with the MiM. Business schools looking for MBA candidates look for outstanding academic degrees, GMAT scores, and professional experience.
With the MiM, a lot of programs also require the GMAT, though not all. So the GMAT is a differentiating factor. And usually because the MiM candidates don’t have professional experience, the academic institution and records are important – perhaps even more important than with the MBA.
Is the MiM only offered in Europe?
At the moment is almost purely a European phenomenon. I counted, and around 86-87 percent of these programs are offered in Europe. This definitely has to do with the Bologna reforms in Europe since 1999 by which most European countries agreed on unitizing the European university system by following the Anglo-Saxon undergraduate-graduate-study system, and splitting up formerly established 5-year diploma studies.
Will US business schools possibly start offering MiM degrees?
The United States just has the Bachelor of Business Administration and the MBA, but nothing in between, like a Master of Management program. It has been clear for decades that you do a bachelor, and usually you go to work as early as possible, and then decide after two or three years to do an MBA or not.
So to answer your question, I think there are only two reasons why US business schools could offer MiM programs. One reason is that they think they can shape their own culture, in the sense that they think there might be a demand from US Americans not to wait another two or three years for the MBA. My gut feeling is that this very unlikely. The other reason is to offer a Master of Management would be to attract foreign students, something that I would recommend US business schools strongly given the enormous demand for MiM programs, for example in Asia.