MS Degrees vs. MBA Degrees

Which Is Better? An MS or an MBA Degree

evaluation checklist
hh5800/E+/Getty Images.

What Is an MBA?

MBA stands for Master of Business Administration degree. This is the original business degree for graduate-level business students. It is internationally recognized and easily among the most well-known professional degrees in the world. Although programs vary from school to school, students can who go for the MBA can expect to get an advanced, multidisciplinary business education.

What Is an MS Degree?

MS stands for Master of Science.

This degree is an alternative to the MBA. Specialized master's programs are designed to train experts in a particular area. For example, students can earn an MS in accounting, marketing, finance, human resources, entrepreneurship, management, or management information systems. MS programs combine science and business, which can be beneficial in our now tech-heavy business world. 

MS vs. MBA: Trends

Over the last few years, there has been an increase in the number of specialized master's degree programs at business schools, colleges and universities across the country. According to survey results from the Graduate Management Admission Council, there has also been an increase in the number of business school students interested in specialized master's degrees.

Career Goals 

When considering which program to choose, always consider where you are heading in the future. This is the most important factor when comparing these two programs.

Both the MS degree and the MBA will serve you well, and whether one is better than the other depends solely on your career goals and how you plan to utilize your degree. MS degrees are very specialized and will give you excellent preparation in a specific area, like finance or marketing. An MBA program typically provides a more general business education than an MS.

However, MBA programs are constantly evolving, and they now tend to put more stress upon specializations and concentrations. 


Another thing to consider is that MS programs are not subject to rankings like MBA programs are. Therefore, the prestige that is carried with MS programs is much less discriminating. 


Academically, both programs are usually similar in difficulty. At some schools, students in MS classes may be more academically inclined because they are there for different reasons than MBA students. This is because some of the people who attend MBA classes are in it for the money, the career, and the title. Whereas MS students are often enrolled in classes for other reasons - most of them academic in nature. MS classes also tend to focus more on academics. MBA programs require plenty of study time as well, but students usually gain hands-on experience through a a work-related project as well.

School Choice

Because not all schools offer an MBA and not all schools offer an MS in business, your first decision will be to decide which is more important: your program of choice or your school of choice. If you're lucky, you can have it both ways. 


MS programs are competitive, but MBA admissions are notoriously tough.

Admissions requirements for MBA programs are often harder for some students to meet. For example, most MBA programs require three to five years of work experience prior to application. MS degree programs, on the other hand, are tailored for people who have less full-time work experience. Students who want to enroll in an MBA program must also take the GMAT or the GRE. MS programs may waive this requirement.