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Jul 14, 2022 Business Administration

MBA vs. MSM: Which Degree is the Right Fit for You?

Master’s degrees in business administration (MBA) and management (MSM) offer two ways to create an advantage when seeking a promotion or pursuing a new career path. To understand which one is right for you, consider your current work experience and long-term career goals.

Gies College of Business offers an online Master of Business Administration (iMBA) and Master’s in Management (iMSM) degrees along with an on-campus MSM.

How do MBA and MSM curricula differ?

The MBA curriculum at Gies consists of 72 credit hours focusing on core business mastery and leadership skills. You’ll take a core curriculum of management, economics, value chain, and finance; then you’ll be able to dive deeper into areas that best fit your goals, such as business analytics, marketing, entrepreneurship, and more. You’ll learn both business theory and practical applications of the forces shaping the future of business – digitization, globalization and innovation. The MBA’s curated content and experiences are designed to make an immediate impact on your performance and give you an enduring career lift.

An online MBA at Gies College of Business takes two to three years to complete, and costs approximately $23K. The time and money were well worth the investment for Rachel Barnitt, a senior technology risk manager in data security at Charles Schwab.

“The classes make me think more strategically and long-term, instead of the next deadline,” said Rachel. “The management and finance classes have been particularly helpful as I look to understand better how to run a business. I can now more clearly see a path to future job growth.”

The MSM curriculum at Gies includes 36 credit hours and focuses on management skills so that you can fluently speak the language of business. It teaches you how to read a balance sheet, set up a marketing plan, and communicate with data. It is designed to give you the skills to transition to a leadership position or start a business.

An online MSM at Gies College of Business takes about a year to complete and costs about $11.5K.

“I chose the iMSM because my goal is to learn more about how businesses decisions are made,” said Zikri Bayraktar, who has earned several advanced degrees and is a data scientist at Cambridge, MA-based Schlumberger Doll Research Center. “I don’t plan on pursuing a full-scale business career just yet, so I chose this one-year program to add general business knowledge to my technology core skill set.”

What’s your work experience?

Consider an online MBA if you are already a seasoned professional. While you can gain admission with as little as three years of experience, about five-to-ten years would make you a much stronger candidate. For example, students in Gies’ online MBA average 11 years of work experience. Whether you already hold a business degree or not, an MBA may also be the right fit if you want to deepen your understanding of accounting, finance, and management skills to improve your marketability.

Online MSM programs can be a great choice if you have three to five years of experience or less in nearly any industry – from music to medicine – and are looking to grow and take on more responsibility. They’re designed for learners of any background who want to build essential general management skills. It is a versatile, portable degree that can apply to a wide range of fields and jobs.

What’s your lifestyle?

Today, many top business schools offer on-campus and online advanced degrees. Most people with some work experience prefer the flexibility of an online degree, so they can keep their job while advancing their business knowledge.

That’s exactly why an online program appealed to Omeed Kasim Adham Sindy, a Chicago-based systems administrator at the American Medical Association who is earning his iMSM degree at Gies. “I’m the main source of income for my family,” he said. “so I had to find a solution where I could continue to work full-time. I also didn’t want too much time to lapse between my undergraduate and graduate degree.”

Those who have just completed their undergraduate degree and have no work experience often prefer to continue to learn in a campus setting.

Who should explore a full-time, on-campus MSM degree?

An on-campus MSM degree is designed to give those with little to no work experience the business skills to make them more marketable in their chosen profession. About half of Gies’ full-time MSM students earned their undergraduate degree from another College at the University of Illinois.

A full-time, in-person MSM at Gies College of Business takes nine months to complete and costs about $40K.

How should I compare online programs?

The most innovative online MBA and MSM programs go well beyond on-demand PowerPoint presentations and lectures. They offer weekly live class sessions, interactive learning, a global network of classmates, and plenty of hands-on projects. Professors hold virtual office hours and teaching assistants provide additional support.

Look for programs with a good balance of domestic and international learners that will offer you limitless networking opportunities and real-time perspectives from the front lines of business around the world.

To personalize your experience, the Gies iMBA offers specialized pathways including Global Challenges in Business, Entrepreneurship and Strategic Innovation, Digital Marketing, Business Analytics, and Mergers & Acquisitions. Students must choose two areas of specialization and a Capstone project, which is designed to push you to think critically and apply what you’ve learned through the program.

An MSM degree, sometimes called master’s in management or MiM, is a relatively new degree in the US with strong roots in Europe. It is one of the fastest growing business master’s degree programs in the US. iMSM courses are designed for practical application – now and in the future. Optional specializations include Business Value and Project Management, Global Business Challenges, and Business Data Management and Communication.

COMING SOON: For those who want to dive deeper into specific areas of business, learners will now be able to stack the Gies MSM into the iMBA, applying credits earned toward the full MBA and eliminating the need to repeat courses or pay unnecessary tuition.

What are the iMBA and iMSM admissions requirements?

Learn more about iMBA and iMSM admissions metrics and requirements. Both have application deadlines in the spring and fall for January, March, August and October start dates. The on-campus MSM applications are reviewed on a rolling basis with a new cohort starting each fall.

To learn more, visit Gies’ Master’s in Business Programs.