MBA vs Masters? Part II

In Part I of this post, we addressed some of the key considerations for those who are trying to figure out what type of post graduate program to pursue. In Part II, we continue to discuss the differences between a MBA and Master’s degree to help answer the question, “Which one is right for me?”

Career outcomes: Where do I see myself in the medium term?

For Master’s degrees, the career outcome might not be that straight forward. On the one hand the bulk of corporate graduate hiring, especially in Europe, is aimed at graduates without significant work experience, so opportunities abound. On the other hand Master’s degrees are not a differentiator in the job market. With the exception of very reputable schools the main effect of a Master’s degree is that it will distinguish you from other candidates whose education stopped with the Bachelor’s degree.

Generally speaking, a Master’s degree might help you in your career change, if that is your objective. Let’s say your Bachelors degree is in Engineering from a not so well-known school. A Master’s degree in Finance from a top school might help you a lot in your career change. Given the size of the market, comprehensive data is hard to come by but according to certain sources[i], the average salary is 20% higher for Master’s degree holders compared to those with Bachelor’s degrees only.

MBA programs on the other hand are analyzed and tracked with a lot of detail when it comes to career outcomes. According to a Financial Times report from 2017, the most important motivators to do an MBA program were the following:

The above table shows that MBA programs are generally targeted by candidates looking to achieve some specific career outcome, whether that is a change or an acceleration. MBA programs, especially the most prestigious ones, do not only teach, but also pay a lot of attention to career outcome. Career enhancement is one of the most striking features of any strong MBA program. In terms of salary improvement, the Financial Times found that the salary increase three years following graduation among the 100 top MBA programs ranked was around 100%[i].

Costs and Financing

Even though there are big differences between subjects, geographies and subjects, a Master’s program in Europe normally costs between 5000 and 10000 EUR per year. The best business schools provide different financing methods such as student loans and similar. Interest rates are between 4% and 8% depending on the country and school. As an example in UK an average classroom based Master’s is 6842£[i].

Tuition fees at top full-time MBA programs are considerably higher. According to the Financial Times the tuition at the world’s top 100 programs has been averaging roughly 110000 USD in 2017.

While this represents an important investment, more so even once foregone salary and living expenses are taken into account, this needs to be contrasted with the significant earnings increase a top MBA generally represents.

As previously mentioned, the Financial Times MBA ranking from 2017 shows that graduates from the top 100 MBA programs globally doubled their income within three years of graduation. Regarding financing, roughly 80% of students from these programs receive support in terms of loan facilitation or scholarships.

The Career Services departments at top schools will nurture relationships with key MBA recruiters and generally help managing salary expectation both ways to ensure that the on-campus offering is in line with student aspirations and overall market levels.

How do I find out if an MBA or a Master’s is right for me?

Perhaps this article left you with even more questions than answers. Wouldn’t it be helpful if you had the chance to know yourself, your goals and your motivations better in order to guide you into making this decision? Should you wish to reflect deeper on these questions, subscribe and leave your email with us and we will immediately send you a questionnaire that may be useful for you.

Taking an important investment can be better guided though conversations with experts. Take advantage of receiving professional career advice by a MBA admissions expert. Contact us at

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