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MiM vs MBA: Which is the right qualification for you?

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Researchers from Florida Atlantic University’s College of Engineering and Computer Science have received a $1 million grant from the NSF to make the Master’s degree in AI accessible to high-achieving, low-income students.


By Aisyah Liliana 

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The Masters in Management (MiM) and the Master in Business Administration (MBA) are two programmes that are designed with very different outcomes, for candidates who are at different stages in their careers.

These programmes are not designed to be interchangeable and the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) has shared insights that highlight the difference between these qualifications.

The main difference between these two programmes is that they are both designed with two very different candidate profiles in mind.

MiM programmes are designed for candidates who are yet to develop significant working experience, mainly new graduates who are attempting to launch their careers by opening new opportunities.

In other words, a MiM programme is designed to offer practical training for skills that are essential for recent graduates who are just starting out in their careers.

In contrast, an MBA is designed with a more mature candidate in mind, An MBA candidate is a professional who has accumulated significant work experience and is looking to accelerate their career.

An MBA candidate is typically a professional who is looking to climb up the career and take on more managerial and leadership roles in an organisation.

An MBA provides connections and trains students not necessarily for their first job, but for their second and subsequent jobs post business school.

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The MBA and the MIM are similar in the sense that they are both graduate degrees in business. While the MBA programme duration is usually two years of full-time coursework, a MIM qualification can be earned in as quickly as a year or up to 18 months.

The scope of a MiM is also slightly narrower than its MBA counterpart, as its focus is skewed towards management rather than businesses. According to the Global MIM Survey, MIM and MBA programme contents overlap by about 30%.

Both programme types provide an overview of general management topics, foster teamwork, and use case studies to simulate real-world situations.

However, the Masters in Management programmes focus on the theoretical side of the management field compared to an MBA. Subjects found in a MiM programme typically focus on strong mathematical or analytical skills and the final dissertation may be research-oriented. The MiM programme also provides theoretical fundamentals of management research and may even qualify for a Ph.D. programme.

An MBA, in contrast, focuses on the practical applications of management. MBA students will focus on integrative courses and analyse business cases from the practical perspective of a business leader.

MBA programmes are structured in a way that students will have the opportunity to work on in-company projects integrated into the lessons. MBA students may also engage in developing business plans. Instead of a typical final dissertation, MBA students will work on consultancy projects rooted in real-world businesses which will give them the ability to display what they have learned throughout the programme.

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Graduates with  these qualifications start at different career levels – MBA graduates being more mature and with significantly more experience under their belts will command higher salaries.

Additionally,  upon graduating, candidates with a MiM will start on a lower corporate rung – in the field of management consulting, for example, a MiM graduate will join at an associate level whereas MBA graduates will start as consultants. According to the QS World University Rankings: Global MBA Rankings 2019, MBA graduates can expect an average salary increase of 77%.

This is further supported by a report published by the GMAC, most Masters in Management graduates are in entry-level positions (55%), while most full-time MBA graduates are in mid-level positions (67%). As a result, MiM graduates demand a lower starting salary.

In a nutshell, MBA and MiM are degrees for different target groups – the former for young professionals and professionals, the latter for professionals who are at mid-senior levels in their careers. Hiring managers in organisations do not perceive MBA and MIM in competition to each other but as different degrees for different target groups who apply for different positions.

While the MiM and MBA are treated as distinct talent pools, they are often combined which will serve as an additional boost in terms of employability.

Additionally, according to a survey by the GMAC, three in four prospective students who hold a master’s degree are considering enrolling in an MBA programme . This means students who already have a Masters in Management will pursue an MBA qualification to improve their credentials.