The Key Differences Between a Master in Management and an MBA
A MIM cannot replace an MBA, nor the other way round.
For decades, postgraduate education in general management had three letters – Master of Business Administration (MBA). However, since the early 2000s, a new degree emerged on the academic landscape of European business schools and has increasingly been picked up by US schools – Master in Management, sometimes called MIM programs. At first glance, they appear to be similar to MBAs. On closer look, there are several differences between the two.
MIM programs just like MBAs are postgraduate degrees in general management. As such, they require an academic degree first. But this is where the similarities end. In nearly all other aspects, MIM and MBA programs differ.
The first clear difference is that MIMs are specialized in a specific business area, such as accounting or marketing. Another difference is that MBA programs require several years of business experience whereas MIMs target graduates with less than a year or even no time at all in a job. As a consequence, MBA students can learn from their classmates’ practical experience and gain insights into their industries. MIM students, by contrast, do not have this learning option and primarily build up knowledge through classroom teaching and case studies only.
MBA students also study to develop their career whereas MIM students are about to start a career. Employers, for instance on campus fairs, recruit MBA students for advanced jobs and MIM students for entry positions.
MIM students are younger than MBA students. For instance, typical MBA full-time students are between 28 and 32 years old whereas MIM students are between 22 and 24.
In addition, MBA programs are more expensive than MIM programs, on average, reflecting the stronger financial resources and post-degree career options that MBA students have compared with MIM students. MBA curricula are also more practically oriented, primarily teaching through case studies and sharing the students’ work experience in the classroom. MIM programs, by contrast, include more theory, particularly when they lead to a Master of Science degree.
Finally, the MBA has worldwide reputation whereas a Master in Management are similar to other postgraduate degrees, may it be in economics, psychology, or the natural sciences. For many employers, a Master in Management is just another graduate degree without a specific nimbus whereas an MBA is a prestigious degree for ambitious, management-oriented people.
To sum it up: Master in Management and MBA programs must be clearly distinguished from each other, even though they both are postgraduate degrees in general management. They approach different target groups, provide different learning experiences, and offer different career prospects and, hence, are by no means substitutes. Future students should assess in advance, which program type is better suited for their specific profile – and keep in mind that neither a MIM can replace an MBA nor the other way round.
Thomas Graf is founder of MIM Compass, which hosts a database of nearly all MIM programs and other specialized business master's programs worldwide.