Many who head to USA for higher education often fail to understand the difference between an MBA and an MS program. Some think MS is awarded for completing engineering masters whereas MBA is awarded for completing masters in non-engineering areas.  Some others think MS is the master’s level program in technical area whereas MBA is master’s level program in business. Both arguments are wrong.  There are MS in business with specializations such as finance; Marketing, Global Marketing Management etc., and thousands of engineers pursue MBA as their master’s level program.

Choosing MBA or MS should neither depend on your previous education (Engineering or non-engineering) nor on the nature of the intended program (technical or business). You should choose based on your current career circumstances and the next big career change you want to make.

MS programs typically make you rock solid in one specific area. If you choose MS in Global Marketing Management, then you become rock solid in marketing, international marketing and international business. If you choose MS in Finance, then you become rock solid in valuations, portfolio & risk management. If you choose MS in Decision Analytics, then you become rock solid in data science & statistical software libraries or packages.

MBA programs typically do not add skills. It helps in gaining perspectives and advance networking opportunities. You will gain perspectives on how to identify market opportunities and risks inherent in capitalizing on market opportunities. When I say market opportunities, one should also consider cost & quality controls which are internal to a firm.

My sincere advise to all those who are yet to start a career or in very initial stages of their career to go for MS program. This includes those who intend to change career from Engineering to Finance or Marketing or from Arts & business administration to Analytics. Those who already have a successful career of over three years and looking for positions to head a business division in the same industry should go for MBA.

Finally, I do not blame entirely the students for this confusing world. Some universities have diluted MBA programs to the extent that their offerings neither fit a true MBA bracket nor a true MS bracket.  What you get is an assorted unfocused education experience. Such programs, even after successful completion, will leave you wondering “what next”!! Wondering “what next” at undergraduate level is fine!! Wondering “what next” at graduate (/masters) level is not at all OK!!!