MIM or MBA - That is the question
Martin Boehm, Associate Dean of Master in Management Programs, IE Business School
The MBA has long been a standard credential for business leaders around the world. However, it is no longer the only contender in the postgraduate business education market, thanks to the recent but absolute emergence of the Master in Management (MIM) degree. Master in Management programmes are being steadily introduced by schools across Europe, Asia, and North America as a response to an increased interest in business education among a younger demographic.
MIM programmes are specifically designed to provide recent university graduates with the business skills most in demand by today's labour market. While MBA programmes typically require five to six years of work experience, MIM programmes mainly welcome candidates fresh out of university who have not yet drawn a steady salary. In general they tend to restrict applications to candidates with two years or less work experience. For this reason MIM students tend to be younger than MBA students and are usually in their early 20's, compared to MBAs who are often in their late 20's and early 30's. MIM and MBA programmes cater to students at very different stages in their careers; while the MIM programme is designed to help students kick-start their career, MBA programmes help students navigate a career change or advancement within a particular sector.
Typical MIM Students
Typical MBA Students
Interested in a job change
Interested in a change in industry
Source: MBA.com Prospective Students Survey 2011
The differences in the student profiles of the two programmes are also reflected in their respective curricula. While the training for MIM students focuses on technical skills, MBA programmes seek to impart a broader, more strategic vision to their students. MBA programmes also offer a general approach to management which allows students to explore the roles of different business functions across various industries. MIM programmes, on the other hand, allow students to specialize in a functional discipline early on, such as marketing or human resources. Additionally, MIM students typically spend more time reviewing different theoretical concepts compared to students in MBA programmes.
Another essential difference between a MIM and an MBA programme is how the programme is actually taught. Given the rich variety of professional and personal experiences typically found in an MBA classroom, those programmes thrive on peer-level learning. The MBA teacher serves more as a moderator or facilitator for student-led debates, guiding students as they tackle problems rather than providing definitive conclusions. Teachers on MIM programmes, however, assume a slightly different role. MIM classes tend to be more lecture-based, and teachers provide students with final conclusions after class debates. Because MIM students have limited work experience, faculty members illustrate theoretical concepts using real-life examples in order to demonstrate their relevance and application, rather than rely on the experience students bring to the programme.
When students embark on postgraduate education, they make an investment of time and a significant amount of money, particularly in the case of MBA students. Business students are naturally concerned with the potential career pay-off of such a large investment. Here, the MBA has still an advantage, given that employers world-wide are already familiar with the MBA degree and are beginning to learn about the MIM. However, top recruiters in Europe including investment banks and consulting firms show a strong interest in hiring MIM graduates over MBAs. Investment banks and consulting firms in particular value MIM students over MBAs due to their technical skills and their ability to think outside the box.