When it comes to postgraduate business education, it seems Masters in Management studies have been gaining popularity and attracting more students than MBA programmes, especially in Europe. A telling example from a recent article by The Economist states that 83 students enrolled on the last MBA course offered by ESSEC Business School (France). By comparison, some 806 joined its Masters in Management (MiM) course. Likewise, MiM participants at Durham Business School in the UK outnumber MBAs nearly four-to-one.

Why Masters in Management?

Although academically MBA and MiM programmes are largely similar, there is one major distinction between them. Students who enrol in Masters in Management usually do so straight after obtaining their undergraduate degree. MBA programmes, on the other hand, are designed for people who have acquired several years of professional experience and already occupy a managerial position. In other words, the MiM degree will provide a promising start to your career, while the MBA will help you advance to a higher level of management once you have become a more seasoned professional.

Naturally, this also means that new Masters in Management graduates will start at a lower position in their post-degree job and will earn significantly less compared to their MBA counterparts. At HEC Paris (France), which is The Economist’s top-ranked MiM programme, Masters graduates can expect to earn an average basic salary of around USD 60,000 on leaving the programme. This is around half of what MBA graduates from the school rake in.

However, starting salaries are not the only factor to be taken into account when comparing the return on investment of the two types of business studies. The MBA is typically much more costly than other Masters programmes, which means it requires a larger and more risky investment from applicants. For example, tuition fees for the MiM programme at HEC Paris amount to EUR 25,900 (USD 29,100) compared with EUR 62,000 for its MBA. In addition, coming from a managerial position with significant pay, the typical MBA student will lose USD 73,000 of salary on average, according to The Economist. For a Masters in Management student who is just now entering the labour market, not having to give up on a steady job and income is one less problem to worry about.

Different demographics

With regards to geographic distribution, Masters in Management programmes still seem to be more recognised in Europe than in the US. According to Bill Boulding, Dean of the Fuqua School at Duke University in North Carolina, it is difficult to explain to American companies, which are so used to recruiting MBAs, what the MiM is and how investing in the growth of Masters graduates can be no less valuable than an MBA title.

An important trend which has had its positive influence on the Masters degree around the world is the large number of women who enrol in those studies. Unfortunately, this is not the case for most MBA programmes out there and although many of them are taking active steps to balance out the difference in percentages, female MBA students are still not on an equal footing with men in terms of representation. The average share of women on an Economist-ranked MiM course is 46%, compared with just 36% on an MBA one, which illustrates the current disproportion of gender representation in business.