At business schools across the globe, the average age of students has plummeted over the last few years. According to a range of studies, this is mainly due to the implementation of increasingly popular courses such as the Master's in Management (MiM). In fact, a 2013 survey conducted by the Graduate Management Admissions Council suggests that attendance on MiM courses throughout Europe ballooned by more than 70% last year alone.
MiM is a new phenomenon
The establishment of the Master's in Management degree is a relatively recent phenomenon. While the MBA has a long history, and generations of students possess qualifications from this programme, the MiM is an innovation within the field of business studies.
One significant attraction of the MiM is its suitability for young people with limited work experience. It develops the skills necessary for a business career such as public speaking, team interaction, corporate communication and leadership. Thus, the course offers a rounded kind of education, essential for business management positions and the financial sector.
Moreover, the MiM provides great flexibility and diverse courses offer various specialisations. Significantly, one of the most appealing aspects of the degree is its international character, allowing its students to acquire experience in the most novel ways possible.
Ben Whitney, acting director of the Centre for International Management at Queen's School of Business in Ontario, also argues that "The MBA candidate presents a more seasoned profile, whereas the Master's candidate presents a younger profile. In our experience, some companies prefer a younger candidate as he/she can more easily be moulded into that organisation’s ideology than someone with several years’ experience."
Can you just flip a coin?
Nevertheless, despite the appealing character of the MiM, the two cannot be viewed as equal alternatives or competing programmes. Their natures are fundamentally different, targeting individuals with different characteristics.
For example, a major difference between the two is in the entry requirements. MBA programmes are aimed at people with at least three years of work experience, while Master's welcome students with very little professional history (from none to two years). As such, the MiM is appealing to a wide range of younger students, who are looking to get a foot in the door of the market as quickly as possible.
While both programmes are shaped by the current globalised economy, following a template of a flatter management approach, and thus becoming more standardised in their style of education, their teaching methods vary significantly. Whilst there have been major changes made to the way in which all advertising, marketing and business qualifications are handled by teachers, it is still fair to say that the two benefit from different strategies.
The classic MBA framework tends to be defined by an emphasis on real-world ‘case studies’, which give students the chance to investigate, communicate and analyse logical scenarios, either independently or as part of a team. It is actually much less common these days for MBA courses to incorporate a heavy lecture schedule.
On the other hand, the MiM model is designed to hone students' skills and understanding, via the use of classroom based tasks and projects – primarily those which nurture public speaking, team building, and burgeoning leadership qualities. The importance of personal development is firmly reiterated and MiM students are, at least to some extent, expected to be responsible for their own learning.
Consider the bigger picture
Finally, what creates the most important difference between the MBA and the MiM is the prospective student's ambitions, expectations and motives. Those with some professional experience and no clear idea of which degree to pursue should consider these points:
Jürgen Schneider, dean of the University of Mannheim Business School in Germany, says that choosing between business programmes depends on someone’s personal preference, and whether 'they are looking for a strong theoretical background (MiM) or if they are looking (to) graduate with […] substantial practical knowledge (MBA)'.
Thus, ultimately, each programme is aimed at different life and career milestones. In other words, as Philippe Marmara, senior partner and vice president at the international consulting company Globalpraxis explains: "The choice between a specialised Master's and MBA is critical here because they will not drive you to the same place."
Think about your objectives, and where you see yourself in the future. According to Gary Garber, human resources executive at Ally Financial: "The traditional MBA boasts a wealth of general corporate courses, but only a handful of HR frameworks. Yet, the MiM is known to function the other way around – there are lots of HR courses, but not many general corporate frameworks."
So, consider the bigger picture, and where you are heading. The MBA and the MiM differ in fundamental ways and in their approaches to the study of business, primarily due to different audiences. An MBA degree will prepare you to manage people and processes, thus allowing you to switch careers with ease and conduct business anywhere in the world. A Master’s will jump-start your career like no other degree. It is a gate-opener designed to make you a confident and valued specialist in your professional field. Once you understand the differences, it is easy to figure out where you fit in.
This article has been produced by Advent Group and featured in the 2015-2016 Access Masters Guide