When it comes to pursuing higher studies, it becomes quite difficult to choose between degrees. Each option has its own merits and holds the power to transform your career. So before making the final decision, you must have perfect knowledge about each program. The most common confusion that most students face is in selection between Master of Business Administration (MBA) and Master of Science in Management (MSM).

This MSM vs MBA debate has been going on for long as they both seem similar. Both of these programs cultivate management skills and put you in an advantageous situation for advancements and employments. Each study track provides you opportunities to specialize based on your future goals. Yet that does not make them equal.

MBA and MSM have fundamental differences. Not only do they have different application requirements, such as work experience, varying skills, and salaries, but they also take different turns in your career. So don’t do the mistake of intermingling them. They might look and sound identical but looks can be deceiving. That is why prospective students should gauge the differences between the two degrees cautiously to determine which degree suits their career ideally. And to make this decision easier for you, we have accumulated the difference these degrees withhold; so that you can make the right choice.

Defining purposes MSM vs MBA

The goal of an MBA is to help professionals gain further knowledge for specialization in their field. Its core coursework is focused on developing business skills that can be applied practically. 

From strategic marketing skills to operational management, MBA’s sole purpose is to serve professionals in the real business arena. MBA has a focused curriculum, which can help students’ concentrate on aspects like finance, analytics, investments, etc. Most MBA applicants are qualified and are already aware of the private and public sector needs. Usually, MBA career opportunities lie in product management, financial advisory, and business consultant arenas.

On the other hand, the goals of an MSM are to fulfill requirements of basic management-level positions. That is why, it for recent pass outs and to some extent professionals with less experience. Its goal is to gain the acumen and skills needed for critical thinking, leadership, communication, etc. It is ideal for career goals that require analytical capabilities and management judgments. The specialization includes and entrepreneurship, business analytics, employee management, supply chain, business venturing. Typically, MSM career opportunities lie in financial management, benefits executive, HR management, and sales manager arenas.

Experience required MSM vs MBA

Students who have recently graduated and have professional experience of fewer than 2 years usually lean towards MSM. Whereas professionals who have work experience of several years are drawn towards an MBA. It is not hard and fast rule but is a general pattern. Most universities require at least 4 years of experience for an MBA and only 1-2 years for MSM. This is because MBA programs are targeted to help established professionals develop careers leading to advance jobs while MSM helps students gain entry-level positions. 

On average MSM helps pave career path thus is preferred by students in early stages as well and MBA is pursued in higher stages as it leads to better recruitment and progression. Therefore, the age of MBA applicants is typically 25-32 while MSM students are 21-25 years old.


The purpose and requirements of the MBA and MSM have been discussed. These further lead to distinct attainment of skills. Some skills do overlap but specialization differs considerably. Both programs aim for successful business leaders, the development of fundamental business knowledge, the establishment of networks. However, the skills of each degree are not identical.

MSM students develop the following set of skills:

  • IT systems
  • Teambuilding
  • Mentorship
  • Business strategy creation
  • Consulting
  • Negotiation
  • Creativity
  • Employee relation
  • Organizational leadership

MBA students develop the following set of skills:

  • Tactical reasoning.
  • Accounting
  • Budgeting
  • Investment and finance.
  • Integrity and ethics
  • Supply chain management
  • Inventory control
  • Cost management
  • Marketing
  • Construction management
  • Energy management.
  • Portfolio Management
  • Strategic Management

Career Opportunities 

Due to some common areas amongst them, career opportunities overlap in MSM and MBA as well. You will find similar jobs as both degrees, to some extent, rely on business management. So there will be crossovers but the career paths and status will differ by quite a margin. This is because few job roles are exclusively available for professionals with a specific degree only. 

  • MSM career path

MSM graduates usually take up roles that revolve around theory, management, creativity, and innovation. As MSM course prepares students for leadership and inspiration, the common positions open for them include:

  • HR managers: For maintaining a competent and balanced workforce
  • Compliance Officers: Responsible for administration of benefits and complying with laws and regulations
  • Negotiators: Solving conflicts and resolution assessment along with relationship building
  • General Operations Manager: Facilitation to personnel and managing resources for the smooth running of the business
  • Public Relation Builder: Interaction with clients, customers, executives, and the public for building a positive image
  • Team director: Overseeing of groups, teams, project department within an organization
  • MBA career path

MBA graduates usually have the vast option available to them. As they have a larger and more advanced set of skills and breadth of knowledge, their career path can be more regressive. As an MBA curriculum prepares students for financial, marketing, and economic challenges, they seek roles in advanced positions given below:

  • Financial Manager: Identification of financial risks, shaping of strategic objectives, implementation of investment projects, and maximizing profitability.
  • Logistics Analyst: Evaluation of supply chain components such as shipping, warehousing, manufacturing capacity, distribution, etc.
  • Chief Executive Officer: CEOs have to make a major decision in their businesses and have a wide breadth of responsibility.

Salaries MSM vs MBA

As per PayScale, the average salaries of managers with MSM degree lie in $65,000 – $100000 per annum. It can vary according to region, experience, responsibilities, and education.

While the average salaries of managers with an MBA degree lie in $100,000 – $160,000 per annum. This can vary depending on the size of businesses, prior success, skills, experience, etc.


We hope the difference highlighted regarding requirements, potential outcomes, salaries, and skills of each program help you determine the choice which is optimal for your career advancement. From now onwards, you won’t mix up MBA with MSM and will be able to guide others as well!

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