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Considering MiM, MiF, or MsBA degrees?

Katie Schenk - March 01, 2017

Considering MiM, MiF, or MsBA degrees?

It’s easy to fall into the habit of equating business masters degrees with MBAs. The Master of Business Administration is, after all, the most recognisable graduate business school offering. You’ll find top programmes on every continent, and the intense stress of MBA applications makes difficult to ignore this degree.

And, MBA programmes deserve all the credit they receive. (And, most MBA candidates will tell you it’s worth the stress of admissions too.)

But, that doesn’t make an MBA the right programme for everyone. Nor does it need to be, there are a lot of masters degrees that will move you forward in the world of business.

How do MiMs and MiFs stack against MBAs?

European universities have long been a proponent of accelerated business programmes. That’s evident in their MBA programmes. But, shorter doesn’t necessarily mean less intense. That’s the driving force behind specialised business masters such as the Masters in Management (MiM), Masters in Finance (MiF), and the Masters in Business Analytics. (That’s an MsBA – not an MBA which stands for Masters in Business Administration.)

What’s the difference?

There are a couple of big differences between MBAs and the degrees mentioned here. One of the most obvious is the age of applicants. MBAs are encouraged to wait until they have five to seven years under their belt before submitting their applications.

Applicants to MiF, MiM, and MsBA are usually younger. Programmes, such as the MIT Sloan Master of Business Analytics, are designed with newly minted grads in mind. That doesn’t mean they turn away applicants with some experience, the equivalent degree at McCombs School of Business at the University of Texas at Austin offers the following advice to prospective students: “No work experience required, though students with work, leadership, and/or professional development experience are encouraged to apply.”

The next thing that should jump out at you is the price of these degrees. They’re about half the price, give or take. And some are a lot more give. At HEC Paris, an MSc in International Finance has a base tuition fee of €29,900. Compare that with their MBA’s price tag of €62,000. In both cases, you’re sitting with a master’s degree from one of the most recognised and respected European Universities – and you’ve spent the same amount of time studying.

It should get you thinking about the possibilities.

And, as we said, there are plenty. Just look at this table. 

MiF Rankings

Estimate basic tuition costs taken from programme websites

These are the Financial Time’s top ranked Masters in Finance programmes in 2016. This list isn’t the same as you’re used to seeing in the top MBA programmes. Sure, there are familiar names such as HEC Paris and ESADE, but some of the top schools for MiF programmes aren’t the same as top schools for MBAs. (Incidentally, Skema doesn’t have a comparable full-time MBA programme, though they do offer other degrees including EMBAs.)

More than that, almost every degree listed in the top ten is based in Europe. The exception is MIT Sloan – and, sitting in fifth place, carries a much higher tuition than European programmes.

But, the specialisation in these degrees should also be fairly obvious. It’s not just a straight up Masters in Finance. There’s an MSc in International Finance, an Advanced Master in Financial Techniques, and even a slightly unusual HSG MA in Banking and Finance. (It’s unusual as it is a Master of Arts, rather than a Master of Science, which is one of the major differences from an MBA which is a Master of Business.)

You’ll see similar variations in the top MiM programmes as ranked by the Financial Times

MiM Rankings

Estimate basic tuition costs taken from programme websites

In fact, you should be able to see a lot of similarities when comparing this table to the last. Not only do five of the top schools overlap, but there are also universities that don’t have comparable full-time MBAs. You’ll also spot the Master of Arts and the fact that each of these is a European institution.

Plus, you can see the difference in the price structure. It’s not quite as universally half, but the average works out about the same as MiF programmes.

And, what about Masters in Business Analytics?

As already noted, the Master of Science in Business Analytics expects applicants at the start of their careers rather than several years into it. And, like the MiF and MiM programmes, it’s typically a consolidated one-year programme.

But, there’s a big difference between these degrees and the MiF and MiM programmes. Until recently, MsBA programmes have been most popular in the United States. Okay, recent is a little tongue in cheek; these are still relatively new degrees – as is the big data these degrees seek to analyse, interpret, and manipulate.

Their novelty can be seen in the lack of rankings by traditional business school programme reviewers. You won’t find a Financial Times top Master of Science in Business Analytics table, nor is there a U.S. News & World Report ranking. TFE Times has a solid ranking, and it tells us that there are some similarities with between the MsBA and its European specialised business masters cousins.

MsBA Rankings

Estimate basic tuition costs taken from programme websites

For a start, the names look different to those you would find on top MBA rankings. Sure, you’ll see plenty of these institutions on the list, just generally not so high in them. Interestingly, some of the top MBA schools that also find themselves on the MiM and MiF charts have also introduced MsBA degrees. IE Business School offers a Master in Business Analytics and Big Data and ESADE has just launched its MSc in Business Analytics.

And then, there are the price tags. They’re tough not to notice.

Why all the fuss about tuition costs?

An MBA isn’t right for everyone. Not everyone needs it. Not everyone wants to wait until they’re eight years into their career. Some may want to study in the United States, but can’t afford two years without an income to do it. And, yes, some may be swayed by the cost of an MiF, an MiM, or an MsBA if they can use those degrees earlier in their career.

That’s especially true given that universities like to demonstrate the overlap between the specialised business masters and the MBA. It’s believed that as much of 30 percent of MiM and MBA content overlaps. Though MiM curriculum leans towards theoretical work and MBA’s tends to focus on practical experience, it’s not surprising that institutions leverage existing material in new ways.

You’ll find shared content in the other specialised masters as well. But, only so much as is needed. Obviously, each of these degrees focuses in different directions, whether it’s finance, management, or analytics. There are other specialised business masters that follow similar veins, from marketing to entrepreneurial leadership.

Each one of these master’s degrees shares another quality with the MBA; universities are looking for the best talent. You’ll still need an awesome essay and hours of study towards a terrific GMAT or GRE score. And, you’ll spend just as much time considering the universities and programmes that will be the best fit for you. But, if you’re looking for a place to start, why not see which universities and degrees accept Prodigy Finance loans from qualified international students


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