Advanced Degree: The Differences Between an MBA versus MS

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Advanced degrees for business professionals include a Master of Business Administration (MBA) and a Master of Science (MS). When considering an MBA vs. an MS degree, students often base their choices on a program’s ability to prepare them with the right technology skills. They see an evolving marketplace where businesses are increasingly transformed by technology, digitization, and automation. It makes sense to pursue educational opportunities that will provide the necessary skills to strategically leverage technology for enhanced business success.

It is said that every business today is in the technology business. What this means is that professionals need more than business knowledge—technology is now a core competency for a successful business career. As technology disrupts all sectors, new challenges and opportunities arise for professionals seeking to make an impact. The online Master of Business Administration at New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) prepares students with an understanding of technology’s role in business and knowledge to effectively leverage technology to advance business objectives.

The Key Differences: MBA vs. MS

When looking at an MBA vs. an MS degree program, it is important to consider what you want to focus on in your career. For example, MBA programs can provide broad-based skills to business managers who want to increase their knowledge of multiple functional areas within a business. MS programs can help business managers specialize in and deepen their knowledge of a single area within a business. As an investment, both of these graduate degrees can help professionals earn more money. In  2009, median monthly earnings for professionals with master’s degrees were $4,772, while bachelor’s degree holders earned $3,836, according to a Pew Research Center article.

Business managers embarking on an academic journey to earn a master’s degree can position themselves for higher earnings in the future. From 2012 to 2013, workers in business, finance, and sales who held master’s degrees earned salaries that were among the highest of all occupations, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Similarly, CBS News reports that a master’s degree can increase earnings for business managers by about 22 percent.

MBA Degree

The MBA is an internationally recognized degree and popular among professionals seeking to advance their business knowledge through formal education and networking. This well-established degree continues to be in high global demand for students and companies. According to a report for the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC), 86 percent percent of companies planned on hiring MBA graduates in 2017, up from 79 percent in 2016.

It is common for MBA graduates to pursue jobs in finance, consulting, management, and information systems management. And since MBA degrees provide a broad-based business education, the knowledge and skills acquired during program studies are useful for a wide range of roles across various sectors including technology, consumer goods, health care, energy, government, finance, and nonprofit organizations. The versatility of the MBA offers increased earnings potential for professionals seeking new career paths, enabling them to potentially earn double their current salary, according to a recent Wall Street Journal article.

In terms of salary, 2018 data from GMAC reveals wage disparities between hires with MBA degrees and hires with bachelor’s degrees, especially in the U.S. The projected median base starting salary is $105,000 for MBA graduates as compared with $65,000 for those who hold bachelor’s degrees.

Not all MBA programs are the same. And it is important to note that core requirements and coursework in MBA programs will vary from school to school. For example, all three specializations in the online Master of Business Administration program at NJIT—Management Information Systems, Marketing, and Finance—encompass a tech-driven curriculum that addresses the strategic connection between innovation and management.

MS Degree

Specialized master’s degree programs at business schools are growing in popularity—a U.S. News & World Report article noted that interest among potential students increased by 2 percent based on results from a GMAC survey. MS programs enable professionals to prepare themselves with expertise in a specific area of business. There are MS programs in accounting, management, finance, and more. For example, accounting professionals may enroll in an MS program to gain deeper knowledge of accounting laws and procedures, which can help them advance in their careers. Another reason for an accounting professional to complete an MS degree is that it provides the educational requirements for the certified public accountant (CPA) exam.

Through a combination of science and business curriculum, MS program graduates can obtain important skills relevant to today’s tech-driven business world. Salaries for professionals completing their master’s degree in a specific area of business varies. For example, the average salary for accountants with a master’s degree is $67,000, according to PayScale.

For students considering an MBA vs. an MS, it is noteworthy that academic rigor and dedication are expected for both of these advanced degrees. And in terms of curriculum when thinking about an MBA vs. an MS, the difference is in the focus areas of study.

Become a Twenty-First-Century Business Leader

The online Master of Business Administration program at NJIT is helping to prepare tomorrow’s business leaders. Explore how the online MBA program at NJIT can prepare you with critical thinking skills and business knowledge to tackle the constantly evolving challenges of the global business landscape.


CBS News, “10 Careers Where a Master’s Degree Pays Off”

Graduate Management Admission Council, “Nearly 9 in 10 Companies Plan to Hire MBA Graduates in 2017”

Investopedia, Master of Business Administration

NJIT, Online Master of Business Administration

PayScale, “Master of Science (MS), Accounting Degree”

Pew Research Center, “For Millennials, a Bachelor’s Degree Continues to Pay Off, but a Master’s Earns Even More”

Poets & Quants, “From GMAC, A Note Of Caution On MBA Job Market”

The Wall Street Journal, “Looking to Double Your Salary? Try an MBA”

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, “Should I Get a Master’s Degree?”

U.S. News & World Report, “Decide Between an MBA an MS at Business School”