Management programs comparison

posted at Aug. 5, 2020, 10:58 a.m.

A whole host of management degrees are available today. At Gradvine, we get 100s of students asking me which one to opt for every month. I hope that this article will serve as a holistic guide for all of you considering various management degrees. I've written in some detail about each of them. The content covers the eligibility criteria, job opportunities on graduating, preferred destinations for each degree, and what you can expect from the coursework at each of these programs.

Reading this article should help you decide which degrees suit your profile and requirements the best. Remember, we can give you sound advice and paint a realistic picture of all of these options. But the choice is up to you at the end of the day. That being said, I hope you are able to absorb the contents of this article. The language has been kept very simple and the points covered are those that matter most to students at the end of the day.

I believe you will find this piece to be comprehensive, practical, and an ideal starting point for your research on post-graduate management degrees. Go on, give it a read then!

THE MBA The MBA is easily the most popular business degree out there and hence we will discuss it first. Another reason why I’ve put this up top is that the MBA serves as a standard of comparison for all other management degrees and hence explaining it first will make it easier for you to understand the differences and characteristics of other management degrees.

An MBA is the most complete pure management education you can hope for. It covers all areas of management including marketing, operations, finance, accounting, strategy, human resource management etc. Considering the breadth and depth on offer, you can pretty much choose to specialize in any area of management you wish. Feel like I'm only stating the obvious so far? Well here are a few things to keep in mind that are often overlooked.

An MBA abroad will need candidates to have 3-5 years of prior work experience. We see candidates insisting every year that they want to apply for an MBA straight out of college or with less than 2 years of experience. Even though university websites state that prior work experience isn’t a hard requirement, getting in without at least 3 years of experience to a top global B-school is quite improbable. In fact, for a lot of top European and American schools, the average work experience possessed by incoming candidates is close to 5 years. Hence make sure to factor this into your plans of pursuing an MBA. If you are planning to take up an Indian MBA, 2-3 years of work experience should suffice. Quite a few MBA programs in America are still non-STEM. While a lot of top MBA programs are now STEM accredited. A majority still aren’t. If going to America is on your agenda, be sure to apply to STEM programs because they give a 3 year stay back period on your student visa (OPT) during which you can work. During these 3 years, if you’re able to secure an H1B visa you can stay back for an extended period. Non-STEM courses only allow a 1 year stay back period. Considering how expensive an MBA is, you would want the security of the STEM extension to be able to repay your loan. This brings me to my next point. MBA programs are expensive, choose your education destination wisely! An MBA from a top American or European B-School can cost you upwards of a crore in tuition fees. Hence choose the country you want to pursue your MBA in wisely. Choose STEM MBAs in the USA. Canada is a great option due to friendly PR policies and good B-Schools such as Rotman, Sauder, Schulich & Ivey. France and The Netherlands are great options as well thanks to their 12-18 month stay back periods and top B-schools like HEC Paris, Rotterdam, ESCP, ESSEC, EDHEC. Oftentimes, the choice of B-schools you apply to will largely be dictated by the visa norms in various countries. What standard tests would you need? Typically most MBA programs accept both the GRE and the GMAT. GMAT will be accepted by every MBA school, however. You may also require the IELTS or TOEFL. For the top programs, your GMAT score should be around the 700 range.

THE MASTERS IN MANAGEMENT (MIM) These programs are a replica of an MBA in terms of the course structure. In fact, they can be called an MBA-lite or a junior MBA! The lack of creativity on my part in naming this degree aside, let’s talk about what makes the MIM different. The most significant difference with the MIM is that it accepts candidates without work experience. Hence if you want a pure management degree straight out of college or with less than 3 years of experience, you can consider the MIM. Also, people with any undergraduate background can apply to this degree. Let’s move onto the things to keep in mind:

MIMs are largely offered only in Europe: The best MIM programs are in The UK, Switzerland, France, Spain, and Singapore. As always you must pick the university depending on the stay back period in various countries. As always, France and The Netherlands can prove to be good destinations. The UK recently started a 2-year stay back policy for foreign students and hence could be a decent option as well. MIM is offered in America as well (under the name Master’s in Management Studies- "MMS" nomenclature). However, it is non-STEM and hence brings with it the associated challenges. The challenge of getting a job: As stated earlier, MIMs are often exact replicas of an MBA. Now, why is this a disadvantage? MBA degrees are career accelerators because their structure and curriculum add value to people who have domain expertise already in a particular area due to their prior work experience. Hence the management curriculum allows them to grow in their sector further after an MBA. Someone who has experience on the factory floor for a few years for an automotive company may be accelerated into a leadership role after graduating with an MBA at a company operating in a similar domain. If you want to be hired as a financial consultant with Goldman Sachs after you graduate with a management degree, the recruiter will want to know what you’ve done in the field of finance with a company in the past. Hence a combination of your education and your previous work experience/domain expertise makes you a hireable asset as a mid-level/high-level manager for companies. The MIM degree takes people in without work experience. Hence the curriculum being exactly like an MBA can work to your disadvantage sometimes. You may have gained great classroom and case-study based knowledge in the areas of strategy, marketing, and finance. However, when an interviewer is thinking about hiring you, he will want to know the prior real-world experience you have with the relevant products/processes you will help lead in the future at your prospective company. The brand name of the university can add value. If you are planning to return to a family business or have entrepreneurial ambitions in your home country, getting an MIM from universities like LBS, LSE or HEC Paris can add a lot of weight to your future prospects. Hence a lot of students with this vision look to apply to MIM programs. The quality of education and the network that these top B-Schools open up is fantastic. Hence the MIM could be a viable option for those looking to go into business themselves. What standard tests would you need? Typically most MIM programs accept both the GRE and the GMAT. GMAT will be accepted by every MIM program, however. You will also require the IELTS or TOEFL. For the top programs, your GMAT score should be around the 700 range.

MSc. MANAGEMENT What do we have here? MSc. Management programs can be defined as an MIM Junior or MIM-Lite! You might not have heard of this degree, but when you want to consider all the management degree options, we cannot ignore this one. MSc Management programs are predominantly offered in the UK and the rest of Europe. They accept people with no work experience as well. So how are they different from the MIM then? These courses are shorter (9 months- 1 year compared to 18 months- 2 years for MBA & MIM programs).

Another key difference you ask? You don’t need a GMAT to get into these programs. MBAs and MIMs at top schools will require a solid GMAT score. Let’s continue on to the Things to keep in mind:

A shorter degree means a lighter curriculum. Don’t expect to explore management concepts in great detail or specialize in an area through these courses Getting a job will be incredibly hard: We recommend that you look at MSc management courses only if you are ok with coming back to your home country immediately after graduating. Getting a job abroad considering the curriculum and lack of prior work experience for MSc graduates makes getting a job incredibly hard. There are some MSc Management courses offered in America as well. There are specialized MS courses in marketing and finance as well. Some of them are STEM and some aren’t. You’ll have to check that on a case by case basis. What standard tests would you need? MSc Management programs don't need a GMAT or GRE. You should be able to apply with only an IELTS score. A 7 band score should suffice.

Enter the techno-managerial champions! Techno-managerial degrees offer management skills that are tailored specifically to particular industries. These degrees see great demand from both students and recruiters alike, which is always great news. I will explain why these courses are producing candidates that the industry is lapping up at this point. If you are an engineering or STEM undergrad you can seriously explore the following courses. Let’s get cracking then!

MASTER'S IN ENGINEERING MANAGEMENT (MEM, MSEM, MS&E) The most managerial of techno-managerial degrees. The curriculum largely exposes students to all the basic pillars of management, with a strong emphasis on analytical skills, Statistics, and Data-backed decision making. These courses are largely offered in America, with a few options in Canada and Europe as well. Typically, these programs can be 1-2 years long. Time for the things to keep in mind:

You can apply to MEM programs only if you have an engineering, sciences or strong math background in your undergrad. Hence a lot of BBA, arts and commerce graduates find that they aren’t eligible to apply. You can apply to a MEM from any branch of engineering, however. MEM degrees are STEM-designated in America. Hence you get the benefits of the 3 year STEM extension that should ensure a great return on investment. Considering MEM degrees are cheaper than MBAs, the RoI should be more solid as well. Other countries you can consider for decent opportunities after an MEM degree are Canada and the Netherlands due to the strong and growing tech industry present. MEM degrees offer very relevant and specific skills. I’ve addressed how MIMs are replicas of MBAs. MEM, on the other hand, gives you skills that make you hireable despite limited work experience. Courses in analytics, Decision Science, Statistics, Finance, Technical Project Management, and Product Management are hard skills that will ease your entry into the industry as an entry-level manager or analyst. Due to the skills tailored to tech companies endowed by the program, candidates with more than 3 years of experience also greatly benefit from this degree. This is not the degree for you if you are keen on qualitative management roles. If you wish to explore the fields of content marketing, advertising, Social media marketing, for instance, this degree will not have the curriculum that would please you or open up future avenues that will help you build a career in the same. Most MEMs are hired by tech companies in roles including but not limited to product management, project management, analytics, operations management, financial analytics, consulting, manufacturing, and supply chain management. What standard tests would you need? MEM programs largely only accept the GRE and not the GMAT. There a few exceptions, but you will lose out on a lot of options if you do not have a GRE score in hand. The IELTS or TOEFL will also be required

INFORMATIONS SYSTEMS MANAGEMENT (MIS, MISM, MSIS) I don’t like bringing in the MIS degree into a conversation about pure management degrees. The reason being, MIS degrees are far more technical with a strong emphasis on coding when compared to other degrees. Oftentimes, there are core computer science and IT courses as a part of the curriculum like Database Management and Informations Security.

However, depending on what you want from your career, the MIS can certainly be viewed as a management degree. MIS programs are flexible and you can take electives in the areas including but not limited to project management, innovation management, and information planning strategy. Nonetheless, the emphasis remains on coding. In fact, MIS degrees are more similar to Business Analytics degrees than an Engineering Management or MIM degree. Are you ready for the things to keep in mind?

MIS degrees can be used by non-computer science undergrads, with a couple of years of experience in the IT sector to shift to pure CS/coding roles abroad on graduating. A lot of ECE and EEE graduates take this route. It isn’t rare for a mechanical engineering or Chemical Engineering graduate to move to an MIS degree after some coding related work experience either. MIS degrees are also a route for IT professionals to move into product management and project management roles on completing the program. Hence if you are ok with sticking to the tech/IT sector, you can leverage the MIS as a management degree. Prior work experience is not a strict requirement for MIS programs. However, we strongly recommend you have around 2 years of experience under your belt to increase your chances of getting in and also land better jobs abroad on graduating. The best destination for MIS degrees is America without a doubt. The number of opportunities for MIS graduates in America are unmatched. Canada is also proving to be a great destination for Information Systems and Analytics graduates at this point. What standard tests would you need? Most top MIS programs accept both the GRE and the GMAT. IELTS or TOEFL will be required as well.

INDUSTRIAL ENGINEERING Disclaimer! This program is an option only for Mechanical, Production, Chemical, EEE & Civil Engineers. Hence do not read on if you don’t have this undergraduate background. As the name suggests, IE programs deal with all things related to the industry; more specifically manufacturing and distribution. Hence you will realize that all of the eligible undergraduate departments have some components of large scale manufacturing, sourcing, and production involved.

To better understand the IE degree, it would serve you well to take the Engineering Management program as a base. If the engineering management program broadly covers all aspects of management, IE programs are mostly focussed or specialized with respect to operations management. Industrial Engineers ensure the efficiency of processes and production lines, ensure high quality of finished products, reduce operating costs, plan robust sourcing mechanisms, and optimize the supply chain. They also can look after ergonomic factors to ensure the people manning the production line have the highest levels of comfort and convenience while operating machinery, ensuring the optimum levels of productivity from each individual. Hence you get the gist right? Time for the things to keep in mind.

Even though the content above made it clear, we’d like to reiterate this -Don’t go into an IE program expecting a holistic management education. It is very focussed on manufacturing, operations, and production. You can make it to the program with limited or no work experience. The skills the program endows should make you a hireable asset in the industry after you graduate. Nonetheless, as with all other management/techno-management degrees, having work experience will help you with your job search. IE graduates often get hired as operations managers, supply-chain managers, operations research analysts, consultants. Lean processes and Six Sigma are also areas where industrial engineers typically excel. People without work ex also make it to the top IE programs. At Gradvine, we’ve had students straight out of college make it to Georgia Tech and The University of Michigan as well. What standard tests would you need? IE programs will require the GRE and IELTS/TOEFL.

There you go. I hope that helped. There are a couple of programs like supply-chain management, MS in Finance, and Financial Engineering that I haven't covered. I've left them out for now because their names are almost self-explanatory. I might include them in this feature in a later edit. Comment on the article if you'd like me to.

At Gradvine, we've guided students to the finest universities for all programs. Stanford, Dartmouth, Cornell, UPenn, Georgia Tech, University of Michigan, London Business School, University of Toronto, NUS..... you name it and we've had past admits. Do schedule a free call with us if you have any further questions or if you are planning to apply to any of these programs.