Is a Masters in Management Degree Worth It?

The Economist pointed to a shift in graduate business program: more students are deciding to earn a Master of Science in Management (MSM), to the point where this degree is now growing at a faster rate than the Master of Business Administration (MBA). Although the MBA has long been considered the ticket to advancing into the realm of management, the Masters in Management touts a shorter completion time while emphasizing essential leadership and business skills.

The MSM’s proliferation can be traced back to two trends. One, degrees, like marketplaces and corporate structures, are seeing the effects of globalization. Specifically, European universities introduced the Masters in Management close to two decades ago, and since then, its shorter structure and emphasis on flexible, advanced business skills caught on in US and Asia-Pacific universities. Two, as business schools have started developing shorter, more specialized graduate degrees, the MSM reflects the demand for a higher-level, market-ready credential that can benefit the career of a specialist looking to move up into management.

Yet, in today’s world, the MSM—also called an MiM and an MMgt—stands apart from the traditional MBA, although curriculum and subjects appear to overlap at points. As a professional thinking about advancing your career, is earning a Masters in Management worth it? Before you commit to a program, think about the following points.

Who is the Masters in Management for?

The Graduate Management Admission Council’s 2017 white paper “Understanding the Role of the Master in Management in Global Business Education” defines the MSM student as someone with minimal professional experience—perhaps less than two years in the workforce—who’s thinking about building upon their existing bachelor’s degree to improve their marketability. The typical MBA candidate, by contrast, is someone who likely earned a business degree, has been in the corporate world for four to seven years, and is thinking about or appears primed for a management position.

Professionals who haven’t yet built up this experience find themselves in a difficult spot. For reputable MBA programs, these individuals don’t have the same experience and connections under their belt, but their bachelor’s degree, in business or liberal arts, has only taken them so far. Or, following graduation, they’ve encountered limited opportunities that have few, if any, advancement potential.

The MSM serves as a ladder for such professionals who find their career hitting a plateau too fast and too soon. Reflecting this demand, particularly in a marketplace that requires entry-level candidates to have multiple credentials right out of the gate, GMAC’s report found that, based on GMAT score reports from 2007 through 2016, the number of business schools offering MSM degrees grew from 102 to 195.

In thinking about this particular individual, Masters in Management programs:

  • devote more time toward leadership and management skills;
  • enhance a candidate’s existing knowledge and experience;
  • can pave the way into an entry-level business or management role;
  • attract candidates from a more diverse range of backgrounds; and
  • tend to lean younger, as the average MSM student, according to GMAC’s figures, is just under 24 years old.

Boosting Your Career with Broadly Applicable Business Knowledge

Business schools gear their MBA degrees specifically toward professionals with finance and economics backgrounds. Although the MSM covers these areas, its curriculum delivers a broader, more high-level perspective of general business knowledge—one that’s essential for advancing in a range of fields. Whether you seek to work in a nonprofit, in a creative occupation, in a field like marketing or project management, or to start your own business as an entrepreneur, the principles still apply and provide a thorough understanding of key business functionalities.

To recruiters, administrative, assistant, and specialist professionals appear to have narrow and selective skill sets. The MSM curriculum ultimately expands upon what you’ve acquired through school and in the workplace, balancing your concentrated skills with knowledge of marketing, finance, leadership, management, and data analysis. Collectively, this combination paints you as a business generalist with a thorough, in-depth view of your field or industry.

A Solid Starting Salary

GMAC’s Application Trends Survey Report 2019 found that, in 2019, candidates who had earned a Masters in Management had a median annual base starting salary of $80,000. While it’s lower than what MBA recipients see, understand that the majority (55%) of MSM degree-holders advance into an entry-level business role that offers further advancement opportunities. In short, this amount lays out a solid foundation and sets your career on an upward-moving trajectory.

Greater Career Flexibility

It’s no understatement to say that all industries benefit from stronger leaders, managers, and communicators—the essence of the MSM curriculum and one that complements your existing undergraduate degree.

GMAC’s white paper found that following graduation, MSM students primarily found careers in products and services, consulting, marketing, and sales. Possible roles include:

  • Production Supervisor;
  • Operations Manager;
  • Project Manager;
  • Human Resources Manager;
  • Public Relations Manager;
  • Marketing Director; and
  • Training and Development Manager.

A One-Year Timeframe

What if you could advance your career in just one year? Spending significant time away from the workforce often proves to be detrimental, and for this reason , many newer graduate business degrees, including the Masters in Management, are structured to be completed in 12 or fewer months. In turn, attending a full-time program, perhaps while continuing to work on a part-time or contractual basis, ends up opening additional career opportunities without cutting off the current path you’ve been on.

Wake Forest University has structured our MSMdegree to be completed in just 10 months.

Career Advancement

The Masters in Management already serves as a stepping stone. Yet, in the business world, you may find yourself needing additional credentials down the line to advance into a senior or leadership role. Thinking about this possibility, many MSM earners eventually return to school to complete an MBA. According to GMAC’s white paper, twice as many MSM earners compared to MBA degree-holders plan to finish a second graduate degree at some point.

Subject area commonalities often shorten the MBA’s typical two-year time frame. In fact, Wake Forest enhances our Masters in Management with the MBA Advantage, allowing you to complete this second graduate business degree in just 12 months. In the process, you benefit from the cohort experience and all the networking opportunities and professional insight that structure brings.  

Increase Your Marketability with a Masters in Management from Wake Forest

The Economist ranks our Masters in Management program No. 1 in the U.S. for Career Opportunities, and No. 3 overall. Whether you majored in liberal arts, communications, or another specialized field, an MSM degree helps broaden your skill set. To take the next step, request more information today.