MBA vs Specialist Masters – a choice that will decide on your future career.

Prof Francesco Moscone from Brunel Business School gives his view on the choices faced by candidates wishing to pursue Postgraduate Study in the area of Business and Management.

MBAs and specialist Masters have many strengths and similarities, and they differ in several aspects, including contents, students’ experience, and projected career paths.

Essentially, an MBA is a ‘post-experience’ qualification in general management, although some business schools may offer specialist MBA programmes in areas such as aviation and health care. The aim of an MBA is to offer students a holistic overview of how a business works, covering all major functions and practices of a business. As a result, MBA graduates will acquire theoretical and applied knowledge of several core subjects including marketing, international business, entrepreneurship and human resources.  One of the strengths of an MBA is fostering organisation, persuasion, leadership ad team-building skills as well as skills for innovation which are needed to expand career prospects, and tackle the most difficult issues facing businesses and societies. The plurality of students’ professional backgrounds is another key benefit as they may profit from networking with their peers. 

Specialist Master programmes are designed for people in the early stages of their career; immediately after their undergraduate degree or after one/two years on the job. These courses focus more on the theoretical side of the management field than the MBA, equipping students with more specialist knowledge.  A student may opt for a specialised Master if she is more interested in acquiring specific skills required by the industry.

From a pedagogical point of view, although some Masters cover the similar material as the MBA, they have a different teaching style which is more lecture-based. MBAs, in contrast, tend to focus on teamwork, business case studies, and the exchange of individual experience.

In this period of economic downturn investing in a post graduate management course is worthwhile, as the need for well-educated and internationally-oriented graduates will not cease or decrease in the long-term.

As people leave jobs in industries as a result of the economic crisis, an MBA is a unique opportunity for ambitious leaders to secure a better management position. A specialist Master is a worthwhile investment in order to stand out in a demanding and competitive job market.

Professor Francesco Moscone is the Director of the Brunel MBA programme and the former head of the Centre of Research into Entrepreneurship, International Business in Emerging Markets. He has previously worked at the University of Leicester, University of Cambridge, and London School of Economics (LSE). He has held visiting scholar positions at University of California-Berkeley, University Pompeu Fabra, and LSE. He has worked as health economist for the National Collaborating Centre for Women and Children’s Health, and the National Agency for Regional Health Services (Rome, Italy). He is principal investigator on an ESRC (UK government funding) first research grant entitled “Statistical Modelling of Interdependence in Economics”. Additionally he is co-investigator for the grant “Economic Performance and Quality of Life in European Cities” awarded by the Economics Education and Research Consortium. Francesco is also a co-investigator for the grant “Development of new indicators to assess research within scientific areas” awarded by the European Social Fund. Additionally Francesco co investigates a major EU grant entitled “Biopool- Services associated to digitalise contents of tissues in Biobanks across Europe”.

He is associate editor of the journal Economic Modelling and a Member of ESRC Peer Review College.

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