Over the years, the MBA has become the de facto option for anyone looking to do something big in Management; it is so popular, and recruiters have become so enamoured of people with this Degree, that it overshadows many other excellent options within the business management field.
However, even as great as the MBA is, it is not the only option. If you are clear that you want to pursue management at the graduate level, you have many options to excel, and not all of them are conventional. Many of them have become popular over the past decade; some of them even act as excellent feeder systems to the more popular MBA programs. The good news is that all of them can be stand alone; there are multiple instances of motivated professionals building a career immediately after one of these degrees, and never looking back.
Here, in our latest Jamboree in depth feature, you can read about 7 post graduate programs in management that are increasingly popular in the modern world, and understand the pros, cons and suggested application routes for each of them:
Master’s in Management (MIM) programs are the best ‘conventional’ theoretical Master’s programs out there (apart from, of course the MBAs of the world)
For many people, an MBA is something that comes towards the mid to late 20s; something that serves as the pinnacle of their professional career – a reward for exceptional work in their undergraduate and early professional life. Some of these want to understand whether the world of management is for them, well before they devote a substantial chunk of their early years in the field, trying to work towards an MBA. For many of these, an MIM is a great option.
The MIM degree is substantially less costly than the MBA (up to 65% less in some schools) and also has a significantly younger class profile (there are many who join an MIM program right out of undergraduate school, or who are substantially younger – by half a decade – than their MBA counterparts). Therefore, there is significantly lower investment and risk in an MIM degree; it is a great way to test the waters of management.
In addition, a significant population of students decide to work in the industry after a MIM degree, and are able to use the theoretical knowledge from the degree to excel in the analytics, finance or consulting sectors. Some of them are able to work in the long term without an MBA; there are multiple instances of people with these backgrounds being very successful in the industry.
Of course, in case you are sure that the long term goal is indeed to get a big name MBA from a top global school, you might be better served using the two years of the MIM degree to gain blue chip corporate work experience, and build your professional experience spikes so that you can apply in 3-5 years to HBS, Stanford, Wharton, LBS or INSEAD, and try getting in there. If you’re undecided, an MIM could be a great option!
Note: the MIM degree has many different abbreviations, depending on university; we have used it as an umbrella term for all conventional Master’s programs in management.
MS&E (Management Science and Engineering) degrees are fast gaining traction
The MS&E degrees were aimed at being at the cutting edge of three great disciplines – management, engineering, and public policy. About a decade after they were first introduced, Stanford University still has the most high profile course in the world, but many other universities are following suit. There is a need for people who want to get their hands dirty with the engineering basics that they love, but also want to use these in business leadership – whether it is as entrepreneurs, business enablers, or technical officers in large companies.
This degree creates such professionals, and gives them the tools they need to change the world. Many case studies about this degree talk about the fact that, had Bill Gates been enrolled in such a degree, he would never have felt the need to drop out; the MS&E degree, its flexibility, and its options, would have given him everything he needed to build a technological revolution. It is truly a degree of the future; it happens to have a third of its vision in common with the MBA, but is different from it in many ways. It may be the most cutting edge degree in the world today, and that’s saying something; it is truly rocket science.
The initial career trajectories of the first few graduates have been encouraging – there is a set of people who go on to do similar functions and jobs as those graduating from a top Business School do; there is another set of people who go on to start up in the Valley, and yet another set who use the MS&E as a springboard to an MBA, or equivalent ‘big’ degree. Only time will show how the MS&E degree will grow, but all indicators are positive.
MFin (or Master’s in Finance) degrees are focused routes to a career in Finance; they can be useful career shortcuts
Over and above the Master’s programs in General Management and Inter-disciplinary Management (that we have looked at above) there are also many interesting specialized degrees. For example, the MFin degrees look at professionals who are clear that their interest and skill lies in the field of finance, and give them a clear value proposition – that they will get them ready for the industry, and get the industry interested in them – more quickly than any other option can.
Since this is a functional degree with a very clear mandate, it is also very clearly structured according to industry requirements. Corresponding to every big role in industry – whether it be quantitative trading, managerial finance, investment analysis or wealth management – there is a specialization within the top universities that offer the MSF and MFin degrees, and students are able to learn the tricks of the trade from industry experts; an additional perk is the close industry relations enjoyed by most MFin courses.
Post this, there is large recruiter interest; in the two year programs, there are always great internship options available, followed by quick long term offers. In accelerated programs, industry defined problems and internship modules are built in to the course, so that students can join traditional jobs as soon as possible. The MFin degree is a great example of how a professional who is clearly interested in finance alone, and just wants a finishing school that will put him in contention for a top finance job, can get a final coat of polish and start working in the industry a good five years before an MBA degree would have put him / her on track for a similar career path.
More than anything, the MFin and MSF degrees serve as career accelerators for those who have their eyes set on a career in finance.
The Executive MBA is a great option if you have ‘missed the bus’ on a traditional MBA program
Of course, the median years of work experience in full time MBA programs for many top Business Schools is 5, which might lead most to think that there are multiple people who have worked in the industry for close to a decade. But the truth is that most people who have more than 5 years of work experience in a full time MBA cluster just above the median; there will be a large number with 5 and 6 years of work experience.
Hence, if you are looking at applying to a top Business School, and you have 6-10 (or even more) years of work experience, your best bet might be the Executive MBA, given that the chances will probably be higher than those in a traditional MBA (make sure that you evaluate the chances with an expert coach before taking a decision, though!)
An executive MBA is a great way for a middle level manager to make the leap towards leadership; it is a crash course that lends professionals who might not have an MBA degree (typically Masters and PhD grads) the strong theoretical foundation of the MBA, and adds many useful networking opportunities. The reason that the MBA can be compressed by more than 90% is, of course, that all these professionals have extensive industry and work experience, and can fill in the gaps in a sketchy course very well; they will need less detailed case studies, and little to no grounding in the basics of business.
Online MBAs are gaining traction, but a large part of the worldwide business community still looks on them with suspicion
Less effective than the Executive MBA programs are the online MBA programs; the reason probably lies in the fact that they are taken by less senior managers, and that there is no real physical connect with the best universities in the world. In addition, the barriers to entry are lower, so the prestige wanes a little.
However, there are still big names among those offering the top ranked online MBA courses in the world: the top 20 Business Schools in the world largely stay out of the space, preferring to concentrate on their classroom programs, but many of the other entities in the top 200 globally choose to create online programs in order to increase their own recognition value, as also to generate some revenues on the side (given that they often have lower endowments than a Harvard or a Stanford). For example, Warwick Business School has a globally respected MBA classroom program, but also offers a very highly ranked online MBA.
The main advantages of this course are all obvious: there are many young, ambitious professionals who just cannot make the time or monetary investment needed for a full time MBA, and do not want to ‘miss the bus’ on the career opportunities that an MBA can bring them. For such professionals, an online MBA is a great option: it gives them some flexibility, it gives them the name value of a big Business School, and it gives them the chance to get ahead in their career without having to wait for the years needed to acquire an executive MBA. Therefore, our final verdict is that these are indeed great options, but only for a certain set of people at a very specific point in their professional careers. These are definitely not beneficial to everyone, and should be invested in with great care.
We hope that our latest Jamboree special feature has been useful and informative, and has given you useful insights into a few management degrees you had no idea about. Remember that the MBA still rules the roost, but there are multiple instances of people tasting the same level of success with a completely different, new age degree in the same field, and that the number of such instances is growing. If you are looking to invest in such a degree, remember to do your due diligence on history – find out what career paths open up for the top graduates of such a program which were not open before, and what networking opportunities they can gain by being a part of such a program. In case the answers to both questions are unmistakably positive, then you know that an investment is definitely not a bad idea; you might choose to invest in an MBA instead, but it is definitely worth considering, and could end up being a great consolation prize in case you miss out on a top MBA by a hair’s breadth.
In case you want to know more about unconventional courses that could end up being the MBAs of the future, or top prospects in any graduate field, feel free to get in touch. Our experts, mentors and coaches at Jamboree will be happy to clarify any doubts you might have, and help broaden your horizons in terms of prospects out there that fit your skill set better than any other. Once you have found the course that is completely right for you at this period of time, they will help you build a clear path to success, and convince you that the path is the right one. Finally, we will walk with you every step of the way and realize your dream with you. All the best!
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