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What Is the Difference Between an MBA and a Masters Degree

In a difficult job market, professionals often attend graduate school in order to compete with other job-seekers or increase their skills for a current position. Both master's and MBA degree programs offer attractive options, including part-time and distance learning. Get more info to determine which program would be right for you.

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Overview of an MBA and a Master's Degree Program

Master's-level programs may include programs in business, engineering, education and healthcare. A Master of Business Administration (MBA) program is a kind of master's degree program that concentrates on refining general management competencies with an emphasis on business skills, such as accounting or employee relations.

Undergraduate Degree Requirements

Master's degree programs often demand undergraduate degrees within the same field of study for admission, while a student pursuing an MBA may complete undergraduate studies in a major other than business. In a 2006 BusinessWeek article, it was noted that graduate schools encourage students to seek liberal arts or science bachelor's degrees before enrolling in an MBA program ( Some of the best business schools in the U.S. do not include a business major for bachelor's degrees, instead advocating a broader undergraduate education.

Options for Program Graduates

Typically, students treat MBA degree programs as terminal degrees, using the program to further a career or seek higher wages. Many graduates continue on to complete a Doctor of Philosophy program. Professionals starting out in a particular career may find pursuing a master's degree in the field more advantageous to their jobs than an MBA.

A graduate degree program can provide greater knowledge and advanced training, and those with a master's or MBA may demand a higher salary than an employee with just an undergraduate degree. Depending on the student's career path, returning for an MBA degree to learn specialized management skills may lead to more career opportunities.

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