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10 Advanced Degrees That Are Better Than an MBA Today



There’s no denying that the MBA is a popular degree, but it isn’t always the best choice for every career path or individual. There are several advanced degrees that are more in demand and often, more easily accessible than the classic MBA. Design programs, finance degrees, and dual-track MBAs are all in high demand right now. Is there one that’s right for you?

  1. Master of Computer Science:

    Computers are a necessity of business and every day life, so it’s no surprise that people with an advanced degree in computer science can expect to have a great career that’s in demand. Computer research scientists, for example, are expected to grow by 19% in the next decade, adding 5,300 new jobs. And they’re valuable jobs at that, with median pay around $100,000 per year. Earnings are almost identical to the $101,000 median pay for top executives, but job growth is much better compared to an MBA’s expected 5%.

  2. Engineering:

    Who would you most expect to run a company: an MBA or an engineer? Most people would answer MBA, but according to recent research, founders and CEOs are much more likely to have an advanced engineering degree than an MBA. This is especially true in the IT and social industries, where technical knowledge is key.

  3. D.School:

    Engineers often make for great CEOs and founders, and Stanford University has capitalized on that, introducing a new D.School program that focuses on a “design-think” brand of engineering. As it’s taught at Stanford, design-think is all about observing people to solve their problems before they even know they have them. Stanford’s not the only one. Maryland Institute College of Art has launched a new program in design leadership, and Philadelphia offers a strategic design executive program that they refer to as “the MBA for hybrid thinkers.” Additionally, College of the Atlantic’s entrepreneurship program focuses on sustainable business.

  4. Master of Finance:

    If you have a love of numbers, a Master of Finance just might be a better choice than an MBA. Master of Finance programs are typically a bit easier to get into, and while most MBA programs require at least three years of work experience, advanced finance students can come in with just internship experience. This degree also tends to be shorter and cheaper: at Ohio State, a Specialized Masters in Finance takes 10 months and costs $49,000, while the two-year MBA rings in at $85,000. You’d think that investing more time and money into an MBA would pay off big, but that’s not necessarily true, as median base salaries are comparable, with finance graduates earning around $105,000, and MBAs earning $119,000.

  5. Master of Science in Management:

    The Master of Science in Management, often referred to as an MiM, is very similar to the MBA, but there are a few key differences. Although the two degrees typically cover the same subjects and general management courses, the Master of Science in Management is targeted with recent graduates in mind instead of seasoned professionals. Additionally, the Master of Science in Management focuses more on research in management, rather than the strategy of business administration. Although most employers will recognize an MBA degree more quickly than a Master of Science in Management, the MiM has become more visible and valuable in recent years as the MBA market becomes more saturated.

  6. Master of Science in Organizational Leadership:

    The Master of Science in Organizational Leadership is an MBA alternative that’s offered worldwide. Typically, it’s best suited for students who are more interested in leadership studies than business topics like finance and marketing. With this degree, students focus on people and organization issues, with courses in psychology and philosophy in addition to business and management.

  7. Chartered Financial Analyst:

    Another great finance degree: the Chartered Financial Analyst program. Like the Master of Finance, the CFA is an intense financial study, and the program is significantly cheaper than an MBA. It’s possible to complete the entire program for less than $5,000. But unlike the Master of Finance, the CFA does not offer a salary comparable to the MBA, or at least not initially. CFAs working as financial analysts will typically earn between $48,000 and $73,000 a year when they’re just starting out. But add five to nine years of experience, and that number grows to $90,335. With 10 to 20 years of experience, CFA salaries can be between $121,017 and $149,017.

  8. MBA-MFA:

    Although some degrees may be a better choice than an MBA, many art students are learning that a dual MBA and MFA is wise. After all, if you want to make a living from your art, you’ll have to know how to sell it. Students seeking a career in fields like the film and TV industry can pick up knowledge about finance and marketing while learning about film. Although these programs can take longer and cost more, many graduates believe they’re worth it.

  9. Master of Science in Project Management:

    Business analysts and project managers are more in demand now than ever before as companies work hard to understand their future and optimize existing projects and performance. That’s why many schools now offer a Master of Science in Project Management, creating degreed professionals with the skills to make projects work. Although MBAs are often a good choice for recent graduates with three or more years of work experience, Master of Science in Project Management candidates often have significant work experience: around 12 years on average. Project managers typically earn between $54,000 and $115,000 per year, with Master of Science in Project Management degree holders on the higher end of the scale, especially those who work for technology companies.

  10. Law School:

    Many new graduates wrestle with the decision to go to law school or get an MBA, and it’s not at all surprising. They both offer respected credentials as well as the potential for a prestigious and well-paid career. And job growth is about even for both management and law. Which one is better for you? Students who have skills in math and are interested in business would do well to pursue an MBA, but law school is a great choice for students who have good communication skills and a liberal arts foundation. And although MBAs have the potential for a higher top-end salary, there’s also more risk of unemployment, as well as a lower average salary than law school grads.

November 29th, 2012 written by Staff Writers

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