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MS vs MBA in USA Difference. What do you study? What Jobs?

One of the most asked questions by many students planning to study in the US is “Should I study MBA or MS ?” Some know what they want, some are not sure, and rely on the hype and general trend in the market based on some factors like salary, branding, etc. If you look at countries like India, with the hype of all IIMs, ISB, and other premier MBA institutions the shift in pursuing higher education has been towards MBA in recent times. With all the lavish salaries MBA students get right after their graduation, many are tempted to jump the bandwagon…

Students applying to study in the US are thinking in the same direction as everyone in India and plan to land in Ivy league schools, the University of Chicago, Kellog School of Business, etc. But the reality is that many do not know the implications and what it all means for their careers.  In this article, we will cover the basic differences between them.

What is MS Degree? What do you study in MS?

MS means “Master of Science”. As it says, master of science, you are going much deeper than what you studied with a bachelor’s degree. Your focus is primarily to get into the advanced topics in a particular subject, you will study topics in much depth.  Just to compare with countries like India, MS is like doing M.Sc or M.A back in that respective country . The emphasis is more on advanced topics in that particular area.

Example : Let’s say you pick MS in Computer Sciences, you study classic courses like Advanced Database Management Systems, Advanced Operation systems, Research Methods, Design and Analysis of Algorithms, Advanced programming languages, etc. in much more detail…sorry if you are not a computer science major and you did not get it. Overall, what I was saying is that you study the technical aspects of a subject to another level and more deeply.

To get into the MS program, it is ideal to have the same background or major in bachelor’s degree. For instance, lets’ say you have a B.tech in Computer Sciences, then it is ideal to take MS in Computer Sciences or if you have a B.A. or B.Com with a focus on Economics or Finance, then you can do MS in Accounting or Finance.

If you are from different background, nothing to worry. You can still pursue your dream, it is that that you would have to do lot of foundation classes or pre-requisite courses to change the major. Read Can I study a different major in masters for MS ? Requirements.

What is MS good For? What can I do with MS ? Jobs ?

As MS is more technical in nature, it is good for doing further research by enrolling in a Ph.D. or working in technical positions in your job. It can be like  Database Architect,  Marketing Research Director, Advance Tax & valuation expert, etc. It may give you an edge if you are in the technical area or research.

Typically, many people who wish to become researchers, and professors one day, choose this path so that they can go to Ph.D. and then become a professor or researcher someday. Some just take it because they love the subject and want to know the details to an advanced level.

What is MBA Degree ? What do you study an MBA ?

MBA stands for “Master of Business Administration”. As it clearly says, we can see it is an Administration or Management degree by name. It is in no way technical in nature. You are not trying to explore the depth of a particular subject; you are trying to learn various aspects of a business and learn management skills to administer a company’s or organization’s resources and people effectively.

Typically, 2/3rd of the classes will be fundamental courses in Business and administration like  Accounting,  Corporate Finance, Organization Behavior, IT for Managers, Marketing Strategy, Economics, Operations strategy, Leadership, and Negotiation, etc. Rest of the 1/3rd of the classes with be electives and you have the choice. You can pick Marketing, Finance, HR, etc based on your choice or your current industry.

When someone says, I got MBA in Marketing, it means that they only did this 1/3rd of the classes related to Marketing. But, when someone says, I have MS in Marketing, it means they had around 80 – 100% of their classes in Marketing ONLY. Do you see the difference?  Based on university it changes, but generally, you can do your own set of classes that you like for the 1/3rd of classes in MBA with a variety of mix, then you will not have a degree in specialization. It will be called General Degree in MBA.

What is MBA good for ? Where can you work with MBA ? What is career path?

MBA is for those of you who want to work in a management or leadership position in an organization. The degree teaches you all about Business and how to effectively manage people, and resources to make logical and better decisions for the business. It is ideal for anyone with few years of experience and willing to grow up the ladder in their company.

It is for aspiring managers…If you want to grow to a higher level in a company and one day dream of becoming a CEO  or opening your own business, then MBA is for you. You can do specific courses in Entrepreneurship to become an entrepreneur of a Business. There are people who do PhD too, but most of the people with MBAs become managers, and based on their emphasis and experience, they can end up in titles like Director of Marketing, Global Sales Manager, Project Manager, etc.  There are some people who do PhD too, it is because during their MBA some specific course got their attention and they got plugged in… Also, it is recommended to do MBA after few years of work experience, read When should you do MBA after B.Tech or Bachelors Degree  

Now that you know the difference, you need to know the aspect like Fee, Funding, experience, etc… Check out the second part of  MS vs MBA after B.Tech – Fees, Funding .

Any thoughts to add on the differences of MS vs MBA ?


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  1. Hey
    I’am Karthik, right now studying Electronics and Communication. I don’t have work experience. I’am still in my 6th semester. I don’t want to get into technical field but get into management. So should I try for an MBA or MIM ?

    • Karthik,
      Because of your current degree, your education is in technical, the easiest path is to start doing technical for a year or two, get experience and then go for MBA. Read When should I do MBA after B.tech . Again, you may also do another MS degree and start in Business Analyst kind of role, then go for MBA…

  2. Hi, I took 6 years to complete my B.E in electrical engineering and scored 62% in my final year . I don’t have any inclination to any field.
    What should I do if I know I have inclination towards administration jobs but would like to go out of India , but given my interest there is only MBA option I which is only in India. What to do ¿
    What are the chances of PR outside India

  3. Hi, I have completed my Bachelors in Computer Science with 84.3% and want to pursue Masters from the US, moreover, currently, I am working with reputed MNC and it been a year.
    I am confused about which course I must pursue to get more earning as I am a little short-handed in money matter.

    • I believe, you should look at it from a different perspective. Think about your passion, what you see yourself doing in the next 10 years and then go with that…Just picking something for money may or may not work out…there is H1B lottery system in US and you may or may not get a work visa…So, you need factor in that part. Read Should I apply for MS or MBA with H1B Lottery

  4. Hello sir,
    I have done B tech in civil engineering. I have got 72 % in final year. Now what to do after b tech ???? Pls give solution for it
    Weather job or education what to do. What is better of mi. Pls guide mi.

    • Pratik,
      You need to decide for yourself what you want to do. Take time to think about your passions…if you are ready to work and make money, go for it…if you feel like you want to study more, then go ahead and study…If you are not clear, talk to some of your seniors, who are either working or studying to get an idea on what it is like…

  5. Hello Sir,
    I have completed my B.Tech in Electronics Engg with CGPA of 7.09. I have 2 yrs of experience in an IT MNC firm.
    I love to play with machines/hardware through coding. I want to do MS, but with work experience from IT, many have told me it’s kind of impossible to get the desired course(I wanted Industrial Automation or Automotive Engineering). They suggested me courses like Machine learning and maybe Artificial Intelligence.
    But again, I also love to travel, explore world, and also some part of the entertainment world, so sometimes I feel like I should go for MBA (Media management or similar courses like that).
    but with all this, i also have financial constraints, loans and my savings are my sources of funding 🙁
    I am at a point in life where the decision needs to be taken asap or i am stuck here, in IT , forever.
    If only you could help me get clearer idea as to how do I choose between MBA or MS? any related scholarship, some good Universities for same? and also what are the chances of getting a job in US immediately after getting out of the Uni? Will MBA or MS will get one a job sooner?
    (Also as suggested by you in the other article of Personality test, I did take a Jung Personality test, and I am an INFJ personality)
    I would be really grateful if you replied.
    Thank you so much for your time and efforts for this great article.

    • Tanu,
      If you are passionate about it, just go for it. No, it is not true, having work experience in IT does not mean that you will not get admission. We do not advise on schools, but all I can tell is that, it is not an easy thing these days…You need do your own research on schools and pick something that suits your passion. There are definitely options for getting loans, but before that you need admission in the right school. Nothing promises job faster, it is how much you put in and try…also, there are many unknowns with H1B lottery. Read Apply to MS in US with H1B lottery

  6. hello sir/madam.,
    Iam a btech graduate in computer science with a 65% aggregate and am willing to do MS in abroad , most probably canada but am not sure,
    please guide me to choose a country and MS courses offered for computer science students as am unaware of it

  7. Hello Kumar,

    Thanks for this great article. You’re doing great by putting your thoughts on paper.

    I have one question about the specialization I want to pursue in MBA. I’m a mechanical engineer and now working in automobile industry which is technically related to my Mechanical engineering degree. After couple of years working here, I want to pursue MBA in IT.
    Do you think it’ll be a good option to change career path to IT after techno-managerial work experience in automobile industry.
    If I do so, how will my career progress will be?
    Will IT giants prefer my profile?

    • Chirag,
      Well, if your path is Management, you can try that option. You can take courses on Information Systems similar to the ones in MIS. You can check MS in MIS vs Comp Sciences. You will still be pursuing general MBA as a management graduate and your emphasis could be that. You need to check with the schools you plan to apply, if they offer that. Well, you can head IT and become the CIO for automotive industry as the ultimate goal. Because, you have business experience working as engineer, you can position yourself well for that. Again, you need to plan well ahead and position yourself for this. Just getting an MBA will not get you anywhere.

  8. Hello Sir
    my name is shubham pagare
    i doing civil engineering at third year in which year should i take toffel exam for abroad university studies
    I am very sure about it so what should i take MBA or MS

  9. Hello sir
    I am Apoorva doing be Electrical second year in which year should I take toffel or gre exam for abroad university studies
    And which to take MBA or Ms


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