What’s the Difference Between an MBA and Masters in Management (MIM)?

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It’s no secret that this website focuses on MBA degrees — I mean, our name is MetroMBA for crying out loud. With that said, we like to give people options, so this post will focus on a different kind of graduate business degree: the Master in Management (MIM) degree. Aside from having an adorable acronym (you try saying MIM three times without smiling), this type of business degree is different from an MBA. How are an MBA and Masters in Management different? Let’s discuss.

The Difference Between an MBA and Masters in Management (MIM)

Who is the typical MIM candidate?

Perhaps the biggest difference between a MIM and a MBA is the makeup of a typical degree-seeking candidate. The average MBA candidate is someone who already has professional  work experience. A full-time MBA typically requires a minimum of 2 years work experience, and the average MBA student has about 3 to 5 years of working experience.

The average MIM candidate, on the other hand, is usually just out of undergraduate school and thus typically younger, fresher and less experienced. Work experience is not essential for MIM candidates, who are usually at the start of or at an early stage in their career.

With the difference in experience comes comes a difference in age — the average age of students seeking their Masters in Management is 23, compared to 27 to 32 for MBA programs.

In short, as Access MBA puts it, the MBA and the MIM are aimed at  two different target groups – the former for young professionals and professionals, the latter for graduates — MBAs are geared towards those who aspire to top management positions, while an MIM gives graduates a chance of a good ‘first shot’ at the market.

Admissions and Coursework

For most graduate business programs, admissions boils down to three criteria: GMAT scores, working experience, and academic background. Even though both MIM and MBA admissions departments look at all of these criteria, they look at each of them differently when considering candidates.

MBA programs place great importance on the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) scores, especially if the program is highly ranked. The GMAT is seen as the best gauge for MBA programs, though the GRE or in-house tests serve as viable alternatives in some cases.

Meanwhile, MIM programs are increasingly relying on GMAT scores for their admission processes. According to a Global MIM Survey, 40 percent of the MIM programs require the GMAT. Despite this, that same survey concluded that individual interviews with MIM program managers indicate that the grade in the first academic degree is considered as more important than the GMAT.

As we mentioned before, professional experience is one of the largest differences between MIM and MBA degrees. As a general rule of thumb, MBA programs require professional experience whereas MIM program do not.

As for academic background, MBA programs are open for graduates with work experience from any academic background. In other words, you can be a doctor and seek your MBA degree. MIM programs, however, target graduates with an academic background in business or economics and some graduates from other (often social sciences) disciplines that have a strong methodological education (psychology, physics, sociology etc.).

How much does actual coursework differ? According to the Global MIM Survey 2012, Master in Management and MBA programs overlap by about 30 percent: Both degrees provide an overview of general management topics, foster teamwork, and use case studies to simulate real-world situations.

With that being said, MIM degrees focus more on the theoretical side of the management field than the MBA. These degrees deal with subjects involving strong mathematical or analytical skills and the final dissertation may be research-oriented. While MIM hones in on theory, MBA programs emphasize the practical side of business and the application of business concepts

Tuition, Program Reputation and Career Prospects

When it comes to the financial investment each degree requires, it’s important to note that MIM programs are cheaper than MBA programs.

Why is that the case?

It may have to do with the fact that young people without working experience (and therefore, steady income) are the most common MIM candidates.

According to Quora, high ranking MBA programs, with their strong, rich background and proven ability to get students placed in top level companies, charge higher tuition fees (ranging anywhere from $40,000 – $100,000 per year). High-end MIM programs tend to offer their degree at about half of that of the average MBA — an investment of $18,000 – $35,000 per year. Like MBA programs, there are various scholarships that students can look into to further decreases overall costs.

As for reputation, MIM degrees are still a relative newcomer to the business world and the MBA is still more known among HR managers. Even so, 83 percent of the institutions that offer MIM programs face an increasing number of applications, especially in Europe where 68 percent of these programs are offered.

But it’s important to once again mention that MBA and MIM degrees are intended for different target groups — as MIM Compass puts it, HR managers do not perceive MBA and MIM degrees to be in competition with each other, but as different degrees for different target groups who apply for different positions.

Ultimately it’s about career start vs. career development. The MIM is a way graduates increase their career entrance options and the MBA, in contrast, is a degree for people who have their job entry behind them and career development ahead.

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About the Author

Max Pulcini

Max Pulcini is a Philadelphia-based writer and reporter. He has an affinity for Philly sports teams, Super Smash Bros. and cured meats and cheeses. Max has written for Philadelphia-based publications such as Spirit News, Philadelphia City Paper, and Billy Penn, as well as national news outlets like The Daily Beast.

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