All You Need to Know to Understand the Difference Between an MBA and an MSBA

Deciding to continue your education and get your master’s degree is an exciting step in your life! However, all of the possible programs out there can make this time feel confusing and overwhelming. However, with the right guidance, it doesn’t have to be.

If you are looking into the business field, you need to understand the difference between the Master’s of Business Analytics vs Master’s of Business Administration. This article breaks them each down for you so that you can confidently decide which field you would be interested in pursuing.

What exactly are the MBA and the MSBA used for?

Originally developed as a way for people to hone their skills in accounting and bookkeeping, the business administration field of education has exploded into a competitive, much sought-after curriculum with multiple areas of study.

Individuals looking for a master’s in the business field know that this education will help them become more valuable to potential employers, grant them better opportunities and higher salaries, or helping them to become successful in their passion as entrepreneurs.

Whichever one of these possibilities (or maybe even all of them) has attracted you to the path of getting your master’s in the area of business, you have to make the decision to go for your MSBA or MBA, and to make this decision, you have to become knowledgeable about the differences between the two degrees.

What can you expect in the MSBA curriculum vs MBA curriculum?

The basic cornerstones of each of these degrees are in the business field, but from there they vary greatly. The time you will spend obtaining your degree, the courses you can expect to take, and the admissions requirements are different for each degree, so it is important that you know what you are getting into before you sign up at a university or online to begin your program.

The MBA, or Master of Business Administration, is a generalized program in which you will spend two years learning business management. Here you will receive the foundational knowledge of economic theory that is up-to-date with the fast-paced and ever-changing needs of today’s business world.

You can expect somewhere between 45 to 55 credit hours to be required in order to obtain your degree. Your courses will be generalized to the area of business and are intended to lay the groundwork for you to further understand how to be successful in careers such as management or administration.

In the two years of taking classes for your MBA, your first year will likely consist of core courses such as leadership, accounting, and business statistics. Again, this is to lay the foundation of your future career in business administration.

In your second year, your courses become more specific to your needs and can consist of electives like entrepreneurship, finance, or real estate. The electives available will vary by universities, so you will need to look into what your potential school is offering.

The MSBA, or Master of Science in Business Administration, is more of a specialized field. It is a one-year program in which you will focus on a particular area that fits your needs. The aim is for you to become an expert in that one specific area.

This degree combines concepts from “data science, computer science, statistics, business intelligence, and information theory geared towards commercial applications.”
Because of this specialization, it is often recommended that students complete their MBA to get the business foundation before continuing on to their MSBA, but it is not required.

Courses in the MSBA are more personalized to your field of study and therefore, range greatly. They can include such specific classes as the Master of Economics, Master of Finance, Master of Accountancy, Master of Science in Marketing and Master of Science in Management.

Additionally, it is often required that MSBA students complete a field research study or project directly related to the area they are pursuing.

What are the admissions requirements for an MS in Business Analytics vs MBA?

In addition to determining the interest level of each degree before you decide, you need to know the admissions requirements for the MS Business Analytics vs MBA before you choose the program you wish to enroll in. Although there are some basic general requirements, such as a bachelor’s degree, when it comes to previous grades, work experience, and test scores, the final decision of acceptance into the program really becomes an individualized decision.

An MSBA requires an undergraduate degree, generally a bachelor’s degree. If you are switching fields and your bachelor’s is in a non-science related area, you will be expected to complete certain proficiencies before being accepted into the program. The bachelor’s degree should be from an accredited college or university.

Another requirement is passing certain general knowledge competency exams. In lieu of this, some programs may accept work experience or prior academic performance on an individual basis.

It is expected that applicants for the MSBA program possess skills such as leadership ability, good communication, and good academic performance.

Requirements for an MBA are similar. They, too, require a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution. Grades and test scores are considered, usually with a minimum passing level.

Often, you will be required to write an admissions essay. You may also expect to provide references to prove your past work experience. It is a culmination of all of this that determines your admission into an MBA program.

What jobs are available for MSBA grads vs MBA grads?

Many MBA program graduates go on to obtain professions in private industry businesses, education, real estate, healthcare and finance. Receiving a masters of business analytics vs masters of business administration both make you a valuable asset to potential employers.

Although the available careers in this field fall under the “business administration” umbrella, there are many categories under that umbrella that you can choose from.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the field of finance is booming, and one of your possible career options is that of a financial analyst. In this position, you can expect to work in an office setting providing advice and guidance to people looking to invest. These people may be individuals or businesses. As a financial analyst, it would be your job to analyze stocks, bonds, and other investments to determine how you will guide your investors.

If finances are not your forte and you would prefer more of a management role, one of the most challenging positions in business management is that of the Project Manager. Project managers oversee every aspect of a company, from the largest projects to the most minute of details.

It is the responsibility of someone in this position to ensure that each step of a project is completed through to the conclusion. A project manager must be able to know what is going on everywhere, at any time. Individuals who thrive when faced with challenges often gravitate towards this field.

Another potential career in business administration is that of a Chief Financial Officer. This position deals with finances also, but not on the investor level like a financial analyst. Instead, a CFO keeps records of a company’s finances, including expenditures and assets. They are often expected to guide the company’s marketing and budgeting portfolios. They also partner with the Chief Executive Officers, or CEOs, and other people on the corporate boards to plan strategies for the success of the company and analyze setbacks.

In addition to these few positions, you will have access to numerous other career opportunities with your MBA or MSBA.

What can you expect your starting salary to be?

The business field is an important area for just about every company in the world, so the possibilities you may be exposed to are endless. Salaries are often competitive and usually can range in the six-figures.

A good business administrator can make a company financially successful, and most businesses understand this and will pay for the privilege of having a knowledgeable person in that position.

Jobs and starting salaries you can expect to be available to you will depend on your field of focus in your degree. Many of these are listed on in detail, but can include positions like:

Financial focus:

  • Chief financial officers, averaging $168,000 annually
  • Finance directors, averaging $151,000/annually
  • Senior financial analysts, averaging $85,600/annually

Marketing focus:

  • Marketing directors, averaging $133,000 annually
  • Business development managers, averaging $105,000 annually
  • Marketing manager, averaging $102,000 annually

Accounting focus:

  • Chief financial officer, averaging $125,000 annually
  • Financial controllers, averaging $90,500 annually
  • Senior accountants; averaging $60,800 annually

Like the careers themselves, the salaries you will be offered will likely range based on your experience and the responsibilities that the position requires.

Is this field right for you?

Whether you are interested in the MBA or the MSBA, if these possible career opportunities are where your passions lie, there are many avenues that you can explore to obtain your degree.

Many MBAs and MSBAs can be pursued online or on campus, part time or full time. For more information on your options, you can read Noodle’s “The MBA: Online or On-Campus.” Determining which degree to pursue, now that you understand the difference in each, is your next step to success in your field of business administration.


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Bureau of Labor Statistics. (n.d.) Retrieved January 21, 2018 from

Master of Science in Business Analytics. (n.d.). Retrieved January 21, 2018 from

Master of Business Administration. (n.d.). Retrieved January 21, 2018 from

The MBA: Online or On Campus? (n.d.). Retrieved January 21, 2018 from

What is an MBA? (n.d.). Retrieved January 21, 2018 from

Master of Science in Business Analysis. (n.d.) Retrieved January 21, 2018 from

4 Key Functions of a Chief Financial Officer. (January 28, 2015). Retrieved February 15, 2018 from

What Does a Project Manager Do? (October 7, 2016). Retrieved February 15, 2018 from

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