Traditional MBA Or Business Graduate Degree?

Young professionals and recent college grads who wish to advance their careers often look upon a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree as a means for achieving their professional goals. While there are exceptions, MBA programs are generally two-year commitments that may instill training and knowledge in specific fields (information technology, finance, etc.). as well as management skills that require soft and intangible skill sets (teamwork, leadership, negotiation).

The latter approach attempts to enhance managerial skills with the aim of progressing the professional's career, which comes with added responsibilities, expectations and a larger scope of assignment. In other words, many young professionals pursue an MBA in order to better position themselves for a vice president, CFO or CEO job in the future.

It is possible, however, to attain higher levels of responsibility and visibility within your organization by pursuing an advanced degree in business that is not an MBA. The academic universe offers a variety of programs that are tailored to individual goals and circumstances.
An MBA program generally emphasizes a case study approach as it develops and molds future business leaders out of class participants possessing varied educational backgrounds, work experiences, career goals and skill levels. (For background reading, see The Real Cost Of An MBA.)

MBA Characteristics
An MBA is a one-size-fits-all product, instilling just enough functional knowledge (in statistics, accounting, finance, etc.), while equipping and molding students with business skills that may be utilized in a whole host of future situations and settings.

Real world case studies can involve finding the optimal debt-to-equity mix for a publicly-traded company, solving logistical scheduling problems for a transportation company, or coming up with a differentiated and innovative marketing campaign for a brand new product.

Most MBA programs push students to secure a summer internship with a company and/or an ongoing consulting/CO-OP project with an organization, as part of the emphasis on grooming future generalist managers.

While popular media may be heavily skewed in its coverage towards the one-size fits all approach of a MBA, young professionals – given their career interests and personal goals – may instead be more suited to either a more specialized and technical program or a more research-intensive, academic program. (For some other options, check out Alternatives To Business School.)
Alternative Master's Programs in Business

There is a broad array of advanced programs being offered by colleges and universities across the United States. For instance, a professional can obtain a graduate degree in the following fields:

  • Master of Accounting
  • Master of Taxation
  • Master of Finance
  • Master of Statistics
  • Master of Actuarial Science
  • Master of Risk Management / Insurance
  • Master of Organizational Behavior
  • Management
  • Master of Economics

More Flexible Than an MBA?
Programs within specific functions of a company or organization, such as the above, can typically range from one-year to three-year programs. An applicant without a spouse or family can opt for a shorter and more intensive one-year or two-year program. However, those who want to keep earning a salary and/or have family obligations to attend to, can often request the dean of the program to extend the duration of his or her program, in order to pursue a part-time schedule.

Universities are motivated to attract talented candidates into their master's programs for positioning and ranking purposes, therefore, they can offer flexibility for those they are confident have the ability to complete the requirements of the advanced degree.

An MBA is not typically required to make partner at a CPA firm, so it may make sense for a degreed accountant or CPA to invest his or her time and money in a master's degree in accounting or taxation instead. This allows him or her to focus on priority areas or interests such as regulatory compliance, estate planning or financial reporting.

Clients of the CPA firm can spend hundreds of dollars for each hour of the CPA's time, and they will want practical, immediate and effective solutions to their accounting or tax problem. A research or consulting firm may also want similar expertise from a credited statistician or an economist. (To learn more, see CPA, CFA Or CFP – Pick Your Abbreviation Carefully.)

Should a professional decide to become a specialist in his or her field and work on cutting-edge issues or advances, a graduate level degree (such as a master's or PhD) with guidance, can provide the opportunity to conduct research in emerging issues and areas deemed important either by industry, the government or the academic community. Generating new findings in your field can be an exciting way to contribute and shape initial impressions on new areas.

A summer internship at an investment bank or Fortune 500 company, after your first year in the MBA program, won't get you there. You'll probably be working on a cookie-cutter process improvement project or product analysis assignment. (For more, see The Designation For Your Financial Education: CFA, MBA Or Both?)

The Bottom Line
If you want to become a generalist manager, CFO or division president, an MBA may be the right tool for you. However, if you enjoy being a subject matter expert, such as an economist, estate planner, tax accountant, statistician, risk management consultant or an actuary, you may want to consider an advanced degree in your field. (For more, read Business Grads, Land Your Dream Job.)

Call on commodities - All that glitters is Gold

Considered a 'safe-haven asset', gold has the highest appeal for investors in the tough times of natural disasters, wars, monetary policy change...

Predicting a Forex Market Direction

Forex market is changing, and changing cyclically. It means that usually there are such situations on Forex when the price behaviour becomes as predictable...

Future of banking in cryptocurrency world

What is the future of banking, central banking and financial intermediation in a world in which cryptocurrency is dominant? Let’s speculate a bit...

Risk Management Tools and Techniques

Trading on the FOREX market is exciting, but what makes it so exciting is what simultaneously makes it risky - volatility. Certain trading strategies...

What Makes Bitcoin Valuable?

The digital currency Bitcoin has a dedicated following, regularly makes headlines and inspires countless investors to consider making...

Is Bitcoin a Good Investment?

Questions about the value of bitcoins as an investment will likely differ depending on who you ask. Those with a vision of a fully-distributed future...

Federal Funds Rate vs Discount Rate

In 1913 the USA government passed a law, according to which...

Forex Trading Abbreviations (Full List)

A list of professional terms of any sphere is the main instrument for users. Special words help to avoid misunderstanding while working process. They economize time and make life much easier...

Best Divergence Indicator in Forex Trading

Profit is what all traders aim at while working on the stock market. They use a variety of helpers to reach the goal. The most profitable trades are built on thorough analysis made by means of special programs...

Top 10 Forex Brokers 2020

200+ Forex Brokers
TOP 10 Best Forex Trading Platforms
Best Forex Platforms 2020

A variety of web terminals and specialized software makes a choice of a trading platform a difficult one for a novice trader. What should be this vital decision based on? To begin with, it is necessary to highlight the main criteria that high-quality software must meet for making money on financial markets...

Top 10 Forex Platforms 2020

All Forex Platforms