Home Online Business Blog How to Choose Between an MS in Finance, an MS in Economics and an MBA

How to Choose Between an MS in Finance, an MS in Economics and an MBA

15 Sep
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Anyone thinking about earning a master’s degree has a lot of decisions to make. One of the first questions you need to answer is what type of degree you plan to earn. That might be determined by a career path you want to pursue, or your specific interests and skills—for example, if you excel with numbers, a degree in finance might be the right fit for you.

If you are considering a master’s degree in the business field, you have several options, including a Master of Business Administration (MBA), a Master of Science (MS) in Economics and an MS in Finance. Read on to explore specifics of these degree programs and the careers for which they can prepare you.

MS in Finance, MS in Economics and MBA: What's the Difference?

While all three degree programs instill expertise in business, there are some key differences between them. The most obvious is the depth of study they entail: The MS in Finance and MS in Economics provide immersion in specific topics, while the MBA offers a broader, more diverse business education. Each degree can support unique career paths, as well, so it’s essential to understand your professional goals before you select a graduate program.

Master of Science in Finance
A master's degree in finance prepares you to do far more than crunch numbers. In leadership positions, you can expect to analyze complex financial models, forecast the future of the financial world and develop strategies to help your business succeed.

MS in Finance programs typically take 15-18 months to complete. Strong curricula include:

  • Core subjects such as Financial Statement Analysis and Modeling; Principles of Finance; Advanced Corporate Finance; Corporate Valuation and Credit Analysis; Investments; and Applied Investment Management
  • Electives in specific business fields, such as Behavioral Finance; Real Estate Finance; Real Estate Investments; and Money, Banking and Financial Markets
  • An optional residency during which you can work directly with industry professionals

Professional titles and average salaries for graduates with this degree include:

  • Chief financial officer: $197,8401
  • Controller: $134,1802
  • Financial attorney: $126,9303
  • Actuary: $111,0304
  • Personal financial advisor: $89,3305

The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that the field of financial management will grow by 15% by 2030, making it an ideal industry in which to start a career now.2 While some finance jobs are available to those with just a bachelor’s degree, finance professionals who hold a master’s degree earn significantly more than those who don’t.6

Master of Science in Economics
A master's degree in economics can prepare you for a career in economics or provide the foundation for your Ph.D. Most economics master’s programs take two years to complete and include classes in:7

  • Microeconomics
  • Macroeconomics
  • Quantitative Analysis
  • Econometrics
  • International Trade and Economics
  • Data Analytics

If you do not plan to go on to earn a doctorate in economics, you will also need to complete a master’s thesis. Some universities allow you to combine an MS in Economics with degrees in other topics, such as applied mathematics or public policy. Combined degrees usually take longer to complete but, with this more specialized education, you can stand out from other candidates when you enter the job market.

Careers in economics are in high demand, with the BLS predicting 13% growth over the next nine years.8 Graduates with an MS in Economics may hold these positions and earn these median salaries:

  • Public policy analyst: $125,3509
  • Professor: $123,72010
  • Economist: $108,3508
  • Statistician: $93,29011
  • Consultant: $76,21512

The MBA is the most diverse of these three degree options. Most high-quality MBA programs take two years to complete, with curricula that cover:

  • Financial and Managerial Accounting
  • Organizational Behavior
  • Business Analytics
  • Operations
  • Global Managerial Economics
  • Marketing
  • Integrated Technology
  • Leadership
  • Strategy

One strong appeal of the MBA is the career versatility it supports. With this degree, you can thrive in almost any industry and any business field. Some familiar professional titles, and their median salaries, include:

  • Chief executive: $197,8401
  • Information technology (IT) manager: $151,15013
  • Financial manager: $134,1802
  • Sales manager: $132,29014
  • Human resources manager: $121,22015
  • Management analyst: $87,66016

The Advantages of Graduate Education Online

Many of these degrees are now available online, which provides important benefits for you. The best online programs will offer:

The Finest Education for Your Career Success

Earn the highest-quality master’s degree in the Raymond A. Mason School of Business. Study online with our faculty of expert leaders and gain the in-depth skills that will enrich your potential in business, finance, marketing and business analytics. Enhance your knowledge and earn the necessary credentials on your schedule, from the comfort of your home. To learn more, reach out to one of our Admissions Advisors today.

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5. Retrieved on June 22, 2021, from www.bls.gov/ooh/business-and-financial/personal-financial-advisors.htm
6. Retrieved on June 22, 2021, from www.bls.gov/careeroutlook/2015/article/should-i-get-a-masters-degree.htm#Business
7. Retrieved on June 22, 2021, from aeaweb.org/resources/students/grad-prep/overview
8. Retrieved on June 22, 2021, from www.bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/economists.htm
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