MBA vs MS – Which is the right choice for you?

Plan to study abroad. MS or MBA? A question which will definitely come to your mind, before you can decide on course or college?

Studying a post graduate degree from abroad can be highly lucrative, in the sense they contain higher practical knowledge and exposure to industry. As compared to Indian post graduation, the aspirant will enjoy higher pay package and would get edge for international placements. But, keep in mind the financial investment and hardship which requires undergoing a course at a foreign college.

If you are an engineer, you may have two great options- Master of Science (MS) or Master of Business Administration (MBA). The decision purely depends on your interest, future plans and current status.

The difference

In one phrase, MBA vs MS can be differentiated as Breadth vs Depth. MBA is a professional course which contains two third of general management contents and only one third specialized knowledge of domain you opt for. MBA aims to make you a manager, who knows something of everything and can take business decisions in corporate world.

On the other hand, Masters in a subject, say Finance or Accountancy focuses on depth of the subject. The course starts with basic of subjects and aims to make you an expert of that field. Because, it focuses on more theories and research, it is not really exposed to real time business or corporate activity.

More differences we can explore under following sub headings:-


MBA aims to make you as a manager, so it will impart all knowledge and skill sets, you require to excel in corporate world. No, doubt you would require additional courses like CFA and alike, in case you want to excel in your field.

MS aims to make you an expert in the course. You will research and get knowledge of the subject. Only course which you would like to undergo even after MS can be an MBA. You may opt to become a researcher, professor or a knowledge employee of a firm, unlike MBA where you would be given managerial role.


An MBA course from US or Europe generally requires a work experience of average 4-5 years after graduation. It aims to make people who have corporate experience at entry level change into managerial role. It accelerates the promotion and salary increment opportunities for aspirants.

While, MS does not require any work experience and can be done with or without work experience. In fact, people do MS as they do not want to work right after graduation and want to upgrade their knowledge and skill set for better opportunities. After passing out from MS, a student usually goes for Technical or consulting role.


MBA in India is a two years course while in US it is can vary from one year to two year depending on college you choose. It can be a one year course in case you opt for executive MBA, if you have necessary work experience. In Europe like Oxford (UK) and INSEAD (France) an MBA, both Executive and Regular, is always a one year program followed by internship. In Singapore it is an 18 months course. MBA is really flexible program, which allows you to choose from a university and country, which suits your requirement and expectations.

While MS in USA can vary from one year to three year, average duration being 18-24 months depending on thesis you opt for.


As you would have understood from discussion so far, an MBA possess far greater value both salary wise and position wise, as it opens up opportunity for you in middle management role while MS allows you to take up jobs in technical and highly specialized roles. Demand for MBA graduates throughout the world is more than MS graduates. As MBA is a broader course, you can be flexible in changing you role across industries and across geographies, while MS will limit your knowledge to your own domain and you would work for companies in same sector.


An MBA costs much more than MS. Certainly it depends on University you chose-whether it is state or private university, location of university and you’re your living standards. Also, duration of the course you opt for can make a real difference on total outflow.

For example

An MBA from Harvard Business School can cost you in excess of Rs. 75 lakhs.

An MS from Standford University, Silicon Valley, California can cost in total around Rs. 66 lakhs where as you can do the the same from Michigan Technological University, Michigan would cost Rs. 24 lakhs.  

Job & Salary

The average salary of a MBA passout from US B school is 80 lakhs and can vary from 40 lakhs to 1 crore depending on college you pass out from. (read Harvard placement packages

Whereas MS graduate in US land up with an average package of Rs. 40 lakhs, which again can vary from Rs. 70 lakhs to Rs. 30 lakhs. (Read more at MIT’s early packages and Misgigan State University’s placement packages

If you see the Return on Investment, MBA seems to be a better option, as is evident from the jobs they bag, high growth potential in career, handsomely paid managerial job etc.

So, if you have work experience of 4-5 years, it always makes a sense to do an MBA from Top US colleges. MS can be done only if you have a fresher and want to pursue a career in technical domain

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