Career Progress: MBA vs MiM

Business Masters: MBA vs MiM

A growing number of business school candidates are opting for specialist degrees such as the master’s in management (MiM) instead of the flagship business qualification, the MBA, to enhance their job prospects.Two-thirds of 1,000 prospective students polled by CarringtonCrisp said they will apply to MiM courses, rather than MBAs. Around half of them said the MiM is just as valuable as an MBA. It is this increase in popularity that prompted the release of the QS Business Masters Rankings 2018.

But do MiMs really make you more employable, and what is the career progression of a MiM graduate? 

Most MiM degrees will lead to full-time jobs. At ESSEC Business School in France, 98.5% of those on the two-year MiM course are employed within three months of graduating, says Felix Papier, academic director of the program. “Employers tell us they value the fact that our students take initiative, are responsible leaders, and have an entrepreneurial spirit,” he says. 

Keith Bevans, global head of consulting recruiting for Bain & Company, says MiMs are indeed valuable. “These programs are best suited for candidates from non-business backgrounds, such as engineering, who want an injection of business knowledge,” he says. 

Most employers treat MiMs and MBAs as separate talent pools. MiMs are pre-experience programs for those with little or no professional work experience. As such, at Bain, MiM graduates are usually recruited into associate consultant roles — the same level as undergraduates. MBAs come in as consultants — one rank above. Bevans says, however, that someone with a MiM qualification can accelerate their progression from associate to consultant by up to six months. “The degree hones their business instinct and gives them a great ability to tackle business problems,” he adds. Thereafter, the career path of an MiM and an MBA at Bain is the same.  

Along with Bain, other top-tier management consultancy firms, The Boston Consulting Group and McKinsey & Company, are the top employers of those on the MiM program at London Business School (LBS). The biggest recruiting sectors are consulting (42%), finance (34%) and technology (13%), with companies including Goldman Sachs and Google hiring MiMs from LBS. The average salary last year was £41,963.

There are advantages to the MiM. They are cheaper than an MBA. The MiM at HEC Paris costs up to €37,800 in tuition fees, compared with €66,000 for the French business school’s MBA program. And because MiMs typically spend less time out of the workforce — usually around 12 months — they do not face the same lost earnings associated with an MBA.

One challenge for the MiM degree is that it is less common in the US, where most of the highest-ranked business schools are based. MiMs are traditionally more popular in Europe — although a growing number of big-brand US business schools are now offering the qualification, such as Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business. 

“With the MBA, you know what you’re getting: several years of work experience and a well-rounded, general management education,” says Bain’s Bevans. “When recruiting a MiM candidate, that puts employers in the position of having to really get to know the candidate’s background,” as you cannot rely on the qualification alone to determine the candidate’s quality. 

Another challenge for MiM graduates is that they lack work experience — helpful for recruiters to evaluate job applications. To solve this problem, business schools have placed a greater emphasis on providing work experience, through internships and other experiential learning opportunities with companies. The 18-month MiM program at St Gallen in Switzerland, for example, includes a mandatory international internship, says Omid Aschari, managing director of the degree. 

“Graduates are expected to bring to their internship employer fresh ideas, knowledge, a healthy level of self-awareness, and a familiarity with the industry they are working within,” he adds. 

While the MiM and MBA are treated as distinct pools, they are often combined, boosting a student’s resume. According to a survey by the Graduate Management Admissions Council, three in four prospective students who hold a master’s degree are considering enrolling in an MBA program. 

Anne van de Graaf, director of operations at Rotterdam School of Management, says: “The programs are complementary, as the MiM takes in young bachelor’s graduates with a max of one year of work experience whereas our MBA program takes in students with over three years of work experience. They are not mutually exclusive.”

Seb Murray
Written by Seb Murray

Seb is a journalist and consulting editor who has developed a successful track record writing about business, education and technology for the international press.

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