What's the difference between an MBA and a Master’s of Finance or Economics?


Thursday, August 6, 2020

If you are considering pursuing a Master's degree in the area of commerce but you are not sure which one to choose, then this article is right for you. Many people mistakenly believe that MBAs and Master's of Finance or Economics are the same or similar degrees. However, they differ in many ways and you should be aware of those differences before choosing which one to pursue.



Graduates interested in furthering their education after they get their bachelor's degree in business have a wide range of options to choose from. MBAs and Master's of Finance or Economics are the ones graduates are more interested in. Many people mistakenly believe those degrees are practically the same when, actually, they differ in many ways. It's important to clarify the differences between them in order to choose the right degree for you. 

Each area has advantages as well as disadvantages. You need to be aware of the skills you want to master and the jobs you see yourself pursuing once you get the degree before choosing which degree to pursue.

MBA and non-MBA programmes differ in that in the former, you will get a taste of every discipline and in the latter you will be intensely focused on one specific area. 

Master of Business Administration

Many MBA programmes require candidates to have worked in the business world in order to apply to business school.

The major benefit of studying an MBA is learning to see the bigger picture because you will learn something about a wide range of disciplines. You will probably cover finance and economics in your course, but those subjects will have a general approach. 

Generally, MBA students also gain a deep understanding of how different parts of organizations relate to one another. Many employers look for MBA graduates for that reason: they have a wider perspective because they know something about everything that goes on in the organization.

Master of Finance or Economics

In contrast to the wide variety of disciplines MBA programmes involve, Master’s degrees in Finance or Economics take a deep dive into the specific fields of study. A finance programme includes modules such as investment analysis, corporate finance, forecasting, and risk analysis. Whereas in an economics programme, you will study advanced microeconomics and macroeconomics, econometrics, and monetary policy. 

There are many advantages to pursuing specialized programmes instead of MBAs:
  • Employers looking for candidates in a specific field will prefer a graduate from a Master's of Finance or Economics rather than an MBA graduate.
  • These kinds of degrees are generally completed in 12 to 18 months, rather than the full two years required for most MBA degrees.
  • Master's of Economics or Finance are generally cheaper than MBAs, not only because the courses are shorter but also because the tuition fees are cheaper. 
  • Earning your degree up to one year earlier will also allow you to enter the workforce earlier and you will have more short-term earning potential. 
Many finance graduates go on to work at major corporations, global banks, and mutual fund companies. Economics majors often work in the private sector, but many also enter academia or go into research roles after receiving a master’s degree or Ph.D. 

You should consider which one of these degrees’ advantages budges the scale. If you prefer a broad degree rather than a specialized one, then an MBA is clearly the way to go. If, on the other hand, you prefer a specialized degree in order to deepen your knowledge and skills in a certain area, then either a Master in Finance or in Economics is the best option. 

If you are interested in pursuing any of these degrees, the following are programmes offered by prestigious universities in South Africa: 

Master of Business Administration
Master of Economics
Master of Finance




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