Master’s in Organizational Management vs. MBA

A student working on a laptop at a desk and reading a textbook.

It’s no secret that higher education can result in better career options, higher salaries and less chance of unemployment. The data demonstrates this correlation. According to a chart designed by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the higher degree a person earns, the higher their typical median weekly earnings. The chart also demonstrates that unemployment rates drop with each level of degree accomplished. 

In today’s ever-evolving business climate, companies big and small are re-evaluating their business practices to remain strong, relevant and profitable no matter how the competitive landscape shifts. Professionals who are equipped with a business-related master’s degree have a tremendous opportunity to show their value and commitment to make a difference. 

This opportunity isn’t necessarily about just earning a degree: While a standard MBA works well for those who seek a general business education, specialized graduate business degrees will benefit those looking to differentiate themselves by focusing on a particular area. 

Specialized business degrees provide deeper exposure, education and training in a specific area of business, making it an intriguing option for individuals who have a firm idea of how they would prefer to steer their career. These specialized degrees can be stepping-stones for individuals planning on earning their doctorate, or fulfill the criteria for many senior-level positions in today’s organizations. To see why this is the case, it is important to understand the differences and similarities between specialized and general business degrees, such as a master’s in organizational management vs. an MBA, as well as the different career paths they can lead to.

Master’s in Organizational Management Degree Overview

Specialized graduate degree programs in business are numerous. However, one program that may carry particular appeal for individuals interested in inspiring change, growth and profitability within an organization is the Master of Science in Organizational Management (MSOM). 

Typically consisting of around 36 credit hours, the MSOM allows students to take their career down a more direct, strategic path. Its curriculum commonly emphasizes theories and concepts tied to economic development and entrepreneurship, such as organizational development, innovation management, venture planning and e-commerce. 

An MSOM is a good option for those who want to start their own business or help their corporate employer utilize more innovative approaches. Knowledge gained through the MSOM can be highly impactful, cultivating new ways to drive positive change and developing strategies to help organizations lead their industries forward.

An MSOM can also help make students more promotable and career-competitive. This is particularly the case if a student’s professional goals involve pursuing leadership positions, as more employers require advanced degrees for these roles. 

Today’s employers seek fresh perspectives in a multitude of roles. As a result, they want to hire individuals who can demonstrate proficiency in leadership as well as initiative to grow businesses effectively and efficiently. The MSOM can act as proof to a prospective employer that an individual has the skills and drive to do so.

MBA Degree Overview

A Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree is an advanced business degree geared toward helping a student develop a deeper understanding of business operational functionality. Oftentimes, this degree can enable a student to focus on a specific element of business operations, such as finance, marketing or human resources. 

Like an MSOM, an MBA program consists of approximately 36 credit hours, although some programs may be longer. Earning the degree signifies to employers that graduates have advanced business acumen and a deep understanding of its processes. It also means that graduates possess the knowledge to create and execute strategies that align with a company’s growth and stability goals. 

The specializations associated with an MBA — such as finance or marketing, for example — can help graduates employ strategies that focus on a specific element of a company’s overarching corporate goals. Specializations can also demonstrate a job candidate’s ability to help address a company’s perceived vulnerability within their big picture strategies.  

Differences Between a Master’s in Organizational Management and an MBA

While both a master’s in organizational management and an MBA can be critical components in helping students advance their business careers, they aren’t the same degree. It’s important for students, particularly those with entrepreneurial aspirations, to understand these differences.

Curriculum Topics

An MBA curriculum commonly focuses on the various components of operational management. As a whole, the degree aims to provide students with a basic understanding of how the functionality of concepts like accounting principles, supply chain management, staff recruitment and retention and data analytics contribute to a business. These concepts can be examined in greater detail through a program’s concentration. For example, a finance concentration may drill down into advanced topics like taxation and auditing.

On the other hand, an MSOM’s curriculum focuses on the principles of business operations as they are built, as opposed to focusing on established operations. These courses help entrepreneurs and innovators gain an understanding of new and developing business concepts, like how to manage innovation, organizational development and change, financial preparation for new business ideas and tech-driven business models. 

Career Opportunities

Because both degrees help students build a strong understanding of how businesses function, some of the career opportunities available for those with either an MSOM and an MBA degree can overlap. However, since an MSOM concentrates on leadership, innovation, entrepreneurship and change, it could better prepare graduates to pursue careers that involve starting a business from scratch, or developing very new businesses. The degree’s association with change can also make it an ideal career for those considering a public administration role.

Higher Salaries

Regardless of the degree, earning an advanced education can potentially lead to a well-paying role. It’s important to note that entrepreneurs who use the skills honed by an MSOM degree and successfully grow their own business could potentially earn a lucrative salary as an owner or C-Suite executive of the company they created. Salaries for both MBA and MSOM degree holders can also vary based on years of experience, location, industry and other factors. 

Grow Your Own Career Path

Ultimately, deciding between a master’s in organizational management and an MBA comes down to how much agency an individual wants in their business career. While a generalized advanced business degree can help an individual make key contributions in the business world, an MSOM degree can prepare a person to make these contributions on their own terms. 

The MSOM is an ideal degree for anyone who has dreamed of building a business from the ground up or influencing change within the business landscape. It can be the conduit that guides a person toward a career built on the principle of leaving a profound mark on an industry; a concept that can also create a unique sense of immense satisfaction.

The Peru State College online Master of Science in Organizational Management degree can help you achieve your singular career goals. 

Our program’s virtual format is ideal for accommodating your busy schedule. Our curriculum offers courses such as Management of Innovation and Growth and Theories of Entrepreneurship to help build expertise in developing a successful business, and to help you gain the confidence to take that bold step into entrepreneurship.

Learn how we can help you grow your career the way you want.

Recommended Readings

Guide to Starting a Business in Nebraska

Online Degrees: Tips to Prepare for Your New Way of Learning

Opportunities With an Organizational Management Degree: Salaries and Job Descriptions

Sources:

Harvard Business Review, “Should You Go to Graduate School?”

Indeed, “Master’s Degree: Definition, Elements and Benefits”

Indeed, “MBA Degrees: What They Are and Why You Should Earn Yours”