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MBA vs. MSML

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Get started on an MBA or MSML from WGU.

MBA or MSML?

If you’re thinking about taking your business career to the next level, it’s likely you’ve asked yourself this question.

Although similar in many ways, there are some big differences between the MBA and Master of Science in Management and Leadership (MSML) programs. Both master programs will help you gain management experience that can be applied immediately in a business environment—and both can give you the tools you need to succeed in a management role. Depending on what your career goals and aspirations are, one might be a better fit than the other.

What is an MBA?

The MBA (Master of Business Administration) degree program focuses on operations management and concepts such as marketing, accounting, finance, and economics. The curriculum includes principles of effective management and leadership and incorporates teamwork, development, and simulations to help students master the knowledge and skills necessary to qualify for department management and even executive positions—or to start their own successful business.

What is an MSML?

The MSML (Master of Science in Management and Leadership) is a master's degree program that helps students develop the managerial and leadership skill sets needed to execute organizational change, drive strategic initiatives, and develop high-performance teams. It teaches leadership theory and ethics, business acumen, leading teams, and strategic and tactical change management. Graduates of the MSML program gain the skills needed to become qualified, capable leaders—managers who inspire, mentor, model a strong culture, and drive employee satisfaction as well as performance.

Program Similarities

Both the Master of Business Administration (MBA) and Master of Science in Management and Leadership (MSML) are advanced business degrees, and both can lead to similar career paths in management. They also share some business school curriculum, including courses in managing organizations and leading people, managing human capital, management communication, and ethical leadership.

Keep in mind that once applicants earn either their MBA program or MSML, they can re-enroll in the other program. You’re able to transfer in the shared courses, making it possible to earn the second degree by completing six additional courses without repeating the entire curriculum.

Program Differences

If you're thinking about business related master's degree programs you should know that although similar in many ways, there are some big differences between MBA programs and MSML programs. The MBA helps you build on your general management skills—such as analytics and business strategy—while an MSML program is designed to build your people skills and leadership strategies.

If you want to gain a stronger business background, going to business school for the MBA can expand your skills in the quantitative areas of business—such as finance, economics, and accounting. On the other hand, if your goal is to gain insight into the interpersonal, strategic, and leadership skills required to manage strong, effective business teams, consider the MSML.

What Courses are in the MBA Program?

  • Operations Management
  • Global Economics for Managers
  • Marketing
  • Accounting for Decision Makers
  • Financial Management
  • MBA Capstone
  • Data-Driven Decision-Making

What Courses are in the M.S. Management and Leadership Program?

  • Business Acumen
  • Becoming an Effective Leader
  • Leading Teams
  • Change Management and Innovation
  • Strategic Management
  • Management and Leadership Capstone

MBA Career Options

With an MBA degree, you’ll be prepared to explore many different career paths, depending on your interests and area of specialization. Completing an MBA program will qualify you for management positions and C-level roles such as:

  • Chief Executive Officer
  • Executive Director
  • International Business Development
  • Operations Director
  • Chief Strategic Officer
  • President
  • Vice President
  • Owner

MSML Career Options

Earning the MSML can open doors to management positions in nearly every industry, from healthcare to human resources. Here are some of the job titles the MSML can prepare you for: 

  • Chief Financial Officer
  • Chief Executive Officer
  • Human Resources Manager/Director
  • Director of Operations
  • Brand Chief
  • Executive Director
  • Health Services Manager

Programs at a Glance

Master of Business Administration

The flexible MBA program you need, focused on business management,...

The flexible MBA program you need, focused on business management, strategy, and leading teams:

  • Time: Graduates can finish in 12 months.
  • Tuition: $4,530 per 6-month term.
  • Courses: 11 total courses in this program.

Sample careers and jobs this business degree will prepare you for:

  • President and CEO
  • Vice president
  • Executive director
  • Chief strategic officer

Our competency-based model gives you an innovative learning experience you won't find anywhere else—and our MBA grads tell us they loved accelerating their program to see a faster ROI.

Management and Leadership – M.S.

An online master's degree focused on change management, innovation, and...

An online master's degree focused on change management, innovation, and leading teams:

  • Time: 70% of graduates can finish in 20 months.
  • Tuition: $4,530 per 6-month term.
  • Courses: 10 total courses in this program

Sample careers and jobs this business degree will prepare you for:

  • President
  • Vice president
  • Director of operations
  • Executive director

Develop a comprehensive suite of leadership skills and your confidence to navigate changing business structures.

While the choice between getting your MBA or MSML graduate degrees can be a tough one, the good news is both will help you gain valuable management experience that can be applied immediately in a business environment.

Whether your goals relate to finance with a more quantitative focus or to leading people and managing innovation and change—it really just depends on your experience, your interests, and where you envision yourself in the future.

Why WGU?

There are many reasons MBA and MSML students pick WGU. Here area few:

Earning Potential

A master's degree in business can dramatically impact your earning potential. After graduation WGU students report earning $15,729 more per year.

On Your Schedule

Competency-based education means you can move as quickly through your degree as you can master the material. You don't have to log in to classes at a certain time—you are truly in the driver's seat of your education

Entirely Online

The business degrees at WGU are100% online, which means it works wherever you are. You can do your coursework at night after working at your full-time job, on weekends, while you're traveling the world or on vacation—it's entirely up to you.

"Take the time to invest in yourself and develop new skills and knowledge. Going back to school to get my B.A. and MBA was one of the best decisions I made. I have no regrets over my decision to invest in myself and further my education. Plus, I did not have any student debt after graduation with WGU keeping tuition so affordable."

—Sandra Barber
MBA

COST & TIME

An Affordable Master's Degree

By charging per term rather than per credit—and empowering students to accelerate through material they know well or learn quickly—WGU helps students control the ultimate cost of their degrees. The faster you complete your program, the less you pay for your degree.

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WGU allowed me to continue doing the things I love, spending time with my family, and traveling for my job. Another major plus was that the competency-based system enabled me to focus my time in the areas I needed to learn to further my career.”

—Shonna Wessels
M.S. Management and Leadership

Prepared for Success
on the Job

From a 2021 Harris Poll of 300 employers of WGU graduates

97% of employers said that WGU graduates were prepared for their jobs.

95% of employers said that they would hire another WGU grad.

98% of employers said WGU graduates met or exceeded expectations.