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Business master's degree options: Which one is best for you?

Overwhelmed by the number of business master's options out there? We break them down so you can decide which one is right for you.
Written by Melissa Sartore, Contributor on

Business master's degrees build knowledge and skills to help you advance in your career. But there are many options beyond the familiar Master of Business Administration (MBA).

Each program emphasizes specific areas and topics. Choosing the master's in business or in a business-related field that matches your personal and professional goals requires careful consideration.

How to choose which business master's degree type is the right fit for you

Factors that influence the choice of a business master's degree include educational background, career level, professional goals, and lifestyle commitments. 

Investigate the courses and other curriculum requirements offered at each program that catches your eye. Depending on your intended business career, a master's degree in a specialized area of business may fit you better than a general business program. 

Remember that most master's degrees require students to have a bachelor's to enroll. Business graduate programs may prefer candidates with previous work experience as well. 

Take a look at your own schedule. Many business master's degrees online accommodate busy schedules by allowing you to complete coursework on a flexible timeline. Asynchronous degrees provide maximum convenience, while synchronous programs often require scheduled meeting times and sequential coursework. 

Finally, look for other factors that add to a program's appeal. For example, some business programs maintain cooperative relationships with local, national, and international corporations. These relationships can give you an edge when seeking internships and post-graduation employment.

Types of business master's degrees

Master's degrees in business range from general to specialized, with each one designed for different types of learners. 

Specialized business master's degrees focus on specific aspects of business, such as management, accounting, and finance.

All degrees may be completed part-time on full-time, and in-person or online.

Master in Management (MIM)

Length of time to complete: One to three years

Cost: $20,000-$50,000

Expected prior education: Bachelor's degree required; previous management coursework encouraged

Expected prior work experience: No previous managerial experience required

Example career opportunities after graduation: 

  • Project manager
  • Operations manager
  • Management consultant 

An MIM builds managerial knowledge and skills applicable across professions. Designed for students with or without previous business coursework, a master's in management emphasizes business fundamentals alongside leadership, collaboration, and managerial strategies. 

Students learn to manage budgets, personnel, and communication. They complete individual and group projects, research activities, and practical requirements. Learners may specialize in areas such as human resources, information management, and business analytics. 

Master of Accountancy (MAcc)

Length of time to complete: One to three years

Cost: $15,000-$45,000

Expected prior education: Bachelor's degree required; a degree in accountancy or a comparable field preferred

Expected prior work experience: At least two years of previous work experience

Example career opportunities after graduation: 

  • Certified public accountant
  • Forensic accountant
  • Tax accountant

MAcc students prepare to work as private and public accountants by exploring accounting theories and learning different processes and tools used within the field. An accounting master's includes coursework in topics such as financial accounting, auditing, tax accounting, and forensic accounting. Additional classes focus on professional ethics, laws and regulations, and data analytics as they apply to accounting.

Learners may have options to specialize in financial, tax, managerial, or forensic accounting. To sit for the certified public accountant exam, individuals need at least 150 credit hours of coursework. A master's degree helps fulfill this requirement.

Alternatively, learners can complete an accounting MBA.

Master of Business Administration (MBA)

Length of time to complete: One to three years

Cost: $18,000-$60,000

Expected prior education: Bachelor degree required; previous business coursework preferred

Expected prior work experience: At least one year of previous business experience preferred, but some programs do not require any background in business

Example career opportunities after graduation: 

  • Supply chain manager
  • Project manager
  • Business manager

By earning an MBA, students gain insight into advanced business theories and practices. Not all programs require students to have a business bachelor's to get an MBA. Any previous experience you have with business will benefit you. Classes in finance, accounting, economics, and marketing accompany courses in business analytics, communication, and organizational behavior. 

Online MBA programs often include options to specialize in an aspect of business. MBA concentrations include human resources, corporate finance, entrepreneurship, and strategic management. 

Master of Business Analytics (MBAn)

Length of time to complete: One to three years

Cost: $12,000-$30,000

Expected prior education: Bachelor's degree required; previous coursework in business, statistics, and information technology encouraged

Expected prior work experience: No previous business experience required, but prior data analysis experience preferred

Example career opportunities after graduation: 

  • Marketing analyst
  • Business analytics manager
  • Data scientist

MBAn students use data science to solve business problems. Students develop qualitative and quantitative research abilities plus advanced analytical skills. They learn to apply theories and technologies to assess data. 

A data analytics master's prepare learners to identify trends, prepare predictive models, and identify areas for financial and organizational growth. Hands-on assignments introduce students to machine learning, artificial intelligence, and programming. 

After graduation, MBAn-holders enhance business intelligence and create data-driven business strategies. 

Master of Economics

Length of time to complete: One to three years

Cost: $15,000-$30,000

Expected prior education: Bachelor's degree required; previous coursework in economics, finance, and social science encouraged

Expected prior work experience: Minimal work experience required

Example career opportunities after graduation: 

  • Financial planner
  • Economist
  • Economic advisor

By emphasizing economic theory, econometrics, and economic research, a master's in economics prepares students to work in financial institutions, public service, and business environments. 

Classes in computational economics, economic analysis, and financial economics unite theory and practice. Courses in political science, public policy, and finance provide a comprehensive framework for applied economics.

Economics master's degrees are offered MA or MS degrees, and as specializations in MBA programs.

Master of Information Technology

Length of time to complete: One to three years

Cost: $12,000-$20,000

Expected prior education: Bachelor's degree required; preferred degree in computer science, information technology, or a related field

Expected prior work experience: One or two years in information technology preferred

Example career opportunities after graduation: 

  • Information technology manager
  • Computer and information systems administrator
  • Chief information officer

A master of information technology program blends coursework in management and technology to prepare students for leadership roles. Specialization areas include data analytics, cyber security and information assurance, and business management.

Information technology master's degrees incorporate practical and theory-focused classes. Learners study technology operations and integration, project management, technical communication, and information systems security while learning to use current and emerging technologies. 

Additional classes include software development, programming, and systems administration. 

Master of International Business (MIB)

Length of time to complete: One to three years

Cost: $20,000-$60,000

Expected prior education: Bachelor's degree required; previous coursework in business encouraged

Expected prior work experience: A minimum of two years of experience in business may be required

Example career opportunities after graduation: 

  • International marketing manager
  • Global supply chain manager
  • International sales manager

A master's degree in international business emphasizes how to manage, accommodate, and meet the demands of the changing global marketplace.

Courses in international trade and commerce, importing and exporting, global organizational management, and business diversity provide insight into how business functions in countries and regions worldwide. 

International business master's learners also study global business ethics and may complete coursework in one or more foreign languages. 

Master of Marketing

Length of time to complete: One to three years

Cost:$10,000-$32,000

Expected prior education: Bachelor's degree required; previous business coursework encouraged

Expected prior work experience: Minimal business experience needed

Example career opportunities after graduation: 

  • Marketing manager
  • Sales manager
  • Director of marketing

A master's in marketing equips students with the skills to address marketing and sales challenges. By studying public relations, global communication, crisis management, and campaign design, learners gain insight into messaging and consumer engagement. 

Classes in data analytics and research train students to identify trends, develop and implement marketing strategies, and optimize sales of goods and services. 

Marketing master's degrees often include an internship or practicum so students can apply what they've learned.

Master of Science in Finance (MSF)

Length of time to complete: One to three years

Cost: $10,000-$30,000

Expected prior education: Bachelor's degree required, preferably in finance, accounting, or a related field

Expected prior work experience: One or two years of prior work experience preferred

Example career opportunities after graduation: 

  • Financial planner
  • Financial analyst
  • Investment banker

Throughout a finance master's degree, students apply financial theories to real-world scenarios to gain practical experience. 

Coursework in finance essentials like financial reporting, analysis, and economics set the foundation for students to study advanced financial modeling, investment management, and corporate policy. Students also master financial software.

Learners build a portfolio as they successfully navigate issues of risk analysis, forecasting, and financial valuation. 

Master of Supply Chain Management (MSCM)

Length of time to complete: One to two years

Cost: $9,000-$21,000

Expected prior education: Bachelor's degree needed; previous business coursework preferred

Expected prior work experience: Entry-level experience in a role related to supply chains preferred

Example career opportunities after graduation: 

  • Supply chain manager
  • Director of logistics
  • Global business strategist

A MSCM program covers strategies, models, and theories of supply chains. The curriculum includes aspects of leadership, data analysis, and business. Students learn about supply chains from end to end. They gain insight into effectively, efficiently moving goods and services worldwide.

Coursework includes procurement and contracting, transportation and logistics, and international operations management. Learners take part in individual and group projects to apply data analysis to complex and interconnected supply chain operations.

In conclusion

Business master's degrees give you a chance to grow your business career in the direction that best meets your needs and the demands of your field. 

Master's degrees in business vary by emphasis and scope, but what they have in common is the chance to help you get ahead in the business world. 

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