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What Exactly Is a Master of Management Degree? (And How Is It Different Than an MBA?)

By Samantha Beavers

Since its beginnings in 1908 at Harvard Business School, the Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree has come a long way – bypassing the Master of Education degree to become the most popular master’s program in the United States in the early 2000s. And while it continues to be in high demand, many business professionals are turning to an alternative option – the Master of Management degree. 

What is the Master of Management degree and what makes it unique? How exactly does it differ from the MBA? And for prospective students eager to gain a competitive advantage in the marketplace, how do the two degrees stack up?

Sizing it up

First popularized in Europe, the Master of Management degree comes with a certain appeal: a strong foundation in management with a lighter course load to boot. 

Compared to an MBA, which typically takes full-time students two years to complete, a Master of Management degree can be knocked out within the same timeframe – but at a part-time pace. And some, like Poole College of Management’s, offer niche concentrations in in-demand fields like analytics – making them a good fit for those interested in acquiring a specific skill set. 

Unlike MBA programs, which provide a broader, more comprehensive foundation, these more specialized programs allow students to dive into their graduate studies with a more defined focus. 

“The Master of Management degree appeals to many prospective students – especially working professionals looking to increase their analytical expertise in a particular field. While the MBA program also offers a part-time track for working professionals, the curriculum includes a broader scope of business courses – leadership, finance and accounting, for example – that some students may not be as interested in,” says Allison Anthony, associate director of Poole College’s Master of Management program.

Poole College offers the degree with two unique concentrations – marketing analytics and risk and analytics – to equip students with the skills needed to navigate today’s complex, data-rich business environment. Clocking in at just 30 credit hours, it builds core competencies in management, critical thinking and analytics – applying these to the areas of marketing and risk management to prepare graduates for a variety of strategic leadership roles.


Whereas MBA programs generally admit working professionals with a few years of experience under their belts, most Master of Management programs attract recent college graduates looking to sharpen their business skills before jumping into their careers.

At Poole College, the Master of Management degree is well-suited for both. Seasoned professionals from a variety of backgrounds and industries, as well as those with little to no professional experience, can enter the program. However, Anthony notes that the concentrations were specifically developed with the needs of working professionals in mind.

“Our faculty and program directors recognized that while today’s professionals understand the importance of data-driven decisions, a lot of them lack the analytics skills needed to make them and are looking for opportunities to develop that skillset,” she says.

So, whether it’s a senior leader wanting to keep pace with a shifting industry, someone who’s identified a particular space they want to break into or an individual seeking an advancement opportunity, working professionals can build the foundation in analytics needed to take their next steps. And recent college graduates with an affinity for data and an interest in marketing or risk management may also be a good fit for the program, Anthony explains.

“Very few college graduates come out of the chute saying, ‘I want to work with data.’ It takes a special person to have this unique interest – much less know how they want to apply it. But some recent graduates really do find it fascinating and already have that specific career path in mind.” 

Weighing the options

For prospective students wanting to create a competitive advantage and pave a path toward leadership, both the MBA degree and the Master of Management degree can get them there. Which, then, is the right program? It all comes down to the clarity and uniqueness of their career goals.

For students set on focusing their career in risk management or marketing, and who want to dive deeper into big data, Poole College’s Master of Management degree is a win-win: a program tailored to their unique career path along with a shorter time commitment.

Meanwhile, the Jenkins MBA program is a strong choice for students who want to gain an in-depth knowledge of the various functions of a firm – from finance and supply chain to marketing. And for those who would like to dive deeper into a particular area along the way, full-time MBA students have the option of selecting an MBA concentration as well. 

Additionally, Poole College of Management offers students the opportunity to get the best of both worlds with its dual degree programs. By pairing the Jenkins MBA program with either the Master of Management, Marketing Analytics concentration or the Master of Management, Risk and Analytics concentration, students can accelerate their career by gaining broad management expertise alongside a specialized analytics focus.

For those still on the fence, Anthony encourages them to reach out for more information.

“I love working with students to figure out what they want to do and what they’re looking for in a program. If it sounds to me like they would be better suited for the MBA program, I’ll tell them that,” she says. “Ultimately, I want to make sure they choose the program that’s a good fit for them. And that’s what’s great about the graduate programs at Poole College – there are options to meet any prospective student’s needs.”