By Chioma Isiadinso
If you've been thinking about applying to business school, or trying to decide whether a management degree is the right choice for you, you've probably spent a lot of time researching MBA programs. And while an MBA is still the target degree, and the best option, for many candidates, there is another option that may be the right fit for some students: A Masters in Management (MIM) degree.
A Degree on the Rise
The MIM as a degree has been growing rapidly in popularity. According to the Global Master in Management Survey 2014, 89% of full-time Master in Management programs have been started since 2000. The majority of MIM programs (73%) are offered in Europe, but they are increasing in popularity in North America, along with similar degrees like the Master of Science in Management or Master of Management Studies.
Part of that reason is cost: the Global MIM survey suggests that the average cost for a MIM degree is just over half that of an MBA, even at the same institution. For example, at HEC Paris, tuition and fees for the Masters in Management program are €32,400 for EU students or €37,000 for non-EU students, compared to €62,000 for the MBA program.
Another aspect of the MIM's rising popularity is the degree's flexibility for employers. Most MIM graduates are still early in their career and command more modest salaries than MBA graduates. This makes them a good fit for smaller, less-established companies and industries without a stratified MBA track, allowing them to gain management knowledge while retaining the flexibility to develop talent in-house.
Designed for Early-Career Applicants
Unlike the MBA, which has historically focused on candidates with three to five years of professional experience who are looking to advance their career, the MIM is focused primarily on recent graduates and young professionals with a year or less of work experience.
The average age for MIM is in the early twenties: at London Business School, the average age for the class of 2017/ 2018 was 23; at HEC Paris, the average was 22. However, these programs are typically as diverse and nearly as competitive as their MBA counterparts. There were 42 nationalities represented in the LBS 2017/ 2018 class, with an average GMAT score of 686. At HEC Paris, there were 45 nationalities represented and the average GMAT was 710.
Traditionally, MIM programs have preferred applicants with undergraduate degrees in business and economics. While this is slowly changing, it remains true that more than 50% of the LBS and just under 50% of the HEC Paris 2017/ 2018 class came from a business or economics background. Engineering is another popular undergraduate degree for MIM programs, coming in at 31% of the HEC Paris class.
Is a MIM the Right Choice For You?
Deciding on the right degree – or whether it's the right time to go to business school – depends on your experience and your career goals.
In Europe, a MIM is a good choice for students in their last year of your undergraduate degree or who have just entered the workforce. This is particularly true if they feel like their undergrad degree isn't likely to get them started on their desired career path, or if they want to hone their management and leadership skills before entering the workforce.
In the US, the choice is less clear, as the MIM is not nearly as well-known. Getting a degree that employers don't recognize as valuable isn't a good return on your investment in business school.
Before you apply, look into your ideal employers. Do they hire MIM grads? Are they recruiting at your target schools? Check LinkedIn for past and present employees in roles you would be interested in. Do they hold a MIM? Where did they go to school? Informational interviews with alumni can be a great way to gain insight into the post-graduation careers of MIM students at your target schools.
As with any graduate degree, doing your research – and doing some introspection to get a clear sense of your own goals and capabilities – is the best way to ensure that you invest in a program that will help you realize your goals.
She's also a former Harvard Business School admissions officer and the author of the Best Business Schools' Admissions Secrets.
Chioma publishes on the topics of personal branding, leadership development and business school admissions for college students, young professionals, entrepreneurs and executives.