Economics is the study of behavior and decision-making when resources are scarce. Different universities offer different kinds of graduate degree programs in this field, two of which are master's degrees in Economics and Master of Business Administration, also known as the MBA. The master's in Economics is a more research-based and theoretical degree than the MBA, which is more focused on applications of economic theories in the real world.
Master's Degrees in Economics
Some universities offer one or two kinds of master's degrees in Economics: Master of Arts in Economics, or M.A. and Master of Science in Economics, or M.S. Both of these degrees are graduate-level academic degrees offered by universities’ Economics departments. In general, these degrees focuses on the fundamentals of economic research, teaching students how to collect, interpret and analyze qualitative and quantitative data related to economics.
A master's degree in Economics is a more mathematically rigorous program than the MBA and is more concerned with economic theory than its applications to business. Requirements within the program vary according to university, but most programs require students to take advanced courses in microeconomics and macroeconomics theory as well as one or two courses in econometrics.
Master of Business Administration
The MBA is a professional degree, which is occasionally offered by university Economics departments, but is often offered by the School of Business. Unlike the master's degree in Economics, the MBA is an applied degree which is focused on teaching students about business in the real world. MBA programs often have a lot fewer mathematical requirements than Economics master's degree programs, typically requiring no courses in calculus, statistics or econometrics.
MBA programs offer students an array of applied business courses, such as human resources, finance, accounting, marketing, organizational behavior, operations and leadership. Many programs also offer students a variety of hands-on courses that encourage them to come up with original business ideas, create presentations and marketing materials for their businesses and work together to solve real-world business problems.
M.A. vs. MBA Careers
Students who graduate with Economics master's degrees pursue careers in research. They might go on to collect, analyze and interpret data and create policies for government agencies, colleges and universities, nonprofit organizations, think tanks, hospitals, investment banks or consulting firms. Students who graduate with MBAs pursue careers in business, finding jobs in managerial roles, working directly with clients and overseeing the day to day operations of businesses in a wide variety of fields, including education, healthcare and finance.
Kate Prudchenko has been a writer and editor for five years, publishing peer-reviewed articles, essays, and book chapters in a variety of publications including Immersive Environments: Future Trends in Education and Contemporary Literary Review India. She has a BA and MS in Mathematics, MA in English/Writing, and is completing a PhD in Education.