Students hoping to study business at the master's level have numerous options. The most popular and well known among them is the Master of Business Administration. However, some students find that the financial costs and admission standards of these programs don't fit their needs or budget. As such, they look to an alternative, the Master of Science in Business Analytics/Analysis, which offers a different curriculum.

Admissions Expectations

The admissions expectations of an MSBA and an MBA program occasionally vary, but are sometimes quite similar. The primary difference between the two, however, is that an MSBA degree will expect a stronger quantitative and math background from its applicants than an MBA degree. In general, an MSBA degree looks for evidence that a student can process analytical information about business, while an MBA looks for students who can lead and administer businesses effectively. As such, an MBA program will generally expect more previous work experience than an MSBA, though this is not always the case.

Curriculum Standards

It is in curricular standards that the MSBA and the MBA degrees diverge considerably. The two degrees aren't interchangeable and have very different objectives. The MSBA degree seeks to give students an understanding of the analysis and quantitative assessment of business processes. This means that students take courses such as "Quantitative Analysis and Communication" and "Business Research Methods." Courses like these form the bulk of an MSBA student's work. The MBA may take a course or two that overlaps with the MSBA, but in general, the degree asks students to complete classes with more leadership and management content, like "Operations Management" and "Leadership in Organizations."

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Financial Aid and Scholarships

MBA degrees are professional degrees that the vast majority of students are expected to finance either with personal savings, a private company sponsorship or with student loans. Some minor scholarships are sometimes available. The situation is generally similar for MSBA programs, with few financial resources available to help students finance tuition. However, MSBA programs are often only a single year long, so the overall cost of the degree is less than a typical MBA. Because this is not always the case, students should check with their individual program.

Careers After the Degree

MSBA and MBA students are often employed by similar companies and organizations, but in different capacities. The Catholic University of America, for example, markets its MSBA degree as a degree suited for liberal arts majors hoping to begin a career in business. An MBA, on the other hand, is typically for seasoned professionals hoping to advance an already-started business career. As such, an MBA typically leads to higher-level management employment, while the MSBA is more entry-level, and more analytical in focus, given the degree's curricular content.

About the Author

Kevin Wandrei has written extensively on higher education. His work has been published with Kaplan,, and Shmoop, Inc., among others. He is currently pursuing a Master of Public Administration at Cornell University.