Blog - Detail Page

June 30, 2022

What is the difference between an MS and an MBA degree?

After being wrapped up in a whirlwind of essays, exams, social occasions and society meet ups, many students find that their undergraduate degree goes by in a flash and they’re suddenly left wondering what to do next.

With competition for some jobs still fierce, even when you have a quality undergraduate degree under your belt, many graduates choose to continue their time in education and complete postgraduate degrees like an MS or an MBA.

Below, we go into the differences between an MS and an MBA degree, and the many benefits and career prospects that each one provides.

What is an MS degree?

A Master of Science (MS) degree is normally a full-time, two-year degree that’s open to students who have already studied subjects like science, engineering or medicine at undergraduate level. However, some universities will also accept students who have previously specialised in a humanities or social sciences subjects as well.

MS degrees offer the opportunity to complete advanced studies in a particular subject or discipline, and they normally require writing a thesis or a long research document. 

At Abu Dhabi University, you can study for numerous different MS qualifications. This includes Electrical and Computer Engineering, Information Technology, Mechanical Engineering and more.

What is an MBA?

To put it simply, an MBA programme is a specific type of master's degree which focuses mainly on business skills.

Short for Master of Business Administration, an MBA it is a postgraduate professional degree that studies the theory of business and management principles, and how they can be applied in real life.

MBAs cover areas of business such as accounting, applied statistics, business communication, business ethics, ethics, business law, finance, entrepreneurship, marketing, and operations. They can be studied full time over one or two years, and also as part time programmes.

At Abu Dhabi University, our College of Business offers MBAs in Aviation Management, Finance, Human Resource Management, Project Management and many other specialisms.

Career opportunities and salaries

MS and MBA degrees also defer in terms of what kinds of careers they lead to. 

Since an MS is quite a technical and academic programme, many graduates go on to pursue careers in research, or continue in education and complete a PHD. If a job that involves teaching other university students and researching a topic you’re passionate about sounds appealing, then an MS degree might be a great option for you. 

According to a 2019 survey conducted by the National Association of Colleges and Employers, these are some of the predicted salaries for MS graduates:  

  • Engineering - $82,589
  • Computer Science - $81,466
  • Math & Sciences - $75,737

Plus, according to the United States Department for Labor and Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average annual wage for a graduate with a MS degree was $13,000 more than a graduate with a bachelor’s degree.

Meanwhile, an MBA degree is a great starting point for a career in finance, consulting, investment banking, private equity and technology. MBA graduates are often recruited for business-related roles such as sales, marketing, business development and operations.

Gathered from a QS Top MBA Salary report, the below will give you an idea of the kinds of salaries that can be earnt after completing an MBA:  

  • Technology – $89,633  / AED 329,320
  • Finance – $97,100  / AED 356,658
  • Consulting – $90,900 / AED 333,884
  • Other – $89,675 / AED 329,385


The benefits of a MS in Marketing vs an MBA

For some careers, such as marketing, you can do either an MS or an MBA degree.

Both bring a number of benefits for future marketing professionals enormously. However, they are distinctly different.

Generally, an MBA in Marketing leads to more leadership-based marketing positions, and so therefore, on average, the salaries for Marketing MBA graduates are higher than those who have completed a Marketing MS.

Prioritising cross-functional leadership skills, an MBA in Marketing is perhaps better suited for those interested in a career in management, whilst a MS in Marketing is more focused on deep, practical marketing skills and is maybe more suitable for those interested in specialist roles that cover areas such as marketing analytics.

How much does it cost to study for an MS or an MBA degree?

At Abu Dhabi University, the fees for studying MS and MBA degrees are fairly similar.

For instance, an MBA in various specialisations, including Aviation Management, Logistics & Supply Chain Management, Project Management, Finance and Human Resource Management is priced AED 2,940 per credit hour, whilst a MS in IT, mechanical Engineering and other subjects is AED 2,835 per credit hour. [NADS1] 

So, when considering whether an MS or MBA degree is right for you, we recommend considering what future career you would like, how important your salary is, and whether you want your learning to be more research based, or centered around practical skills.

View the full list of MS and MBA degrees available at Abu Dhabi University here.





 [NADS1]Per credit hour. Also, the rest of figures were in USD and all of a sudden now we’re talking in AED. Is it possible to add approximate figures in AED for the above USD figures? 

Back to top