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Master of Management | Context - Context
Online Master of Management
Master of Management In Context

The master’s degree in Management is the advanced degree of choice for students with non-business backgrounds who wish to pursue a senior-level business career.

Regardless of what you studied before, this program could work as your springboard to a management role. A master’s in management will give you the context, knowledge, theory and practice skills to lead teams and organizations.

The degree is also known as a Master of Science in Management (MSM, MIM or M.Sc.), a Master of Arts in Management, or a Master of Management Studies (MMS). Some refer to the degree to as a “pre-experience business master’s program” because many institutions allow students to enroll within several months after finishing an undergraduate degree.

Equally, if you are just launching your career, a master’s in management will give you the context, understanding, theory and know-how to operate successfully in business at a senior level.

What will you learn by earning a master’s in management?

The Master of Science in Management focuses more heavily on the theory of management than the MBA, but also covers foundational business topics associated with the MBA. These include:

  • Accounting
  • Economics
  • Finance
  • Marketing
  • Statistics
  • Business law
  • Global business
  • Organizational behavior
  • Management theory, skills, and tools
Who is the Master of Science in Management for?

The average MSM student is 24 years old with 10 months of work experience [19], but the degree suits a range of students. All intend to pursue management roles, but each student likely seeks to apply the degree in unique employment settings, from small start-ups in the private sector to global non-profits. The MSM typically attracts:

  • Students with non-business backgrounds and previous studies in the liberal arts, engineering, sciences or mathematics [1]
  • Younger students without (or with less) professional experience. Unlike an MBA, most MSM programs do not require applicants to have relevant work experience. In 2011, 72% of MSM applicants were under 25 years old and 85% had less than two years of work experience. [2]
  • Students who have yet to establish a career or who wish to change career fields
  • Students who want to develop advanced skills and theoretical knowledge needed to compete for management jobs. (The MSM can form a path to advancement without the cost of an MBA.)
Why earn a master’s in management degree?

An MSM can help you transition to a management career if your background is in science, liberal arts, mathematics or engineering. The curriculum is ideal if you have less than two years of business experience, working to prepare you for your first business role.

Some programs focus on theoretical management topics, such as leadership styles and organizational behavior, so be sure to choose a program where you can align courses or concentrations with your career goals.

The program can be completed in just 10-12 months through intensive, fast-track programs, but traditional MSM programs typically take two years to complete. [1] Some programs can be completed entirely online and do not require an internship. These online management master’s programs typically offer more flexible scheduling options.

Master of Management Career Advancement
How does the MSM fit into my professional development?

Students typically seek a master’s in management after earning an undergraduate degree. It can precede or replace an MBA, depending on your career goals. Because the MSM introduces advanced theoretical concepts at a deeper level than a business bachelor’s degree program, it is often preferred by students weighing the option of earning a dual undergraduate degree.

Practice areas of the master’s in management

Graduates who earn the Master of Science in Management can be found in organizations globally, working in functions that include general management, operations management, business development, and sales and marketing. Some serve as consultants or work on a contract or self-employed basis. Others move into more specialist areas, such as facilities management, IT service management, business analysis, or business communications.

What are current trends connected to management jobs?

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has predicted that employment within management occupations as a whole will increase by 6% from 2014 through 2024, creating 505,400 new jobs in the process. This growth will be driven by organizational growth factors and the creation of new businesses. [6]

Consulting is an attractive career choice for management professionals seeking higher salaries, intellectual stimulation, and the chance to work on a self-employed or contractor basis — with overseas placements widely available. The BLS has found that employment in the management and business consulting industry is expected to grow by 14% between 2014 and 2024, with an additional 758,000 jobs created. [6]

In terms of job placement, 59% of master’s in management graduates reported in 2016 that they received a job offer before or shortly after graduation, compared to 38% in 2014. [7]

What is a typical job outcome after earning a master’s in management degree?

A master’s degree in management positions you for a range of management careers, including work in operations management, general management, sales and marketing, consulting, and business development. [2] Because MSM graduates typically have little to no professional experience, the degree commonly qualifies you for entry or mid-level management jobs. Common MSM jobs include:

  • Operations manager
  • Customer services manager
  • Business development manager
  • Project manager

In 2011, companies planned to hire MSM graduates to fill roles in: [2]

  • Sales & Marketing (40%)
  • Operations Management (35%)
  • General Management (36%)
  • Business Consulting (31%)
  • Business Development (31%)
What are common career settings for a master’s in management graduate?

Research suggests that consulting firms are amongst the biggest employers of Masters in Management graduates. Other big MIM employers are finance functions and firms, and the media and entertainment industry. MIM graduates have a good reputation with firms that run graduate training schemes, or consultancies and banks who want new analysts. Recruiters like MIM graduates because they are flexible, globally mobile, and have the ability to learn fast, work hard and take risks. [18]

Master of Management career benefits

If you seek to pursue a management career, the MSM can position you favorably in a competitive marketplace. In fact, 86% of graduates said that they found the degree professionally rewarding, and 95% considered it “Good to Outstanding.” [4] Earning your MSM degree can help you achieve more, including:

A better salary

Graduates report higher earnings (47% of graduates), advanced job titles (33%), promotions (39%) and increased responsibilities at work (46%). [3]

Wider range of employment opportunities

MSM graduates are highly marketable across industries for many job functions due to the generalist nature of the degree.

Personal satisfaction

The Global Management Education Graduate Survey said that 77% of master’s in management students valued the degree, and 83% said that they would recommend it to others. [3]

Higher rate of employability

A 2015 survey of MSM graduates reported that 89% agreed the degree helped them seek more challenging work and 85% said the degree helped them increase their professional network. [4]

Can I expect a good return on my MSM degree investment?

Graduates report a typical period of 4 years before they earned a return on their MSM degree investment. Of graduates surveyed, 81% said that their business degree has helped their earning power and 73% said that they enjoyed faster career advancement. [4]

What management skills do employers seek?

Employers expect MSM graduates to demonstrate a broad range of skills, theoretical understanding of successful management tactics. Common management qualifications include:

  • Analytical skills
  • Soft skills/leadership style
  • Communications skills
  • Broad business knowledge, with an increasingly global emphasis. [23]

In a recent survey, graduates of the Master of Science in Management programs reported skill development in areas including general business, management decision-making, management strategy, innovation, and motivation, ideally positioning them for entry-level management roles. [5] In a separate survey, alumni of MSM degree programs said that courses helped them hone primary and secondary skills in:

  • Qualitative analysis (88%)
  • Quantitative analysis (84%)
  • Softer management skills (76%)
  • Leadership potential (80%)
  • Professional networking (70%) [4]
Master of Management Curriculum
The Master of Science in Management curriculum prepares graduates to serve as manager in all areas of modern businesses and organizations, with options to specialize or concentrate in certain areas. Most courses will begin with core courses and then offer specialized electives during the last half of the program.
Typical Master of Management core courses
  • Business management
  • Operations management
  • Sales & marketing
  • Economics
  • Statistics/numeracy/finance for non-financial managers
Additional courses studied in Master of Management programs

The following courses are also common across Master of Management programs, but variations will occur. Consider specialized courses when comparing degrees to choose the program that fits your management vision.

  • Business principles or foundations
  • Applied research
  • Leadership
  • Managing resources
  • Statistics and/or Economics and/or Finance
  • Organizational theory & behavior
  • Banking, finance and related fields
  • Criminal justice leadership or management
  • IT

Will I need to complete a thesis or capstone project?

Yes, the capstone is included in most MSM programs. The duration of the capstone varies between schools, but typically takes between 10 weeks and 2 semesters. Most graduate program capstones last an average length of one semester. [25]

The capstone project is an opportunity to apply your knowledge gained through the MSM in order to tackle a management problem for a real client. Project requirements are often flexible and students can typically choose from commercial businesses, non-profits, community projects, or government agencies as their preferred capstone setting. Format and topic are also flexible, and a faculty mentor typically helps you choose your project and develop it.

In some circumstances, students can take an advanced, comprehensive exam rather than a capstone, but this is generally an exception.

Will the Master of Management program require an internship?

Some master’s in management programs don’t require an internship, but there is excellent value in electing to do one if you have the option. A study carried out by GMAC reported that over 80% of employers offered internships, and 18% offered them to MIM candidates. Master of Management students will typically compete with MBA students for internships.

GMAC also found that internships can play a vital role for business students when it comes to securing employment. In terms of where to anticipate working, 91% of companies with over 25,000 employees are likely to offer internship programs, compared to small businesses with less than 1,000 employees, where 73% report that they offer internships. [15]

How do I set an internship up?

Many companies advertise internships publicly. You can also inquire with companies that interest you, as well as explore options provided by your institution to help you secure the right internship opportunity.

What are common ways to specialize a Master of Management degree?

Some Master of Science in Management programs do not offer specializations or concentrations. For those schools that do offer specializations, available concentrations will vary. Likely options include:

  • General management techniques
  • Accounting
  • Business/Contract/Construction/Executive management
  • Human resources and related fields
  • International business
  • Healthcare and related fields
  • Leadership
  • Project management
  • Statistics
  • Global management
  • Business ethics

How do I best choose my degree specialization or electives?

Choose your degree specialization or electives based on your career interests. Keep in mind that some specialist areas of management will require additional certifications and studies to practice at certain levels. For example, if you were to become an HR manager, you would need to take additional specialist courses in labor legislation, payroll, compensation, and hiring. You might also take voluntary certification, such as the Professional of Human Resources (PHR) [20] and Certified Employment Benefits Specialist (CEBS), which many employers value. [22]

How do I choose a master's in management program?
Choosing the right Masters in Management for you comes down to personal preferences and priorities. Common factors to consider include cost, program length, reputation, and potential job outcomes. Below, find the top criteria to weigh when making your decision:


Learn about options to specialize your degree and review courses in the curriculum to discern how each program aligns with your career goals.


Compare accreditation of schools and programs. Regional accreditation is commonly preferred by employers as well as other schools where you might wish to transfer credits or pursue subsequent degrees.


Look into the backgrounds of faculty members to determine their experience, reputation, or research, all of which might be indicators of more relevant guidance to help you achieve your career goals.


Find out how your school and program of choice rank within your industry of interest or compared to other academic institutions.

Online options

Determine if an online master’s in management degree could offer more flexibility to work with your busy schedule. Some online programs include residencies, internships or blended learning options that combine online and on-campus courses to suit your personal learning style.

Program length

Form the best plan for your future by considering how long each program will take to complete. Most MSM degree programs take a minimum of two years to complete, but there are accelerated programs also available to reduce the overall time spent earning your degree.


Note tuition rates and additional fees associated with each program to find the best option that fits within your budget. Costs varies widely from program to program.

Notable alumni

Check out graduate testimonials or seek out recent graduates to learn how the program has worked for others. Testimonials are often posted on the school’s website and can also be found on official university social media sites like Facebook or LinkedIn.

Mentoring opportunities

Find out about employer partnerships or mentoring programs offered to MSM students through each institution you consider. These types of programs can offer a valuable benefit when preparing for employment as a manager.

What are the specific learning outcomes of earning an MSM degree?

The broad nature of the Master of Management degree provides an excellent overview of how organizations operate. Graduates emerge with insight and work-ready skills to apply across a range of management functions. The knowledge and skills help you confidently apply the MSM within the context of a management role, applying theory and modern business practices to move successfully through your management career.

Master of Management Program Length

The length of an online master’s degree program can depend on a number of variables, perhaps the most prominent of which is the pace at which you choose to study. You can finish a typical master’s degree program in about two to three years if you choose to study full-time, although some accelerated programs may be able to help you finish more quickly.

Online master’s degree programs tend to offer flexibility suitable for students who choose to study part-time. This option will likely extend your time to completion, but it can allow you to study while fulfilling your familial, social, and professional obligations.

You can find more information on this topic at our program length overview page.

How many credits do I need?

A typical MS in Management programs totals 36 credit hours and can often be shorter than an MBA program, which typically requires up to 54 credit hours.

Master of Management Admissions Requirements

While each program will set its admission requirements based on its own criteria, many requirements are universal across all programs. No matter where you apply, you can expect to provide items like transcripts from previous degrees or coursework; standardized test scores; a personal statement or essay; letters of recommendation; and an overview of relevant work experience.

In certain cases, some of these requirements may be waived.

For more information about admissions, please visit our admissions requirements page.

Master of Management Alternative Degrees/Fields of Study

The curriculum for management graduate programs differs from the MBA by focusing more heavily on management theory. There is approximately a 30% crossover in MSM and MBA crossover (GMAT). [1] There are various alternatives to a master’s in management:

  • MBA
  • Masters in Project Management
  • Masters in Finance
  • Masters in Accounting
  • Masters in Health Administration
  • Masters in Human Resources
  • Masters in Information Systems
  • Masters in Management Information Systems
  • Masters in Innovation and Entrepreneurship
  • Masters in International Business
  • Masters in Organizational Development
  • Masters in Marketing
  • Masters in Public Administration
How will the different degree types or fields of study affect my career options?

Through specialized master’s degrees in subjects such as marketing, public administration, or information systems, you can gain a deeper level of knowledge, skills, and abilities in the specialist area, but a narrow focus can inhibit your ability to cross into other areas of your organization. The right choice for you will depend very much on your personal career progression plan. A more general Master of Management degree can provide insights that can be applied within a range of practical settings.

What are the differences between degree levels in this field?

A bachelor’s degree is awarded upon completion of 120 credits. It is typically taken over 8 semesters and involves studying general courses while choosing one primary subject of specialization. This degree is often a preparatory degree for any management career. The master’s in management is a more advanced degree that can prepare graduates for their first management role or can be used to elevate them to a higher initial role. Additionally, the master’s in management can be taken by students without prior business studies at the bachelor’s level.

Some graduates may also choose to earn an MBA later in their careers in efforts to advance even further. MBA courses have some crossover with the Master of Management, but covers a broader spectrum of business expertise, instead of a specialized focus on management.

Master of Management Relevant Management Industry Associations

Below are three key industry associations that are relevant for Master of Management degree holders:

  • American Management Association
  • NMA
  • Institute of Certified Professional Managers
Master of Management Accreditation

There are various primary and secondary accreditation bodies for master’s in management programs. They exist to promote excellence in the field of business education and accredit specialized business degrees:

  • The Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs
  • The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB International)
  • International Assembly for Collegiate Business Education

Regional accreditation is the most prestigious type of accreditation that an online or traditional college or university can receive. It is granted only after careful consideration by private, not-for-profit organizations tasked with evaluating educational quality.

Regional accreditation is particularly important if you anticipate that you might want to transfer credits from one online degree program to another or use those credits to pursue another degree. Most regionally accredited schools will only accept credits from other regionally accredited institutions of higher learning.

You can learn more on this topic at our regional accreditation page.

History of the Degree

The master’s in management first appeared as a graduate program in the late 1980s. [16] The degree program has developed as business has evolved. Now, programs seek to incorporate the complexity of modern business settings to train competent managers. It’s an increasingly popular degree choice today, with 51% of programs reporting an increase in applications. [17]

Master of Management Tuition and Fees

There are a number of factors that can greatly affect how much your education will cost. These include whether you attend a public or private institution; whether you attend as an in-state or out-of-state student; and whether you qualify for financial aid like grants or scholarships.

For a more detailed breakdown of tuition, fees, and other financial issues, please visit our tuition and fees page.