4 answers

How is an MBA different from a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration?


4 answers

Sonya’s Answer

Updated Richardson, Texas

A B.S. or B.A. is considered an undergraduate degree, a college degree received after high school/GED. A M.S. , M.A. of MBA is considered a graduate degree which can only be obtained after you have received an undergraduate degree of some type (although some schools offer a combined bachelors to MBA program). FYI, this is not a complete list of undergraduate or graduate degrees.

Also, an associates degree is another type of degree received after high school/GED that usually requires 2 years of study. Some people obtain an associates degree say from a junior or community college and then transfer that credit to a university to count toward obtaining a bachelors degree.

I received a B.S. engineering and then attended graduate business school. I received an M.S. instead of an MBA in graduate business school because of my electives. So I took several accounting, economics, finance and marketing classes but my electives were solid programming classes like C and Visual Basic. So the difference between a B.A and B.S or an M.S. or MBA in business school would possibly be the electives or other core curriculum that are more science based.

Hope this helps.

Interesting. Does it make sense to do both, one after the other, or would that be repetitive?
Do you mean an MBA or MS after your bachelors? It might be cheaper to go straight through. Some people say they are going to go back later but life can get in the way of that sometimes. Some employers have tuition assistance to help with an MBA, so you may want to look into that as well.

Michael’s Answer


Hi DW,

Sonya pretty much answered it, but a Bachelor of Science in BA is a 4 year undergraduate degree. An MBA, or Masters of Business Administration, is often a 2-3 year long program that is a graduate degree. Often times an MBA will be a focused concentration within business (Finance, Investment, Accounting, Management, etc.). An MBA can greatly help to separate you in Business and provides a fantastic level or knowledge and understanding that would be directly applicable to your business. If you have an opportunity to continue your education once you graduate, I would highly recommend pursuing an MBA. Many colleges are now offering them online or at night if you work, so it can be very flexible.



Thank you for your response. Does that mean an MBA allows you to specialize in a more specific area after studying toward a Bachelor degree in business? Is the level of Master degree courses more demanding?
Hi DW, Yes, you can specialize in a certain area with an MBA. But, you can be specific with a Bachelor's degree as well (I got my business degree in Finance). Yes the Master's degree will be more demanding and challenging, but it is still very doable. Thanks! Mike

Kathleen’s Answer

Updated Dallas, Texas

A Bachelor of Science (BS) is a 4 year degree in business. An (MBA) is a Masters of Science in Business Administration. You have to go to graduate school for 2 additional years AFTER getting a B.S., in order to earn a MBA. So an MBA is a total of 6 years after high school, a B.S. only takes 4 years.

A lot of job ads will say something like, "Requirements are B.S., with a MBA preferred". So you can get a job with just a BS, but an MBA may give you an advantage over other candidates. Obviously an MBA costs more, because it takes 2 extra years, so you really need to evaluate your goals, finances and priorities before you decide which one to get.

Kathleen recommends the following next steps:

  • research what type of job you are looking for and find out if the company requires an MBA or just a BA. Search on Monster.com or Indeed.com
  • Go to a local professional business organization and ask if you can interview someone with a MBA, so you can find out what their job is like and why they got an MBA. There are 1,000s of organizations to choose from out there. National Black MBA (NBMBAA.org), Hispanic MBA (Prospanica.org), National Sales Network, Women Executives.....

Lynne’s Answer


Hi D.W,

I'm so glad you asked this! I majored in International Business and am now in the middle of obtaining my M.B.A (full-time program), so I can tell you some major distinctions:

  1. Industry experience: From day 1, I loved the diversity of experience I saw amongst my classmates. In the "study group" I was assigned (you do a LOT of group projects in the MBA), there's an engineer, a consultant, 2 people from the finance world, and me (I'm the marketer). The best schools require at least 2 years of work experience, so I love hearing what people did in different roles and how those roles vary by industry and geography. You get first hand access to a widespread network of highly ambitious and collaborative individuals who are genuinely interested in learning things outside of their field. Through "coffee chats" with second years, where I chat with them to get to know more about certain jobs, I realized what it was that I for sure did NOT want to do, and learned of some professional areas that did intrigue me.
  2. Network Network Network: You hear that the MBA is a lot about "networking" - when you're in it, it's just called "making friends". But being in a community that was curated for ambitious professionals, you'll see how those friends may actually help you down the road. A lot of entrepreneurial partnerships actually started out in MBA programs (see Warby Parker), and down the road, knowing the right people in different industries will prove to be invaluable.
  3. Big picture thinking: Whereas other masters degrees may focus on a single subject, MBA programs require all their students to learn accounting, finance, economics, and marketing theory (or some variation of those subjects), giving them a zoomed out POV of a business, not matter what they end up choosing as a concentration. From my experience, most CEOs have rotated between finance, marketing, and operations roles, and an MBA degree encourages you to think in that multi-faceted way.
  4. Exposure to execs: Just like in undergrad, MBAs have speaker series, where high level executives come and advise students. The difference is that most MBA programs are smaller than their undergrad counterparts, so the odds of you meeting them and making a memorable connection is higher.
  5. Finally, it's important to say that the MBA is definitely more helpful for career switchers than career enhancers. If you find yourself pigeonholed in an industry or job that no longer excites you or wasn't what you expected, an MBA can help you discover yourself and steer your wheels in the right direction. You can leverage your network and find out what you really want; then you can network to get it.

While I can't say it's universally better to get an MBA, when you do you're basically telling the world (and future employers/partners) that you are committed to your professional ambitions. The program is NOT cheap, takes up 2 years of your adult life sans income, not to mention the work you put into your classes.

Lynne recommends the following next steps:

  • Talk to some people who are getting their MBAs in a field that you're interested in