Students who want to pursue graduate studies and economics of business have a number of degree options. A Master of Science or an M.S, is an academic degree which is typically offered by the university's college of arts and sciences and a Master of Business Administration, or MBA, is a professional degree offered by the school of business. The Master of Science degree emphasizes theory while the MBA emphasizes the application of theory to the real world of business.

Master of Science

Different universities offer students various Master of Science degree options. For example, the same department may offer students the choice of a Master of Science in finance, economics or business. Regardless of the options, most master's degree programs require students to complete 30 to 36 credit hours, of which some are required courses and others are electives. Because a Master of Science degree is focused on preparing students for a career in research, its courses aim to give students a broad theoretical base in their chosen concentration.


Different schools of business offer students different MBA options. The traditional MBA program is a two-year program of approximately 50 to 56 credit hours. Universities now offer a variety of other MBA programs, tailored at different kinds of students. For example, students have the option to pursue executive or accelerated MBA programs, in which they complete the same number of courses in one year, instead of two. Some universities offer online MBA programs, which allow students to complete the entire course of study using the Internet. Similarly, universities also offer part-time, evening and weekend MBA programs which are aimed at professional students who work during the day. These programs usually take three to four years to complete.

Master of Science Courses

Course requirements in master's degree programs are highly academic and rigorous. These courses require a thorough foundation of mathematics, including calculus and statistics, because mathematics is the foundation upon which economic theories are built. Master of Science programs typically require a number of courses in microeconomics, macroeconomics and econometrics. Depending on the university and the degree program, additional courses, such as financial economics, monetary theory, macroeconomics and financial decision-making are also required. All of these courses are mathematically rigorous and theoretical in approach.

MBA Courses

Course requirements in MBA programs are highly interactive and project-based. Some MBA programs require students to participate in specific interactive workshops, while others have project-based environments in their courses. MBA courses encourage students to work together to solve real-world business problems in order to mimic the professional environment of today's corporate world. Examples of some of the applied courses students take are management, strategy, accounting, leadership, finance and ethics.

Career Prospects

The Master of Science degree and the MBA prepare graduates for different career tracks. The Master of Science degree is theoretical and academic, and it prepares students for careers in research and policy. The MBA, on the other hand, is an applied degree, which prepares graduates for careers in management. Graduates with both of these degrees go on to work in a variety of fields, including private companies, education and government, but they are employed in different capacities. For example, at the corporate headquarters of a company, a person with an Master of Science degree will typically be employed in the research department while the person with an MBA will find work in a management position.