Which is Right for You: an MBA or a Master’s in Organizational Leadership?

If you are considering pursuing an advanced business degree to prepare for a management or executive position, you might have a decision ahead.

Should you earn a Master’s in Business Administration (MBA) or a Master of Science in Organizational Leadership (MSOL)?

The Jacksonville University Davis College of Business offers both prestigious graduate degree programs on a 100% online learning platform. This allows working professionals to continue their career advancement without interruption for school, and it allows students to schedule coursework and streaming lectures at their convenience.

So, either option is viable for potential graduate students who are concerned about juggling a busy work schedule with classwork.

What the decision comes down to, then, is this: Which program will provide you the skills, knowledge and experiential learning techniques you need to improve your career possibilities?

Before you can determine that, it might help to establish your career goals. Start to figure out those goals by answering these questions:

  • As your career evolves, would you rather focus on hands-on project management or big-picture people management?
  • Do you see yourself in a direct management role or an executive position?
  • Does one specific area of business interest you more than the rest?
  • Do you hope to own a company or would you prefer to work in an established corporate setting?

How you answer those and other questions about your long-range future can help shape your short-term course of action.

Why Earn an MBA?

An MBA serves multiple purposes. It helps establish an individual’s credentials as an accomplished, knowledgeable business person; its acquisition provides practical opportunities to work with others in experiential learning settings; and it provides important networking opportunities that could have a positive influence for the lifetime of a career.

In general, people who have earned a bachelor’s degree in business and have garnered some experience in the business world are suited for an MBA program. An MBA helps students hone their planning, communication and project development skills while expanding on the technical aspects of business learned as an undergraduate.

Business graduates who seek education in specific areas can find it as they pursue an MBA. For example, the JU Davis College of Business offers an MBA with a concentration in Management, which emphasizes leadership skills and fundamentals in human resources.

Earning an MBA potentially can help improve an individual’s candidacy for positions such as purchasing manager, planning analyst and many more.

Why Earn an MSOL?

A master’s degree in organizational leadership is an advanced business degree that helps experienced business people to focus heavily on how to develop a personal leadership style and ways to implement that style in a real-world setting. Its focus is to help students improve their decision-making skills, assess risk, master ethical practices and – perhaps most importantly – learn how to get the most out of employees when it comes to meeting organizational goals.

Communication and strategic thinking are emphasized, as are executive communications and finding the balance between motivating employees and managing production and service operations.

In general, an MSOL provides a thorough grounding in the leadership techniques of successful executives. It is suited for people whose undergraduate degree was non-business-related, if the student has a familiarity with business principles.

Earning an MSOL potentially can position an individual to compete for jobs such as human resources manager, training and development manager, postsecondary education administrator and many more.

Which is Right for You?

The bottom line on the decision whether to pursue an MBA or an MSOL is that it will likely be personal, guided by your goals, your education history and your professional history. Only you know how you want your career to look over the long haul, and it’s important to recognize that the decisions you make today will determine the opportunities you have in the future.

There might also be other, more immediate considerations that could shape your decision. For example, does your current company offer tuition assistance? If so, are there limitations regarding the type of degree?

Time might also be a factor. If so, you might want to consider an accelerated program, as offered by the Davis College of Business through a one-year, 100% online MBA.

No matter what you decide, be sure to conduct thorough research into the curriculum, professors and reputation of the business school or schools you are considering. One of the most important differentiators is accreditation – the university ideally should be regionally accredited and the business school should be accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB).

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