Deciding between an MIM vs. MBA

An MIM vs. an MBA? I have been asked this question frequently in two different contexts. First, from graduate applicants and prospective candidates who are confused whether to go for an MIM or an MBA degree. Second, from recruiters who are inquisitive on why I decided to pursue an MIM program, instead of waiting to undertake an MBA. Hence, I am writing this post to draw insights into the key differences and similarities between the 2 programs, with highlights of each.

Masters in Management has traditionally been a European program. Looking at the Financial Times – MIM Business School Rankings, the top 20 universities are all based in Europe, while the corresponding MBA Business School rankings are majorly dominated by US and to some extent UK based universities. Most Europeans who want to pursue a business or management degree prefer to go for an MIM either in their home country or in Europe itself. More universities in the US, Canada, Australia and Asia have started to introduce MIM programs in addition to MBA.

Candidate pool
The average age of MIM candidates is 23 years, while for an MBA it is 28 years. MIM candidates usually apply for the program right after completion of their Bachelor’s degree or with less than 2 years of experience after their under-graduation. On the other hand, MBA candidates typically bring 3 or more years of experience.
There is also a significant difference in background of MIM and MBA candidates. While both programs include candidates of diverse backgrounds, there is more diversity in MBA candidate pool in terms of different industries, previous occupation (engineers, consultant, doctors,…) and nationality. On the other hand, MIM candidates usually have a less affiliation to a particular industry or specialization.

This is probably the most important difference between the 2 programs. MIM is an attractive program for those who want to kick-start their careers. It offers an easier entry into the business labor market, especially for those with a non-business undergrad. MIM candidates typically want to further investigate their areas of interest before diving into the work pool.
Candidates opting for an MBA do so for a myriad of reasons – career switch into a different industry or function, pay increase, geographical change, starting own business, etc. They have already been in business for a few years, and usually have a clear idea of their career direction post an MBA.

Application process and criteria
The application process for both programs is more or less the same – an online application with a Statement Of Purpose (SOP), resume, academic and work experience records, test scores and Letters of Recommendations, followed by 2-3 interviews.  Many business schools also accept GRE in addition to GMAT for MIM programs.
The criteria of selection differs for both programs. While a strong  background and extra curriculars support both the programs, the major focus for an MIM is on  academics and internships, while for MBA the focus is on the quality of the work experience, managerial and leadership skills.

Course Structure
Both MBA and MIM can last for 1-2 years depending on the university. From a content perspective, the two programs are quite similar – courses in Strategy, Finance, Marketing, International Business…What differs is the mode of instruction. MBA courses are based on practical real world knowledge and are more case-study based. MIM programs also include case-study based method of teaching, but to a degree follow a theoretical classroom-based curriculum, including a thesis at the end of the program. This is because the MIM program focuses on the business fundamentals to equip the candidates with a solid foundation, usually in the first year, with an option to specialize in a particular stream in the second year.
Both programs allow students to leverage networking events, career forums, and company presentations. MIM programs also include 1-2 internships prior to graduation to ensure that candidates have a first practical experience before deciding on an industry/specialization. Some business schools even offer the opportunity to take an optional gap year either before the second year, or after finishing the course to pursue multiple internships to figure out and narrow down interests.

Tuition fees
Tuition fees for business schools differ by geography; for an MBA on average the cost can go up to 100k dollars, while for an MIM it is almost half around 40k dollars on average.

Job opportunities and salaries
Recruiting is majorly still local. This is more true for MIM. Most MIM graduates find it easier to find jobs locally, where employers recognize the degree, and are familiar with the course structures. MBA has a wider recognition, and offers more georgraphical flexibility while looking for jobs post graduation. After an MIM, candidates mostly enter into entry-level post graduate positions earning medium salaries on average 50k. MBA grads typically join as mid-level managers earning twice on average 100k. This of course is highly dependent on the market, industry, geography, skill set of the applicant and to a certain degree the reputation of the university.

So why did I decide to go for an MIM? For all of the reasons above. After my Engineering degree, I was looking to kick-start my career with a complementary skill-set in business management. I wanted to study in Europe. I got a decent scholarship at HEC Paris, and that brought me to France in 2013. The choice of which degree and which university to pursue is always a mix of personal preference and available opportunities. Spending some time to evaluate career goals and how the target business program and school meets those goals is the first step.

All the best!