opinions: 2nd M.Sc. or MBA?

Discussion in 'General Distance Learning Discussions' started by adireynolds, Oct 16, 2005.

  1. adireynolds

    adireynolds New Member

    Well hello everyone,

    Long time no pen, I suppose. I thought you'd all be interested to know that I've made a huge decision with regards to my continuing education, and thought I'd share (and ask the board's opinion along the way :) ).

    After a lot of thought, and discussion with those whose advice I greatly value, I've decided to withdraw from my Ph.D. program, wrap up my second master's in business, and call it quits with education . . . for the foreseeable future, at least.

    Why? Well, I have found myself, over the past year, struggling to regain my former (pre-divorce) motivation/interest/desire in my Ph.D. studies, and I just can't. When I ask myself, now, why I'm still working toward the Ph.D., the only honest answer I can give is because . . . well, I already started it. That no longer is good enough, I don't think. I can't stand to do anything half-heartedly -- I'm usually full-bore or nothing at all, and this past year my doctoral work has been rather lukewarm, at best.

    So! I've now amassed enough grad credits in the biz field that I should, in a very short time, be able to wrap up the Master's that I never completed at UT - San Antonio. I have two options, from what I can see at this point (can't talk to enrollment counselors for confirmation until Monday): either finish a M.Sc. in Organization and Management from Capella (I think I'm only one class shy of that), or transfer as much as I can into Excelsior's MBA program (my guess is, I'd only have the 2 required Excelsior courses to do, even though I've done them before at both the Master's and PhD level).

    My professor/mentor/wonderful guide and guru is of the opinion that the MBA would be more valuable for me to get, since I already have a M.S.Ed. I certainly trust his opinion, and that sounds reasonable to me. I just wanted to ask everyone on this board if they've had any experience/knowledge of the difference in the marketability of these two degrees.

    The context? I'm an HR Manager, and will be sitting for my GPHR certificate next spring. My areas of focus are training, recruitment, and expat management/adjustment. I plan on living outside of the U.S. for the foreseeable future, certainly for a few more years in the Middle East, and eventually I'd like to return to Asia.

    Any opinions on the M.Sc./MBA issue would be greatly welcomed! Let me add the caveat upfront that I am firm in my decision to withdraw from the Ph.D. program; I'd appreciate it if you didn't try to convince me to stay in it! It's a relief to admit that I don't want it anymore, don't need it for my future plans, and can break free of some of the self-imposed tyranny that I should have one, since my dad was a star academician.

    Cheers, all!
  2. RFValve

    RFValve Well-Known Member

    I think that MBAs are now a dime a dozen and not something that would make a significant difference in your life unless it comes from a top school. I think you should look for a program that could fit your professional goals and not just something that can be used to put your credits to work. But if this is about a M.Sc or MBA, the M.Sc is more prestigious in my opinion as it is more specialized.
  3. DougG

    DougG New Member


    I would lean toward the MBA over the particular MSc option you mention. I can recommend two books that cast some light on this question. Jeanne Palmer's The Human Resource Professional's Career Guide, published in 2004, has a lot of positive things to say about the utility of an MBA specifically for ambitious HR people. Human Resources in the 21st Century, edited by Effron and Gandossy, touches on an issue I'm sure you're aware of: that HR people continue to suffer, in many companies, from the suspicion that they lack a strategic mindset and solid business skills. The MBA can, in my view, serve as a partial antidote to that notion and therefore support career advancement.

    By the by, I've been thinking about the GPHR myself.
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 16, 2005
  4. airtorn

    airtorn Moderator

    If three classes will garner you two graduate degrees, why not get both?
  5. Messagewriter

    Messagewriter New Member

    mba vs. ms

    Valid points have been made. I'd add that if one has two master level degrees, an MBA may be a good foundation, with a drill down in the MS's field. An MBA is like the letter T, offering breadth across the top bar, while the MS provides more depth in the vertical segment that an MBA would have. It's not clear to me that your current MS necessarily extends the vertical leg per se as you are an HR professional, so I'm inclined to suggest that you do the MBA.

    The rational is that you are not coming out of the box, so your experience in HR could make an MS in this field boring anyway. But, to move up in the world beyond middle management, financial accounting, marketing, operations, corporate finance and cost accounting are very helpful. If you are weak on paper in these areas, I'd do the MBA to shore up you promotability. Your question really requires more info than we could know about your strengths and weaknesses.

    If you've done grad business courses, you know what SWAT analysis is - plug the holes revealed in that analysis first. And, consider that you are not going to be in the US, if this is your goal and how various degrees are perceived abroad.

    Good luck.
  6. worthingco

    worthingco New Member


    I agree with your prof...go with the MBA. You can always choose a MBA with a specialization such as HR or Organizational Behavior.
  7. edowave

    edowave Active Member

    You won't find me trying to talk out of quitting the PhD! I often think about it myself, especially after I see my bank statement. :)

    As for whether to do a MSc or MBA, that is a more difficult choice. Practically speaking, I would say do the one that will get you finished the quickest. Is a thesis required for the MSc?

    However, a common complaint that managers have about HR is that they don't understand other areas of business. For that reason, I would lean towards the MBA, especially if you ever want to work outside of the training/recruitment side of HR.
  8. Ted Heiks

    Ted Heiks Moderator and Distinguished Senior Member

    Go for the MBA!
  9. dl_mba

    dl_mba Member

    MBA for Sure.
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 17, 2005
  10. BryanOats

    BryanOats New Member

    "Go for the MBA!"

    Ted, that’s all - no explanation?

    I've been lurking DI for awhile now and even feel as if I know Ted -- a little, anyway. He seems like a good guy. But here, I think Ted’s a bit one sided. You see, he wasn't just satisfied with one MBA. He went to out there and earned one in Entrepreneurship and another in Marketing. (Yeah, I’m jealous!) So even though his post was short in words, he is a very smart guy who has lived and worked with two MBA’s for some time now. Therefore, I think he’s right, twice.
  11. Ted Heiks

    Ted Heiks Moderator and Distinguished Senior Member

    Re: "Go for the MBA!"

    Now that I re-read my post, I'm getting that "What the hell was I thinking?" sort of feeling. First, let me say that I'm sorry to hear that my friend Adrienne's PhD program didn't quite work out. Second, I think that, if she is determined to quit her doctoral studies, she certainly ought to try to salvage something from it. While my vote of "go for the MBA" may have been a bit biased because I'm a double MBA, I also think that the MBA would give her a broader preparation. Just my $0.02. I think.
  12. Ted Heiks

    Ted Heiks Moderator and Distinguished Senior Member

    Gosh! What was it about the divorce that caused you to lose interest in the doc?
  13. adireynolds

    adireynolds New Member

    Wow, what wonderful feedback y'all have given me! I knew DI wouldn't let me down. :D

    It seems like MBA has the majority vote (and Doug, thanks for the HR references . . . I'm familiar with these, but haven't read them myself).

    Airtorn, you make a point -- I might possibly could do both, but wouldn't I then look a bit over-educated, with three master's degrees? Still, it might be doable, esp. since the degrees would be from different schools.

    Edowave, I'm guessing the M.Sc. would probably be the quickest -- if my calculations are right, I'd only have to take one class to do that (no, no thesis), whereas it would be 2-3 for the MBA, and classes that I've taken before, at that. Still, a small price to pay, I suppose (even though I *really* don't look forward to taking Strategic Mgmt for a third time).

    Hmm, Ted, well that's kind of a tough question to answer! I guess the quickest one I could come up with is that I was using the doc program almost as an escape mechanism for how unhappy I was in my marriage -- a way of having something I could call my own, that was in my control, that sort of thing. Since the divorce, I've actually started living again, and find that my interests really don't lie in formal academic study any longer. For the first time in my life, I find myself actually working to live, rather than living to work, so to speak, and am enjoying it immensely. For the foreseeable future, I'd just rather concentrate on that for right now. That doesn't mean I'll never do the Ph.D.; I am a young thing still at 37! :D But, for now, I need to let go and just live. Quite possibly I'm going through the classic midlife crisis . . . after all, I did just buy that hallmark of one . . . a red Z3! :p

    Again, I greatly appreciate all the feedback! I'm going to talk to both schools this evening (Mon morning for y'all in North America). I'll let you know what happens with this, esp. if I end up doing both degrees.

    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 17, 2005
  14. DougG

    DougG New Member


    I think you’re in an enviable position. I think three master’s degrees may look odd in some cases, but can be quite impressive on a resume or in talking points when (a) they have significant separation from one another in terms of type and specializations/concentrations/areas of focus, and (b) they all meaningfully contribute to career intellectual capital. If both conditions apply I would be very tempted.
  15. adireynolds

    adireynolds New Member


    Well, with the exception of two courses still to be evaluated, it looks like the Excelsior MBA will be out -- I would have to take 5-6 classes to complete that, and I'm just not interested in staying in school that long -- if I were, I'd stay in the Ph.D. program.

    Still waiting to hear from Capella's assessment -- should be in a day or two. Will update when I do.

  16. PhD2B

    PhD2B Dazed and Confused

    Another vote MBA

    Since you already have an MS, I don’t see the value of earning a second one.

    Go for the MBA.

    Good luck and keep us posted on your decision.
  17. adireynolds

    adireynolds New Member

    Re: Another vote MBA

    Well, the value would be that the first one is in Education, and the second (through Capella) is in Organization & Management, from the School of Business. So, that still has great utility for me, in the HR field.

    If I go for Excelsior's MBA, it looks like I'd still need to take about 5-6 classes . . . as many as I would need to take in almost any other MBA program. What I'm trying to do is wrap up what I've done already as quickly as possible, and take a break, period, from the whole school thing. So, if Capella evaluates my stuff as I think they will, then I'd only have to do 2 classes with them, which I could knock out Jan - Mar. That, I'm willing to do.

    If I was going to do 5-6 more classes, I might as well stick with the Ph.D. program -- I'm close to the comps phase now, as it is.

  18. adireynolds

    adireynolds New Member

    update on decision

    Hi all,

    Well, while on vacation I finally heard back from both Capella and Excelsior on the MS/MBA decision, and I'll be wrapping up my second master's with Capella.

    For Excelsior, I would need to take another 5-6 classes, whereas for Capella's MS in Org & Mgt, I only need to take two, which I can take concurrently Jan - Mar, so that's the route I'm going to use. Then, once I've completed that master's, I'll start concentrating on professional certificates, such as SHRM's GPHR, and whatever the American Society for Training and Development offers.

    I can't tell you how freeing this decision has been for me -- I have had no regrets so far in deciding to withdraw from the Ph.D. program! Maybe one day I'll go back to it, but for now, I'm very happy with my decision. I am glad that I have been with Capella, though, and am content to finish up my master's with them -- they've been a great school, and I'd still highly recommend them to anyone looking to complete a degree (at any level) through DI.

  19. DougG

    DougG New Member

    Congrats on the clarity! Full speed ahead.
  20. Dr Dave

    Dr Dave New Member

    A few thoughts on this question:

    First, the MBA is a bigger degree than either the MS in Organization & Management or in Business. While an MBA is usually 56 credits or so, the MS is about 30. So the MBA is more comprehensive in scope and gives you a broad, stratetic perspective rather an merely a narrow functional viewpoint.

    Second, many MBAs offer "concentrations" being specialized areas of study, including Organizational Studies (covering organizational design, behavior, and development), by taking a sufficient number of electives in that area. Thus with a concentration, you have have the best of both worlds--a breadth of business knowledge plus a depth of knowledge in a particular segment.

    Finally, I would assert that the MBA is a practitioner's master's degree, while the MS is a bit more research oriented. Most employers are more familiar and comfortable with the MBA, as it is more readily understood and considered more applied than theoretical.

    So I too would (and did) opt for the MBA.

    David April
    BA, University of Massachusetts at Amherst
    MBA. Boston College
    ACM, Boston College
    DBA, California Pacific University
    CAM, Institute of Certified Professional Managers
    CM, Institute of Certified Professional Managers
    CRM, Institute of Certified Records Managers

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