What is the supposed problem with the MSM/L?

Discussion in 'Business and MBA degrees' started by Maxwell_Smart, Oct 13, 2019.

  1. Maxwell_Smart

    Maxwell_Smart Active Member

    There seems to be a small but strong group of voices against the Master of Science in Management (and Leadership) degree. I'm not sure why. I see it often compared to the MBA, but is that an accurate comparison? Granted, the two degrees may share common courses, but MBA programs focus on finance/accounting (hard skills), while MSM/L programs are more focused on dealing with and managing people (soft skills). Both skill types are good to have, although I'd personally lean more toward those focused on dealing with people since the majority of the most successful business professionals we've known of were great diplomats, relationship builders, and deal-makers, rather than general financiers and accountants.

    How do you feel about it?
  2. chrisjm18

    chrisjm18 Well-Known Member

    I wouldn't pursue a master's degree in management or leadership. A degree in accounting or finance seems to have more value. I wouldn't compare an MSL/MSM to an MBA. The former degrees are limited to management and leadership respectively while the MBA covers all areas of business administration. An MBA with a concentration makes more sense, IMO.
  3. GregWatts

    GregWatts Active Member

    An MBA is supposed to be a generalist degree covering all areas, possibly with an area of focus (major). Major could be in a skills area. My perception of MSL is it is for people who struggle with tbe math component of an MBA.
  4. chrisjm18

    chrisjm18 Well-Known Member

    When you say math component, are you talking about the numeracy courses?

    I'm no math guy but I passed Managerial Accounting, Financial Management, and Corporate Finance in my MBA program. I don't see why anyone would struggle to the point where they couldn't pass especially with these online degrees. Many of them are discussion and paper driven with open book exams. In my MBA, everything was exam-based, all of which were proctored on web-cam and screen monitoring.
  5. Maxwell_Smart

    Maxwell_Smart Active Member

    A lot of people dread the math portions of the MBA. Online, you find lots of posts about that. Open book exams done properly can be just as challenging as the opposite, but as you know, there are schools that have proctored exams that are not open book (like WGU for example). Although I have no issue with that for everything else, when it comes to math I think a little leeway is not a bad idea.
  6. chrisjm18

    chrisjm18 Well-Known Member

    Yes, you're right about the open book exams. I took a mid-term and a final exam in Quantitative Methods of Research this past summer and you don't want to know how well I did (or didn't do) lol.. I passed the course though because I aced the weekly discussion boards and the weekly SPSS assignments. So yea, open-book exams don't always mean easy.
  7. sanantone

    sanantone Well-Known Member

    It's been years since I've looked at a bunch of management programs, but the ones I reviewed were similar to MBA programs. The difference was that the management programs usually didn't require accounting courses and math prerequisites. They were also less likely to require the GMAT. Leadership programs tend to have some management courses, but they're really just watered-down organizational psychology degrees. The way I see it, management programs are supposed to teach students how to manage an operation. Leadership programs are for people who are already in a management or executive position, and the leadership courses focus on teaching students how to lead people and organizations.
  8. JoshD

    JoshD Well-Known Member

    This! Open book exams, in my MBA program, were tougher. We would typically have 50 questions and then 90 minutes. That gives you a smidge less than 2 minutes per question. You better know your stuff otherwise you will not do well. All that said, I finished with a 4.0 in my program.
    chrisjm18 likes this.
  9. chrisjm18

    chrisjm18 Well-Known Member

    Lucky you! My MBA was prob the toughest program I've completed because I HATE tests/exams. I barely got a 3.08 GPA lol. Anyway, I currently teach three business courses. My MSCJ was different, copped my first 4.0 GPA. After 27 credits at Liberty, I've been able to maintain a 4.0. I find that my strength is in writing plus I love criminal justice.
  10. Maxwell_Smart

    Maxwell_Smart Active Member

    I've read a number of times where people have said things like "no one will know what an MSM/L is!" I thought, "no one knows what a Master of Science in Management is?" I get that the MBA is more well-known, but I think that's taking it too far. The title written out is self-explanatory. I would think everyone knows what management and/or leadership is and what the level of Masters means. But since the MSM degrees are said to be more common in Europe, and the MBA more common in the United States, maybe that's where the criticism comes from, just a lack of exposure compared to what's most well-known.

    I think Chris makes a good point about how the MBA opens you up to a more broad field, while the management/leadership degrees focus squarely on management/leadership processes. Someone did make an argument on another board that they didn't want to work in finance and deal with lots of numbers beyond the standard data one encounters in management, so they chose the MSM over the MBA. Seemed like a good reason to go in that direction. If I were in the market for an MBA today, I'd probably look for one with a specialization myself.
    JoshD and chrisjm18 like this.
  11. LearningAddict

    LearningAddict Well-Known Member

    The MBA is a great value. It covers a lot of bases and is widely-known and still respected. Having said that, the MBA is not the end-all-be-all business masters degree, but some treat it as such to a level that would make you think all other business degrees are useless, but this is far from the truth. The other important thing to remember is that while the MBA still has plenty of value and respect, it's also lost a notable amount of both because of how many schools offer them now, and because of how many people now hold them.

    An MSM or MSML is a masters degree. That's the first plus, so as long as your Masters degree is not in something like Art Appreciation, or some kind of disconnected general concept without a clearly defined field, it's going to have value. If it's business related, it's going to have value. The second plus is that it fulfills the need businesses have for people who know how to manage people. There is an expertise to it that has to be focused, so it accomplishes that at least from an educational standpoint. Now, as others have said, MBAs are more focused on numbers, and if that's where you want to go in your career (and many do because where there are numbers there is usually the most money to be made) an MBA is a no-brainer. But what if you just like managing and leading people? Then you would probably want a different business degree than an MBA. I can tell you right now, when I was an employee I worked with and under people with MBAs and degrees in finance and they knew that aspect of business well, and our companies raked in cash hand over fist. But, they also sucked when it came to dealing with people. They treated people like numbers and made the working environment absolute hell. Of course, that's purely anecdotal and can be attributed more to individual personalities and styles. But the question is, if they had an education more focused directly on managing people, would they have approached it the same way? I want to believe not.

    Sanantone said that MSM/L degrees are watered down versions of degrees in Industrial/Organizational psychology. My take is, if you look at degrees in Organizational Behavior and Organizational Theory, they all share common course focuses. When you look at many psychology programs at the undergrad level, they include many business courses. Why? Because business and psychology go hand-in-hand in many ways. Even in MBA programs, it's common to see courses in Organizational Behavior or Organizational Theory, filled with many terms from the field of psychology. Heck, many psychology programs have two statistics courses and several finance courses. I say all of that to say, I don't think the MSM/L degrees carrying psychology courses and concepts is at all a bad thing. If anything, they're indispensable in MSM degree programs, because if you're going to manage people you need to understand the psychology of how people behave in certain situations and what the current best practices are in dealing with it.

    So, I think it all comes down to career path. If you're looking to be a VP or higher in a finance field, an MBA is the obvious choice and if you can top it off with a specialization in finance, even better. If you're looking to be a VP of Customer Service Management, or Customer Relations Management or something that makes you have to directly evaluate people, processes, and consumer feedback and make judgments based on that information moreseo than finances, an MBA obviously couldn't hurt, but an MSM would make more direct sense to the position because you're mostly going to be dealing with non-financial management data, and if you deal with any finance it's going to be more focused just on data for the unit you lead and probably won't be very complicated or deep. Other degrees in Project Management would also be great choices also. Think to be a CEO you need an MBA? You don't. Data I've seen from a number of sources has shown that roughly 70% of CEOs don't have one. The MSM programs are picking up steam in the U.S. because the market has reached such a saturation level of people with MBAs, and definitely with the number of schools offering them. Some might say that the MBA specializations themselves are direct reactions to the saturation experienced in the market with schools that started offering them as a way to differentiate themselves and their grads from the many other similar MBA programs available.
  12. sanantone

    sanantone Well-Known Member

    Undergraduate psychology programs typically do not require "many business courses" unless your major is industrial/organizational psychology. Statistics is not a business course; it's a math course that's needed to conduct quantitative research.

    If you don't need an MBA to be a business leader, then you don't need an MS in management or leadership to be a business leader. These executives and owners without MBAs don't have management or leadership degrees either. Some people are just natural leaders, and some people will never be good leaders no matter what they study. A lot of it comes down to personality, creativity, and emotional intelligence.

    I'm not saying that an organizational behavior course wouldn't be helpful, but an entire degree in leadership is more of a check-the-box degree. In the job that I have now, they just wanted a master's degree. It could have been in art appreciation, leadership, or basket weaving. We do have a more technical counterpart that requires substantial accounting credits and the ability to pass an accounting pre-employment test.
  13. Kizmet

    Kizmet Moderator Staff Member

  14. LearningAddict

    LearningAddict Well-Known Member

    There are thousands of undergraduate psychology programs. I did take one myself and this is what was in it:

    Introduction to Business
    Business Communication
    Personal Finance
    Principles of Finance
    Business Law
    Principles of Management
    Principles of Marketing

    ... and all of them were specifically classified as business courses. That's one course away from two full semesters of business courses. I also know those courses are not uncommon in undergrad Psychology programs just from having seen enough of them, especially the ones that allow a lot of flexibility with electives. You don't just take 40 psychology courses in an undergrad psychology program, you're going to have a number of different courses outside of your major, and it varies with each school. Then you have schools that are very liberal on what you can elect to take outside of your major, so there's that.

    There wouldn't be a business course in sight there because what you posted are the courses required for the major, so it would only include psychology courses since psychology is the major.

    I never said statistics itself was a business course. I brought it up because most people probably aren't aware that statistics is necessary in psychology.

    You don't need any degree to be a leader. Still, more--and area-specific--education can be beneficial, it just depends on what you choose to get out of it.

    But an MSM isn't an entire degree in leadership. It's literally a degree in management, and the MSML is really a degree in management with a concentration in leadership when compared to some other MSM programs. Those are important distinctions, because the management focus certainly makes it much more than just a checkbox degree. You can put some MSM and MBA programs side-by-side and find few differences outside of accounting/finance and economics courses, but as I've mentioned a person doesn't get an MSM to do considerable finance work, that's what the MBA can be used for. Management skills are just as important in business when you consider how many more positions within an organization count on those soft skills to keep people going in the right direction, gain partnerships, and even participate in setting policies, while finance is handled by a much smaller, specialized group. Besides, if you lead an organization and don't know how to manage people all the financial knowledge in the world won't save your workplace from becoming a pit of misery because there is much more to it than just being good with numbers. Sure, many people will never be great leaders no matter what, but almost everyone can learn to be a better leader. Having education geared toward that can help.
  15. chrisjm18

    chrisjm18 Well-Known Member

    For some reason, Sanatone thinks she knows everything. I bet she doesn't even have a degree in business or psychology.
  16. Kizmet

    Kizmet Moderator Staff Member

    People might take Business courses as a part of their BA Pysch program but they are not required. That's the point. They're electives. If LA took all those Business courses it was because he elected to do so. He was not required to do so. They are not a part of the requirements for the degree. He could have taken alternative courses and still gotten the BA Psych.
  17. sanantone

    sanantone Well-Known Member

    I have a bachelor's in business administration with a concentration in computer information systems. I also have a BA in Social Science that mostly consisted of psychology courses. Additionally, I have been a substance abuse counselor and a counselor for at-risk youth. What LearningAddict said is just factually incorrect and can't be proven. Anyone can look at curricula online and see if business courses are required for a psychology program. Free electives are just that ... free electives. They allow people to take courses in anything whether it be business, technology, science, math, social science, or the arts. What IS common for psychology majors who are pre-med is for them to take several science courses because they're med school prerequisites. Also, many Bachelor of Science in Psychology programs require biology courses since many research psychologists focus on the biology of psychological disorders and neuroscience.

    If you think LearningAddict is correct, then why don't you help him out and try to find some sources for his unsubstantiated claims? How does his conclusion that many psychology programs include business courses make logical sense? Just because he chose to take business courses as electives does not mean that many psychology programs include business courses.
    Last edited: Oct 14, 2019
  18. sanantone

    sanantone Well-Known Member

    I didn't say that an MSM is an entire degree in leadership. A degree in leadership is a degree in leadership. As I explained above, many MSM programs are not very different from MBA programs with the exception that they are less quantitative.

    MBA programs are not finance programs. Unless your concentration is in finance, you might be required to take one or two finance courses. A general MBA or an MBA with any other concentration is not going to make one an expert in finance. The MBA is a general business degree.
  19. Steve Levicoff

    Steve Levicoff Well-Known Member

    Hmmmmm . . . As usual, everyone is going off into their tangents. Boring. Totally boring. And, also as usual, I’m right and the rest of you are wrong. Every one of you. Without exception. Every single one.

    (Can y’all tell I’m being sarcastic? That’s the problem around here – everyone treats these things like a competition. Fortunately, you provide a lot of humor – no wonder I don’t miss television.)

    But I digress . . . So may I return to topic by reminding y’all that every undergraduate program has a distribution requirement. When I did my B.A. from TESC (from which, as I recall, sanantone has one or more degrees), the distribution for the Humanities concentration was: 6 credits in Written Expression, 12 in Humanities, 12 in Social Sciences, 12 in Math/Natural Science, 18 Liberal Arts Electives, 33 in Concentration Area, and 27 in Free Electives. (Keep in mind that I graduated from TESC 32 years ago, before some of you were even a gleam in your parents' eyes, so I'm sure that the details are different today. But, since I already have that degree and a couple more, I don't give a crap.)

    So, does it occur to you people – if I can call any of you people – that you can take any course in any subject (like, oh, say, business) and pop it into the free electives area? In my free electives, I had 18 credits in business subjects. But who’s counting? I earned them all by portfolio (an art form in which most of you are also lacking), and was simply interested in racking up my 120 credits for a B.A.

    So, even if your major is, say, psychology (or, for that matter, underwater basket weaving), you can still pop some business credits into the free electives area.

    I have spoken. Correctly, as usual. Have a lovely evening, everyone.
  20. sanantone

    sanantone Well-Known Member

    And, my username is Sanantone, not Sanatone. Just for your information, these are my degrees and for-credit certificates.

    Natural Science and Mathematics concentration in Biology
    Social Science
    Business Administration concentration in Computer Information Systems
    Security Studies (sub-field of international relations)
    Terrorism and Counterinsurgency Studies
    Medical Science concentration in Forensic Medicine (almost completed)
    Environmental, Safety, and Security Technology

    These are some of the jobs that I've had.

    Armed and unarmed security
    Security supervisor
    Substance abuse counselor for parolees and inmates
    Criminal justice college instructor
    Counselor for at-risk youth in a job training program
    Tax enforcement officer at the state and federal level
    Parole Officer
    Corrections officer
    Fast food supervisor
    Law enforcement dispatcher
    Metropolitan bus driver

    So, excuse me for having a wide variety of experiences.

    I completed several business courses/exams for my BA in Social Science before I earned my BSBA. That does not mean that many social science programs include business courses. It means that I chose to take business courses to fill my free electives. If there were more science options available as online courses or through credit-by-exam, at the time, I would have taken those instead.

    There's a difference between saying that many psychology degree programs include business courses (they do not) and that many psychology majors take business courses as electives. To know if the latter is true, you would have to look at the transcripts of thousands of psychology majors.
    Last edited: Oct 14, 2019

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