MiM vs. MBA: Two Programs, Two Students, Two Paths

MiM vs. MBA

Ready, set, go. The competition: MiM – Master in Management (M.Sc.) versus MBA – Master in Business Administration. Who wins, who loses, which of the two Master’s programs is better? So, let’s find some good arguments. But hang on. There can’t be a winner by direct comparison. Not only do both academic disciplines and degrees have every right to exist – what is more, they are both tailored to the students’ individual needs, serving as customized stepping stones for a real career. Katharina Knuth and Christoph Wülfing from HHL are living proof. They both answered the question of which program would best suit their needs already and came to very different conclusions. While 25-year-old Ms. Knuth recently started her Master in Management Program (M.Sc.), 32-year-old Mr. Wülfing is currently completing the third term of his full-time MBA program.

“If you stop getting better, you have stopped being good.” – This statement by the German entrepreneur Philip Rosenthal not only concluded Katharina Knuth’s Bachelor thesis at Erfurt University of Applied Sciences, it has also become her personal motto of sorts. It is obvious: Katharina Knuth is good. And, she wants to get even better. This is one of the reasons why the student from Erfurt decided to come HHL following her degree in business administration and initial work experience in Berlin, where she started her Master in Management Program (M.Sc.) one month ago. The classic Master’s program is a consecutive program. That means that its contents are based and build upon the previous program.

The university’s Recruiting Team was her first point of contact when making a decision about which degree to complete. “They helped me to find out which program would suit my personal background and needs best,” says Katharina Knuth. Her great advantage was that she already knew quite well what she was looking for. “I wanted to do it all,” she says, referring specifically to two things. On the one hand, she wanted to savor all the benefits of a full-time on-campus program following her work in sports management of one and a half years. “An international campus, a good atmosphere, obtaining theoretical knowledge in close connection with practical experience” are what the 25-year-old had in mind. On the other hand, the university-level consecutive Master’s degree represented “the next logical step” for her in her education. The program is more theoretical and research-oriented. This allows for a more in-depth examination of the subject. Additionally, the students are given many opportunities to concentrate on and specialize in certain areas. It was mainly the combination of theoretical knowledge with internships and terms abroad to won her over.

And something else was important to her – the fact that there is a real spirit of entrepreneurship at HHL. This topic not only takes center stage in several of her courses but also the many role models among the alumni inspire Katharina Knuth to accomplish her goal: “I want to live my dream and found a company at some stage.”

It was exactly this dream which brought Christoph Wülfing to HHL as well. The student, who was born in Wiesbaden, has already taken the next step and presented a specific business idea. Although he has his timetable, simply riding off into the unknown is not his thing. The 32-year-old would prefer to find the best path leading to his goal through the MBA program. “I studied law in Regensburg and Münster, I completed the 1st German State Exam and then started my legal traineeship,” he explains. A personal twist of fate, however, prevented him from achieving his initial goal of becoming a fully qualified lawyer. “At some point, I pondered if practicing law was really still what I wanted to do.” He started to think more and more of starting his own business, which, to this day, is a matter very close to his heart.

But in addition to the heart, a venture like this also requires the mind. “I know several graduates who studied at HHL in Leipzig and who today successfully lead their own companies. The start-ups which have arisen from this university were one of the main reasons I decided to apply for the MBA program here,” he says. The MBA program, which is more tailored to applicants without a background in economics but with professional experience, is not as research-oriented as the MiM program and examines the problems and challenges of management with a more practical focus.

This leads Mr. Wülfing to talk about the benefits of his being a more exotic species among the students. Why? Well, the combination of his degree in law (Diplom-Jurist) with an MBA is much rarer than with a Master of Law degree. HHL alumnus Philipp Tenbieg encouraged him in making this decision. “He is a good friend of mine and used to be a student of the third MBA class at HHL. Today, he is a successful consultant whose advice I cherish,” says Mr. Wülfing. He considers the combination of an MBA and law to be very promising, particularly with regard to career opportunities if his idea of becoming self-employed does not pan out in the end. All of that sounds logical. “Lawyers have a basic legal training enabling them to think structurally and logically, which is helpful for many problems in everyday business dealings.” He can then learn business skills at HHL and specialize. The education becomes more concrete with the help of various electives. “I can say, ‘I have an idea; I want to start my own business,’ so I will go with the Entrepreneurship focus and choose suitable classes,” explains Mr. Wülfing.

There are admission requirements for the MBA as well. “I can look back on three years of professional experience, I have worked in two law firms, in court and in public prosecution in the cities of Münster and Freiburg,” he says. Just like Katharina Knuth, he had to prove a sufficient command of the English language through the TOEFL exam and pass the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT). Currently in his third term at HHL, he is looking forward to the three-month professional internship, which he intends to complete in Berlin. “There are local incubators and company builders such as Rocket Internet, HitFox or Project A, producing, supporting and funding many start-ups. It would be great to obtain valuable insight into companies that are just getting started.”

But back to HHL. “Our class consists of 33 students from 15 different nations,” Mr. Wülfing says enthusiastically. Therefore, it is not surprising that the student from Wiesbaden, who burns for his business idea, has already found fellow campaigners for his project – from Chile, India, Australia and Romania. “You have almost gone global already before even founding your company,” he laughs before comparing notes with Katharina Knuth regarding their studies.

The 25-year-old has just started her Master’s program, of course. By the way, her decision to complete a Master in Management at HHL was influenced by some very practical thoughts as well – unlike many other business schools, the Leipzig-based hotbed for entrepreneurs also accepts students for enrollment the summer term. This way, Katharina Knuth avoided unnecessary delays and started her education straight away; following her motto, which could apply to many HHL students: “If you stop getting better, you have stopped being good.”


Master in Management (M.Sc.)

Target group: students having completed a Bachelor’s program in business administration or related fields who wish to continue their education based on their first degree

Type: consecutive Master’s program

Content: The program focuses on research and methods, providing insight into international management practice, which may be consolidated with a term abroad. Despite the general approach, Master students can specialize by choosing 4 of the following 8 elective modules: Finance, Accounting, Marketing, Logistics & Supply Chain Management, Innovation Management & Entrepreneurship, Strategy, Economics & Regulation and Advanced General Management. An internship and a student consulting project complement the theory.

Duration: 21 to 24 months, full-time. 24 to 30 months, part-time.


  • Bachelor’s degree in business administration or equivalent subjects
  • minimum three months of professional experience
  • GMAT or (part-time Master in Management only) HHL Entry Test
  • evidence of English proficiency (e.g. TOEFL)


  • teaching theoretically-founded skills in business administration and leadership competency
  • tools for a position as a junior manager or a position with project responsibility in various corporate fields in international companies
  • preparation for company start-ups
  • doctoral degree

Master of Business Administration (MBA)

Target group: graduates from all academic fields with a minimum of three years of professional experience wishing to obtain management skills with a practical relation, assume leadership responsibility and/or start a business.

Type: non-consecutive Master’s program providing further education

Content: The program has a strong practical relation. The academic content is taught through case studies, a field project accompanying the program or consolidated through an optional internship term. On top of its footing in economics, the program also has a strong focus on leadership and social competencies, team responsibility and innovation management.

Duration: 15 to 21 months, full-time 24 months, part-time.


  • academic degree
  • minimum three months of professional experience
  • GMAT or (part-time MBA only) HHL Entry Test
  • evidence of English proficiency (e.g. TOEFL)


  • teaching management skills and leadership competencies with a practical orientation and international focus
  • tools for a position in mid-level or senior management or a position with project responsibility in various corporate fields in international companies
  • preparation for corporate leadership or foundation of an enterprise

About the Author

HHL author
This is a general article written by one of our HHL supporters.