Moving up into the Board Room – But how?

Moving Up, MiM, MSc, MBA

If you want to be promoted in you company, you need the right training. The Master of Business Administration used to be considered the supreme discipline. Today, many ways lead to one goal. This is a guide for potential students.

“To get into the economy somehow” is what Thomas Gabriel knew early on that he wanted. When looking into future career choice in the senior levels in school he developed the idea to work in a major international enterprise – leaving his home village, getting to know the world, taking on responsibility. “Study Business Administration,” is what his dad advised him to do. The then 20-year-old took the suggestion seriously and completed a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration, with no difficulty. “It was a great foundation course, with specialization options in management and organization, information systems, financing and marketing,” the student remembers. He completed his course-related internship with a car manufacturer. Everything went swimmingly. But three years passed very quickly. Now what? Get a job or a Master’s degree? Not much later, Thomas Gabriel knew he wanted to obtain a Master’s degree in order to accelerate his career.

While still completing the final stages of his Bachelor’s program, Thomas Gabriel searched the internet and realized that the choice of Master in Management program was huge – but which one was right for him?

Gabriel’s older brother advised him to complete an MBA, a Master of Business Administration. This internationally recognized degree is renowned and promises high initial salaries. It seemed like a good idea at first but when Thomas Gabriel researched the admission requirements at various universities, he found out that he needed professional experience – in most cases at least two years. The then 24-year-old did not have this kind of work experience. Also he did not want to accept a job first and then go back to university like many others.

Master in Management – The other way into the board room

Today, Thomas Gabriel knows: there are other ways to move up and into the corporate board room. For everyone who has no or less than two years of professional experience there is the Master in Management. MIM is not a term for a professional qualification or an academic degree. It rather refers to programs with a focus on management. Some of them offer students specialization in their fields of interest, such as financing, strategy and human resource management, in addition to general management content.

Which degree will I obtain?

Generally, a distinction is made between the Master of Science (M.Sc.) and the Master of Arts (M.A.). Unfortunately, it is rather confusing that each university can decide for itself which degrees it awards. Therefore, it is crucial for students to read up on every university and to determine the specific content and subjects.

What are the admission requirements?

The Master in Management programs offer consecutive and non-consecutive options. According to the 2014 Global MIM Survey, about two thirds of the full-time Master in General Management programs do not require a Bachelor’s degree in Economics or Management. For the remaining third, however, an undergraduate degree, i.e. a Bachelor, in Economics is a prerequisite. Half of the non-consecutive programs, courses which do not require special pre-existing knowledge, are open to students from other fields, for instance Social Science or Psychology – subjects, which already taught methodological skills and statistics. The other half is open to candidates from all areas. Professional experience is not required for any Master in Management while good language skills are a must. 86 percent of all academic offers in Germany are taught in English.

How do I find the right university and the right Master’s program?

The Master in Management is a relatively new phenomenon. 76 percent of all academic offers did not appear on the market until the year 2000 and about half were only added over the last six years. There continues an upward trend. Those searching the MIM Compass, a well-structured online portal, will find 104 offers from German universities and business schools alone.

“Before choosing a Master in Management program, you should look at where you want to go professionally and then search for the right offer,” says Thomas Graf, an MIM expert and operator of the MIM Compass website. He has been collecting and evaluating information on the MIM for over five years now. Whether in actual practice in the economy or researching and teaching at universities and academies: the Master of Science (M.Sc.) has a scientific focus and prepares graduates for a subsequent doctoral program.

“The Master in Management is more or less the successor of the old German Diplom-Kaufmann degree,” explains Prof. Dr. Henning Zülch, M.Sc. Program Director at HHL Leipzig Graduate School of Management. There are strict conditions with regards to the high proportion of theory for Master of Science programs in Germany. The reason is the fact that the students already have a degree in Economics so the Master’s program must go significantly deeper into the subject matter. “In addition to specialization options in the fields of finance, accounting, marketing, advanced general management and other subjects, HHL attaches great importance to teaching soft skills as well,” comments Zülch. Courses such as Problem Solving & Communication, Negotiation or International Management Competencies represent an inherent part of the training just like a term abroad and an internship.

What counts more: expert knowledge or an outstanding reputation?

According to MIM expert Thomas Graf, one of the most important things is to not be influenced solely by famous business schools. Their advantages lie within good corporate contacts, for instance to major consulting firms. The professional goals, however, should take center stage. Graf published a book on this topic: “The MIM Ebook – How to find the best Master in Management.“ In it, he recommends candidates to tie their decisions on a Master’s degree to their own career goals. Those wishing to become investment bankers should choose a university from which the respective companies recruit graduates. Somebody who wants to take over their father’s business should look for a school with expertise in the fields of entrepreneurship or family businesses.

Where can I complete a Master in Management program?

The Master in Management can be found all across the planet but mainly in Europe. More than 70 percent of the programs worldwide are offered in our latitudes. About 15 percent are taught at U.S. universities.

How much do I have to pay for a Master in Management?

Master in Management offers are generally less expensive than MBA programs. During his research, Thomas Graf found that students have to pay an average of EUR 12,500 for a one-year Master in Management program.

How long do I have to study?

With about half of the programs offered, the students can obtain their Master of Science or Master of Arts in Management after only one year. The other half has a study period of up to two years.

What are my chances of success with a Master in Management?

Graduates with Master’s degrees are in high demand. 90 percent of the full-time students find a job within three months after graduation. They earn an average of EUR 42,500, which equals 2.4 times more than the tuition fees previously paid. The initial salaries may vary strongly depending on the company. Many business schools, among them HHL, make an argument of a quick return on investment as the initial salaries of their graduates amount to over EUR 55,000.

 5 tips on finding the right Master in Management program

Define priorities

  • Get an overview (internet, Master fairs, friends)
  • Create a shortlist (3 to 5 universities)
  • Plan individual campus visits
  • Talk to students and alumni

5 steps to find the right Master in Management program

At a glance: the Master in Management

At a glance: the Master in Management

 Master of Science: 75 percent

Academic programs mostly requiring a Bachelor’s degree in Economics

Students delve into the subject matter much faster and expand on their economic expertise as the program is consecutive (building on pre-existing knowledge)

Degree: mainly Master of Science

Master of Arts: 25 percent

Academic programs not requiring a Bachelor’s degree in Economics, accepting graduates with degrees in human and social sciences

Students have different levels of economic and basic knowledge, therefore delving into the subject matter more slowly as the program is non-consecutive (building on pre-existing knowledge)

Degree: mainly Master of Arts


» read more “The Master in Management Pays off

» read more “Career Turbo: The Master in Management at a Top-Level University in Step with Actual Practice


About the Author

Lis Schulz
Online Marketing Manager at HHL