Though the question of MBA vs MS (Masters in Science) can come up in the minds of freshers from any graduate discipline who are keen on studying abroad, it’s more common among B.E. / B.Tech students who’ve just completed their engineering degree or are in the final year.
The fact that GRE exam scores (the de facto standard for MS programs) are now accepted by business schools too, make the entry requirements for both degrees simpler.
Peer pressure is a big driver, as is the attraction of starting a career abroad and earning attractive salaries in US dollars.
A big proportion of BE / B.Tech students also opt for domestic options (M.Tech or MBA in India) as opposed to an MBA abroad, making the dilemma a little more convoluted that you’d have expected.
So let’s roll up our sleeves and try to figure out the pros and cons of each option.
We’ll tackle the low hanging fruits first and knock them out of contention, so our decision making is simplified.
If you’ve been reading all the MBA abroad articles on our blog, you know why work experience is important for overseas MBA colleges [though there are some top MBA programs in USA that accept freshers without work experience].
An MBA abroad after engineering makes more practical sense when you have worked for around 4-5 years. That’s the average experience for American programs. In European MBA courses, it’s higher.
Reason enough to turn this choice off for now and consider the other options.
This is a popular option for many graduates who’ve already started disliking the engineering stream they chose (or were pushed into by parents, academic grades and their past-life sins).
M.Tech isn’t an option as it’ll just push them deeper into the hole they were trying to get out of.
That’s when an MBA in India seems like a good way to erase the past follies and start off life afresh.
There are flipsides to this decision too.
For starters, MBA placements aren’t too different from the potluck model you experienced during engineering placements. A bunch of companies come to campus with consulting, finance, marketing and whatever other roles they have to offer (not necessarily the ones you wanted).
Fresh engineering graduates who flock to Indian bschools without being really sure of what they want to do after the MBA, are just postponing their woes. Read this post about life after MBA from IIM, IIT, other Indian Institutes.
This line of thinking has given rise to another phenomenon – a second MBA.
Another opportunity to wash away their (this time, it’s present life) sins and start life afresh.
Not all think that way. So it won’t be right to pain all B.E. and B.Tech students with the same brush.
If you are among those who’ve got clarity about what you want from the management degree, then an MBA from India straight after engineering could be a good option – specially if you can crack the MBA entrance exam (CAT) and get into the best MBA programs in India (like IIM A/B/C and several others).
Unlike the last option, let’s leave this one on the table.
Masters (MS) degree is a great way to build up on the last 4 years you’ve invested in an engineering college.
This is in contrast to management courses where you are trying to bid adieu to the technical roles (often based on just perceptions rather than any real work exposure) in the hope of moving to the next level (i.e. management jobs).
With an MS degree abroad, you are renewing your marital vows with the technical discipline that you got hitched to in your impressionable years.
For that commitment, you could be compensated handsomely by recruiters in technology friendly economies such as the U.S.
Techies with a Masters degree from the best universities (like Stanford, MIT, Harvard, Berkeley) get hired by the top recruiters from a variety of industries (technology, manufacturing, retail, ecommerce).
If you can identify, join and stay long enough with growing start-ups, you could make a fortune beyond your wildest dreams.
As always, the higher the rewards, the higher the risks as well. Starting with getting an admission offer from the right MS university, to arranging for funds, convincing a good company to give you a job after MS, getting lucky with the H1B process lottery.
There are a few international students who manage to reduce the risks significantly by getting scholarships from good universities. Here’s the story of Anamika who got into top MS universities in USA with a full scholarship.
Coming back to the main decision.
Ah, you noticed! Yes, we’ve sneaked in a third option that you never asked about – getting a job. Here’s why.
You have dedicated 4 years of your life to earn a technical degree. Rather than throwing it all by the wayside the minute you walk out of the graduation ceremony, it might be a good idea to spend some time putting that knowledge to good use.
Work for a few years and find out for yourself if your preconceived notions about a career in your B.Tech field are justified.
After that if you decide to go for a Masters in US, you know for sure that it won’t just be a stepping stone to get to the land of dreams, dollars and dard-e-disco [please suggest a better alliteration].
To wrap it up, after completing engineering (B.E / B.Tech), here’s how we’d order the limited 3 options we’ve considered:
Based on your profile, skills and aspirations, you could get more creative and consider other options as well – like becoming an entrepreneur and starting your own venture.
Higher education options can stay on the table till you are ready and sure.
Need some help in sorting out your career and higher education dilemmas? Check out our career counselling service.