We’re a nation of engineers. In fact, there are 214 engineers for every million people in the country right now, which goes to show how popular the stream is here. The country is pumping out engineers faster every year and millions of engineers will be faced with the same question at the end of their studies – Is it better to get a Masters in Science or complete an MBA?
It’s a complex problem faced by almost every engineering student at some point in their academic life. A number of personal and professional factors need to be understood before students can hope to make the right call.
So, if you’ve completed your engineering recently here’s what you need to know about deciding between the two:
Why choose between MS or MBA abroad?
You probably already know there’s a lot of engineers in India and the growth rate of fresh graduates in this country outpaces almost every other nation. That fact is well documented, but what fails to get media attention is the relative lack of jobs for fresh graduates. About one-third of all recent engineering graduates are unemployed even after a year.
The competitive nature of the labour market, both in India and abroad, means engineers have to pick a course that sets them apart from the rest and gives them an edge when it comes to employability. And the two most popular options for engineers are the more technical MS or the management-focused MBA.
MS and MBA basics
It’s easy to assume MS and MBA are well-recognised courses that need no introduction. Both of them are post-graduate courses that should make you a lot more employable and they put require you to spend more time and money in the classroom.
But they are not the same and picking between the two means you will have to spend some time in introspection to figure out what it is that you’re truly interested in.
If you believe in your technical abilities and want to get involved in a company applying those engineering skills, pursuing an MS makes sense. The coursework is a lot more focused on mathematics and statistical analysis, which some engineers find very rewarding. Those willing to completely immerse themselves in a particular field that involves functional expertise should consider a master’s degree.
The purpose of a master’s degree is to specialize in a particular field. If you find yourself genuinely obsessed with a certain niche in engineering, then getting an MS may actually be a better option for you.
On the other hand, an MBA enables you to skip a technical role and aim for the corporate boardroom instead. An international MBA is a prestigious masters program that can help you learn strategic planning, organizational development and financial modelling. You can apply your numerical and analytical skills to get a high-paying corporate job that works around the technical engineering section of the company.
An MBA can also offer a wider range of career opportunities. Applying your analytic skills in a corporate role is possible in a number of industries that may or may not have an engineering focus. You could choose to join a consultancy firm, lunge into the financial markets or help a successful startup expand. The options after an MBA are almost limitless.
If you enjoy applying data science to real-world scenarios and appreciate the commercial aspects, you may find the MBA expands your world-view. It is a great option for engineers who want to run their own firm or join a multinational.
If you lived in the UK you could land an entry-level job as a mechanical engineer and earn £24,000 annually, right after your undergraduate studies . Alas, in India the starting salaries are some of the lowest in the world and most post-graduates struggle for decent jobs.
The tight labor market at home encourages millions of Indians to pursue studies abroad. Some of the best MS and MBA institutions are located outside the country and though they might cost more than studying at home, the job opportunities abroad should help you not only pay for your studies, but also make a healthy return on investment. Stanford University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) were the top two universities offering MS in Engineering, while Harvard and INSEAD ranked in the top two for MBA programmes worldwide.
That’s not to say there aren’t any great Indian institutions. There are a number of well-renowned, world-class universities in India, but the chances of getting into them are relatively low.
Getting a place at a university abroad may require that you clear an entrance test such as GMAT or GRE. Both these tests have some similarities and differences, but you’ll need one or the other to get admission abroad.
Making your decision
So, if you’ve considered all your options, you could take some time to decide which course suits you better. If you’ve just cleared engineering, try to think long term about where you see yourself in the next decade. Don’t be bogged down by your current situation or the financial implications of your decision just yet, all that can be dealt with later. At this point, it is crucial that you focus exclusively on your career and getting into a role that satisfies you completely.
Your long-term career objectives are all that matter while picking between MBA and MS. If you’ve already found your engineering niche and are committed to spend the rest of your life in a niche technical role, completing a MS in your field will help you gain an edge over the competition.
If you want to keep your options open, are interested in a management position or simply want to change your career path altogether, there really could be no better option than an MBA from a world-class university.