Master's in management programs are increasingly popular for students interested in strategy and leadership as they enter the business workforce. Unlike a master's in business administration (MBA), which is designed for practicing business professionals, a master's in management is ideal for recent graduates who have little to no business experience. A master's in management offers a curriculum based on introductory management principles to help you transition into a career in business.
With management positions on the rise, you have numerous opportunities to put the theories, skills, and techniques gained from a master's in management to good use, and earning this degree prepares you for a supervisory or leadership position in advertising, promotions, marketing, sales, administrative services, and finance. Jobs for advertising, promotions, and marketing managers as well as administrative service managers are projected to grow 10% between 2016 and 2026, while financial managers are projected at 19%.
The following guide will help you decide whether a master's in management or master's in business management program is the right choice for your career path; how to choose the best master's in management or business management program to fit your needs; what you can expect from the program; and some additional resources and related organizations.
Should I Get a Master's in Management?
A master's in management best meets the needs of bachelor's degree holders looking to enter the business workforce or individuals that want to transition into business sectors. An online master's in management can be completed on a flexible, convenient timeline in as little as one year. This is a good option for working professionals taking classes on top of full-time employment. On-campus master's in management programs provide classwork in a more structured setting, but are an easier transition for recent bachelor's degree graduates continuing on to graduate study.
Master's in management programs incorporate courses on general business theories, practices, and subsets of the field, including finance, marketing, and leadership. These master's programs also include classes on research, statistics, and data analysis in business. If you're interested in business management research, a master's in management that emphasizes theoretical and analytical aspects of the field is a good choice. Coursework on qualitative and quantitative research methodologies will prepare you to conduct in-depth investigations into how business, organization structures, and management cooperate and function in social, political, and economic sectors.
As you work on a master's in management, you will be introduced to business and organizational structures, corporate communication strategies, project and program coordination practices, and a background in negotiation, advocacy, manufacturing, and technology. As you gain general business and management knowledge, you also develop networking skills and connections that will help you as you enter the workforce. With a master's in management, you demonstrate your breadth of expertise in the field and make yourself a competitive option among business management professionals.
What Can I Do With a Master's in Management?
A master's in management program trains you for careers in numerous business sectors, including marketing, finance, development, and sales. With the skills and resources needed to work within organizational structures, coordinate projects and programs, and improve business efficiency, you can enter a managerial position in several business settings. Master's in management degrees do not limit you to business careers and can open up opportunities to work with nonprofit organizations and charitable agencies in a supervisory or leadership position. You will also have the tools needed to direct human resource functions of a business or organization, working closely as an intermediary between employees, administrators, and executives.
- Administrative Services Managers
Administrative services managers serve an array of functions within a business or organization. Duties include overseeing facilities, records, employees, or other administrative tasks. Administrative services managers facilitate efficiency, implement policies and plans, monitor employees, and recommend changes to improve operations and meet the needs of the business or organization.
Median Annual Salary: $94,020
Projected Growth Rate: 10%
- Human Resources Managers
Human resources managers focus on recruiting, hiring, and maintaining employees within a business or organization. They may develop and implement practices for interviewing and selecting employees in addition to keeping records on employee benefits, policies, and procedures. Human resources managers also monitor employee talents and function as intermediaries between workers, administrators, and executives; they handle employee complaints and other issues that may arise.
Median Annual Salary: $110,120
Projected Growth Rate: 9%
- Sales Managers
Sales managers oversee business and organizational sales teams, implementing plans, maintaining budgets, and developing relationships with clients and consumers. Sales managers may train other sales staff or delegate sales duties to local, regional, and district employees. Sales managers can set sales quotas and analyze sales data to determine profitability, efficacy, and future growth. Sales managers can also work with other businesses or with individuals, depending on the nature of their position.
Median Annual Salary: $121,060
Projected Growth Rate: 7%
- Financial Managers
Financial managers focus on the financial development and structure of a business or organization. They maintain records on past and current financial growth with an eye toward future economic progress. Financial managers also analyze sales data, financial markets, and may specialize in an area like insurance, credit and cash, or risk management as needed. These managers can oversee teams of financial specialists, supervising and implementing financial plans and policies related to company or organization business practices.
Median Annual Salary: $125,080
Projected Growth Rate: 19%
- Advertising, Promotions, and Marketing Managers
Advertising, promotions, and marketing managers plan, develop, and implement practices and procedures to increase interest in a business, organization, or product. They often work with other managers and employees to coordinate marketing and advertising campaigns, conduct market research and testing, monitor client and consumer demand, and negotiate advertising rates and time. Advertising managers may be more creatively oriented while promotions managers work closely with the public. Marketing managers can rely heavily on statistics and data to guide their supply and demand strategies.
Median Annual Salary: $129,380
Projected Growth Rate: 10%
How to Choose a Master's in Management Program
Master's in management programs can last one to two years for full-time students but may take as many as five years to complete if you are part time. On-campus and hybrid programs usually last at least two years while many online programs are offered asynchronously at an accelerated pace. Online master's degrees in management are more flexible and ideal for working professionals and part-time students. Management masters programs are at least thirty credit hours and may be structured in a cohort model where students begin and complete the program at the same time, taking all of their classes together and working cooperatively.
An on-campus or hybrid program requires students to attend all or some coursework in person, something that could be prohibitive for students unable to get to class at a specific time or place. Online programs do not have these same kinds of obligations and, as a result, may be preferable. The expenses associated with an on-campus or hybrid program, including accommodations, parking, and commuting costs, may also factor in to your program choice.
When you choose a school, you should look at the specializations they offer in addition to location and other expenses associated with the degree. Specializations for management master's degrees vary depending on school and department. Many programs are offered as business management master's degrees, but you can also earn a master's in communication management, human resource management, financial management, nonprofit management, and global supply chain management, among other areas. If you have an interest in a specific type of management, look at your options and find a school that best meets your needs.
Accreditation for Master's in Management Programs
Master's in management degrees are accredited by the body that accredits their parent college or university. Colleges and universities can be regionally or nationally accredited by an agency recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) and the U.S. Department of Education. Regional accreditation is more recognized among colleges and universities in terms of maintaining academic standards, facilitating credit transfers, and financial aid resources. National accreditation, more common for career-based and for-profit institutions, involves less standardized assessment.
In addition to regional and national accreditation, some schools, departments, and programs have additional accreditation by an agency specifically related to their offerings. For master's in management degree programs, programmatic accreditation through the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) or the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP) insures the academic standards of each agency are met. Attending a school or earning a degree from an institution or program without accreditation may limit career options after graduation.
Master's in Management Program Admissions
Management master's programs are offered as both master of science and master of arts degrees, but the application process remains fairly standard for both. To apply, you must submit a formal application and supporting documentation and materials by the deadline of each potential school, each of which will have a list of specific items you need to submit. Required materials can include a resume, writing sample, statement of purpose, letters of support, standardized test scores, and project proposal. You may also have an interview as part of the application process.
Applying to a master's in management program can take several months, so you need to get all of your materials in as early as possible. You should apply to several schools that offer programs that meet your needs, taking into account degree specializations, the number of credit hours, course prerequisites, and what experience may be required for admission.
- Bachelor's Degree: Master's in management programs are designed for students that want to enter business or organization management, but a bachelor's specifically in business is not required for admission. Master of science degrees in management may require students to have previous coursework in topics such as statistics and economics.
- Professional Experience: Because master's in management programs are not designed for business professionals in the same way as a master's in business administration (MBA), professional work experience is not required for the degree. However, experience in the field may be helpful and advantageous when your application is being considered, especially in competitive degree programs.
- Minimum GPA: Master's in management programs generally require applicants to have a GPA of 3.0 or higher from their bachelor's degree or from their last 60 hours of undergraduate coursework. If you have a lower GPA, admission on a provisional or conditional basis is possible.
- Application: Each school will have a formal application you can access online or request a hard copy of from their admissions department. Submitting online cuts down on delays in application processing, and with services like the Common Application, you can apply to schools with greater ease and convenience. The Common Application allows you to store application material online and submit them to to multiple schools at once.
- Transcripts: For admission to a master's in management program, you need to submit your transcripts for your undergraduate degree and any previous graduate coursework. You can obtain your transcript information from the registrar's office at your previous or current college or university. They can give you a transcript or send it directly to your potential school. Keep in mind there is usually a fee attached to transcript requests.
- Letters of Recommendation: Most master's in management programs require two letters of recommendation as part of the application process. You should ask non-relatives that can attest to your academic and professional abilities to write on your behalf. It is a good idea to have three to five people that you can ask for letters in case someone is unable to meet your potential school's deadline.
- Test Scores: Master's in management programs may require GRE scores for admission. If applicable, you should check the requirements for the school, department, and program. You may also need to take the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) as an alternative or in addition to the GRE.
- Application Fee: Application fees for graduate school can be over $100 depending on the school. You should check each of your potential school's application fees and find out if there are waiver programs for students in financial need.
What Else Can I Expect From a Master's in Management Program?
Master's in management programs include general information on business and organizational practices, but coursework may also provide you with an opportunity to specialize in a particular aspect of management. Concentrations in finance, human resources, communications, project management, and nonprofit management offer detailed classes to students that want to research or take on supervisory and leadership positions in particular areas.
|Master's in Human Resource Management||This concentration focuses on the ethics of human resources, strategies for workplace hiring and labor relations, and assessing business and organization management using data and other research. Human resource management programs combine theoretical coursework with hands-on case study analysis and independent research.||Possible career paths include human resource manager, staffing manager, recruitment manager, talent acquisition manager, and director of human resources.|
|Master's in Finance Management||A degree in management with a specialization in finance includes core coursework on accounting, organizational behavior, marketing, and strategy while introducing students to theories and developments within the business sector. Students gain an in-depth understanding of financial analysis and decision-making by studying valuation, risk and return, corporate governance, and capital budgeting.||Career options include financial manager and financial strategist.|
|Master's in Nonprofit Management||This master's degree provides practical courses on fundraising and development in nonprofit organizations. Other topics include theories and changes in nonprofit governance, nonprofit law, policy, ethics, and communication strategies for nonprofits.||Professions include nonprofit fundraising manager and development manager.|
|Master's in Communication Management||A master's in communication management emphasizes strategies for effective business communication within companies and organizations. Students also learn how to communicate between business and industries, integrating global markets and adapting as needed. Coursework includes research in communication, audience analysis, and communication in work settings.||Management consultant, corporate communication specialist, and public relations manager are a few of the career options students have with this master's degree.|
|Master's in Project Management||A master's in project management gives students the knowledge and skills to design, develop, and implement a project in a business or organizational setting. In addition to theories and ethical considerations in project management, students learn about project communication, coordination, and execution.||Possible career options include project manager, project coordinator, and project leader.|
Courses in a Master's in Management Program
Coursework for master's in management degree programs vary depending on the school and department you choose, but many of the core classes remain consistent across the curriculum. Classwork on the fundamentals of management, management communication, theory and practice in management, management research, and leadership strategies form the foundation of a graduate management degree.
- Foundations of Management
A course on the foundations of management provides students with information on aspects of management including finance, organizational behavior, decision-making, and marketing. Students learn how management functions in different industries and settings while they build the skills, knowledge base, and abilities to manage effectively.
- Management Communication
Management communication courses provide strategies for management in business and organizational settings by giving students tools to analyze audiences, assess context, and develop purposeful messaging. Students learn to speak, write, work with individuals and groups, and communicate across cultures through activities and interactive coursework.
- Theory and Practice of Management
A course on theories and practices of management introduces students to the various ways management has been presented and applied in the past and how it is used today. Students learn about how management can be influenced by competing forces, organizational goals, and employee performance. The course also looks to the future of management theory and practice, with an eye toward management technology.
- Management Research Methodologies
Research methodology courses for management degrees provide students with skills and tools for gathering and analyzing data. Students learn qualitative and quantitative research practices and how to assess data sets using statistics and other analytical techniques. Research coursework is offered in anticipation of a capstone or final project course at the end of the program.
- Management Leadership
Management leadership coursework emphasizes strategies for building, maintaining, and working with business and organizational teams as a manager. Students learn the interpersonal communication skills, time management, negotiation tactics, and decision-making techniques needed to function as a strong, effective leader in a management setting.
How Long Does It Take to Get a Master's in Management?
Master's in management degree programs last between one to two years for full-time students, but part-time students may take three to five years to complete their degrees. Accelerated programs, usually found online, provide students with self-paced coursework that can be completed in as little as 12 months, while synchronous course offerings are usually structured for completion in two years. Most degree programs include 30 to 38 credit hours depending on the school and culminate with a capstone course or final project. If you are interested in doubling up on credits or taking more than a full-time load at any point during your degree, you will need to enroll in an asynchronous degree program. The same is true if you need to take fewer credits during your program. An asynchronous program gives you flexibility in completing required courses, while the potential for missing courses offered on a specific sequence in a synchronous program may lengthen your degree.
How Much Is a Master's in Management?
Tuition for master's in management programs can cost $2,000 to $4,500 per course depending on the school. If you are an in-state student, tuition at public colleges and universities is much lower than what out-of-state students pay. This is something you should take into account when you look at potential schools, but many online programs have the same tuition for in-state and out-of-state students.
In addition to tuition, you may have additional fees to pay. On-campus students will need to think about costs for housing, facility fees, meal plans, technology costs, parking, and transportation. Online students will often have to pay an additional technology fee.
When you look at master's in management degree programs, make sure you investigate financial aid options. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is available to all eligible college and university students and gives you access to scholarships, grants, and loans. You may also find degree-specific and program scholarships and grants at specific institutions. It is important to contact the financial aid office at your potential schools for information about all of the assistance programs available to you.
Certifications and Licenses a Master's in Management Prepares For
- Project Management Professional
Offered by Project Management International (PMI), the PMP certification is available to project managers with a degree in the field and requisite experience. The PMP certification is internationally recognized, applies to numerous industries, and facilitates salary and career growth. In addition to an extensive exam, PMP certification includes a formal application detailing experience developing, managing, and supervising projects and teams. To maintain PMP certification, project managers must earn 60 credit hours of continuing education every three years.
- Certificate in Analytical Skills
A certificate in analytical skills from the American Management Association (AMA) is designed for business professionals that want to advance their decision-making processes and incorporate more technology into their business practice. The AMA provides seminars in developing analytical skills, critical thinking, and turning data into visual presentations for completion during a time period of 24 months.
- Certified Brand Manager
The Association of International Product Marketing and Management (AIPMM) provides a certificate in brand management to business professionals that want to explore the roles and responsibilities of brand management, consumer and customer relationships, and brand identity and equity. AIPMM's course on brand management is a multi-day training that culminates in an exam and certification.
- Certified Business Process Associate
As one of the three tiers of certification offered by the Association of Business Process Management Professionals International (ABPMP), the CBPA provides new business professionals with recognition of their understanding and skills in business process management. Certification requires a university degree, previous experience in business process management and transformation, and demonstrated familiarity with ABPMP's “Guide to Business Process Management Common Body of Knowledge (BPM-CBOK).” Once professionals gain more experience and training, they become eligible for Certified Business Process Professional (CBPP) and Certified Business Process Leader (CBPL) credentials.
- Society for Human Resource Management Certified Professional
Certification through the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) provides human resource managers that hold a degree in the field or have requisite work experience with career recognition as experts in human resource policies, procedures, and strategies. A SHRM-CP demonstrates professionalism and skill in human resource management by completing an exam based in foundational knowledge and situational judgement.
Resources for Management Graduate Students
The AACSB brings together students, educators, and professionals to improve business education and advance professional standards and knowledge. They accredit programs, offer memberships to educational programs and business organizations, and produce publications with the latest data and research in the field.
SHRM is the world's largest human resource professional society with international representation in over 160 countries. SHRM provides updates on human resource topics, business solutions, and legal compliance. They also offer human resource tools, templates, employee handbooks, interview questions, and other helpful resources for human resource professionals entering and advancing in the field.
The AMA has webinars, podcasts, trainings, and resource libraries available for free to members and non-members alike. They provide information on specific aspects of management, including human resources, leadership, and project management.
PMI works to enhance project management around the world, offering certifications, trainings, and standardized policies to project management students, scholars, and professionals. PMI's job board, educational materials, and events provide information and networking opportunities for project managers that want to expand their knowledge, advance their careers, and network with others in the field.
The Free Management Library is an open-access repository of articles related to management. Intended to provide helpful, practical content about personal, professional, and organizational development, the Free Management Library functions as a community-based informational and educational resource.
Professional Organizations in Management
Joining professional organizations in management can open up opportunities for knowledge, networking, and career advancement. Current students and recent graduates can not only join professional organizations to find jobs but also have access to templates, tools, and continuing education content they can use throughout their careers. Management organizations can specialize in business and organizational sectors, like human resources and project management, but may also provide general information and resources related to the entire management field.
As a professional organization designed to advance business education, the AACSB encourages innovation, engagement, and advocacy within the business sector by creating connections among business educators and professionals. Membership for educational institutions and businesses around the world includes insights into business leadership and access to data resources. Management researchers can also establish collaborative networks within the field. Current students and recent graduates can explore member listings as they begin their careers.
The ABPMP is dedicated to advancing business process management knowledge and practice. Corporate, professional, student, affiliate, academic, and subscriber memberships provide business process management individuals and groups with access to the “Guide to Business Process Management Common Body of Knowledge (BPM-CBOK)” and eligibility to certification programs, discounts on ABPMP programs, and collaborative opportunities.
The AMA offers memberships to organizations, individuals, small businesses, and students as part of its mission to advance professional development across the business sector. AMA members gain access to online content such as webinars, preferred pricing, and access to AMA events.
PMI is an international organization that offers student, individual, retiree, and group memberships to project management professionals that want to access its wide scope of resources. PMI's members can engage in and establish online communities, attend virtual events, and take advantage of networking opportunities as they begin and continue careers in project management.
SHRM is the largest professional organization for human resource professionals with membership available to students, young professionals, and experienced human resource executives. Membership includes access to publications, webinars, templates, internship opportunities, job postings, and professional development resources.