The Guide to Online Master of Management and Leadership Programs

While many leaders are naturally gifted, the right knowledge and training can help many people move into leadership roles. A Master of Science (MS) in Management and Leadership may help you to grow into a strong manager, decisive executive, or an inspiring leader. Read on to learn more about an MS in management and what it can help you achieve.

What is Business Management?

What is management? According to the Merriam Webster dictionary, to manage is “to exercise executive, administrative, and supervisory direction of” something. Business management refers to the management of a business—and those who study business management are prepared to oversee teams or departments to execute these tasks. Management can be particularly useful when it comes to guiding a company to success. 

Business Administration vs Business Management 

If you’re interested in pursuing postgraduate education in business, one of the first factors to consider is the type of degree programs available. When looking into programs, you may notice that many schools offer both a master’s in management and a master’s in business administration (MBA). Though similar in nature, these programs have slight differences that may impact your path. So, what are the differences between a master’s in management vs MBA—and how will a degree program with a concentration in management prepare you for the workforce?

An MS in management takes a big-picture approach to business, preparing future leaders to provide high-level oversight. Less specialized than an MBA, a master’s in management often focuses more heavily on economics and accounting. 

An MBA is focused on the means to an end: MBA students study the processes that help a business function on a day-to-day basis. MBA degrees may offer concentrations or specializations, such as finance, that can help prepare graduates for specific roles, like that of a Chief Financial Officer. 

Both master’s in management and master’s in business administration programs are offered in a variety of formats, including online, on-campus, full-time, and part-time. 

Why Earn a Master’s in Management Online?

What are the advantages of earning your master’s in management online? Are there any advantages at all? Thanks to the quality and innovation of distance education today, an online master’s in management program is comparable to an on-campus program—with added freedom for students who cannot move or commute to school.

With an online business degree program, students learn from faculty in remote classes and complete asynchronous coursework on their own time. In some programs, students may attend live, in-person classes over the weekend or attend immersion experiences. Some online programs are even available part-time for greater schedule flexibility. Additionally, those with master’s degrees can potentially earn higher salaries than their counterparts with a bachelor’s—so if you’re considering enrolling but have limiting factors, an online program may be right for you.

AACSB-Accredited Management Master’s Degrees

As you look into MS in management programs, be sure to look for accreditation. Business programs are accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business—commonly known as the AACSB. When a program has the AACSB stamp of approval, this means it has met certain standards that align with the real-life demands of business practices. For a full list of AACSB-accredited schools, visit the organization’s website.

How Long is an Online Master of Management Program?

When completed on a full-time basis, an online Master of Management degree can be quick-moving; certain full-time options can be finished in 12-16 months. With many master’s programs in management, you can graduate sooner than an MBA, which can take 15-24 months. 

Keep in mind that the program length will ultimately depend on your enrollment type. Certain programs are offered on an accelerated basis and enable students to finish quicker than full-time students in a traditional Master of Management program. A part-time option tends to take the longest to complete, since students spread their coursework overtime to accommodate their schedules.

Online MS in Management Admissions Requirements

To gain entry into an MS in management program, students need to meet certain admissions requirements. Many programs have accessible requirements—and you may not even need to provide GRE or GMAT scores. Below is an overview of materials commonly requested for online MS in management admissions: 

  • Prior work experience (2-5 years). Many schools expect you to have prior business experience and show the potential to grow into a true leader with the help of their program.
  • An essay/statement of purpose. Why do you want to go to business school—and more specifically, why this program? You will likely be asked to provide a personal statement of purpose that answers this question and captures your unique career ambitions. Your statement of purpose is your opportunity to set yourself apart.
  • A current resume. Your aforementioned work experience and involvement in professional organizations will often be considered as another component of admission.
  • Academic transcripts. Programs want to ensure you’ll be a successful student, so they’ll review your prior transcripts to verify eligibility. While many schools set a minimum GPA requirement, remember they are looking to see if you meet other admissions factors.
  • A nonrefundable application fee. Nearly every institution requires an application fee to consider your admission. For students with special financial needs, there may be options to lower or waive the standard fee.

Online Management Degree Programs That Don’t Require the GRE

No graduate test scores? No problem. Some schools utilize other factors, such as GPA and work experience, in lieu of GRE or GMAT standardized test scores. Studies have shown that these scores may not always be the best predictor of success; increasingly, universities are using composite scores to form a more complete picture. Below are some online MS in management programs with no GRE or no GMAT scores required for admission.

Online Master’s Degree in Management Curriculum

The curriculum of a program is something you’ll want to consider before making a decision. From nearly any MS in management program, you can expect a lot of management courses throughout. Some MS in management programs are more focused on organizational leadership, while others spend more time in the weeds of how a business is run.

Some of the big-picture courses you might take include:

  • Managerial Creativity and Innovation for Leadership. Today’s business world is full of fierce competition, trendspotting, and unexpected innovation. This course focuses on training leaders to leverage these skills to make the most effective decisions for their teams.
  • Principles of Management. What goes into being a leader? In your first semester or session, you may find a course like this one—which broadly covers the fundamentals of business and how human behavior impacts management styles.

Some of the specialized courses you might come across include:

  • Financial Fundamentals. High-level leaders will need to understand how the financial markets work and what market fluctuations mean for their company. This type of course teaches students to read and interpret financial data and assess risk vs. return.
  • International Management. Managing a global team or working with an international company is different from working on a localized team. An international management course will teach you to do cross-cultural business and think about your company on a global scale.

What Can You Do with a Management Degree?

A management degree may help to prime you to lead in a variety of roles in the business world and beyond. Your specific role and salary will typically vary depending on your overall experience as well as where you live.

You may wish to pursue a department-specific role, like training and development managers, who in 2019 earned a median annual salary of $113,350, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Of course, your earning potential will depend on your experience level and location among other factors. Or, you could become an administrative services manager and oversee the operations of a nonprofit or for-profit organization. BLS data shows that professionals in this role earn a median salary of $96,940 per year. 

Management Salary and Career Outlook

As you gain experience, you can also set your sights on becoming a top executive or a CEO. The C-suite of a company—with chief executive officers, chief financial officers, chief technology officers, and more—is generally the highest-ranking area of a company. The median salary for chief executives was $184,460 in May 2019, according to the BLS.

As more and more companies are founded, including small businesses, the need for strong-headed leaders with relevant training and expertise will continue to grow. Adding a management degree to your resume may prepare you for the available roles within this field. Management occupations are projected to grow 7% by 2028, which is faster than the 5% average growth rate for all occupations, according to the BLS.  

While earning potential and job outlook may inform your decision to pursue a management degree, keep in mind the other factors highlighted in this guide, such as your personal career goals, the amount of time you’re willing to commit to your studies, and whether your desired program is delivered in a format that suits your current lifestyle.

Last Updated August 2020