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MIM vs MBA: Who is it for?

Updated: Feb 1

Management is one of the most popular Master’s degrees across the world. The MBA, one of the oldest business school degrees, was first offered in 1908 by Harvard Business School. For more than two centuries, working professionals willing to pursue senior management and strategic roles have opted for this degree to pursue their higher education plans.

Roughly twenty years ago, a new management degree emerged in Europe. Targeting early career professionals or fresh college graduates, this program was set-up to teach theoretical fundamental concepts of management. This program is now known as Masters in Management.

Wondering about the difference between MIM and an MBA? How do you choose which of the two aligns with your career path and plans?

Let’s dive right into it, chalk out the key differences between MIM and MBA, and identify your fit.

MIM vs MBA: Work experience & age

A Masters in Management (MIM) requires 0-2 years of work experience. So, it’s chosen mainly by recent graduates or early career professionals trying to pivot from purely technical roles to more strategic or business-related roles. Thus, the majority of a MIM class is under 24 years of age.

As per’s Prospective Students Survey, “85% of Master in Management candidates are under 24, in contrast to only 28% of two-year, full-time MBA candidates.”

A Masters in Business Administration (MBA) requires 2-9 years of work experience. That’s why it is well suited for mid-career professionals interested in gaining formal business education.

Typically, in an MBA, you’ll as much from your classmates as you will from the professors, because your classmates are going to have more experience. For example, if you’re pursuing an Economics class, one of your classmates may have 4 yrs of experience at a central bank. So, they will be in a strong position to add to the classroom experience. That does not happen much in MIM.

Since the work experience requirement varies in both degrees, other factors such as average age and industrial background also change. So, while completing your school research, you should also check out the class profile of the programs you’re targeting to understand your fit within the program.

European MBAs are usually shorter programs, and thus candidates with more work experience often target European MBAs. Top European programs include INSEAD, LBS, Cambridge, Oxford and IESE. And this also works in reverse. Candidates with less work experience target the US business schools, which give candidates more time to figure out their plans. Unsure which one to choose - Europe vs US MBA? Check out choosing business schools: 1 year vs 2 years.


Top business schools receive thousands of applications for an MBA class of 300-800 students. For the class of 2023, Stanford’s Graduate School of Business received 7,367 applications. That’s 17.3 applicants per spot. Harvard Business School has a larger class with 1,010 candidates and received 9,773 applications.

MIM class sizes tend to be smaller, usually around 300 students. But they receive far fewer applications, so competition tends to be less fierce. For this reason, the average GMAT/GRE scores for MIM programs tend to be lower.

GMAT averages for top MBA programs are as high as 738 (for Stanford’s class of 2023). Top MIM programs have a lower GMAT/GRE score than MBAs, and some do not even mandate that applicants provide a score.

MIM programs tend to not declare their GMAT averages, but based on the usual trends the GMAT averages for schools like INSEAD, LBS and St. Gallen range in the mid 600s.

MIM vs MBA: Expectation from the degree

A Masters in Management is usually chosen by recent undergraduates or graduates looking to kick-start their careers. Their goal is to develop their business acumen, team building, networking and leadership skills and develop a fundamental theoretical understanding of basic business functions during this 10-month program.

On the other hand, MBAs are usually for professionals who’ve been in the industry long enough to have general knowledge about how businesses work but are keen to specialise in a specific area. They intend to grow further into senior managerial and executive roles. Or change their role, industry or geography. This is why most MBA programs are longer.

MIM vs MBA: Syllabus & Specialization

The MIM curriculum is structured to provide a theoretical understanding of core business functions such as leadership, strategy, accounting, finance, business analytics, business ethics, economics, and management skills.

The MBA curriculum does have a similar set of courses, but the focus is to offer a broad category of electives and specialisations so that you can dig deeper and get hands-on experience in a specific function. That’s why in the MBA application essays you’re expected to have a clear understanding of your future goals.

The difference lies in the methodology and the orientation of these programs. The MIM has a more theoretical approach to teaching and learning, and the key practical aspect of the program is usually a mandatory internship. Meanwhile, an MBA is a more practical degree often taught using the case study method. By learning from real-world examples, you can apply your learnings from your professional experiences and build your skills further.

MIM programs are usually either specialised programs like the Masters in Financial Analytics (Finance focused program) offered by LBS or Global Masters or International Business, or they are general MIM programs covering a broad base of programs.

MBAs offer a comprehensive set of specialised programs such as Entrepreneurship, General Management, Supply Chain, Operations, Marketing, Finance, International Business, etc. You can indicate your specialisation at the time of application and choose your focus area once you are enrolled.

MIM vs MBA: Geography

MIM is primarily offered by European business schools. Very few US business schools offer the direct equivalent of a MIM known as MSc in Management.

More popular is the Deferred MBA. The application process for Deferred MBA is quite different as compared to that of a MIM; however, the class composition is similar to that of a MIM.

MBAs are offered by most major business schools across the globe. You can choose your business school by location after assessing the fit. Most top MBA programs are in the US and Europe. If you’re looking particularly for a US visa, you’d be better off preparing for an MBA and getting a STEM visa. While MBA applicants tend to use the program to enter a specific geography, MIM candidates are often in search of more general international exposure.

MIM vs MBA: Cost

An MBA is one of the most expensive Masters programs, with fees ranging anywhere from $35,000 to $150,000. The fee is more per year and many courses are two years. A MIM program tends to be more affordable, with the fees usually varying between $25,000 to $70,000.

But the cost isn’t about just the fee that you’re paying to the school. For a MIM, you’re probably not sacrificing by taking time out of work, just delaying the start. However, for an MBA, you’ll need to leave your job right at a time when you start making good money. So, you might be making $50,000 to $150,000 per year before an MBA, and to leave that is a bigger commitment. Thus, the opportunity cost is much higher for an MBA.

MIM vs MBA: Competitivity

The MIM originated as a degree roughly 20 years ago in Europe. Back then, only European students keen to develop their business acumen tended to do this program. However, it’s gained a lot of popularity in the past couple of years, with students pursuing a Masters in Management to develop an international career or work with the top firms and kickstart their career. It serves as a source to provide international mobility to fresh graduates who may not have travelled before.

In contrast, the MBA was first offered over 100 years ago, so there is a long history behind the development of this program, which is why it has become one of the most popular Masters degrees across the world.

MIM vs MBA: Post-degree expectations

As we touched on, MIM candidates typically have around 0-2 years of work experience after completing their undergrad, often internships. They use a MIM to signal their intention to manoeuvre from a Bachelors in a technical subject to a business-focused role. For example, you completed engineering but you didn’t like the technical part of the roles you were getting. Instead, you realised you want to be part of the strategy part of an engineering organization. So when you come out of the Masters in Management program, you’d have technical experience plus you’d be equipped to pick up entry-level strategy or operations roles.

In contrast, before an MBA you’ll likely have between 2-9 yrs of work experience. The average work experience of Oxford Saïd’s class is 4 years, while Yale’s average work experience is 3 years. So, when you graduate, you may aim for strategy or operations, but in a more senior role with more responsibility, particularly managerial and leadership responsibility.

So, both MIM and MBA kind of do the same thing but at different points in your career. Both train you for the strategy side, but an MBA prepares you at a time when you’re transitioning to a managerial role.

Still unsure between an MBA and a MIM? Book a chat here.

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