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Choosing a graduate program

Posted on June 28, 2017
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Are you considering graduate school to help you advance your career? If you are interested in a business-related field, then here are a few options:

Not sure which one is the best fit for you?

If your career aspirations involve becoming a CEO of a Fortune 500 company, then the MBA is definitely the right path for you. The MBA is a broad-based business degree that prepares students to be executives in a variety of industries. It focuses on business theory and principles and often gives students options to concentrate in a variety of areas, including finance, marketing, international business, operations management, and entrepreneurship.

If you have always had an affinity for numbers, love spreadsheets, or find economic theories fascinating, then an MS in Finance or Economics would be a better choice for you and could put you on the path to become a CFO. If you are already in the Human Resources field, or want to move into HR, because you thrive on helping shape corporate policy, educating employees, or working with senior management to support employees to achieve desired goals, then an MS in Human Resources would be a great fit.

If you are not sure you want to be a CEO, or you don’t have an interest in specializing, or you aren’t sure you want to stick with the same industry or career path ten years down the road — in other words, you want options — then the MS in Professional Studies degree would be a good fit. The MS in Professional Studies program at Drexel’s Goodwin College is also a generalized business degree; however, it focuses on both soft and business skills. This degree provides students opportunities to hone skills in creativity, communication, self-assessment, critical thinking, leadership, innovation, negotiation, empathy, and ethics, while also developing foundations in more traditional business elements such as statistics, program evaluation, and policy analysis. This is an applied degree, meaning that students build knowledge and skills that can immediately used in the work. Since it is generalized degree, students have options throughout their career to shift from one industry to another, from one job title to another, and to follow growing or changing career interests.

The final thing you need to consider are program admission requirements. Most schools require official transcripts, letters of recommendation, a resume, a personal statement, and a minimum GPA. Some work experience may be required or recommended for any of these programs, but it is more often required for the MBA. The GMATs are required for most MBA programs, and the GMATs or GREs are required for most specialized MS programs. Most MS in Professional Studies programs do not require any standardized testing but will take scores if you sat for one of the exams, using them as another data point in your application.

I have said this before: Graduate school is a gift, and you should take advantage of every opportunity available. But your journey has to begin with a decision about the best degree for you. There is no right or wrong program — only a right and wrong program for you. If you want to jump into the fast lane headed for the C-Suite, then choose an MBA; if you want to narrow your focus, then choose a specialized MS degree, such as Economics or Finance; or, if you have a variety of interests and want to leave your future career options open, then choose an MS in Professional Studies. Use the chart below for an easy comparison.

Chart outlining differences between MBA, MS in Finance, and MS in Professional Studies Degrees

Best of luck to you in your decision-making process.


Anne Converse Willkomm
Director of Graduate Studies
Goodwin College
Drexel University
Posted in professional-development-career-tips