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MS vs MBA - A Tough Dilemma

Eeny, meeny, miny, moe… MBA or MS-which one should you do? Don't make a haphazard's how to choose what's best for YOU!

Mahesh Ramani

Students who have an analytical and technical bent of mind are more suited for MS and M.Tech and students with an aptitude for managerial roles are more suited for an MBA.

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Most engineering students face this tough question in their fourth year of study. The question is: ‘Do I study an MS or M.Tech?’ or ‘Do I do an MBA?’ This question does not have a simple — this option or the other answer. A lot of factors come into play, like finances, career aspirations, knowledge quotient and aptitude and patience to study. This article examines various scenarios wherein we compare an MS and an MBA after an undergraduate engineering degree.

Did you know?

  • The MBA programme was originally designed to help experienced engineers move into senior management positions in running the day-to-day operations of companies.
  • India has approximately 214 engineers per million people.
  • More than 70% of MBA aspirants studying in top business schools in India are engineers.
  • Leading companies, which hire fresh engineers, spend a sizeable sum of money in training them to be job-ready.
  • In the last two years there have been multiple instances of IT-firms offering placement letters to engineering students and then placing their recruitment on hold.
  • More than 70% of engineering students with a career in the IT industry come from a non-IT/Computer engineering background.

The engineering student’s conundrum

A normal full-time engineering undergraduate degree is for a duration of four years. The trend shown in the higher education sector in India over the past five years is that most engineering graduates work for two to three years, save money, prepare for the GMAT, write the test and either go abroad for an MBA or write the CAT and join a premier Indian B-school. 
The contentious issue here is if the end-goal was an MBA what was the point of spending so much money on an engineering course and studying for an extra year.
There are two ways to look at this query! 
One — After completing a regular arts or science undergraduate course it is difficult to find a well-paying job. 
Two — Getting an engineering degree from a good institution assures students of a campus placement with a secure salary. Additionally, most students deviate from their core branch of engineering studies and do a part-time course in computers and networking to go into a career in IT.

So what is the solution?

At first glance it may appear that the MBA is the most coveted degree in the world and is a sure-shot way for a big-fat pay-cheque; jet-setting across business capitals and staying in top-class luxury-hotels. Well my friends, sorry to disappoint you — wake up and smell the coffee! The world of cinema, Wall Street executives and London bankers and popular fiction are different from the harsh realities of actual life.

Every degree and every job-role has its merits and demerits and the MBA-bubble, like the IT-bubble of the past decade is almost reaching a breaking point. Companies are unwilling to offer fat pay-cheques to fresh engineering graduates, then invest in training them and watch them leave the company at the end of their contractual obligatory stay period of two or three years.

Similarly MBAs coming out of top B-Schools in India are facing another problem getting a job that satisfies them both monetarily and professionally. This has had one positive impact in the mushrooming of start-ups and entrepreneurs who are starting businesses ranging from online businesses dealing in books, clothes and vegetables to organic foods and fruits, home-cooked gourmet food and much more. 

In essence, the country is slowly reaching a stage wherein there are numerous engineers and MBA-holders who are either hunting for a relevant well-paying job or working in an industry, which does not utilise their academic learning/core-area of study fully. 

MBA or MS - India or Abroad?

So it all boils down to just one question finally: ‘What exactly do you want to do in life?’ If you are able to answer this question honestly and work towards achieving that goal — then my friend you are sure to succeed.

If you wish to focus on engineering as your core passion and work in an engineering-related sector or conduct research in engineering or take up teaching engineering as a career, then an MS or an M. Tech would be a good choice.

If you are planning to study for an MBA degree then most US and UK institutions demand that you have prior work-experience of at least two years. It is in this case-scenario that the BE + 2 or 3 years of work and then the MBA makes sense. With B-school students in India getting placement letters from top companies with annual salaries in excess of Rs 25 lakhs; the gap between  Indian and foreign institutions is thinning. As far as engineering research and facilities go — unfortunately Indian institutions are yet to catch up with their UK, US and Australian counterparts. This is the primary reason why the so-called ‘brain-drain’ continues and intelligent students keep migrating abroad in search of better facilities and resources. So be it an MS or M.Tech or an MBA, you can browse through our extensive list of institutions to find a programme that meets your requirements. 

Money Matters and Demand vs Supply

There is a high demand for trained engineers with relevant postgraduate degrees and relevant research experience. The world of engineering is huge with opportunities in manufacturing, oil and petro-chemicals, automobiles, computer-technology, communications, infrastructure and a whole lot of other industries. MBAs can also offer their expertise in diverse fields like finance, marketing, sales, human resources and administration. Salaries vary as per industry, though it can be safely said that the demand-supply imbalance is slightly in favour of the MS-holders now.

Interest and Passion

Students who have an analytical and technical bent of mind are more suited for MS and M.Tech and students with an aptitude for entrepreneurial and managerial skills are more suited for an MBA. Eventually let your goals, ambitions and necessities choose your higher education degree. Do not opt for a course to just be part of a ‘herd’. Do not end up studying something which you detest and will not let you secure a job that will offer you financial security and peace of mind. Look at the various courses listed on our website and make a wise, calculated decision.

Remember each course has its benefits and the world needs all kinds of people to continue; we need engineers as well as financial analysts and stock-brokers! To conclude, remember what American footballer and coach Vince Lombardi said: ‘The only place success comes before work is in the dictionary.’

Worried about choosing the right course?

Jyoti Sharma Jyoti Sharma,
Study abroad expert.
Our experts can help you find the right course from our comprehensive database. Request a call from us now! Or call 1800 103 2581 / 1800 103 9634 (toll-free) today!