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Master’s in Management vs. MBA Program?

What is the difference between a traditional MBA and a master’s in the field of management at Harvard Extension School? Program director Laura Wilcox answers this question and more for you here.

MBA vs. a Management Degree

The difference between these two master’s programs is primarily in program length, price, cohort structure with built-in community, and flexibility/accessibility.

Program Length

Our management degree program offers many, if not all, of the same core course topics that you would find in a traditional MBA program: accounting, communications, economics, finance, leadership, marketing, operations, organizational behavior, and strategy.

But our master’s degree program is shorter in duration:

Professional Experience of Our Students

We attract working professionals with at least 7 to 10 years of professional experience. Students in MBA programs are typically earlier in their careers — with 2 to 3 years of work experience.


The cost of an MBA is roughly $62,000 (or much more for top-tier programs). Our degree is roughly $40,000. We offer students outstanding educational value.

Full vs. Part Time

MBAs are usually full-time, on-campus, cohort programs that offer few part-time and online learning opportunities.

Our courses are offered in the evenings or online so our students can continue to work. They don’t need to give up their jobs (and the annual income that goes along with those jobs) to earn a master’s degree. Our students can immediately apply what they learn in class to their jobs so they can put their education to work for them right away.

Top MBA programs offer structured cohort experiences that lend themselves to community and networking. Our students may need to be more proactive in networking, but many appreciate the flexibility in choosing groups based on their interest or joining any one of the student organizations that support community building (Harvard Extension School Business Society, Harvard Extension Entrepreneurship and Real Estate Association, and Harvard Extension Management and Technology Society).

Flexibility of Curriculum

Our curriculum is flexible and accessible. We can easily add a new course in response to changing market needs. And we try to make sure we have a number of courses offered in different formats to support learners of all types. We’re also fortunate to have excellent instructors from academia and industry who enjoy teaching our students. Harvard Extension School is highly regarded by employers and we offer all the relevant management courses at a convenient schedule and competitive price.

In sum, we believe that we offer the best continuing education management program in the country inspired by and designed for you, the working professional.