MSc vs MBA for Engineering Managers

Becoming Engineering Managers is a coveted career step for most technical engineers. Merging your technical skills with management skills is the ideal way to move an engineering career forward.

An MBA is the first choice that comes to mind when deliberating on how to improve your professional experience to advance up the career ladder to the echelon of Engineering Managers. But is an MBA the best progression pathway for engineers or would a more focused course adapted to the needs of the sector be better?

Putting an MBA in comparison to the Engineering Management MSc should assist you to determine your next steps into management positions.

1. General vs Specific – Engineering Managers

An MBA is a General Management Master’s program providing you with the skills to fast-track into management positions across a variety of industries. The general scope of content taught on an MBA enables the application of skills across sectors; however, there is a lack of specificity in an MBA to one sector.

That’s where the MSc can spark success. The Engineering Management MSc is distinctive to engineering, training you to become a motivating leader in engineering. This enables you to nurture two sets of skills at the same time.

Therefore, you’ll be well-resourced to solve complex business problems with the added advantage of having the technical knowledge to influence business decisions in the engineering industry.

2. Theoretical vs Practical – Engineering Managers

An MBA concentrates on the traditional, and sometimes more contemporary, theories of management in a business environment. Case study examples correlate to real-world challenges in a range of industries like finance and the creative sectors, for example. This enables individuals from a range of backgrounds to learn management theory that can be applied to their industries respectively.

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By contrast, the Engineering Management MSc offers case study instances associated to real-world problems in engineering enterprises like climate change and disruptive technologies. This allows you to synchronise work and study, making the program essentially applicable in a day-to-day role as an engineer.

3. Business vs Technical

Skill-wise, an MBA concentrates on business skills and insight for managers to give you a comprehensive view of skills and behaviours that good managers have in an establishment. Alternatively, the Engineering Management MSc merges engineering knowledge with management knowledge and skills, to respond effectually to the particular opportunities and problems facing an engineering leader.

Engineering Managers add value to establishments by closing the communication gap between these two crucial business functions, to encourage collaborative, innovative and efficient work environments.

4. Managers vs Engineering Managers

A crucial factor when deciding which program to pursue can often be around who is delivering that program. On an MBA, you’ll learn from professionals in management, but with the MSc, you’ll learn from professionals in engineering management. Clearly, there are advantages to both, but knowing the academic professional teaching you is another step to picking the right pathway for you.

5. Business Networking vs Engineering Networking

Networking is more vital in contemporary society now than ever. Establishing connections with individuals at work and outside can lead to boundless opportunities.

Business networking is an important part of modern-day business and can take various forms (swapping a business card or having a conversation). This is a more common networking type which can be formal or informal and with individuals from a range of sectors.

However, engineering networking has to do with networking explicitly with engineers. As the MSc Engineering Management program is for engineers to move on into management roles, you will have the chance to build an explicit network of engineers around the globe. This is a brilliant chance to build significant professional relationships with engineering managers and experts which could be important contacts now and in the future.


At the end of the day, the decision for a Master’s degree program comes down to you, what thrills and inspires you, and what career objectives you have for the future. If your objective is to have a wide knowledge of the general style of management, an MBA might be more appropriate for you.

However, if you wish to acquire management skills but wish to widen and deepen your expertise in your area of engineering, go for the Engineering Management MSc.

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