Dear Mentor:

Grades, money, MS versus MBA: What should I do?

I took the GRE [Graduate Record Exam] two years ago and scored around 1690, which I thought was below average. So I decided to go in for job. I have been working in software development; I have worked in Japan for some of Fortune 500 clients and Hong Kong too. I also got an H1-B, but due to down market I did not go to the US. Now I wish to pursue my further studies. Although I have around 4 years of global experience, I am unable to decide whether to go for my MBA or MS. There is one school of thought that says that it is always a safe bet to remain technical. Others say that MBA should be the target. The cost for doing MBA is generally higher than MS. I have also applied for permanent residency for Canada. If I get the Canadian residency, would the cost of studying there be any cheaper? What do you suggest? I can cough around Rs. 4-5 lacs [approximately US$9,000-US$11,000] from my pocket. Do you think it is enough to get me through a decent university?

MS versus MBA, Delhi, India

Dear MS versus MBA:

Whether one should stay technical or not is a personal choice based on personal ambitions, goals, interests, and constraints. Since many people with a technical background do pursue the MBA, at least they must feel that the MBA program is good for them. On the other hand, many technical people do not pursue an MBA and instead pursue an MS, so they must believe that the MS program is better for them. And many technical and non-technical people do not pursue further studies at all, so they must feel that the further studies is not particularly valuable, given their personal circumstances. If you are looking for the universal truth, there isn't any. You have to make your decision based on what constitutes success for you: whether you want to climb up the career ladder on the management or technical track. For your information, two founders of iMahal - one with 3 MS degrees and one with a PhD in engineering - both have MBA degrees. They have certainly found the MBA degree quite helpful and personally enriching.

The total cost of an MBA program and MS program is about the same; it ranges from $20,000-$50,000 per year in the US and Cdn$20,000-Cdn$30,000 per year in Canada. The cost of education is lower for legal permanent residents in public (government funded) universities. Yes, if you get the permanent residency in Canada, which is not trivial to obtain, your tuition would be lower in public universities in Canada. Regardless, the amount of money you have mentioned is inadequate to pursue an MBA in the US or Canada, with or without your residency status.

While it is true that the cost of education for an MS and an MBA program is about the same, financial assistance is more readily available to international students in technical programs; it is virtually non-existent for MBA programs. When available, the competition for financial assistance is fierce. The selection is merit-based, and not needs-based.

You may wish to read an earlier column: How do I assess the cost/benefit of an MBA? You will be well advised to read the iMahal Authoritative Guide for Studying in America and Canada.

We agree with your assessment of your GRE score: it is quite low. If you go for an MS in engineering, you should probably take it again, but study very hard for it. If you go for the MBA, you would need to take the GMAT (Graduate Management Aptitude Test).

Dear Mentor: Mainpage More Questions and Answers


   Search Help

Tell a friend about this webpage!