MBA vs. MSL: What is the Difference?

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If you have earned your undergraduate degree and are looking to earn a master’s degree in business, you may be curious about what makes a Master of Business Administration (MBA) different from a Master of Science in Leadership (MSL). Continue reading to learn about an MBA vs an MSL and find out which degree is right for you:

The Master of Business Administration

By earning an MBA, you can foster your entrepreneurial spirit and prepare to become a business leader. The curriculum in this degree is embedded in leadership development, organizational growth, and operations management. Throughout the program, you will take a variety of courses relevant to modern-day business operations.

In addition, you will gain an understanding of business, administration and effective leadership. You will learn about what makes businesses successful and how to create a productive organizational culture. As a result, you will gain the self-confidence to become an executive, director, manager or business leader. Typical careers with this degree include chief executive officer, vice president of operations, director or leader in different types of business organizations.

The Master of Science in Leadership

With a Master of Science in Leadership, you will integrate a foundation of leadership with executive skills. You will have the opportunity to explore business leadership models and theories to improve organizations. Expert practitioners will guide you in your study of the traits and practices that empower leaders.

A main focus area in the MSL degree program is servant leadership. You will learn about the components that differentiate a servant leader from others and how focusing on others’ needs can lead to an interdependent and productive organizational culture. In addition, you will explore leadership communication and how to foster collaboration among diverse members. Typical careers for graduates of this program include corporate executive, manager, director or leader in all kinds of organizations.

Choosing the Degree that is Right for You

Both an MBA and MSL can prepare you to become a leader in today’s world. When it comes to what makes these programs different, the MBA focuses on the tactical components of business such as finance, marketing, and accounting. While the MSL also covers these business processes, it incorporates strategic thinking, ethical development, and people development strategies.

So, how can you decide which program is right for you? If you are theory-oriented and enjoy managing processes and systems, earning an MBA is a great choice. However, if you desire to become a people-oriented leader who focuses less on theory and more on motivating and inspiring others, the MSL may be a perfect fit.

Grand Canyon University’s Colangelo College of Business provides students with the high level of critical thinking and analytical skills required in today’s complex business settings. To learn more about business degrees at GCU, visit our website or use the Request More Information button at the top of the page.


  • Strategic Leadership- MSL vs MBA. (n.d.). Retrieved from

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University.

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