Whether you’re looking to kickstart a new career or accelerate your existing career growth, the advanced business knowledge and emphasis on leadership skills that you’ll acquire through a master’s degree in management can come in handy.

Such programs are often cheaper than a Master in Business Administration (MBA) and none or a few years of work experience—perfect for fresh graduates and early-career professionals.

At ESSEC Asia-Pacific, two programs are available: ESSEC Master in Management (MiM) and ESSEC Master in Strategy & Management of International Business (SMIB).

Let’s compare the two.

An Emphasis on Asia

Both programs, when conducted at the ESSEC Asia-Pacific campus in Singapore, focus on business in the region.

Classes for finance, marketing, geopolitics, or innovation will draw examples from countries within the region, allowing students to understand how the theories apply to businesses in Asia.

For those hoping to start a career in the region, the perspectives gained provide valuable insights to navigate the unique Asian cultural practices and business etiquette.

And for those who don’t—the fact that Asia is a rising economic power makes it likely that employers value those with Asia experience, no matter where they are based.

A Career-Oriented Curriculum

Another similarity is how ESSEC’s signature learning-by-doing approach permeates the SMIB and MiM program’s curricula.

This is seen in how students are assessed through group projects, presentations, and programs that involve them working with ESSEC industry partners.

SMIB students participate in the Asian Strategy Challenge (ASC), while MiM students can choose from the Junior Consultant Experience (JCE) or the Asian Strategy Consulting Project (ASCP).

Although each differs slightly in focus, all three are opportunities for students to test their classroom skills as they brainstorm to solve a real-world business problem.

“During the JCE, we learned the basics of consulting, like gathering the necessary information and generating insights. I found this a valuable challenge that helped my development tremendously,” MiM student Yuchen Yu shares.

SMIB alumni, Alexis Maissant, concurs. “The ASC experience equipped me with consulting skills and gave me insights on my strengths and weaknesses, all of which have helped me grow as both a leader and consultant,” he says, noting that these lessons have served him well in his role as a strategy consulting intern at Arup Singapore.

Opportunities for Global Experience

Aligned with ESSEC’s emphasis on developing global citizens, the SMIB and MiM programs also offer opportunities for students to explore the world.

SMIB students can exchange at Queens University in Canada or the ESSEC Africa campus in Morocco.

Double degree options are available at the University of South Carolina in the United States and EGADE Business School in Mexico.

The MiM program, on the other hand, allows students to explore the full suite of ESSEC international experiences: they can study at one or all of ESSEC’s three campuses, go on exchange with one of ESSEC’s 105 partner universities, and choose from 19 double degree programs.

The Big Differentiator: Degree of Flexibility

The key differentiating factors between the SMIB and MiM are the time to complete the degree and the breadth of specialization tracks offered.

In contrast to the SMIB program, which is typically completed within 12 to 21 months (depending on the duration of one’s qualifying degree), the MiM program gives students up to four years to finish. It offers over 200 electives and 50 specializations—ranging from sustainability to health, sport, and public policy.

“There are no restrictions like needing to take a certain number of courses each semester, so I could prioritize school and work based on what was more important at each phase,” Yesho Gupta, from the MiM class 2022, shares.

For him, like others in the program, this flexibility was vital to them exploring diverse work opportunities—including multiple global internships—while still in school, something particularly beneficial for those with no or little work experience.

And for international students with at least 12 months of professional experience, there is always the option to fast-track the program in 15 months.

In comparison, the SMIB program has only three tracks—Corporate Strategy, Strategic Consulting, and Managing Digital Transformation and Innovation—and internships are optional.

So which program should one choose? The answer depends. Look at it this way: The SMIB program can be likened to a set menu, and the MiM program is an international buffet.

So, if you have diverse professional interests or are at an exploratory stage where you can savor your options, the “buffet” that the MiM affords can make it a perfect choice.

But if you hope to quickly accelerate career growth or pivot to a new industry, the intense but comprehensive SMIB program may be what you seek.

Either way, with both programs ranked top in Asia, you can rest assured that the qualification you receive will bring you far.