If you’re trying to decide whether to earn a master’s in finance or an MBA, you’re not alone. Plenty of traditional and online students are facing this same question. There are clear differences between graduate finance programs and MBA programs as well as compelling reasons to choose either degree option. Given the wealth of career opportunities available to graduates who hold a master’s degree in business, whether you earn a master’s in finance or an MBA, you will be in a position to improve your job prospects.

Benefits of a Master of Business Administration Degree

The MBA is the traditional degree path for business professionals who aspire to advance their careers, particularly into management roles. Because an MBA includes study in a broad range of business subjects, the degree program equips students with a lot of valuable general business skills, making it versatile. Many MBA programs also allow students to take a combination of elective courses in specific areas of business to develop a concentration or specialization. Even in programs that encourage or require students to pursue a concentration, there’s still a strong focus on building general business skills.

Despite the benefits of the traditional degree path, it’s worth wondering whether you should earn a master’s in finance or an MBA. After all, there are drawbacks to pursuing an MBA, too. As more students have begun earning the degree, job applicants with an MBA no longer instantly stand out from the crowd. Applicants must often gain at least a couple of years of full-time professional experience before starting their MBA, and they have to spend a couple of additional years earning the degree. For some roles, an MBA degree is actually too general – and employers want a candidate who doesn’t require additional specialized training.

Benefits of a Master of Finance Degree

Unlike the more generalized MBA, the Master of Finance degree is a specialized program. Students in such a degree program study the field of finance in depth rather than working on developing a broader range of skills. While the curriculum might be too narrow for some employers, many businesses today are looking for targeted finance skills, according to U.S. News & World Report.

Whether to earn a master’s in finance or an MBA might be of special consideration to students who are eager to complete their education sooner. Master’s in finance degree programs are more likely to accept recent college graduates, though some programs are still aimed at those with years of experience. They also take less time to complete than a typical MBA program does, according to U.S. News & World Report.

Ultimately, whether to earn a master’s in finance or an MBA is a personal decision that depends on a number of factors, including what your career goals are, what your educational and professional background are and what you want from your degree.