Thank you for expressing interest in the Master of Science in Administration (MSA) degree program. Faculty and staff in the MSA department are committed to providing students with a rigorous, relevant, and overall excellent academic experience. Through a combination of theory and practice, the MSA program focuses on concepts and applications to identify and solve problems in a broad range of professional environments.
The question I hear most frequently is “What is the difference between an MSA and an MBA?” I can sum up the difference with one letter ‘T’. An MBA is an interdisciplinary business degree that draws on courses from across the functional areas of business (marketing, management, finance, accounting, economics, business information systems, etc.) the MSA, however, focuses on developing ‘T-Shaped’ professionals.
A ‘T-Shaped’ professional has a breadth of knowledge to work across many units within an organization but also the depth of knowledge in one content area to be considered an expert in that field. According to the Education Advisory Board (2016, para. 2) “Large employers like IBM, IDEO, and Cisco are spearheading initiatives to hire ‘T-shaped professionals.’” Employers are looking for soft skills that allow professionals to work collaboratively across many units within an organization (the “T-top”). Employers are also looking for those same professionals who have a depth of knowledge in a particular discipline, area, skill, process, product, or body of work (the “T-stem”).
At Central Michigan University we have designed the MSA program to develop ‘T’ shaped professionals. The core courses, six in total, support the ‘T-top’ and focus on Organizational Change, Working with Diverse Generations and Populations, Strategic Management, and Finance. Students also have to the ability to choose from 15 different areas of concentration. The concentration courses, six in total, support the ‘T-stem’ and range widely across different sectors of the economy like Engineering Management, Health Services, Human Resources, Leadership, Project Management, and Training and Development.
The Education Advisory Board also mentions that an individual’s “T-shape” is built over the entirety of his or her career, but college students who possess a mix of “T-top” and “T-stem” skills upon graduation face the most promising short-and long-term employment prospects. However, “most students only build out one dimension of their “T” during their undergraduate studies” (2016, para. 3).
As a department, college, and university, we are here to assist in your development toward becoming a ‘T-Shaped’ professional and in assisting with your personal and professional goals.
Dr. Kaleb G. Patrick
Interim Director and Faculty
Master of Science in Administration
Center for Administration and Leadership
College of Education and Human Services
Central Michigan University