Olivet The Magazine | MBA or M.O.L.: Your Ideal Business Degree

Are you ready for an adventure? Let’s go!
Brian Parker headshot

Brian Parker

February 15, 2024 Academics, Business, Olivet The Magazine

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As executive director of enrollment management for Olivet’s graduate programs, Andy Corbus ’91 is often asked the question, “Should I pursue a Master of Business Administration (MBA) or a Master of Organizational Leadership (M.O.L.)?” And there is a right answer.

Let’s start with a look at the two degrees, but then there is something much more important to consider.

How is the M.O.L. different from an MBA?
While both MBA and M.O.L. degrees focus on advanced business skills, the MBA has a stronger focus on financial management, and the M.O.L. focuses on leading people. An MBA student will spend more time on finance, accounting and financial strategy, whereas an M.O.L. student will spend more time on leadership, culture and developing performance.

What do I need to consider when choosing between an MBA and an M.O.L.?
Your current career or your career goals will show you the way.

If you are seeking a role in upper management — developing strategy, funding for the strategy and allocating resources throughout the organization — the MBA degree program is best for you. The MBA has a stronger focus on finance, accounting and data analytics. Those with previous education in business management or finance may find the MBA a good fit.

If you are seeking a leadership role focused on developing and implementing strategy relating to people and culture, the M.O.L. degree program is best for you. The M.O.L. has a stronger focus on developing people skills, creating cultures based on performance and addressing conflict within organizations. The M.O.L. has broad appeal to those with previous education in fields other than business who seek to move into leadership roles.

Your graduate business education may lean toward the strategy of an MBA or may lean toward the development of people skills with an M.O.L. At the heart of both is the ability to communicate with others and to coordinate the work you do with those around you while always looking for ways to grow the business and better serve your customer. Both the MBA and M.O.L. will help you develop these essential skills.

What else should I consider?
Think about where you want to be in a few years and what skills would help you confidently pursue this path. Then explore how the degree might impact your journey by looking at course descriptions for each program. See a flicker, follow the spark and envision yourself using new ideas and making a difference in the world around you. The right degree choice is the one that you see yourself applying to the challenges around you.

A Final Thought
How and where you will earn an advanced degree is an important life decision. You can see this process as something to get through: a series of assignments and tasks you do so you can get on to the next thing. Or you can use this as an opportunity to learn more about the ideas presented and the people you meet. With graduate education, ideas build upon each other, and those ideas stack up within you to shape you as a leader. You will come out on the other side thinking differently.

Are you ready for an adventure? Let’s go!

From Olivet The Magazine, On Purpose – Winter 2024. Read the full issue HERE.

Brian Parker headshot

Brian Parker

Brian Parker ’94, EdD ’11, lives in New York City and is a Partner and Managing Director with 989Group.

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