MBA and MFA - Terminal Degrees?

Are MBA’s and MFA’s terminal degrees?

It depends.

It is possible to get a PhD in business, but my understanding (filtered through my father) is that there’s really no reason to do this unless you want to teach. So really, an MBA might as well be considered terminal.

With all due respect to Exapno Mapcase, it doesn’t depend. They are terminal.

Terminal here does not mean “nobody every goes on to get a PhD in the subject.” I just had dinner last night with a friend of mine who got an MBA and a PhD from the same program.

What terminal means is, is the program designed so that a student will enter with the goal of getting this degree? Maybe some students–almost always those who want to stay in academia–stick around longer and get a PhD, but the Masters is still a terminal degree if the program is designed with the idea that some people will finish up with a Masters.

Contrast this with many PhD programs (such as the one I used to be in). There you can leave with just a Masters (as I did), but you have not completed the program.

Someone with an MBA has finished her program. Same for someone with an MFA. These are terminal programs.

There are some programs, such as the Annenberg School of Communications at USC, that have two parallel tracks. One is a PhD program, for people who want to complete a doctorate and, usually, go on to academia. These folks get masters degrees along the way to the PhD. Then there is a terminal masters program. This is for people who, well usually anyway, want to go into the communications business. They get their masters degress and they are done.

An MBA is not a stepping stone or a midway point on the way to a business PhD. It is designed to be an end unto itself and not part of a larger progression of learning.

As far as I know, no top Business PhD programs offer an MBA on the way to the doctorate. This is mostly because an MBA is a generalist degree where a PhD in business is very focused on a single element of business study. I suspect it is also partly because at many schools PhD business candidates get tuition waiver and stipends to lure the best candidates while at the same schools, MBA candidates are paying tens of thousands per year.

No, it does depend. What context of “terminal” does the OP mean?

At some Computer Science departments, they will have Masters, PhD and terminal Masters. The later is all-too-often for people who are industry grunges looking just for a salary boost. Pretty watered down stuff since they have no interest in actually learning the curriculum.

But methinks the OP could be referring to another meaning of “terminal”:

At my last college, all faculty were required to have the terminal degree in their field. For most folk that means PhD. MFA was considered terminal. Not an MBA though!

Other colleges could easily have different rules as to what terminal means.

That satisfies my definition of “depends”.

Constantine, how is your answer not a more elaborate, “it depends”?

However, my comment was deliberately laconic to match the OP, which offered so little clue as to the definition of “terminal” and to the real underlying question that presumably was being asked as to be meaningless. “It depends” was the answer that was the fittest match to the question.

Ask a specific question, you get a specific answer. Ask a vague, general, imprecise question and you waste the time of people who have to give whole dissertations just so that somewhere in the mass of the answer the underlying question gets covered.

Yeah, I’m in a bad mood, but my answer was terminologically correct.

In an academic context, “terminal degree” exists as a category primarily in relation to hiring policies. Many colleges and universities require a “terminal degree” for certain positions.

“Terminal” is also used to describe a Master’s Degree that doesn’t lead to a PhD in a field where that would be the norm. Confusingly enough, therefore, a “terminal Master’s Degree” is never considered a “terminal degree”! Examples would be a MS in Biology or an MA in History.

Another type of degree is the “first-professional degree”. This is the degree that provides the basic qualifications for entrance into a professional field. MBA, MFA, MArch, MDiv, JD, MD, DDS, DPharm are all first-professional degrees. All of them but MBA and MDiv are usually considered terminal.

Interestingly, at least one doctorate, the DMin is not considered terminal. I asked in this thread whether there are any others, but I got busy and let it die without getting an answer. Anyone who knows is encouraged to revive it! (It’s recent enough.)

Well, being an MBA myself, I think it is pretty much the terminal degree for most “real-world” business types.

Besides the MBA, the only other masters’ degrees I can think of that aren’t stepping-stones to PhD-land are a MSes in Finance, Accounting and MIS, and even those are in a kind of limbo- many people use them as terminal degrees, but they’re usually required for PhD work.

Then again, it’s not uncommon AT ALL to have business profs with MBAs for their masters’ degrees.

I think the MBA is better reckoned to be more of a professional-type degree instead of an academic degree, since the coursework lends itself to that.

There are plenty of other master’s degrees that aren’t meant to lead to PhD’s (call them ‘professional’ , ‘terminal’ or whatever).
Public Administration, Public Health, and Forestry to name just a few.

I stand corrected. I happened to be looking up some information about my alma mater, and noticed in the faculty listing that many of the bussiness and finance profs had MBAs as their final degrees. Apparently the MBA is a terminal degree. Sorry about the bad info. :o