10 MBA specializations and why you should consider pursuing one
If you’ve been considering going back to school to earn a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree, you’ve likely noticed that there are numerous paths you can take. Today’s professionals have the option to pursue their graduate studies in either a generalized MBA program or a specialized MBA program.
While a general MBA will offer students a broad knowledge base in business and management, a specialized MBA allows students the opportunity to focus on a particular industry or job path. There can be pros and cons to both options. Finding the right fit depends on your career goals.
As you consider committing to graduate school, it’s worth exploring the various MBA specializations you could choose. Join us as we outline the basics of a specialized MBA path and briefly introduce 10 different program options that may intrigue you.
Why pursue a specialized MBA?
The MBA has become the gold standard for professionals interested in leadership and management positions in the business world.
Even with that in mind, one in three employers surveyed by the Financial Times indicated they struggle to find business school graduates who are equipped with the requisite skill sets. That may be why, according to the Association of MBAs (AMBA), employers are increasingly seeking new hires who possess sector-specific MBAs. Professionals who chose an MBA specialization are often able to use their in-depth industry knowledge to add immediate value to a new role.
In general, earning an MBA can help professionals expand their network while also increasing their earning potential. It’s also important to realize that one-quarter of surveyed employers report candidates with a specialized MBA are more likely to receive higher starting salaries than generalized MBA graduates.
“For anyone considering an MBA, it’s helpful to evaluate your goals for pursuing a graduate degree in the first place,” says Dr. Helen Eckmann, associate professor of business and professional studies at Brandman University.
Are you looking at an MBA as a tool to become more competitive in the job market? Are you hoping it could be your ticket to a promotion? Or maybe you want to set yourself up for potential success in a wide range of industries.
Dr. Eckmann notes that students with clearly identified goals in mind — goals that pertain to a specific job or industry — may benefit most from a specialized program. A generalized MBA won’t necessarily direct you toward a specific career path. If you’re aiming for something specific, selecting an MBA specialization could give you a bit of a head start by arming you with the targeted management expertise you’ll need.
10 MBA specializations to consider
As employers report amplified interest in hiring specialized MBA graduates, an increasing number of graduate schools are beginning to offer a range of emphases. Brandman University, for example, has 10 different options.
In addition to having a core business curriculum, an MBA in finance is designed to help you broaden your expertise in areas like investment banking, stock market analysis, global economy and corporate finance. If you have your sights set on job titles like senior financial analyst, financial manager, investment banker or chief financial officer, an emphasis in finance could be a great fit.
The primary goal of an MBA in business intelligence and data analytics is to help graduates develop the skills needed to synthesize current business trends. In this type of program, students explore and apply the foundations of data analysis, visualization and modeling using geographic information system (GIS) software like Esri.
This MBA emphasis helps you build the skills you’ll need to work with complex data. It could lead you to a role as a business analyst, a statistician or a risk solutions architect.
If you’re a business owner, the MBA in entrepreneurship was designed with professionals like you in mind. This degree program prepares students to advance their organizations, whether it’s a well-established business or a startup. Within this MBA specialization, you’ll learn about the critical aspects of business cycles — this includes things like lead generation, financing, assessment, resource procurement, startup requirements and exit strategies.
You might consider an entrepreneurship emphasis if you hope to one day work as a consultant. It could also be a good fit if you think you may want to build your own business that offers an array of services, such as marketing, engineering and information technologies.
While generalized MBA programs cover topics like accounting, finance and human resources, an MBA in international business explores the international dynamics of these areas with added emphasis on the cultural dimensions of global leadership. This specialized track allows you the opportunity to learn about basic U.S. accounting rules alongside financial practices of other countries, multinational consolidations, foreign currency translation and international taxation.
Armed with an MBA in international business, you could land prestigious jobs. You could become an international marketing director, a multinational manager, an international trade and customs manager or an international foreign policy advisor.
If you hope to work as a marketing manager or a marketing research director, an MBA with a marketing emphasis could help you build the skills employers are seeking. This graduate degree path introduces students to principles of consumer behavior, research, international marketing, promotion strategy and new product development. An MBA in marketing allows students to explore the technological and psychological aspects of marketing.
An MBA in health administration would enable you to take a deep dive into the business side of health care, exploring things like increased market competition, major organizational restructuring and the impact increased government regulations have on the health care industry. This specialization could prepare you for a high-level position as a hospital administrator, a health care policy analyst, a pharmaceutical project manager or a health services manager.
By choosing a program with an emphasis in organizational leadership, you could learn the role of values in ethical decision-making as you prepare to become an influential leader. If you hope to create positive and sustainable change, this MBA emphasis could equip you to work as a training and development manager, an organizational development manager or a performance development manager.
The coursework you’ll encounter on this track will introduce you to contemporary issues and views on organizational leadership, with both multidisciplinary perspectives and classic theories.
It’s also true that many retired military leaders seek out the organizational leadership emphasis within Brandman University’s MBA program. Alternatively, Brandman offers a Master of Arts in Organizational Leadership option in which Military leaders can earn their post-graduate degree in only seven classes.
Can you picture yourself working as a manager of human resources operations, a senior human resources consultant or even a vice president of human resources? An MBA in human resources can prepare you for roles like these by teaching you about compensation theories, wage and salary administration practices, evaluations systems, performance appraisals, incentives and more. You’ll learn how to effectively plan, direct and lead administrative operations within your organization.
An MBA in an e-business strategic management program can help prepare you for today’s business environment, which incorporates new and evolving technologies, cloud-based communities and omni-channel communications. If you’re intrigued by e-commerce, e-business practices and strategies within this sphere, a program like this can help you explore the latest developments of information technologies, complex systems that are critical to database management, enterprise internetworking and web-based enabling.
This specialized MBA path can qualify you to seek out high-ranking positions in the finance and business sectors, while also paving the way for executive level positions in other areas.
If you’re hoping for a successful career in business accounting, an MBA in this specialization has a lot to offer you. The rigorous curriculum covers a full spectrum of core competencies, including things like financial reporting, data analysis for decision-making, business process, human resources and marketing management. Armed with this graduate degree, you could land a job as a certified public accountant, a financial analyst or an auditor.
Which MBA path is right for you?
Now that you’ve evaluated the many possible MBA specializations, you may be feeling better equipped to choose a path that’s right for you. If you think you know how you want to proceed, it may be time to think about enrolling in a program.
Still curious about the options that await? Head over to Brandman University’s School of Business and Professional Studies information page to learn more details.
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