Which MBA Concentration Is Right for You?

October 12, 2021

Which MBA Concentration Is Right for You?

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MBA Stakeholders Need to Choose the Right Concentration

Many well-paying business and financial occupations require at least a bachelor's degree. Aspiring business leaders can gain a competitive edge by earning an MBA. When combined with sufficient professional experience, an advanced degree can help graduates qualify for top-level management positions or salary advancement. According to June 2021 PayScale salary data, MBA graduates earn an average annual salary of $90,180. Bachelor's degree-holders earn an average of $67,500.

MBA programs feature interdisciplinary, business-related curricula. Learners develop core skills in data analysis, personnel management, and decision-making. MBA programs often include internships or capstone research projects.

Many schools offer MBA concentrations that focus on particular skill areas or industry contexts. Popular concentrations include finance, strategy, and international management. This guide explains the many concentration options available to MBA students.

Most programs offer a general MBA or several curriculum concentration options. Common MBA concentrations include corporate strategy, entrepreneurship, and finance. Some schools offer concentrations focused on particular skill sets. These may include business intelligence, project management, or operations and supply chain management. Industry professionals typically choose MBA programs with industry-specific curriculum concentrations.

Concentrations cultivate specialized knowledge and skills and can help enrollees qualify for work in specific fields. For example, earning an MBA in healthcare or real estate can significantly enhance job prospects in these industries.

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When Should You Choose an MBA Concentration?


MBA concentration options vary significantly by school. Learners pursuing jobs in specific fields should apply to schools that offer relevant concentrations. Degree-seekers sometimes start their MBA program before choosing a concentration. Most students choose an MBA concentration early in their program as they complete general business coursework.

MBA Concentrations


MBA students often specialize their degree by focusing on a field, role, or industry. Some programs offer 2-3 curriculum tracks while others offer multiple specialization options. See below for descriptions of potential MBA concentrations.

Entrepreneurship

This MBA concentration serves current or aspiring entrepreneurs and innovators. The curriculum teaches enrollees how to plan organizations, create value, and manage operations. Learners develop skills in customer relationship-building and growth management. Entrepreneurship MBA course offerings may include global social entrepreneurship, new venture creation, and entrepreneurial finance.

Entrepreneurship MBA graduates often create their own organizations. Some graduates use this degree to become better innovators in other organizations and startups. Most entrepreneurship MBA students create or refine their entrepreneurial plans as part of their program.

Career Options for This Concentration: Chief executive officer, project manager, product manager

Management

Management MBA programs explore foundational business topics from a management perspective. Coursework spans multiple business disciplines, including economics, accounting, and business law. Management MBA programs typically serve current or aspiring managers seeking career advancement. Degree-seekers cultivate core leadership and organization skills they can apply in diverse contexts and situations.

Learners pursuing a management MBA concentration often take courses in personnel management, business development, and management ethics. Some programs allow further specialization through industry-specific electives. Graduates often pursue managerial roles in various industries or public organizations.

Career Options for This Concentration: Chief executive officer, management analyst, human resources manager

Finance

An MBA in finance can open doors to careers in lucrative industries such as banking or investments. Students develop key skills in budgeting, financial planning, and financial analysis. Enrollees may take courses in risk management, corporate finance, and financial compliance.

Graduates often qualify for business and financial occupations that pay significantly higher-than-average salaries. The finance concentration benefits professionals seeking a career transition or promotion to financial management roles. Some graduates with an MBA in finance work as consultants.

Career Options for This Concentration: Finance director, financial analyst, financial manager

Strategy

An MBA concentration in strategy sharpens business acumen, equipping graduates to help companies maintain a competitive edge. This interdisciplinary curriculum uses the lens of strategy to understand and integrate law, marketing, and operations fields. Learners also study business analytics and marketing and financial management.

The strategy concentration focuses particularly on strategy formulation and implementation. Strategy MBA programs teach enrollees how to analyze operating environments, balance risk and opportunity, and generate value for shareholders and customers. Degree-seekers cultivate advanced skills that can help them qualify for top-level, high-paying leadership roles.

Career Options for This Concentration: Financial manager, management consultant, technology product manager

Accounting

MBA in accounting programs typically include advanced coursework in forecasting, business strategy, and financial and managerial accounting. Participants learn how to use financial data to guide financial decision-making. Some accounting MBA programs offer specializations in fields such as healthcare and operations management.

Students typically satisfy education requirements for certified public accountant licensure. Holding a graduate-level degree often boosts accountants' salary potential. This versatile degree can support various careers in financial management or consulting. Experienced professionals with an accounting MBA may land high-paying leadership positions.

Career Options for This Concentration: Budget analyst, management accountant, financial manager

International Business

International business MBA programs cultivate understanding of global markets and build cross-cultural business communication skills. Enrollees learn how to conduct international business negotiations, deals, and logistics.

Degree-seekers often complete courses in trade law and compliance, international logistics, and managerial economics. Some international MBA programs include educational trips to other countries. With sufficient professional experience, MBA in international business graduates may qualify for leadership roles in international companies.

Career Options for This Concentration: International sales manager, global marketing manager, international trade compliance manager

Marketing

A marketing MBA can open many doors in numerous fields. Marketing MBA programs include core business coursework and advanced marketing courses. Learners study entrepreneurial marketing, brand-value creation, and consumer marketing. Students learn how to design marketing campaigns and analyze markets and consumers.

Many programs require participants to create and run marketing campaigns. MBA in marketing programs help prepare graduates for public relations careers in government or nonprofit organizations.

Career Options for This Concentration: Marketing communications director, market research analyst, and marketing manager

Statistics

A statistics MBA concentration focuses on data analysis for research, development, and decision-making purposes. Enrollees learn how to forecast and make decisions informed by data such as quality assurance metrics, customer satisfaction ratings, and sales numbers. Common courses include regression analysis for business, forecasting management methods, and actuarial statistics.

Modern computing systems generate increasing amounts of business data, creating an urgent demand for statistical analysis expertise. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects jobs for statisticians and mathematicians to grow 33% between 2019 and 2029. Many statistics MBA graduates work in government or in industry-based research and development.

Career Options for This Concentration: Economist, market research analyst, or operations research analyst

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