Choosing Your Concentration
Some, but not all, MBA programs allow students to choose 1 or 2 concentrations to pursue while they earn their degrees. A concentration is made up of a set number of elective courses that students take in addition to their core curriculum.
What should you study?
The core curriculum of an MBA program is meant to give students the knowledge and skills to succeed in most business related careers. However, concentrations allow MBA students to delve deeper into specific areas of business education. MBA students can choose concentrations based on their interests and future career goals.
An accounting concentration prepares students for careers in areas such as corporate finance, investment banking and private equity. Although not directly related, an accounting concentration can help students who are interested in trading, investment, managing hedge funds and government and military finance.
Business and Public Policy
In the business and public policy concentration, students learn about international development, microfinance and government regulation in areas like intellectual property rights. In addition to these areas, the business and public policy concentration prepares students to work in the nonprofit and public sectors.
A concentration in decision sciences teaches students how to create and analyze decision tree models, regression models and optimization models. Students also learn how to use game theory to analyze competitive marketplaces.
An entrepreneurship concentration provides students with the knowledge and skills to either enter into entrepreneurial projects or to act as an entrepreneurial leader within a corporate structure. In this concentration, students learn how to build new businesses, from identifying opportunities to managing a new business’s operations.
Environmental and Risk Management
A concentration in environmental and risk management focuses on sustainable business initiatives and the balance of energy needs with environmental protection. In this concentration, students learn about international environmental issues and how ethics and social responsibility affect how decisions are made.
A finance concentration might appeal to students who are interested in investment banking and management, hedge funds, private equity, retail banking and corporate treasury. The knowledge and skills learned in the finance concentration apply to careers in consulting too.
The healthcare concentration is designed for students who are interested in working in the pharmaceutical and biotech industries, health services, government agencies and insurance companies. Students who choose the healthcare concentration learn the skills necessary to effectively manage the business side of the healthcare industry.
Information or Information Systems
A concentration in information or information systems focuses on the ways in which information is organized and used in business. Students who are interested in working in business intelligence and consulting might find this helpful for their future careers.
Insurance and Risk Management
The concentration in insurance and risk management prepares students to work in the insurance industry as well as in any other industry that deals with risk. Students who choose this concentration can also work in areas such as personal finance and employee benefits.
Legal and Business Ethics
In the legal and business ethics concentration, students learn about the effects of law and ethics on businesses. This concentration also focuses on the possible changes that can be made to public and private policies to help form better societies.
A concentration in marketing gives students the fundamentals to understand customers, markets, competitors and brands. This concentration is usually a popular choice because the knowledge and skills gained by students can be applied to a wide variety of management positions in many industries.
International or Multinational Management
In an international or multinational management concentration, students learn how to manage and consult for global organizations and international government agencies.
Operations and Information Management
A concentration in operations and information management provides students with the skills to manage supply chains, regardless of whether they deal in physical goods or in information. Businesses in all industries can benefit from effective operations and information managers.
The concentration in organizations trains students for senior leadership and consulting roles in human resources. In addition to training, the organizations concentration gives students a better understanding of the behavioral side of a company or organization.
A real estate concentration prepares students to enter into the professional areas or real estate, which include investment, analysis, consulting, financing, appraisal, development and corporate asset management.
In the social entrepreneurship concentration, students learn how to apply their MBA educations to social entrepreneurial projects, social purpose and philanthropic organizations. The courses in this concentration are designed with the unique challenges of working in the social sector in mind.
A statistics concentration gives students the skills to systematically organize, manipulate and present the data that corporations and organizations use to guide business decisions. Because of the quantitative nature of statistics, students who choose this concentration can work in a wide range of industries.
The concentration in strategy is for students who want to pursue employment with strategic consulting firms or with established firms that need internal consulting or strategic management.
Concentrations suitable for online study
Most MBA concentrations are suitable for online study, but students should remember that internships are a key element of many of these concentrations. Students can set up their own internship, but 1 of the purposes of business school is to make connections while getting practical experience. Online students should be wary of pursuing concentrations that do not offer to help place them in internships.
Accelerated MBA and executive MBA programs
There are 2 common forms of MBA programs that are designed with certain kinds of students in mind: accelerated MBAs and executive MBAs.
Accelerated MBA Programs
Accelerated MBA programs include full business curricula designed to fit into a shorter period of time. Most accelerated programs require the same number of credit hours as their full-time counterparts, but may have academic terms that are shorter than the traditional quarter of 10 to 12 weeks or semester of 16 to 18 weeks. Individual business schools might have specific requirements, so students who are interested in an accelerated MBA program should contact the schools that they intend to apply to.
Executive MBA Programs
Executive MBA programs are designed for mid- or senior-level managers, executives and business leaders who want to earn an MBA while continuing to work. Because executive programs develop their schedules around working professionals, classes usually meet in the evenings and on the weekends. Students in executive MBA programs tend to have an average of between 10 and 15 years of work experience.
Joint and dual degree programs
Some schools offer joint and dual degree programs allowing students who are enrolled in MBA programs to earn another degree alongside their MBA. In a joint degree program, a single course may count toward the requirements of both degrees. In a dual degree program, a single course can only count toward 1 degree. In order for a student to be accepted into a joint or dual degree program, they must fulfill both schools’ or departments’ admissions requirements. The following are some of the more common joint and dual degree options:
Students with interests in higher education, for-profit education, education policy and management might consider earning a masters of education in addition to their masters of business administration.
International and Public Affairs
For students with desires to improve social services, fight for human rights or protect the environment through business practices, the combination of an MBA and a masters in international and public affairs provides students with the opportunity to use business to better the world at large.
A masters degree in journalism and an MBA give students the opportunity to pursue their interests in media organization and business communications.
Joint law and business degree programs are 1 of the most common kinds of joint programs. In these joint degree programs, students earn both an MBA and a JD. The professional degree in law is known as the Juris Doctorate, or JD. The joint MBA and JD degree is designed for students who want to pursue a career in either law or business, and also want to acquire the skills and knowledge of the other discipline.
The combination of masters degrees in business and in public health are for the students who wish to learn and apply skills of management and organization to the pursuit of improving public health.
Public Affairs or Public Policy
Students who are interested in pursuing careers in public affairs, public policy or in areas where government and business cross over should consider earning joint MBA and masters of public affairs or public policy degrees.