People pursue an MBA for a number of reasons; it could be a good way to retool or update your skills, for instance. It may also be the path to a new career or a move into management. Whatever the case may be, the options available to you will depend on the MBA degree you choose. This is more than a matter of what school you attend, but what the MBA program actually teaches you. This is why it’s important to choose a concentration wisely if you want to be able to get to the position you wanted or the exact skills you need to succeed in your field.
That is often easier said than done, however, especially with the sheer number of specializations now available. If you’re having trouble finding an MBA concentration, here’s what you can do.
You will need to look at the field you were thinking of entering and whether you absolutely need a specialization. If you want to move into healthcare management, for instance, a generic MBA will usually not be enough, but an MBA focused on healthcare management will be. A non-IT professional might be able to move into IT management with a similarly specialized MBA.
You might want to earn an MBA concentration in finance so you can move into accounting or become a financial analyst. You might also want to look at an MBA concentration in data analysis and marketing if you want to work in digital marketing. This will help you determine whether a generic MBA or a specialized one is appropriate in your case.
If you want more tips about the benefits of choosing a specialization, Suffolk University has an informative piece on the subject online. They also offer a wide variety of specialized MBAs through Suffolk Online. One of the points brought up is that many employers tend to see someone with a specialized MBA as not only having more expertise but as someone who could actually be more passionate about their job.
While most MBA programs provide an overview of business leadership, concentrations allow you to focus your studies. So, compare what you need to know against what the program teaches. In this case, you may want to concentrate in a given area to make up for your current lack. This could be anything from international business to finance to business transformation.
For many would-be managers, for instance, an MBA can teach them both data-driven decision making and human resource management. Some may want to choose a concentration that will allow them to run their business better, or one specific to their industry so that they can get a competitive edge.
MBA programs typically allow you to view their required courses, and, in this way, could end up limiting some of the options that will be open for you. You might have to rule out a given program if it requires a number of prerequisite classes in accounting, finance or statistics, for instance.
On the other hand, you might want to pay more attention to concentrations that fall within your qualifications and allow you to get your credentials faster. There are many bridge programs for various professionals that will allow you to get your degree in the fraction of the time it would normally take.
You then have to look at the curriculum. You may be attracted to a program because the classes they teach interest you, or strike programs off your list if they require you to take many classes that you’re not interested in. For example, if you want to start your own business, an MBA in entrepreneurship or general business is valuable while multiple technology management and marketing courses won’t necessarily be.
Some people say that following your passion is overrated, but it certainly isn’t if you’re looking for a concentration. This is why you should take the time to really evaluate your passions and interest and take them into consideration when considering a field.
Some people might want to be closer to the workforce and really help drive corporate culture. In this case, going for an MBA in human resources could be a great choice. Or, you might be interested in the manufacturing part of business, and get a MBA that concentrates on supply chain management.
Also, don’t only do what you feel you would be good at or what everyone recommends. While you might be good with numbers, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to limit yourself to accounting. There are also other options like business intelligence that are at the cutting edge of technology. Just make a list of your passions and favorite fields, and take it into consideration when considering or eliminating choices.
Choosing a concentration may not be enough to get the position that you want, however. Suppose you’ve selected an MBA concentration. A school that’s well-known for its business leadership or finance program will give your resume extra weight when you say that’s where you got your MBA. In contrast, schools that aren’t known for a given area may not teach you everything you want to learn. If you’re interested in a given school, choose an MBA concentration that combines what you are interested in with what they do a good job of teaching.
Furthermore, you should learn how well graduates do in the marketplace after they complete their degree. Are they working in the jobs they thought the degree would prepare them for? Are they paid a competitive salary for their expertise? These are all questions you’ll have to consider before choosing a school.
MBA programs offer more than an introduction to accounting and other career-minded professionals. An MBA concentration gives you the ability to change directions or take your career to the next level, as long as you choose the right concentration and an appropriate school.