Choosing an MBA Concentration

There are a variety of concentration options available to those interested in a Master's of Business Administration (MBA). When choosing an MBA concentration, students should consider personal experiences and desired income.

What's So Great about an MBA

Choosing the right profession can pose many challenges--students want a lifelong career, one that will remain dynamic and interesting throughout the years. An MBA opens doors for professional advancement and provides the option to specialize in a variety of concentrations including:

  • Finance: Deals with mergers and acquisitions, capital finance, and other issues
  • Health Care: Addresses legal and ethical issues relative to a constantly-changing, high-demand field
  • Human Resources: Addresses the legal and ethical business climate and how to manage conflict; guides organizations through change and how to negotiating ethically
  • Marketing and Advertising: Explores concepts of buyer behavior, market research, and strategic planning and advertising
  • Leadership and Organizational Health: Provides an advanced understanding of organizational culture and instills leadership skills vital to career success
  • Management: Pertains to management information systems, leadership, and project management; provides a diverse knowledge base
  • Accounting: Focuses on the managerial aspects of accounting to support informed decision-making. 
  • Business Analytics: Explores data for better decision making in any business setting or industry

Regardless of which specialization a student ultimately chooses, an MBA degree will pay off. The Graduate Management Admission Council reported nearly 7 out of 10 graduates are employed before finishing their MBAs, so one can anticipate a reasonable return on investment with any MBA concentration. Each specialization offers unique opportunities; picking the correct one is a matter of compatibility.

[To learn more about these specializations and how they align with current business needs and trends, download the The Complete Guide to MBA Specializations in Demand >>]

Broad MBA Career Opportunities

Given prospective MBA students have so many concentration options, it is important for them to establish criteria to be able to choose the best fit.

Narrowing the Field

An obvious place for students to start when picking an MBA concentration is by assessing their own interests and goals. Students need to understand their professional passions and interests based on past and current experience. Students should also:

  • Explore future job opportunities: Students willing to move might have more flexibility than those wishing to remain in a certain place or with a specific company. Knowing what's available can help students prioritize
  • Dare to explore unchartered territory: Picking a concentration doesn't mean being "stuck" in a single field; rather, students should explore opportunities to diversify their expertise. For example, specializing in health care does not mean that one also cannot have equally robust financial management skills

Areas of Concentration

Understanding each area of focus more deeply can assist students with the matchmaking process. The following describes each concentration in more detail:

  • Financial Management: Financial managers handle issues relative to capital structure, corporate financial decisions, and fiscal strategy. They use various instruments to calculate assets and make determinations relative to incentives and fund allocation. Analytical-minded people are ideally suited for financial management
  • Health Care Management: Health care managers are responsible for everything relative to running a health care organization including: patient care, finances, and client support. Given that the field of health care is facing simultaneous demand increases and staff shortages, energetic challenge-seekers are best-suited for this fast-paced career
  • Human Resources Management: Human resources managers apply their robust legal and ethical understanding of business operations to ensure organizations run effectively and equitably. Fair-minded creative thinkers do well in human resource management roles
  • Marketing and Advertising Management: Marketing or advertising managers use the “4 Ps” (price, product, promotion, and place) for purposes of strategic planning. These managers study how and why consumers buy products and have an understanding of the effects of advertising. Analytical types who prefer diverse work environments tend to enjoy marketing and advertising
  • Leadership and Organizational Health: Based on the work of The New York Times best-selling author, Patrick Lencioni, this concentration focuses on effective leadership skills that can enhance organizational culture and success through team building activities, strategic communication, and performance support systems
  • General Management: These professionals work in leadership roles to handle daily operating systems, budgets, and changing structures. Multitaskers who enjoy being challenged make great general managers
  • Accounting: Accounting professionals analyze business issues to form practical responses and assess the impact of global influences on business decisions
  • Business Analytics: Business analytics professionals understand how business analytics can improve managerial decision-making as well as identify and evaluate opportunities in which business analytics can be used to improve performance

View the The Complete Guide to MBA Specializations in Demand to learn more about how these specializations align with current business needs and trends.

Each MBA concentration offers something unique for every personality type. Not only does an MBA provide students the opportunity to advance in their careers and increase their salaries, but it also allows students to discover a career that can bring personal fulfillment.

The University of Saint Mary (USM) offers an accredited online Master of Business Administration program with six concentrations. Emphasizing ethics and corporate responsibility, USM’s accelerated one-year program prepares students for real-world business experiences. The program is affordable and its online format offers flexibility for students already in the workplace. This ideal combination of factors makes the online MBA program at the University of Saint Mary the perfect program for those looking to enhance their position in the professional marketplace.

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