Obtaining an MBA can help students and professionals advance their careers and open the door to lucrative and fulfilling opportunities. According to a recent report by the Graduate Management Admission Council, 96 percent of responding employers believe that hiring a business school graduate creates value for their company. Translation: Companies know that MBA grads have put in the work.
When the decision comes to enroll in an MBA program, there are a lot of factors to consider. Do you want an on-campus program or an online MBA program? An accelerated MBA program? And should you enroll in a program with a general MBA curriculum or should you choose one with a concentration? And what exactly is a concentration? The following will help you consider the questions above, and explain why there are strong advantages to choosing an MBA program with a concentration.
What does an MBA program cover?
Those who choose to pursue a Master of Business Administration (whether that be an in-person one or an online MBA program) will dive into a postgraduate program that prepares them for a career as a business leader. Courses in an MBA program cover management skills, economics, finance, accounting, and business strategy. It’s a bonafide introduction to business leadership, and professionals leave their MBA programs with solid management, communication, and critical thinking skills.
There are several types of MBA programs: Full-time programs are best for recent undergraduates with minimal professional experience. Part-time programs offer courses online or in the evenings to allow professionals to continue working full-time. Executive MBA programs are typically for professionals with several years’ experience; the curriculum is accelerated and abbreviated, and classes are at nights or on weekends.
Regardless of which program you choose, you’ll leave your in-person or online MBA program with solid leadership potential for an array of positions across many industries.
What is a concentration?
An MBA program provides a solid overview of business leadership – from economics to management skills, students leave learning a little bit about everything. Concentrations, or specializations, are focused areas of study that let students gain advanced knowledge or expertise in a specific area of business. (And they’re great for students who know exactly what type of work they want to pursue.) If you’re planning to get an MBA with a concentration, you’ll likely choose it before applying to a specific program; that way, you’re selecting a school that offers exactly what you’re looking for.
Students often choose concentrations based on their interests or career goals: Those looking to work in the finance industry will want a finance concentration, for example, while those with ambitions to work abroad may choose a concentration in international business. Professionals pursuing an MBA while already working full-time may choose a concentration that will help them grow in their current roles, or even better, set them up for more lucrative positions with their companies.
What are some common MBA concentrations?
Several online MBA programs offer concentrations in finance, technology, accounting, business intelligence, marketing, entrepreneurship, consulting, international business, healthcare, operations management, information systems, and more. Here’s a quick look at a few of the most common MBA concentrations offered today. You’ll find these three concentrations through Suffolk University’s online MBA program in Massachusetts:
- Accounting: An accounting concentration prepares students and professionals for CPA and CPM roles. Curriculums usually focus on accounting principles, preparing and using financial statements, and mastering budgeting processes and operational expenses. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics expects the demand for accountants and auditors to grow 10 percent by 2026.
- Business Intelligence: A business intelligence concentration focuses on training professionals to collect, analyze, and communicate data. Those interested in careers as business analysts or data analysts should consider this concentration; with more companies realizing they can harness the power of big data, these professionals are in high demand. Business analysts make a median salary of nearly $70,000, according to employment website Glassdoor.
- Finance: Finance concentrations prepare students for roles as financial analysts, risk managers, and investment bakers. It’s all about crunching numbers here, with courses focused on investment analysis, options and futures, and corporate finance. Finance-related MBA jobs can be lucrative: According to a 2017 U.S. News & World Report, MBA grads working in the financial services industry earned a median salary of $115,000.
What are the benefits of a concentration?
Choosing a concentration gives students a targeted area of specialization and a solid career trajectory. Focused knowledge is ideal when you already know what field you want to work in; rather than enrolling in a general business program, you’ll get a head start on working toward a specialization that can benefit you in the long run.
Students with an MBA concentration can gain a competitive edge in the industry: Prospective employers often respond well to seeing an MBA concentration on a candidate’s resume; to them, this shows that a candidate has expertise in a specific area, and they’ll bring passion and advanced knowledge for that subject to the table.
Focusing on a specific concentration in your MBA program or an online MBA program is also like creating a mini-networking cohort. You’ll be working with like-minded professionals who have similar interests and goals, which could lead to opportunities in the workforce post-graduation.
MBA concentrations can sometimes be more accelerated than general MBA programs too, because coursework is focused, with less general business classes. Through Suffolk University, an online MBA program in Massachusetts, students can choose one of three concentrations: Accounting Principles, Business Intelligence, and Finance.