How to Choose the Right MBA Concentration for You

Many people decide to earn a master’s in business administration (MBA) in order to advance their careers. Before embarking on an MBA program, it’s usually a wise idea to research your options and the schools that offer them so that you can make an informed choice as to which MBA is the right one for you. However, more often than not, many students end up taking the generic MBA courses in order to finish them and complete the degree as quickly as possible. But, by choosing the right concentration of courses, you can distinguish yourself from your competition, stand out from the crowd, and make sure that you are better prepared for your chosen career path. We’ve put together some tips to help you choose the right MBA concentration options for you. 

Think About Your Interests and Passions:

Sometimes, determining the right MBA concentration rides on figuring out your interests and passions in order to put together a solid career goal. If you’re not sure what you’d like to do with your MBA, but know that you would like it to further and improve your future career, you are not alone. Many people go into an MBA with their options open, but the drawback here is that it’s difficult to choose a concentration if you’re not sure where you want the degree to take you. Before you get started, think about your passions, interests, work that you’ve enjoyed in the past and work that you’d rather not do again to get a clearer idea of where you’d like your future career to go. This will make it easier for you to steer your concentration choice in the right direction. 

Consider Your Career Goals:

The concentrations that you choose will depend heavily on what you want to do with your career. Consider whether you are looking for a complete career change or whether you want to move up in the same industry that you currently work in. For example, you may be planning to move up the ranks from working as an accountant and get into being a financial advisor, in which case an MBA in finance will be the best option for you. Perhaps you want to enjoy a career in marketing or sales, which an MBA in marketing is an ideal option for. An MBA with a strong focus on leadership or management is the ideal option for somebody who’s goal is to improve their chance of getting promoted in their current industry. If you have a specific career goal in mind, it’s always a better idea to opt for an MBA concentration rather than a general degree program. Click here to learn more about the benefits of specialized MBA programs. 

Rule Out What You Don’t Want to Do:

It’s just as important to be clear on what you don’t want, in order to avoid a situation where you pick a concentration simply because it might look good on your resume. Sure, there are plenty of impressive MBA concentrations available but if you aren’t studying that aligns with your long-term goals, you’re never going to get the most out of it. Choosing an economics concentration might seem like a lot of sense when it comes to improving your earning potential, for example, but if you’re not interested in numbers in the slightest, you would probably have more luck with a different option. Demand and career options are always important to consider but they should come second to choosing an MBA pathway that’s a good fit for you. 

Consider Schools Based on Your Goals:

Before choosing the right school for you, it’s a wise idea to research their reputation for the specific MBA concentrations that you are considering taking. Look at what past graduates are getting into after completing their studies. For example, if you are looking at a school that has a strong reputation for turning out top stockbrokers, it’s probably a great choice for anybody who wants to take an MBA in marketing. On the other hand, if not very many students from that school end up being successful business owners and CEOs,  it might not be the best choice for students looking to take an MBA in management and leadership in the hopes of starting their own successful business or getting an executive position. 

It’s a good idea to look at third-party review and rating sites to get a clear idea of what past and present students think of the schools that you are considering attending. Some other options include talking to alumni and going on campus tours, although this might not often be a good way to really get into deeper details. If you are considering studying for your MBA online, speak to current and past students about factors such as the quality of the online delivery, lesson times, communication, assignment marking, networking opportunities, and anything else that will be important to you as an MBA student. 

Compare Program Features With Your Goals:

Compare the programs that are available at the school you’re considering in relation to the skills and knowledge that you would like to gain from your MBA. For example, if your goal is to be able to start or transform your small business, look for programs that are designed to help you build your entrepreneurship and management skills rather than a generic leadership program. 

You may also benefit from an MBA program that is focused on leading or building small businesses. On the other hand, if you want to eventually work in a corporate finance role, you might find an MBA that provides classes in general accounting or international finance a useful addition to the course. However, along with comparing what the degree offers to what you’d like to study, it’s important to consider and rule out anything that you don’t want to do in order to avoid wasting time in classes that are not going to be useful for furthering your career. Instead, consider the electives that are designed to teach you skills and provide you with the knowledge that will be required in your chosen career path. 

A generic MBA can also be useful for helping you move towards a wide range of career goals, but choosing an MBA concentration allows you to focus more on working towards your specific goals and will help you stand out from the crowd. 

Be Flexible:

Above all, your chosen MBA concentration should be closely related to the career or industry that you want to work in in the future. This could be finance, marketing, or another field. If you are unsure of what you want to study, it might be helpful to first take a wide variety of diverse classes in order to make it easier for you to determine what you like and what you are interested in. After doing this, you should be in a better position to get a clearer idea of where you might like your career to take you, rather than simply picking something because it is popular or somewhat related to what you do now. 

In fact, after doing your research and committing to learning some new things before making your decision, it’s possible that you might find that the job opportunities you want actually align with a much different concentration to what you expected. Or you might find that after doing some further research and getting a deeper look into what’s involved, you’re not actually interested in any of the career pathways that would result from your intended concentration. The key here is to keep an open mind and be flexible when it comes to what you choose. If you’re not dead set on a certain MBA then putting in the time and effort to learn more about the different options and figure out what you like and enjoy the most will pay off and help you make the right decision for your future. 

Consider How You’d Like to Study:

Another factor that might impact your decision regarding your choice of MBA concentration is how you would like to study for it. Consider that an MBA is a large investment of your time and energy, and studying for a classroom-based program might not be the best option for a lot of people who are planning to continue working while studying. If you need to juggle the two, online MBA programs are an ideal option offering additional flexibilty and control over how you would like to study and when. And, an online MBA program may also make it easier for you to successfully study the MBA concentration of your choosing since there are more options available that you can easily access without the need to relocate or commute a lengthy journey to classes just to study the classes that you want. 

Today, there are more MBA options available than ever before, with many students steering away from the generic MBA and choosing one that can help them focus on reaching a certain career goal.