Many people earn a master’s in business administration or MBA to advance their career. People tend to research MBA programs and choose the school carefully, often seeking advice from an MBA admissions consulting firm to increase their chances of acceptance. Yet they often tend to take the generic courses as quickly as possible to complete the degree. However, you can distinguish yourself from the competition and prepare yourself better for your intended career by choosing the right concentration of courses. Let’s review how to choose the right MBA concentration for you.
Quantify Your Career Goals
If your goal is to move from accounting to corporate finance or becoming a financial advisor, then it is fairly certain you want to earn an MBA in finance. If you want to move into marketing or sales, an MBA in marketing is the logical choice. If your goal is to be promoted in your current industry, an MBA focused on management or leadership is probably the best choice. Make sure that you consider future trends and needs if you don’t want to choose an MBA specialization that will be obsolete a few years from now.
Narrow Down Schools Based on Your Goals
Research the school’s reputation for the MBA concentration you’re considering. If a school has a reputation for turning out stockbrokers, then it is a good choice for those who want to go into finance. However, it may not be a good choice if you want to go into marketing. Some schools may be prestigious, but not have the best MBAs. So, don’t overlook certain schools based on assumptions and see how they are rated for the exact specialization you’re interested in.
You can use third-party rating agencies and review sites to rate schools. It would be wise to do a deep dive if possible. Talking to alumni and going on campus tours are options. However, you often won’t be able to get past surface level with these.
Another option is attending events like The MBA Tour that brings school representatives and alumni from some of the best schools on the planet to you. You can learn more about The MBA Tour’s story at https://www.thembatour.com/our-story/. This tour will allow you to ask questions that are hard to get in during your regular campus visits, and you can get recommendation based on first-hand experience from alumni. They’ll also be able to give you valuable tips and insights on the admission process to increase your chances of being accepted into the school and concentration of your choice.
Compare the Courses to Your Goal
Review the courses available at the school relative to what you want to study. If your goal is to be able to transform your small business, found a high-tech startup or turn around a failing firm, a generic leadership program may or may not be good enough. However, a program that focuses on leading innovative firms may be a good fit.
If your goal is to work in corporate finance, classes on international finance or general accounting may be useful. However, you should rule out what you don’t want to do so that you don’t waste time in classes that don’t further your career. Instead, opt for electives that teach you skills or knowledge you don’t already have.
Take the time to research the reputation of various courses and professors before you sign up. There’s no point spending time on software, marketing methods or case studies that are considered outdated or poorly taught. Ask alumni and current students what courses were the most beneficial to their career.
Your concentration should be related to the job or industry you want to work in. This may be marketing, finance or something else. If you’re not sure what you want to study, you can take a variety of classes to determine what you’re interested in and what you like. This gives you a better idea of where you may go than simply earning an MBA focused on marketing.
You might realize that the job opportunities you want align with a different concentration. Or you might find out that you’re not interested in the jobs in your intended course of study. Keep an open mind. You might be able to bring value to employers if you earn the concentration you’ve chosen plus taken additional courses in technology or emerging areas. There’s also the option of taking some of these courses online as well and add some feathers to your cap this way.
Getting an MBA is no longer enough to advance your career. You should complete an MBA with a concentration relevant to your career from a school well-known for turning out high-quality graduates in that area. So, make sure that you take the time to pick a specialization that will allow you to get where you want to be, and speaks to your strengths and aptitudes.