No matter your field of interest, know that there is tremendous respect for what an MBA represents. After two years, you’ll know the tools of the trade and speak the language of business from multiple perspectives. For example, you’ll know how to market a luxury brand or an online company and how to prepare a valuation of that company’s worth. In short, you’ll have developed a new professional identity and a business expertise that can extend to many areas and industries.

Graduate business schools teach the applied science of business. The best MBA programs use structured methodologies to combine the latest academic theories with pragmatic concepts and real-word solutions.

Business schools also teach the analytical skills necessary for arriving at complex business decisions. Students learn how to frame issues, apply analytical techniques and formulas, develop the right criteria for decision-making, and make decisions after evaluating their impact across many variables.

Whether you leave business school as a marketing expert, a finance wiz, or a general manager — or all three at once — you’ll be armed with nuts and bolts business skills.

To Concentrate or Not, That is the Question

In many programs, students are required to select an MBA concentration, similar to selecting a major in college. In other programs, there is no such requirement, and all students follow a generalist track. You will need to determine which course of study best suits your career goals.

Business school students who concentrate in such areas as accounting or human resources often aim to become specialists in their particular field. This can be beneficial when it comes to finding work. Other areas where building an expert knowledge base can boost MBA job prospects include hot new fields like financial technology (FinTech) and the healthcare/biotech industry.

Concentrations are not for everyone. The value of a general management track is that students can pursue a range of classes and electives and develop strength across all of those multiple disciplines. And there is no doubt that a generalist MBA still has a high return on investment. Having broad expertise in a range of business functions prepares students for high level management positions where those diverse skills will be needed. Think department head, President, or CEO.

Specializing, on the other hand, allows MBA students to build high credibility in their particular industries, break into entirely new fields, and switch careers, all in a relatively short period of time. From niche industries such as entertainment and real estate to traditional industries like marketing and analytics, concentrating helps new grads emerge from school highly qualified for their dream jobs.

Interested in choosing an MBA concentration or niche course of study? Here are some of the most in-demand MBA concentrations to consider pursuing in business school:

  • General Management
  • International Management
  • Consulting
  • Finance/Finance Leadership
  • Strategy
  • Marketing
  • Operations Management
  • Human Resources
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Economics
  • IT/Technology Management
  • Organizational Behavior
  • Media/Entertainment/Sports Management
  • Health Care
  • Pharmaceutical/Biotech
  • Non-Profit Corporate
  • Social Responsibility/Ethics
  • Hospitality
  • Luxury Brand Management

The MBA Concentration Takeaway:

Excited about the many options available to MBA students? The business school landscape offers increasing opportunities each year in both familiar and cutting-edge concentration areas. If this is of interest do you, how do you choose a specialization?

Consider where your strengths lie in some of these areas. Then do your research. It may be helpful to reach out to department heads or professors who are leading the charge in particular concentrations. You’ll discover that many schools are well-known for their specialties. Some programs may allow students to tailor their own courses of study, or may provide opportunities to develop dual areas of concentration. With so many options, you’re sure to land in a program where your both your passions and career trajectory will be advanced.

Nedda Gilbert

Ms. Gilbert is a certified social worker and 30 year educational consultant with an interest in helping college-bound and graduate school students manage the process and stress of admissions effectively. She is one of the senior founding managers of the Princeton Review Test Preparation Company, and the author of The Princeton Review Guide to the Best Business Schools and another book, Business School Essays that Made a Difference (Random House). She is a guest contributor to Forbes Magazine on college and college life. Ms. Gilbert is also certified as a collaborative family law professional in New Jersey. She received her BA from the University of Pennsylvania and MS from Columbia University.