Choosing an MBA Concentration: Tips and Options
Before choosing a school, it’s a good idea to be sure of your top three picks for concentrations so that
you can factor this into your decision. You’ll want to make sure that the institution of your choice has
strong programs for your top concentrations, and evaluating the quality of these programs can help you
choose both your number-one concentration and the right school from which to earn it. To get a good
idea of which concentrations might interest you, take a look at the following tips and concentration
offerings for MBA candidates.
Evaluating Your Personal Goals
To get started, think about what you want out of an MBA program, getting as specific as possible. If this
seems difficult, analyze what you want in a career – for-profit or nonprofit, international or country-
specific, entrepreneurial or established? Use what you know of yourself to decide how much potential
financial compensation, travel requirements, technological focus, social interaction, and other factors
might influence your career choice. List both what you would require in your ideal job and what you
would eliminate from it. If high compensation and job security are important to you, you might consider
choosing one of the concentrations in top demand according to CNN Money: Accounting, Finance,
and Marketing. However, make sure that the concentration you choose reflects your personal skills,
interests, and career goals – otherwise, you could be financially successful but wishing for a more
Evaluating Your Options
There are many different MBA concentrations for you to choose from, and there are more being added
consistently. To try to break them down into manageable categories, let’s look at some common
concentrations that represent technical, social, and managerial options.
Technical: Concentrations like Information Systems and Quantitative Analysis, in addition to the more
general Finance and Statistics, can give detail-oriented and technologically savvy candidates the chance
to attain their goals. For example, Information Systems involves a heavy load of computer-based study,
encourages deep analysis of organizational operations, and can result in entry-level positions like
systems analyst, systems consultant, and data information specialist.
Social: Human Resource Management is a good example of an MBA concentration that involves the
social side of business. Communication and problem-solving skills are central to the careers that make
use of this concentration, and people are integral to the basic foundations of HR. MBA candidates who
choose a concentration like this one will be involved in helping employees develop their skills, analyzing
the future human resource needs of corporations, and understanding organizational psychology.
Potential careers include recruitment consultant, business partner, HR manager/executive, talent
acquisition manager, and more. Other socially grounded MBA concentrations are Negotiation and
Conflict Management, Business and Public Policy, and International Business.
Managerial: If you’re headed straight to the top and you’re ready to take charge, you might consider
a managerial concentration. This is perhaps the largest category of MBA options, but some of the
most common are just plain Management, Entrepreneurial Management, Health Care Management,
Multinational Management, and more. With Management, candidates learn to develop a clear
perspective on an organization’s entire set of operations, focusing on improving these operations
through better management of people and systems. The potential careers for those with MBA
Management concentrations are essentially unlimited, as this program prepares candidates for
successful jobs in a wide variety of institutions, industries, and types of organizations.
Making the Choice
Be sure to interview prospective professors, fellow students, and department heads as you consider
which MBA concentration you’d like to pursue. This will help you get a better idea of which types of
concentrations interest you, whether or not the faculty members seem competent, and how successful
the current students in each program are. Look for hardworking students and professors who are busy,
but willing to give you a few minutes of their time. You don’t want to choose a program that’s too easy
because its credibility probably won’t hold up against more difficult and prestigious options. Overall,
choose the concentration that contributes most to your personal sense of fulfillment and you’ll make
the right decision.
Bio: Maria Rainier is a freelance writer and blog junkie. She is currently a resident blogger at First in
Education, researching areas of online colleges & blogging about student life. In her spare time, she
enjoys square-foot gardening, swimming, and avoiding her laptop.
Optional Photo (Public Domain)