Tuesday, November 9

Guest Post by Maria

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

fulfilling job.

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)

URL: http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4032/4523323053_c1fe161e04_z.jpg

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