While an MBA is considered a general business degree, MBA concentrations give students the opportunity to focus deeply on a topic that interests them. Many programs offer different types of MBA concentrations so students can tailor their education to help advance their careers.
So, whether you’re interested in accounting or sustainability, there is likely an applicable specialization for you. Some concentrations offer specific coursework that will lead you to a targeted career path, while others are more flexible and give you additional options in your career.
Below, we’ll go into detail on the available MBA concentrations and reasons for selecting each.
What is an MBA Concentration?
An MBA concentration, sometimes called an MBA specialization, is a specific focus within a program that gives you a richer education in that desired topic. In general, an MBA is a wide-ranging degree that gives you the basic knowledge you’ll need across a variety of business topics.
By choosing an MBA concentration, you’ll be able to take elective classes that make you a specialist in that topic and set you up for additional opportunities post-graduation.
Additionally, an MBA concentration doesn’t lock you into a specific career path after graduation, as you can still pursue jobs outside of your focused learning. MBA degrees—with or without a concentration—effectively offer a broad education to ensure graduates are strong candidates for numerous opportunities.
Available MBA concentrations
Available MBA concentrations will vary by university, but some are standard across programs. Below we’ll list some opportunities that the Daniels College of Business offers, and other colleges likely will as well.
With an accounting concentration, students will take courses in assurance, taxation, information technology and business valuation, setting themselves up for jobs including staff accountant or accounts payable specialist at accounting firms. Daniels is a preferred hiring school for several international, national and local firms.
Business analytics is an exploding field with countless career opportunities, making this concentration an ideal opportunity for jobseekers. At Daniels, the curriculum focuses on the three pillars of business intelligence: data, analytics and business.
Whether you’re interested in corporate finance or investment banking, this concentration sets graduates on the path for job titles including CFO, financial manager or financial controller. The curriculum helps students master the analytical tools, theories and principles of finance that today’s employers demand.
With focuses in brand management or digital marketing, this concentration is a fit for those passionate about marketing and looking to level-up their skills. At Daniels, students take purposeful, hands-on courses they will need to succeed in this fast-paced field, earning titles like brand manager, sales manager and digital marketing manager.
Real Estate and the Built Environment
As a Daniels-specific degree, the Real Estate and the Built Environment MBA concentration helps students grow as leaders with a focus on real estate, property development or integrated project delivery. Graduates leave with a broad understanding of the complete project life cycle as it relates to real estate.
This concentration focuses on how graduates can help organizations move beyond “check the box” sustainability to real impact and measurable value. Graduates with this concentration will learn how to integrate sustainable approaches into operations, create reporting structures for good data and accountability, and create a culture around steady sustainability improvement.
Custom MBA Concentration
If none of the previous options interest you, you can craft your own concentration as well. The options are limitless with the guidance and approval of the program director and advising staff.
Do I need an MBA concentration?
Concentrations aren’t for everybody, so no, you don’t need a concentration to excel as an MBA student. If you’re looking for a general business education without a specific focus, an MBA is still a great option to move your career forward. In addition, some programs, like the Professional MBA and Executive MBA at Daniels, don’t offer concentrations.
An MBA will give you a well-rounded foundation of business education, leaving you with the skills needed to address issues in the workplace. Some students use the classroom as a laboratory, taking common business issues from their jobs to talk through with classmates and professors.
Whether you’re looking to advance in your current role or move to a new one, you should still consider an MBA, with or without a concentration. The degree will allow you to grow your professional network and could set you up for a higher salary. A recent corporate recruiter survey by the Graduate Management Admission Council projected that 2021 MBA recipients who accepted job offers would receive a median base salary of $115,000.
How to choose the right MBA concentration for you
If you do choose a concentration, it’s important to consider a few factors before you decide on a path.
Whatever your next career move will be, what’s important is that the concentration you take matches your goals. Note the qualifications and skills required for the jobs you want and pick a concentration with a curriculum that matches them.
Lastly, if you are still unsure, take advantage of the Daniels College of Business’ many resources. Speak to your admissions counselor to gain a deeper understanding of the available specialized MBA programs or schedule an online or in-person visit where you can connect with a professor to ensure the coursework is what you’re looking for. Also, many universities offer student ambassadors that can walk you through the program and steer you in the right direction.