Choosing Your MBA Concentration

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Many students enroll in MBA degree programs to advance their careers, using higher education to help pursue growth or leadership opportunities that would not be otherwise available.  Choosing a particular area of specialization helps focus the student’s courses of study and orient them towards their desired career path.

Reflect on Your Goals

Hopefully you’ve taken some time to reflect on who you are personally, professionally, and academically during your application process.  If not, then now would be a good time to make an honest assessment of your career.  What are your strengths weaknesses, experience, and future goals?  Where do your particular skills lie and what do you most enjoy?

What to Expect in an MBA Program

In a typical two-year MBA degree, the first year is usually more general to give students exposure to all of the various management functions. These are introductory courses that are taught during the first year. Later in that first year, students begin to be introduced to the more specialized areas that they can choose to concentrate their second-year courses on.

Tips for Choosing a Focus

US News offered these tips for students looking to choose their focus:

1.    Do your homework.  Who are your dream employers?  Seek out their representatives at career fairs or ask for an informational interview to discuss your interests and how they might align with the company. According to Forbes, these conversations may help you decide on a focus.  And once you arrive on campus, take advantage of guest speakers and industry seminars.

2.   Look to the past.  Most MBA students have some prior work experience.  Reflecting on what you liked and disliked about your past experience can help you decide on a concentration.  Pay particular attention to any points of pride in previous jobs that can help give you some insight into what roles may give you satisfaction in the future.

3.   Be bold.  Don’t hesitate to explore new opportunities.  Be proactive and aggressive in seeking out potential advisors, mentors, and other resources that are made available to you.

4.   Embrace change.  Nothing is forever. Take advantage of internships to test out a new role or industry. If it’s not a good fit, you can change course without having invested too much of your time.

5.   Follow your passion.  Let your interests guide you and the rest will fall into place.  While job prospects and earnings potential are certainly factors to consider, having a passion for what you do is the most important consideration.

Maryville University offers MBA degrees with no GMAT or GRE required and a choicen of ten concentrations, including traditional areas like accounting, finance, and human resources management as well as emerging business services like cybersecurity, information technology, and healthcare management.


Forbes, How to Land and Ace an Informational Interview

The Globe and Mail, Tips to Choose the Right MBA Program\

US News, 5 Tips for Choosing an M.B.A. Concentration