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4 Tips to Choose the Best MBA Concentration for Your Career

06 May

As you consider your options for MBA programs, you may want to give equal thought to MBA concentrations you can pursue. While not every MBA program offers concentrations, many require or allow you to choose a concentration, specialization, or a certain number of electives in your chosen area.

For instance, Santa Clara University’s Online MBA offers four available online concentrations in Leading Innovative Organizations, Marketing, Finance and Data Science and Business Analytics, as well as two additional concentrations that can be completed by taking on-campus electives.

These MBA concentrations allow students to showcase an area of focus within their degree, a tact that may prove beneficial when interviewing for jobs.1 A concentration on your resume signals skills and credibility in a specific area, rendering you a more attractive candidate for a job that requires mastery of an area related to your MBA concentration.

Are you intrigued by the idea of specializing in a particular area as you earn your MBA? If so, review these tips for choosing the best MBA concentration for your career.

Take stock of your career goals.

MBA: Those three little letters can generally do wonders for your salary. For instance, Leavey School of Business graduates have, on average, nearly doubled their starting salaries by the midpoint of their careers, with median earnings of $167,800 annually.2

If increasing your salary is the No. 1 driver for enrolling in an MBA program, you can take your earning potential to new heights by choosing the right concentration. Monster compiled a list of the highest paying MBA concentrations,3 which include:

  1. Strategy
  2. Technology management
  3. Entrepreneurship
  4. Finance
  5. General business
  6. Economics
  7. Marketing

On the other hand, if career satisfaction or a career switch is your highest priority, ask yourself: What is your dream role, your dream industry, your dream company? Do some research, and reach out to representatives from industries or companies that you respect.4 Ask what hard and soft skills they expect from their employees, and determine if a specific MBA concentration can help you gain those skills.

Consider what you don’t want to do.

This may sound obvious, but don't simply choose an MBA concentration because you think it will look good on your resume. Choosing a strategy or economics concentration may seem like a no-brainer to boost your earning potential, but it will be a waste of time if you don't end up enjoying the work. Review your past career successes, failures, likes and dislikes to determine the direction you want to take during and after earning your MBA.4

Determining what you absolutely don’t want to do in a business setting can help you narrow your decisions when it comes to choosing the best MBA concentration for your career.

Review the courses.

Most MBA programs will include a list of course names and descriptions for all credits required within a specific concentration. Take the time to read the details and get a true sense of what you can expect to gain from each course. You may find, for instance, that one university’s finance concentration differs greatly from the next.

Look for courses that can supplement your existing expertise or provide a gateway to topics you want to explore. If you can imagine how to use the knowledge gained in these courses in a real-world business setting, you’re on the right track.

Consider the strengths of the business school.

Does the business school you’re applying to have a particularly strong reputation or renowned faculty members in a certain area of study? Does its location impact the curriculum? Take stock of the programs on your list, and research the strengths of each business school to determine which MBA concentrations they’re best equipped to deliver.

For instance, Santa Clara University’s Leavey School of Business offers MBA concentrations and courses reflective of the innovation required of Silicon Valley professionals. Depending on the concentration, courses include New Product Innovation, FinTech, and Change Management: The Practice of Leadership.

Finding the best MBA concentration for your career may seem daunting at first, but it’s worth the time and effort. Following the tips outlined here will help you focus your goals as you enter an MBA program and set you up for success both as a business student and as a professional.

If you are looking for a forward-thinking MBA program that can connect you to opportunities in Silicon Valley and beyond, explore the Online MBA and available concentrations at Leavey School of Business. Hear one student’s take on the benefits of a Silicon Valley education.