Pursuing a master’s of business administration, or MBA, requires a high level of dedication to career advancement. Often, candidates devote many hours of thought and research to selecting the type of MBA program that best fits their strengths and goals. As MBA program offerings become increasingly specialized, a new question has arisen: “Should I choose a generalized or a specialized MBA track?” These insights can guide you to answer this question.
Overview of an MBA
As you begin researching MBA program offerings, like many candidates you may first decide to evaluate these basic factors.
- Time commitment. MBA graduates have made a significant time investment into their future. Finding the time to work and pursue studies can be a roadblock for some aspiring MBA candidates.
- Financial investment. There is no doubt that pursuing an MBA is a financial as well as a time investment into your future. Whether your employer can help with the cost, you qualify for work-study or other financial aid may be available, cost is key in deciding if or when to enroll.
- Geographic location. Today’s MBA candidates can choose between on-campus and online programs. If your learning style favors on-campus classrooms then the location of the right MBA program may be a factor.
Once you have had a chance to look at this decision from a time, finances and location perspective, you can then decide whether to pursue an online master of business administration degree, an on-campus MBA degree or another configuration of a general or specialized MBA degree program.
3 MBA Tracks to Choose From
As a MBA candidate today, you can choose from three program tracks. You will want to ensure you make this decision based on your long-term career aspirations. If you have not yet refined your long-term career goals, you may consider working with a career counselor or business mentor before you select your MBA program track.
- Generalist MBA program track. Candidates aspiring to the executive levels of business leadership may be well served by choosing a generalist MBA track. This track offers coursework in information management, business law, financial accounting, leadership (ethics, social responsibility), business and information technology and more. A generalist track prepares graduates for “big picture” leadership and oversight. You can expect your earning potential to extend to around $95,000 or the low six-figure range after graduation.
- Specialized MBA program track. You can tell you are researching a specialized or highly specialized MBA program when you see the word “concentration.” Concentrations can include marketing, accounting, international business, health care management, technology management, operations management and other similar tracks. Earning potential can vary widely by concentration, from the $60,000 range all the way up into the low six figures.
- Highly specialized MBA program track. Highly specialized or “niche” MBA programs are designed for professionals who have a clear, concise vision of their career goals and whose career goals exist in a specialized field. Examples of highly specialized MBA programs might include shipping and logistics, Internet marketing and enterprise resource planning, among others. Because these tracks are so focused on specific high-level business-and-management skills necessary in certain niche industries, graduates can expect to earn into the high six figures after graduation.
Choosing Wisely, Choosing Well
Many factors weigh in to how generalized or specialized you need your MBA program track to be. The most important thing to understand is that specialized MBA candidates will also reap the benefits of the generalist MBA curriculum. After completing generalist MBA courses, MBA candidates pursuing specialized and highly specialized tracks will receive extra education and training in their chosen area of specialization. Often this requires taking additional credit hours to complete a specialized MBA degree. If you are an MBA candidate who excels in a certain niche area and plans to spend your career pursuing advancement in that specific field, the specialized or highly specialized MBA program can elevate your earning and career potential far above competitors.
By understanding more about the three main MBA program tracks, the salary and career advancement of each and when to choose a more or less specialized track, you can make the best decision for your own higher education needs.
About the Author: Tina Miller earned her MBA degree in general business. Her career aspiration — to become an entrepreneur — was realized the same year she graduated.