ADVICE

Top ranked MBA concentrations: Which should you choose?

SOURCE: PETER PARKS/AFP
An MBA can put you in good stead in today's increasingly globalised economy.


By U2B Staff 

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If you’re toying with the idea of pursuing an MBA, a quick Google search will reveal a slew of MBA concentrations that vary from entrepreneurship to digital business to countless others in between. 

Despite the ongoing pandemic across the world, having an MBA hasn’t lost its lustre.

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Among the 1,085 graduate business school programmes that took part in the Graduate Management Admission Council’s (GMAC) annual Application Trends Survey, 67% reported that they received more applications for 2020 entry than they did in 2019.

For full-time MBA programmes specifically, 69% report increased volumes, including 35% of programmes saying that their applications have gone “up significantly” (up 21% or more vs 2019).

It may sound counterintuitive to pursue an MBA during an economic downturn, but experts believe it may benefit professionals as it can help them be at the front of the employability line once the pandemic is over.

The National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) salary survey – which contains annual salary projections for the Class of 2020 college graduates in the US – forecasted that the average salary for this year’s MBA graduates to stand at about US$79,043.

This is more than US$20,000 higher than the projected salaries of business undergraduates at US$$57,939. Unsurprisingly, the figure is higher for MBA graduates from elite institutions.

Last year’s Harvard MBA graduates, for instance, had a median compensation package of US$172,090, up a healthy 7.4% over totals just the year before, according to Poets & Quants.

Common MBA concentrations

Some of the common MBA concentrations include general management, entrepreneurship, finance and strategy. Here’s an overview of what they entail:

General management 

If you’re looking for an MBA programme that provides you with a broad overview of management skills and business fundamentals, this would be it. An MBA with a general management focus will expose you to a variety of subjects, including marketing, finance and leadership skills, to name a few. This would prepare you to manage the general operations of a company. 

Entrepreneurship

If you’re an aspiring entrepreneur, an MBA in entrepreneurship can equip you with the knowledge and skills to start your own business and build your professional network. 

You can expect to be exposed to a variety of courses related to entrepreneurship, including topics on venture capital, financing and marketing new ventures, to name a few. Some programmes will also organise talks by industry practitioners to give students deep insights into the field. 

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Finance 

A finance concentration is useful for those interested in advancing their finance careers. Be it banking, financial services or risk management, a finance concentration will help you gain the relevant knowledge and skills that are useful in areas such as investments and portfolio management, to name a few. Come of the courses you’ll be exposed to include business economics and accounting and finance.

Strategy 

Every company needs a strategy, and an MBA with strategic management or strategic planning concentration is useful for managers and business professionals who want to learn to manage projects successfully, or those who want to learn to integrate the right tools and ideas for policies that will benefit the company. 

Students can expect to be exposed to a variety of topics including marketing strategy, managing organisational change and technology strategy, among others.

At the end of the day, which MBA concentration you choose largely depends on your career goals and interest. It pays to know your strengths and weaknesses so you can leverage on your top skills, in addition to thinking deeply about which concentration would give you the best opportunities for career progression to facilitate your decision.