Today's job market is more competitive than ever, which means that it's essential to find new ways to stand out. In the past, obtaining a well-respected degree such as an MBA was enough to give you an edge. However, in recent years, there has been a surge in individuals pursuing master's degrees, with a 43% increase in master's degree holders from 2002 to 2015, with over a quarter of those being business degrees. That means that, while an MBA is still a valuable credential, it's important to find ways to differentiate yourself from other individuals who might hold the same degree.
Differentiating yourself will require some work and thought, but can be done in a variety of ways, including attending an accredited, nonprofit institution; identifying schools that offer MBA programs rooted in real-world application and taught by industry experts; and, once enrolled in an MBA program, choosing one or more MBA specializations to help you gain expertise in specific subject areas. MBA degree concentrations provide you with both the breadth of knowledge delivered by a traditional business degree and the depth and focus you would find in a graduate certificate program, and offer a great way to set yourself apart from the pack when making the next move in your career.
How to Choose MBA Concentrations
There are many different MBA specializations being offered by institutions across the country, so you might be wondering how to choose the right one for you.
The first place to start would be to look at your current career field. If you like what you're doing and want to advance in the same industry, seek out a specialization that will build on your existing professional knowledge. For example, if you work in the human resources department of an organization, an MBA with an HR specialization would be a great fit.
On the other hand, if you are looking to change fields, it would make sense to consider the types of jobs you'd like to have, and pursue a specialization that would help you get there. If you're interest in working in a new role such as supply chain management, an MBA with a specialization in that field will give you the skills you need to make the transition.
Choosing an MBA specialization is also a great opportunity to get a formal education in a skill you already have, or simply pursue something that interests you. Perhaps you've always considered yourself a good mediator - conflict management might be right for you. Or maybe you want to learn how to become a great leader - luckily, some MBA programs offer a specialization in leadership.
No matter what your interests or goals are, chances are, you can find an MBA specialization that will fit your needs.
Top 10 MBA Specializations in Demand
In addition to finding an MBA specialization that is of interest to you personally and professionally, it's a good idea to think about which MBA specializations are in demand in today's business world. While any concentration will help strengthen your candidacy for a new role, here are some of the best MBA concentrations for career growth.
1. MBA Concentration in Healthcare Administration
Healthcare administration is one of the fastest-growing careers today, with a 20% forecast for growth between 2016 and 2026. If you work in the healthcare field but want to move up the ladder in your organization, an MBA in Healthcare Administration will help you develop both the critical business skills and essential healthcare knowledge you'll need.
2. MBA with Concentration in Advanced Management
While an MBA itself will give you a strong foundation of technical skills and business knowledge, it's never a bad idea to dive deeper into more sophisticated management techniques, which will be useful in any professional context. An MBA in Advanced Management builds on the courses of a traditional MBA with more focused coursework on essential business skills such as project management and negotiation - skills that will serve you well throughout the rest of your career.
3. MBA Concentration in Information Security
In today's technology-driven world, information security is becoming an essential component of many jobs, even those that are not directly in the information security field. Having key information security skills is a great way to differentiate your skillset and carve out a unique role for yourself within your organization. On the other hand, if you're an IT professional looking to grow in your career, an MBA in Information Security will provide you with a valuable, industry-specific credential in addition to giving you a broad base of business knowledge, qualifying you for a wider range of positions.
4. MBA Concentration in Organization Development
Though organizational development doesn't have the same name recognition as some other fields, it's one you shouldn't ignore. If you have an interest in human resources but want to focus on change management, leadership, and organizational behavior, this is the field for you! Obtaining an MBA in Organization Development is a great way to gain experience in a new field, and to gain a diverse skillset applicable to a number of different roles.
5. MBA Concentration in Human Resources
As the role of the HR department evolves in modern businesses, human resource professionals with broad, business-focused skillsets are in increasingly high demand. An MBA in Human Resources goes beyond traditional HR degree programs to teach students how to align HR management and priorities with business strategy in the name of organizational growth. This degree is a great choice for HR professionals looking to gain more general business knowledge, or for business professionals looking to transition into a human resources career.
6. MBA Concentration in Supply Chain Management
Supply chain managers work in nearly every industry - any business that delivers a product to a consumer will need someone with this skillset. Gain both the fundamentals of supply chain management and a strong business foundation with an MBA in Supply Chain Management.
7. MBA Concentration in Leadership
Leadership skills are beneficial to virtually every business professional, no matter where you fall on the organizational chart or what your position is. Even if you aren't officially a manager, having an understanding of what makes a good leader, and incorporating those qualities into your own skillset, is extremely valuable in today's business world. This is especially true if you have ambitions of supervising a team or becoming a part of an organization's C-suite or leadership team. An MBA in Leadership will help you become a truly well-rounded business professional, poised for advancement in your career.
8. MBA with Concentration in Employment Law
If you have an interest in employment law but prefer the broad applicability of a business degree to the relative risk of a law degree, pursuing an MBA in Employment Law is a smart way to gain the experience you need in this important field while also earning a set of highly marketable business skills. This degree is especially suited for human resources professionals who would like to differentiate their skillset and find a role in a niche market of the HR field.
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