How To Choose An MBA Specialization

The Masters of Business Administration degree has always served as a vehicle for professionals looking to improve their job related skills set or to increase their employment opportunities. The core coursework in the MBA program is a way for people to distinguish themselves based on their advanced knowledge and training. However, as with many college and university programs, there is an elective component to any MBA program.

In order to add value to the student, many business schools allow for the clustering of electives into a coherent group. This grouping, referred to as a specialization, allows the student to develop a heightened specific knowledge base in areas related to business functioning. However, it does create questions regarding how to choose an MBA specialization. Business master’s degree candidates should consider both their current job function and their career goals as they choose from the list of available specializations.


MBA candidates who choose to specialize in marketing will spend their time learning about the habits of consumers and specific markets. This specialized knowledge will give the executive a competitive advantage in positions dealing with branding, market placement and advertising. Media strategy and next-generation advertising theory are also major topics of study.

Upon completion, the MBA with a marketing specialization allows executives to succeed in positions with advertising agencies as well as in the advertising and marketing departments in many businesses. For candidates who work in a marketing related field or who wish to move into marketing as a profession, this specialization is a great foundation. Many executives find the marketing specialization as a great way to demonstrate value to their employer.


For many professionals, the MBA with a specialization in finance serves as a way to improve their understanding of how financial markets operate. Since so many functions of a business are dependent on the accurate and timely use of these markets, the finance specialization is a useful specialization for people who work with investments and money markets as a primary function of their job.

Banks and corporations alike tend to utilize experts in financial markets. This degree track also helps pave the way to careers in real estate, sales and other areas involving financing and asset management. It is especially applicable to professionals in the investing and trading sector, where this specialized knowledge is indispensable.

Global Business

With so many industries becoming truly global endeavors, executives are required to possess an increasing awareness of global business practices and ethics. The global business specialization allows executives to increase their understanding of the forces at work in a global marketplace. It also allows students to prepare for both the challenges and opportunities that a global marketplace represents.

For individuals looking to become entrepreneurs, this specialization is a welcome addition to the available courses of study. With the internet making international commerce much more accessible to smaller organizations, a global business understanding can help start ups and conglomerates alike. This course of study is also appropriate for executives looking to move into government and politics.


Organizational change and improvement is a difficult business. The leadership specialization allows students to develop their leadership capacities and their ability to move an organization through the change and improvement process. Since many mid and upper level managers are required to develop strategic plans, collaborate with specialists and manage the attainment of improvement targets, this coursework helps demonstrate knowledge of these fundamental capacities.

When students seek the leadership specialization, they are typically looking to move into management and consulting capacities. As a result, this is often chosen by employees looking to move up in their current organization. Also, consulting is reportedly one of the highest salaried positions resulting from the MBA

Law and Business

This specialization is often chosen by people with a law background or who wish to move into a legal capacity. In fact, many business schools offer this coursework as a joint degree with a JD/MBA combination. An increased emphasis is placed on research for this coursework, since that competency is vital to the legal process.

A primary position for executives choosing the law and business specialization is government, with fiscal oversight and financial positions in civil agencies being primary destinations. For those who choose to obtain the JD as well, they can expect to work in corporate and financial law, as well as consulting with the legal aspect behind mergers and acquisitions.

Business Analytics

With data collection and analysis tools becoming widespread, intelligent executives must learn ways to deal effectively with the proper use of data with regards to planning and assessment. The business analytics specialization shows students what is currently used to collect market and production data, and also establishes a background for the effective use of data.

Upon completion, students are well equipped to serve in a wide range of capacities. These range from marketing and branding to risk management. Since data is at the core of most business functions in today’s workplace, a background in business analytics is a valuable asset to almost every executive.

While this is not a comprehensive list of the specializations that are found in most MBA programs, it demonstrates the requirement for degree candidates to carefully consider their options. With most programs allowing anywhere from 1-3 specializations, the choice must be made carefully and with future occupational goals in mind.