Full-time MBA programs offer a wide range of specializations. Depending on school’s policies, you may choose to specialize in either one or two or even none at all. Choosing a specialization should be based on your education and career goals.
Below is a list of most popular specializations.
Information and Technology Management
Human Resource Management
A brief description of each specialization:
Marketing specialization provides you with a knowledge and decision tools to address the marketing challenges faced by firms. The specialization helps you to design and implement the best combination of marketing actions to carry out a firm’s strategy in its target market.
With marketing specialization, you can address issues such as: How do consumers process and evaluate prices, how should a firm set price for new and existing products, how should a firm adapt prices for varying market circumstances, and what is the role of competitors’ prices, etc.
You also get a good understanding of branding: what a brand is, what functions brands serve, and when a branding strategy is relevant for consumers and the firm?
Most the MBA School’s marketing curriculum prepare you for the executive marketing positions – despite the fact that your first job after graduating from the school will be either sales role or a lowly brand assistant at an FMCG company.
Although you can learn a lot in marketing class, no amount of schooling can teach you the experience, the instinct and the creativity of a really skilled marketing professional. That is one of the reasons why a large number of marketing professionals are so highly paid.
Learning finance enables you to put every intuitive business idea to the acid test: Does the idea (eventually) make money?
For any business, having knowledge of finance is critical. Whether it is a question of how to create value or how to understand various drivers of value, you need to have knowledge of finance. It enables you to address issues such as how to finance assets in a business or how to manage risks in a business.
Even for any important ideas such as start-ups or large corporates undertaking organic growth, M&A or international expansion, you need to have a good understanding of finance.
The goal of the finance specialization is to equip you with tools and coherent analytic framework to make financial decisions that create value for shareholders.
Before the 2008 financial crisis, finance was the most sought after career for MBA graduates. Most MBA graduates dreamed of a career on Wall Street. Unfortunately, with the 2008 financial crisis, MBAs are now less likely to choose a career in banking than they were before.
Even though the popularity of finance career has fallen, MBAs are still doing quite well in finance. MBAs from the top business schools still prefer jobs in investment banking and are paid significantly more than their non-MBA peers.
Operations Management courses address the need for actually making products and providing services to the customers.
The success of every organization depends upon its ability to attract and retain customers. This requires providing them with products and services that yield higher levels of customer satisfaction than the competition.
With ever-increasing competition in today's domestic and global markets, customer expectations regarding product price, quality, variety, and availability keep rising. In order to acquire and sustain a competitive advantage in the marketplace, an organization must continuously maintain and improve its product and service offerings along these four dimensions valued by customers.
Operations management is concerned with the planning and control of an organization’s business processes that transform available materials into desired products and services by means of the capital equipment and human resources on hand.
This specialization provides a critical understanding of process management concepts that enable an organization to acquire and sustain a competitive advantage through operational excellence.
The strategy specialization is the most exciting set of courses in the MBA curriculum because it gives you the chance to put all your new skills to work.
Strategy courses help you analyze a business in relations to its industry, its competitors, and the business environment in both the short-term and the long-term. Ultimately, the strategy is a company’s plan to achieve its goals.
With strategy specialization, you will be able to understand the competitive strategy of the firm and examine issues central to a firm’s long- and short-term competitive position.
In a typical strategy class, students are placed in the role of key decision makers and asked to address questions related to the creation or reinforcement of competitive advantage.
You get to examine how changes in the industry and the environmental impact a firm’s competitive position.
You also examine how strategy differs in global contexts and how resource allocation in a diversified firm enhances competitive advantage in each market.
This specialization is intended to provide prospective entrepreneurs with information and tools for managing strategic challenges involved in building and managing startups.
These include evaluating opportunities, how to choose markets for entry, the resources and capabilities that will be required to enter and provide a platform for future growth, which business model to choose, how to manage cash burn rates, and exit strategies etc.
Although the specialization focuses on ventures with high "upside" potential such as those in computer, software, pharmaceuticals, biotechnology, telecom & communications equipment industries, it will provide background essential to entrepreneurial ventures of all types.
The entrepreneurship specialization addresses the needs of students who either hope to pursue start-up opportunities upon graduation, or those in preparation for entrepreneurial activities at later career stages.
It combines the findings from economics, organizational behavior, and business strategy to provide a rigorous foundation for the evaluation of entrepreneurial opportunities.
After completing the courses, you will have a great understanding of topics such as creation and recognition of opportunities, the advantages, and disadvantages of entrants and incumbents in an industry, issues associated with hiring for startups, positioning in a value chain and business models.
Information and Technology Management
Information Technology (IT) is fast changing the world around us. As a forward-thinking executive of tomorrow’s businesses, it is essential that you develop an understanding of emerging technological trends and enablers and their potential business impact.
Information and Technology Management specialization aims to provide you an understanding of technology-enabled changes in the business environment and how insightful executives leverage IT to create value and win competitive advantage.
This specialization helps you to explore the business drivers of technology-related decisions in firms and stimulate thought on new applications of technology for commerce, including new products, processes and business models (that are often very disruptive).
It focuses on the industry impacts of technological innovation. You explore competition and business models in the high-tech industry using examples of companies like Google, Apple, and Facebook.
You also explore competitive dynamics of industries that consume significant technology with an emphasis on how technology has disrupted industries such as music, media, and education.
You learn how technology helps firms build information capabilities to transform the efficiency of their value chain.
Human Resources Management
Human Resource Management refers to the policies, practices, and systems that influence employees’ behavior, attitudes, and performance in an organization.
The HR department in an organization is responsible for recruitment, labor law compliance, record keeping, compensation, and some aspect of benefits administration. The department collaborates with other functions on employment interviewing, performance management and discipline, and efforts to improve quality and productivity of employees.
With HR specialization, you learn the role and skills that a human resource management department and/or managers need for any company to be competitive. You get to know how to be successful HRM professionals manage human resource effectively and be a knowledgeable consumer of HRM products.
Through case studies, you examine how the HRM functions, as well as how the management of human resources can help companies gain a competitive advantage.
The specialization covers courses issues such as finding and keeping talented employees, diversity and employee engagement, all of which have a major impact on business and HRM practices.
Image Credit: London Business School