MBA Concentrations

The best MBA concentrations help students develop skills beyond the realm of business. Explore strategies for picking an MBA concentration and discover the highest-paying options.
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Updated on December 21, 2023
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Business degrees are among the most popular options for learners interested in pursuing graduate school. According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), colleges in the United States awarded some 202,300 master of business (MBA) degrees in 2020-2021. And globally, MBA programs continue to be extremely popular.

With dozens of concentrations, this popular field prepares students for various occupations. Nearly 10 million individuals work in business and financial operations occupations in the U.S., according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). MBA concentrations may help you stand out when applying for high-level roles or more specific positions. For instance, if you want to become a financial manager, you can earn an MBA in finance.

In this guide, we discuss the best MBA concentrations, how to choose one, and how specializations can lead to highest-paying careers.

Featured Online MBA Programs

Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.

How Do You Choose a Concentration?

When you submit your application to business school, you'll have the opportunity to select from any available MBA concentrations.

Picking a concentration is not always required — you may be able to simply complete the general MBA track. If you are unsure about your decision, consider how each concentration could open opportunities for internships and train you for your future career. While not always mandatory, an MBA concentration can provide you with the educational background to compete for in-demand jobs and/or earn post-graduate certificates. MBA concentrations can particularly help career switchers to get their footing in a new industry.

What are you interested in? If you have a passion for data, choose a specialty in business analytics. Those with the digital skills to engage target markets may want to consider an MBA in marketing. See more concentration recommendations based on the interest in the table below.

Choosing a Concentration
If your interests are… Then Choose …
Extracting and analyzing big data sets to help businesses profit Business analytics
Medical administration and leadership Healthcare management
Dissecting customer behavior and human psychology Marketing
All things property management and mortgage markets Real estate
Employee relations and interpersonal skills Human resources
Science or tech Technology management
Organizational leadership and international finance Economics
Employing marketing strategies to meet organizational goals Strategy
Sources: AACSB & NCES

High-Paying MBA Concentrations

MBA concentrations can lead to diverse career paths, with some resulting in higher earnings than others. Discover the top 10 MBA concentrations in this table, covering high-paying careers like business analytics and finance. We highlight potential career outcomes and salary expectations that correlate to the best MBA concentrations.

Business Analytics

By pursuing a concentration in business analytics, you'll learn to analyze large datasets and make informed business recommendations. The coursework in this concentration often covers subjects like business forecasting, predictive business analytics, and data mining.

Potential Careers

  • Marketing Research Analyst
    • Median Salary: $68,230 (BLS, May 2022)
  • Business Analyst
    • Median Salary: $95,290 (BLS, May 2022)
  • Supply Chain Analyst
    • Median Salary: $77,520 (BLS, May 2022)

Featured Online Master's in Data Analytics Programs

Cybersecurity

Learn how to help businesses protect their computer systems and data from potential cyberattacks by earning an MBA in cybersecurity. The concentration covers the laws and history of cybersecurity crimes as well as the technical skills needed to perform network management and identify vulnerabilities.

The BLS projects 32% job growth for information security analysts from 2022-2032.

Potential Careers

  • Information Security Analyst
    • Median Salary: $112,000 (BLS, May 2022)
  • Network Security Analyst
    • Average Salary: $76,790 (Payscale, November 2023)

Featured Online Master's in Cyber Security Programs

Finance

Earning a concentration in finance gives you the expertise to analyze financial statements and make investments for private and public entities. In this concentration, you will learn about mergers and acquisitions, capital markets, asset pricing, and data analysis in finance. These topics can prepare you for your future career by teaching you how to use financial theory to develop business strategies.

Potential Careers

  • Financial Advisor
    • Median Salary: $95,390 (BLS, May 2022)
  • Grant Manager
    • Average Salary: $61,640 (Payscale, November 2023)
  • Portfolio Manager
    • Average Salary: $96,350 (Payscale, November 2023)

Featured Online Master's in Finance Programs

Healthcare Management

A healthcare management concentration prepares you to make administrative processes in a medical facility more efficient and effective. For instance, you may learn techniques to implement training programs to help improve patient outcomes.

Courses in this concentration often cover healthcare law, financial management, health policy, and healthcare systems.

Potential Careers

  • Healthcare Administrator
    • Average Salary: $77,850 (Payscale, November 2023)
  • Public health Administrator
    • Average Salary: $65,000 (Payscale, November 2023)

Featured Online Master's in Finance Programs

Human Resources

Human resources managers with an MBA degree have a keen understanding of business and excel in talent recruitment and development. They work in all industries.

The BLS projects positions for human resource managers will grow by 5% from 2022-2032.

Potential Careers

  • Human Resources Manager
    • Median Salary: $130,000 (BLS, May 2022)
  • Compensation and Benefits Manager
    • Median Salary: $131,280 (BLS, May 2022)

Featured Online Master's in Human Resources Programs

Information Technology

Studying a concentration in information technology puts you in a position to help companies reach their organizational goals by maximizing information systems. You'll study IT analysis and design, databases, and data security.

As a computer and information systems manager, you can work in computer systems design, information, finance and insurance, or manufacturing — the largest employers for this occupation.

Potential Careers

  • Database Administrator
    • Median Salary: $99,890 (BLS, May 2022)
  • Computer and Information Systems Managers
    • Median Salary: $164,070 (BLS, May 2022)

Featured Online Master's in IT Programs

International Business

Globalization has made it necessary for business students to learn about international marketing, business laws, culture, and accounting. This concentration readies you to join the global marketplace, either abroad or with an international firm.

Potential Careers

  • Global Marketing Director
    • Average Salary: $151,170 (Payscale, November 2023)
  • Risk Management Director
    • Average Salary: $126,230 (Payscale, November 2023)

Featured Online Master's in International Business Programs

Marketing

MBA in marketing degree holders have the insights to inform business stakeholders about how to better position a company's services and products. Through this concentration, students develop a broad understanding of markets, digital marketing strategies, and brand management.

The BLS projects marketing manager positions will increase by 7% from 2022-2032.

Potential Careers

  • Advertising and Promotions Manager
    • Median Salary: $127,830 (BLS, May 2022)
  • Marketing Director
    • Median Salary: $140,040 (BLS, May 2022)

Featured Online Master's in Marketing Programs

Project Management

An MBA in project management can equip you with Agile project management skills to lead teams in various sectors. You can build your interpersonal skills and learn how to mitigate project risks and help teams maximize their productivity by earning a concentration in project management.

Potential Careers

  • Project Manager
    • Median Salary: $95,370 (BLS, November 2023)
  • Project Analyst
    • Average Salary: $65,200 (Payscale, November 2023)

Featured Online Master's in Management Programs

Real Estate

An MBA in real estate concentration blends real estate finance, law, investment, and development to give you an advanced understanding of the mortgage markets and property management.

Potential Careers

  • Real Estate Analyst
    • Average Salary: $65,284 (Payscale, November 2023)
  • Director of Asset Management
    • Salary: $126,290 (Payscale, November 2023)

Additional Resources for MBA Concentrations

How can you learn more about MBA concentrations? Business schools often outline any available MBA concentrations on their websites. If you can't find information online, admissions officers can help you to identify additional concentrations, minors, or dual degrees.

Reaching out to alumni through campus organizations or social media can also help you better understand the benefits and/or disadvantages of any concentration. Additionally, graduation outcome data can shed light on how well graduates have fared after earning specific degrees.

Growing your network with peers and professionals can also help you to decide on your MBA concentration. Professional organizations such as the American Management Association or specialization organizations like the American Finance Association or American Marketing Association offer student members the chance to connect through local and national events.

Frequently Asked Questions About MBA Concentrations

Do concentrations matter for MBA students?

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MBA concentrations matter if you want specialized training, especially to qualify for certification following graduation. For instance, finance or accounting concentrations may help you qualify for Certified Public Accountant licensure.

How do I stand out with an MBA?

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MBA degree holders can make the most out of their degrees by gaining hands-on experience in their specialty area through internships. You can also stand out by using your online presence to expand your network and make an impression at recruiting events on and off campus.

What are the benefits of MBA concentrations?

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An MBA offers a broad business education, while a concentration allows you to specialize and stand out as an expert in a specific area to hiring managers. With the best MBA concentrations, you can launch a successful career in your chosen field.

What MBA concentration should I choose?

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Your preferences and strengths determine the best MBA concentration for you. For example, those with technical skills and an interest in technology and mathematics should consider earning an MBA concentration in information security or information technology.

BestColleges.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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