Which MBA Concentration Pays the Most?

MBA programs offer concentrations in a number of high-paying, fast-growing areas.
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Updated on April 26, 2024
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Managerial roles are set for rapid growth over the next decade. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects roughly 1.1 million openings in management occupations yearly over the next decade. These professionals earned a median annual salary of $116,880 as of May 2023, according to the BLS.

A master of business administration (MBA) can help you rise through the ranks to work in management. MBAs are often geared toward working professionals and cover a broad range of business topics, like finance, accounting, marketing, and more.

MBAs also often include more specialized instruction to help students tailor their degrees to a specific field or industry. From supply chain management to finance and more, MBA programs often give students access to concentrations that help them hone their skills and boost their career prospects.

Read on to learn more about high-paying MBA concentrations, as well as potential jobs and salary expectations.

What Are the Components of the Best MBA Concentrations?

Top schools often gear their MBA concentration options toward industry trends. However, even a traditional concentration like finance or economics incorporates high-demand skill sets like data analytics and digital marketing.

Some concentrations go a step further and focus on an even more specific field. A concentration in fintech supply chain, for example, focuses on data and other business skills as they relate to logistics and procurement.

Online and part-time MBA programs also offer MBA concentrations in a wide range of areas, including fast-growing fields like business analytics, artificial intelligence, and more. Those programs are often geared toward professionals who want to keep working while earning their degrees, and the built-in flexibility lets students work toward career advancement without pausing their careers.

MBA Salary Expectations

An MBA prepares graduates for leadership and management jobs, and choosing an in-demand concentration may translate to a higher salary.

According to the Graduate Management Admission Council's 2023 Corporate Recruiters Survey, recruiters planned to offer new MBA hires an average starting salary of $122,000 that year. Those with MBA concentrations may be offered more.

However, prospective MBA students must weigh their earning potential against the cost of an MBA. Before applying to MBA programs, research the earning potential with different concentrations to determine your return on investment.

Highest-Paying MBA Concentrations

From traditional fields like finance to emerging areas like cybersecurity, business schools offer a host of specializations in a number of industries to help prepare students for leadership roles.

Finance

An MBA in finance typically involves advanced study about managing the finances of a business, with courses in areas like data analytics and financial management. Students learn about corporate finance, portfolio management, and other key areas to prepare to manage a business’s money.

Common Careers

  • Financial manager
  • Financial analyst
  • Finance director

Salary Expectations

Marketing

A marketing MBA hones in on sales, advertising, and digital marketing to prepare students to effectively advertise a business. Classes focus on key areas in the field of marketing, including online advertising, social media, and digital strategy. A marketing MBA features a heavy focus on effective communication to prepare students for a rapidly changing marketing environment.

Common Careers

  • Advertising director
  • Marketing director
  • Social media manager

Salary Expectations

Entrepreneurship

An entrepreneurship MBA prepares students to run their own businesses. In addition to its broad-based business curriculum, entrepreneurship concentrations often include specialized areas based around starting a new venture, including an overview of the legal and regulatory landscape, courses on funding a new venture, and more.

Common Careers

  • Chief executive officer
  • Project manager
  • Chief operations officer

Salary Expectations

Strategy

A strategy concentration can help prepare MBA students for careers in the lucrative consulting industry. Strategy MBAs feature courses in data analytics, business management, finance, and more to help prepare students for intensive planning and strategic decision-making.

Common Careers

  • Consultant
  • Operations manager
  • Product manager

Salary Expectations

Healthcare Management

The healthcare industry is rapidly growing — and so is the demand for leaders in that fast-paced field. A healthcare management MBA includes instruction in healthcare-specific sectors, including the unique regulatory and legal requirements of healthcare organizations.

Common Careers

  • Healthcare administrator
  • Practice manager
  • Executive director

Salary Expectations

Economics

While an MBA in finance focuses largely on money as it pertains to a specific business, an economics concentration takes a more macro approach. Students learn about the economy and how businesses fit into the bigger picture. Courses in data analysis as it pertains to economics prepare students to strategize and predict potential headwinds that could affect their business or industry.

Common Careers

  • Economist
  • Financial analyst
  • Management consultant

Salary Expectations

Business Analytics

Businesses across sectors are grappling with an ever-increasing trove of data. Business analysts help businesses manage and interpret that data in order to make informed decisions. An MBA in business analytics brings a heavy focus to data-driven decision-making to prepare students for key analyst roles across industries.

Common Careers

  • Business analyst
  • Management analyst
  • Market research analyst

Salary Expectations

Cybersecurity

Cybersecurity is a rapidly growing field as businesses across industries look to shore up their data against attacks. With cyberattacks on the rise, an MBA in cybersecurity can help students step into leadership roles in that high-demand field. A number of business schools have rolled out cybersecurity MBA concentrations, with a curriculum focusing on how to address information security needs across sectors and adapt to an ever-changing cybersecurity landscape.

Common Careers

  • Information security analyst
  • Information technology consultant
  • Cybersecurity analyst

Salary Expectations

Supply Chain Management

Demand for logisticians is skyrocketing, with the BLS projecting that demand for supply chain management experts will see meteoric growth over the next decade. The COVID-19 pandemic put a spotlight on the need for supply managers, and a variety of MBA programs help prepare students for that role. Supply chain management MBA concentrations usually focus on global and regional supply chains and data analytics to help students prepare for analytical, logistics-focused supply chain roles.

Common Careers

  • Logistician
  • Procurement director
  • Supply chain analyst

Salary Expectations

How Should I Choose an MBA Specialization?

Choosing an MBA concentration will shape your time in business school and your career opportunities. So how should you choose your specialization?

First, start researching concentration options early. When researching MBA programs, look into their specializations and the requirements for different options. Does the program require a set curriculum or offer electives within the specialization? Do you need to declare a concentration on your MBA application?

Some applicants already know their concentration before applying. If you're less sure, take core classes during your first term to learn more about the specialization options. Research internship opportunities in different concentrations. It's also a good idea to compare your MBA salary potential with each concentration.

The average MBA salary varies by career path. Still, the best MBA specialization in terms of salary might not be the right option for you. Instead of purely deciding based on earning potential, consider your strengths, interests, and program options.

Frequently Asked Questions About High-Paying MBA Concentrations

Do concentrations matter for an MBA?

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A concentration can help an MBA graduate break into a new field or boost their career at their existing job. Earning a concentration in an area set for growth over the next decade, like supply chain management, or in an area with a high-demand skill set for employers, like business analytics, can help bolster graduates' job prospects.

Is it better to get a general MBA or a concentration?

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Choosing to pursue a general MBA or adding a concentration ultimately depends on a student's career goals. An MBA concentration is offered in addition to the general MBA curriculum, so students will still get the broad, overarching business focus of an MBA if they choose a concentration.

What is the easiest MBA to get?

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A growing number of small business schools offer online MBA programs geared toward working professionals. These programs focus on flexibility without sacrificing their core curriculum but aren't necessarily as time-consuming and intensive as a full-time program at an elite university.

What is the hardest MBA to get?

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While intensive, full-time MBA programs at top universities are more difficult to get into and more expensive, they can also lead to a high return on investment and rare networking opportunities. A number of top business schools reported six-figure salaries and high job acceptance rates for their 2023 graduates.

Which MBA concentrations make the most money?

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MBA concentrations in high-demand fields like business analytics and supply chain management can set students up for high-paying jobs in fast-growing fields, but traditional MBA concentrations can also lead to a powerful return on investment. An MBA in strategy, for instance, can set students up for lucrative consulting jobs.

Note: The insights on this page — excluding school descriptions — were reviewed by an independent third party compensated for their time by BestColleges. Page last reviewed April 19, 2024.

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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