Earning a master's in business administration can give your career a major boost. And the right MBA concentration may translate into more job opportunities and a higher salary.

Most business schools offer concentrations, also known as specializations or tracks, for MBA students. Common MBA concentrations include finance, marketing, management, and strategy. During a concentration, MBA students take core business classes along with courses in their specialization area.

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A concentration prepares graduates for focused career paths. This guide walks through popular concentrations, including career paths and earning potential.

Popular Master's in Business Administration Concentrations

Finance

An MBA in finance covers topics like investment management, corporate finance, and financial institutions. MBA students learn about capital markets, portfolio management, and international finance. The concentration also includes internship opportunities in finance. As one of the most popular MBA concentrations, finance prepares graduates for management-level roles in financial services organizations, or financial management roles in any industry.

Common Careers:

  • Financial manager
  • Director of finances
  • Financial consultant
  • Chief financial officer

Average Salary (Payscale, July 2022): $102,000


Management

A concentration in management emphasizes leadership principles and the best practices for managing teams effectively. MBA students explore project management, team motivation, and business analytics. The concentration also examines business ethics and competitive advantages. While many business schools offer a management concentration, a general MBA also emphasizes management.

Common Careers:

  • General manager
  • Operations manager
  • Business operations manager
  • Project manager
  • Product manager

Average Salary (Payscale, July 2022): $89,000


Marketing

An MBA in marketing helps professionals break into the field or advance from entry-level roles to supervisory positions. The marketing concentration strengthens research and analytical skills. Learners gain an understanding of marketing strategy, data analytics, and brand management. The concentration also emphasizes innovation and product development.

Common Careers:

  • Marketing manager
  • Chief marketing officer
  • Marketing communication director
  • Advertising manager

Average Salary (Payscale, July 2022): $96,000


International Business

The growing global business field requires focused training. During an MBA in international business, students explore the global economy and business management for international organizations. Key topics include supply chain management, global business development, and international marketing. A concentration in international business leads to opportunities in finance, marketing, management, and entrepreneurship.

Common Careers:

  • Business development manager
  • Supply chain manager
  • Risk manager
  • Global project manager

Average Salary (Payscale, July 2022): $99,000


Entrepreneurship

In an entrepreneurship MBA, graduate students gain leadership, innovation, and entrepreneurial skills. The curriculum emphasizes topics like launching a new venture, securing funding, and growing established businesses. Students explore venture capital, business development, financial principles, and consulting. While people can start a business without an MBA, the degree provides valuable training for entrepreneurs.

Common Careers:

  • Chief executive officer
  • Business development director
  • Management consultant
  • Senior venture associate

Average Salary (Payscale, July 2022): $103,000

Which MBA Concentration Is Right for Me?

An MBA concentration can help you stand out on the job market. But what concentration should you choose? And when is it better to earn a general MBA rather than specializing?

You should consider several factors when picking your concentration. For example, what are your interests and strengths? What careers do you have in mind after completing an MBA? If you can't answer these questions yet, take core MBA classes your first term and then choose a concentration.

Demand and earning potential can also help you choose a specialization. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the highest-paying positions for business professionals are management analysts and financial professionals. This makes management and finance two of the highest-paying MBA concentrations. According to Payscale, marketing and international business are also high-paying specializations.

How To Choose an MBA Concentration

  • What are your interests? If you're exceptional at strategic thinking, consider a consulting, marketing, or entrepreneurship concentration. A general or management MBA appeals to those with varied interests.
  • What are your strengths? Strong technical abilities can help you in a technology management concentration, while language skills benefit an international business concentration.
  • What are your career goals? A concentration can help you pursue MBA jobs in focused areas. If you want to work in finance, a finance concentration gives you a head start.

Frequently Asked Questions About Popular MBA Concentrations

Which MBA concentration pays the most?

According to Payscale data from July 2022, the highest-paying MBA concentration is finance. With a finance MBA, graduates report base salaries in the six figures.

Other high-paying concentrations include general management, consulting, economics, and marketing. When evaluating concentrations, MBA students can consider factors such as earning potential, program options, and their strengths. For example, while a concentration in technology management offers high starting salaries, it might not match every student's strengths.

What is the best MBA concentration?

The best MBA concentration depends on your strengths and career goals. Some of the most popular specializations include finance, marketing, management, entrepreneurship, and international business. By choosing a popular concentration, graduates prepare for in-demand careers. For example, a finance concentration can lead to a financial manager career. The BLS projects these professionals to grow by 17% from 2020-2030, which exceeds the average growth rate of 8% for all jobs.

Other common concentrations include human resources, technology management, healthcare management, and consulting. Prospective students can choose their business school based on its concentration options.

What types of jobs can you get with an MBA?

An MBA prepares professionals for management occupations. Common titles include financial manager, sales manager, HR manager, or public relations manager. These career paths report six-figure median salaries and strong projected job growth.

According to BLS data, management occupations paid a median wage of $102,450 in 2021, or more than double the median for all occupations. Management careers are the highest-paying occupational group tracked by the BLS. In addition, the field projects over 900,000 new jobs from 2020-2030, as new companies form and existing organizations expand. An MBA trains professionals for these roles.

Should I get a specialized or a general MBA?

Earning a specialized MBA can prepare you for specific career paths. For example, a human resources management concentration leads to careers as an HR manager or compensation and benefits manager. Similarly, a healthcare management concentration prepares graduates for healthcare executive roles.

However, students can also earn a general MBA, which covers key management and leadership skills. Those with interests in several fields may benefit from a general MBA, which also leaves flexibility to change fields. Those with focused career goals can find the training of a specialized MBA more relevant to their professional goals.

Do employers care which MBA concentration I get?

Employers may use MBA concentrations to screen employees or decide which employees best match a job posting. Furthermore, an MBA concentration often includes an internship in the specialization area, which sets graduates up to work in related fields.

However, an MBA concentration does not limit your options to one specific field. Instead, candidates can demonstrate transferable skills or highlight their experience in multiple fields. Similarly, those with a general MBA can pursue opportunities in many industries. While an MBA concentration focuses your degree and provides specialized training, it does not prohibit other post-college career paths.

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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