The Master of Business Administration degree, otherwise known as an MBA, has long been considered a generalist graduate degree that can be applied in a number of different ways. However, the program offers a number of different ways to specialize, in many ways obtaining an education similar to a major in undergraduate college programs. These specializations can be anything from finance to marketing to accounting to organizational management to law. The ability to earn a specialization just depends on what kind of a program is offered by a particular university.
The Finance or Accounting Specialization
Many MBA programs offered provide a finance or accounting specialization, which essentially means using one’s elective classes to meet a higher than normal level of financing and accounting classes. While the specialization is not the same as a full program in the topic, the number of classes taken and type using electives does make the specialization pretty close to a related science degree. These advanced classes can often include investment strategy, portfolio finance, capital finance, and quantitative finance for the finance specialization. The accounting side often includes classes in advanced indirect costing and rate building, audits, advanced statistics, trend analysis, international accounting, CPA preparation, and GAAP specialization.
The Marketing Specialization
Unlike the money-related specializations, the market specialization focuses on the multiple areas of brand and product awareness development. This specialization often focuses on bridging the gap between advertising and statistical marketing research. The goal is to use consumer and market data to make better choices in brand and product awareness, which hopefully increases sales and revenue. Students are often challenged with projects to apply the theories learned, working in teams to develop marketing and advertising campaigns intended to meet specific goals and results. The specialization in turn is designed to make a manager adept at basic marketing or to prepare an employee for a role as a marketing research analyst.
The MBA-Law Approach
Many larger universities and schools operate partnerships with regional law schools to offer specialized joint degrees between MBA and JD (law school degree) programs. This type of joint degree is intended to create an adept business lawyer who can easily graduate into a corporate counsel role or working as a contract lawyer. Alternatively, such a graduate could also work in a regulatory role, performing legal reviews and investigations of businesses to make sure they are in compliance with various business laws. Students often take both programs simultaneously, performing one set of classes during the morning and then migrating to the other school’s program in the afternoon. It’s a far more challenging education, but joint degree MBAs often catch an employer’s attention with their combined skillset.
There are more unique specializations available, depending on what different school programs offer. Because of this approach, it’s important for a student looking for a particular MBA degree to do research ahead of time before applying to a particular school’s program. There’s no point in earning an MBA from a school that doesn’t offer the particular specialization desired. Further, many school programs don’t allow transfers in graduate programs, restricting degrees to students who have gone through their entire program from beginning to end. So choosing the right school from the beginning is critical if a particular MBA degree is desired.