An MBA degree can increase your earning potential and advance your career. Choosing the right concentration will shape your job search and professional opportunities. This guide introduces 20 popular MBA concentrations, including possible career paths, courses, and areas of emphasis for each concentration.
What is an MBA concentration?
An MBA concentration provides focused training in a single area of business. Most MBA programs offer specializations in areas like accounting, finance, and marketing. Other options include strategy, supply chain management, and international business.
Business schools specialize in different concentrations. Some MBA programs only offer a general track without concentrations, while others let students choose electives or a specialization.
Prospective students researching MBA programs often face a key question: What type of MBA should they get? Fortunately, applicants typically do not have to declare a concentration. In most MBA programs, incoming students complete core courses during their first year. After gaining foundational skills, they specialize their coursework by choosing an MBA concentration. Still, applicants should research MBA concentrations to make sure their potential business schools offer options that match their interests and goals.
Advantages of choosing an MBA concentration
- MBA concentrations build specialized skills in high-demand areas like human resources management, project management, and finance.
- Students with limited work experience gain the knowledge required to enter their desired industry. For example, a healthcare management concentration helps professionals without healthcare experience enter the field.
- Concentrations build technical skills in growing areas like cybersecurity and information technology management.
- Concentrations offer specialized internship opportunities in each student’s target industry. Theoretical and experiential training in a concentration helps graduates launch their careers.
20 MBA concentrations to choose from
Graduate business students choose from over a dozen MBA concentrations. While not every MBA program offers each of the following concentrations, students can use this list to find a good fit for their career goals.
- Relevant careers: Certified public accountant; chief financial officer; director of accounting
- Example electives: Financial reporting; tax strategy for businesses; managerial accounting
An accounting MBA provides advanced training in managerial accounting, capital budgeting, and financial reporting. In addition to core business courses in marketing, finance, and management, accounting students study public accounting, business taxation policies, and auditing. The degree meets the requirements for a CPA license.
- Relevant careers: Management consultant; business consultant; strategy consultant
- Example electives: Corporate strategy; strategic innovation; advanced consulting frameworks
A consulting MBAstrengthens strategic analysis, problem-solving, and consulting skills. MBA students complete project-based assignments, including case studies, to identify inefficiencies and recommend business strategies. The degree also trains students in consulting needs for different industries.
- Relevant careers: Cybersecurity manager; information security manager; chief information security officer
- Example electives: Foundations of information security; cybersecurity policy; information security and risk management
A cybersecurity MBAtrains students in information assurance, cybersecurity risk management, and information technology management. By combining core business classes with specialized cybersecurity coursework, students learn how to protect business information from cyberattacks and develop information assurance policies.
- Relevant careers: Business owner; development manager; venture capital partner
- Example electives: Venture capital and financing new enterprises; innovation and entrepreneurship; strategic leadership
An entrepreneurship MBA trains students in how to launch new business ventures, grow emerging businesses, and identify innovative opportunities. During an entrepreneurship concentration, learners design business plans, research venture capital financing, and build organizational leadership skills. After completing the degree, graduates establish new businesses, work in development, and apply entrepreneurial skills in consulting roles.
- Relevant careers: Chief executive officer; chief financial officer; director of operations
- Example electives: Strategic competitive analysis; managerial effectiveness; organizational leadership
An executive MBA trains students who enter the program with significant management experience. Focused on strengthening executive-level skills, learners advance their team leadership, strategic decision-making, and management abilities. The concentration helps current managers advance to senior leadership roles.
- Relevant careers: Financial manager; risk manager; chief financial officer
- Example electives: Corporate finance; investment and portfolio management; financial risk management
An MBA in finance explores key issues in the financial sector, such as investment management, financial markets, and corporate finance. While strengthening analytical and decision-making skills, learners also take courses in international finance, risk analysis, and investment strategy. The degree leads to careers in financial management.
- Relevant careers: Hospital administrator; medical practice manager; health information manager
- Example electives: Healthcare management; healthcare finance; healthcare informatics
A healthcare MBAprepares students for executive roles in the healthcare industry. Learners study finance in the healthcare industry, data analytics and informatics, and healthcare management. By combining core business classes with specialized coursework on healthcare leadership, students graduate ready for careers in the in-demand field of healthcare management.
- Relevant careers: Human resources manager; training and development manager; compensation and benefits manager
- Example electives: Strategic human resources management; employment law for human resources managers; labor relations
A human resources MBA takes a strategic approach to managing an organization’s resources. In addition to courses in organizational behavior, finance, and management, students explore leadership, employee development, and labor relations. The degree prepares graduates for roles in human resources management.
- Relevant careers: Information technology manager; information security manager; IT project manager
- Example electives: Strategic management of technology; information technology project management; data analytics
An MBA in information technology combines business training with technology. The concentration trains students to forecast an organization’s technology needs, manage IT projects, and think strategically about the uses of technology. The degree also builds strong decision-making, leadership, and project management skills.
- Relevant careers: Business development manager; government affairs director; global logistics manager
- Example electives: International financial policy; global corporate finance; emerging global markets
An international business MBA explores global financial markets, government regulations, and international supply chains. Students examine financial policies, corporate strategies in international settings, and emerging markets. Many international business programs incorporate overseas study to gain hands-on experience in global business settings.
- Relevant careers: Management consultant; general manager; management analyst
- Example electives: Strategic management; managerial economics; organizational behavior
All MBA concentrations emphasize management skills. However, a management concentration offers focused training in leadership and decision-making. During a management MBA, students explore leadership techniques, motivating teams, and managerial problem-solving. The concentration also emphasizes management in diverse industries and roles.
- Relevant careers: Marketing manager; marketing director; advertising manager
- Example electives: Consumer behavior; global marketing management; digital marketing
A marketing MBA strengthens analytical, research, and strategic abilities. Learners take courses in data analytics, competitor research, and marketing management to build these skills. Other topics include brand management, advertising, and international marketing. The concentration prepares graduates for decision-making roles in marketing.
Nonprofit business management
- Relevant careers: Development manager; nonprofit director; fundraising manager
- Example electives: Strategic fundraising; nonprofit financial management; marketing for nonprofit organizations
A nonprofit business management MBA brings together corporate, public administration, and nonprofit management approaches. Students explore concepts like nonprofit grant writing and fundraising, leadership in the nonprofit sector, and nonprofit budgeting. Graduates work in executive roles in nonprofit organizations.
Operations management/supply chain management
- Relevant careers: Operations manager; supply chain manager; global logistics manager
- Example electives: Strategic supply chain management; sourcing and procurement; competitive strategy
An MBA in operations management or supply chain management emphasizes innovative approaches to logistics. Students explore storage, transportation, and distribution needs. They also study strategic sourcing, data analytics, and operational leadership to work in diverse roles from logistics manager to operations manager.
- Relevant careers: Management analyst; training and development manager; executive
- Example electives: Organizational behavior; strategic change; leadership of teams
MBA concentrations in organizational leadership train students in strategic decision-making, employee development, and leadership techniques. Students learn how to shepherd organizations through changes, analyze progress toward organizational goals, and improve organizational effectiveness. Graduates work in several roles, including in human resources, consulting, and senior management.
- Relevant careers: Project manager; program manager; project management consultant
- Example electives: Leadership of teams; project management; strategic decision-making
A project management MBA concentration emphasizes teamwork, planning, and completing projects. Students explore project-based business models, learn how to manage teams, and study evidence-based project management strategies. The concentration also introduces learners to project management in diverse industries such as technology, healthcare, and manufacturing.
- Relevant careers: Budget analyst; public administration consultant; city manager
- Example electives: Public finance and budgeting; administrative law; economics and public policy
An MBA in public administrationcombines core classes in finance, accounting, and marketing with specialized classes in public administration. Learners explore public budgeting, public policy, and nonprofit management. The focus on corporate and government management prepares graduates for opportunities in the public and private sectors.
- Relevant careers: Real estate development manager; acquisitions manager; financial analyst
- Example electives: Real estate development; international real estate; real estate entrepreneurship
An MBA in real estate examines core principles in real estate development, finance, and acquisitions. Through courses in real estate law, the international real estate market, and real estate policy, learners build the knowledge and skills required for leadership roles in real estate.
- Relevant careers: Management consultant; strategy manager; product manager
- Example electives: Strategic management; implementing business strategies; strategic management of technology and innovation
An MBA in strategy, also called strategic management, trains students to identify competitive advantages and make strategic business decisions. The concentration emphasizes analytical skills and business intelligence research. Students learn how to develop data-backed strategies and implement them in diverse settings.
- Relevant careers: Sustainability consultant; director of compliance; sustainability director
- Example electives: Sustainability leadership; corporate environmental management; sustainable investing
An MBA in sustainabilitybuilds core business skills with a focus on sustainability. MBA students learn about corporate environmental management, leadership in sustainability, and environmental regulations. Coursework in business, the environment, and sustainability launches graduates into roles like director of compliance or sustainability director.
Do employers care about MBA concentrations?
While concentrations do not necessarily limit the career options for MBA graduates, they help job candidates move into specialized roles.
How do I choose the right MBA concentration for me?
MBA students should choose a concentration based on their interests, strengths, and career goals. Those interested in financial management benefit from a finance concentration, while a healthcare management concentration prepares graduates for roles in healthcare.
Which type of MBA is in demand?
A 2019 recruiter survey pointed to strategy, finance, business analytics, and marketing as the most in-demand MBAs. However, employers hire candidates with many different MBA concentrations.
This article was reviewed by Krystal Covington, MBA
Krystal Covington, MBA, is a business growth strategist with 15 years of experience in marketing and public relations. Her company, Go Lead Consulting, provides clients foundational tools to build new client and customer relationships.
Covington founded Women of Denver, one of the largest privately held membership organizations in Denver, Colorado. Her program helps women increase their business acumen, sharpen leadership skills and connect with other high-achieving women. Covington received her MBA from Western Governors University in 2012.
Krystal Covington is a paid member of the Red Ventures Education freelance review network.
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