MBA Specializations: Aligning Expertise with Business Trends

An MBA degree provides a comprehensive understanding of business and management practices. Yet, the starting salary and career trajectory that an MBA can provide is significantly influenced by one's specialization.

This article explores the different types of MBA specializations and how they can shape your professional journey.

MBA Specializations: Aligning Expertise with Business Trends

A contemplative businessman envisions his ascent up a flight of stairs toward an illuminated space.

An MBA specialization can help you reach new heights in your chosen career.

Does an MBA have a specialization?

Indeed, an MBA program often includes specializations or concentrations allowing students to dive deep into a particular area of interest. These specializations, from finance and marketing to human resources and supply chain management, provide students with a focused curriculum that enhances their skills and knowledge in a specific industry or function.

Which is the most in-demand MBA?

The demand for MBA specializations varies based on current business trends, economic factors, and industry needs. As of 2023, the following specializations are among the most sought-after due to their relevance in today's world:

  1. MBA in Finance: The "2021 Corporate Recruiters Survey: Demand of Graduate Management Talent" report by the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) underscores the growing demand for MBA graduates, particularly those specializing in Finance. These graduates bring to the table a comprehensive understanding of financial markets, risk management, and corporate finance - skills that are increasingly sought after in a complex global economy.
  2. MBA in Marketing: As per the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there is an expected 6% growth in the employment of marketing managers from 2021 to 2031.
  3. MBA in Human Resources: The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) highlights the increasingly strategic role of HR in organizations, leading to a rise in demand for professionals with an MBA in Human Resources. HR is among the fastest-growing sectors in the U.S., with an anticipated 7% growth in HR manager roles by 2028, exceeding the average occupational growth rate. This upward trend translates into roughly 14,400 fresh annual job opportunities.
  4. MBA in Information Technology: According to a report conducted by the Graduate Management Council (GMAC) in 2021, there is a marked increase in the demand for professionals with an MBA in Technology. This trend toward the accelerated pace of digital transformation is also supported by the findings of The Future Jobs Report (2023) by the World Economic Forum, which highlights the rapid advancement in technology across industries. The report emphasizes that this rapid digitalization necessitates professionals with specialized expertise in technology, accentuating the crucial role of MBA graduates in this field.
  5. MBA in Supply Chain Management: A survey of around 4,000 professionals conducted by The Association for Supply Chain Management (ASCM) revealed a rising demand for experts in managing intricate supply chain systems. This demand is reflected in the fact that 96% of these professionals plan to remain in the field over the next five years due to high job satisfaction. Graduates with an MBA in Supply Chain Management, proficient in optimizing operational efficiency and managing risks, are therefore in high demand in the current business landscape.

Which MBA specialization is best paid?

While the salary following an MBA will fluctuate based on factors such as experience, geographical location, and the size of the company, certain MBA specializations consistently lead to higher-paying roles:

  1. MBA in Finance: According to PayScale, the average salary for an MBA in Finance in the United States is approximately $103,000 per year. ****For those who rise to roles like Chief Financial Officer (CFO), the average salary can reach up to $145,060 per year.
  2. MBA in Marketing: MBA graduates specializing in Marketing can expect an average salary of $93,459 per year. However, high-level professionals working in marketing management positions can earn an average annual wage of $135,900.
  3. MBA in Human Resources: An MBA in HR can lead to an average salary of approximately $73,000 per year. Those who advance to roles such as Chief Human Resources Officer can earn a median annual wage of $153,782.
  4. MBA in Information Technology: On average, an MBA in IT could lead to an annual salary of around $115,000 in the United States, per data from PayScale. It can lead to a wide variety of roles, including project manager positions in technology firms or management consulting companies. For those who ascend to executive roles such as Chief Information Officer (CIO) or IT Director, the median annual salary can soar to about $172,000.

Where can I find other MBA specializations to choose from?

Degree-awarding institutions each offer unique specializations for a broad range of interests.  Meridian University, however, provides several possible concentrations for graduate students pursuing an MBA in Creative Enterprise.  These concentrations support MBA students in the exploration of transformative and innovative methods for entrepreneurship and leadership.

Those choosing to concentrate on Organizational Development, for example, explore planned, systemic, company-wide endeavors to augment the efficiency and vitality of an organization. This specialization prepares graduates to bolster an organization’s resilience, productivity, and capacity to address change, ensuring it stays competitive in the evolving marketplace.

Organizational Development integrates a broad set of strategies and methodologies to shift the organization's beliefs, attitudes, values, and structure, enabling organizations to smoothly adapt to technological innovations, new market trends, and emerging challenges.

Among the numerous benefits of Organizational Development is its use in fostering robust internal communication channels, refining decision-making mechanisms, and promoting greater dedication among employees.

As the Harvard Business Review pointed out in its article titled "6 Key Levers of a Successful Organizational Transformation," successful organizational transformations, though demanding on a personal level, can be achieved by focusing on six crucial areas. When attended to, these factors increase the likelihood of meeting or exceeding transformation goals to 73%, a significant improvement over the 28% success rate for organizations lacking these characteristics.

These elements include

  1. a leader’s capacity to scrutinize their stance toward change,
  2. the ability to articulate a shared vision for future success,
  3. encouraging employees to comprehend the pressing need to challenge the status quo,
  4. the provision of trust and care by leaders to make a challenging transformation emotionally manageable,
  5. rigorous project management to propel initiative, and
  6. fostering an environment where minor failures are acceptable, eventually steering the organization toward significant success.

The article underscores that leaders must acknowledge that transformation comes with inherent risk and should not be viewed as a single occurrence but rather as a fundamental skill to be cultivated, reinforcing the essence of Organizational Development in ensuring corporate agility.

Which MBA specialization is best?

A businessman at a crossroads, weighing the potential of two distinct paths toward a large city representing his future.

To gain the most out of your MBA specialization, find one that aligns with your core values and ambitions.

Determining the most suitable MBA specialization is an individualized decision. The right specialization should align with your career aspirations, personal interests, and skill set. Whether you gravitate toward Finance, Marketing, Human Resources, or Information Technology, each offers distinct avenues for professional advancement and growth.

Some, however, are looking for options that do not lie within a specific specialization. For many, this means wandering off the traditional path and exploring entrepreneurship, which allows for the exploration of unique visions.

Many MBA programs are only equipped to prepare students for a specific career path. However, at Meridian University, the Creative Enterprise MBA program is designed to empower MBA students to excel in traditional roles - with knowledge of core business skills such as marketing, finance, and operations - and to reach even greater heights - encouraging innovation, creativity, and purpose-driven leadership.

The curriculum addresses the complexities inherent in both enhancing business performance and launching a new enterprise by focusing on five key dimensions:

Every student should have the means to pursue their goals and carve new paths. This is why Meridian University also offers Impact Scholarships.

These scholarships, such as the Meridian Social Entrepreneurship Scholarship or the Meridian Developmental Coaching Scholarship, financially support students in chasing their ambitions and making a change in the world.

If you are interested in learning more to help you decide whether our MBA in Creative Enterprise could aid you in pursuing your unique vision, email an Admissions Advisor to learn more about our programs.

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