Specialist MBA programs: 3 points to Consider

Most MBA programs offer their students a similar curriculum — whether you choose to pursue your MBA at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business or INSEAD, you will fundamentally take the core classes in subjects like management, finance, economics, accounting, and leadership.

Of course, the MBA programs at these elite business schools are not clones of each other- each has its own unique strengths- but each graduates MBA's who should be capable of competing against each other. In essence, MBA programs have to graduate students who are look-likes of each other. This is well and good if your chosen career path lies in popular fields like Finance or Consulting, but what if it lies in non-traditional fields like sports management or health care? Enter the specialist MBA.

Unlike general MBA programs, specialist MBA programs focus on the particularities of specific industries. Schools such as MIT’s Sloan School of Management and the University of Berkeley’s Haas School of Business offer specialist MBA programs, and it isn’t difficult to find MBA programs in thoroughbred horse racing, sports management, or oil and gas management. Is the specialist MBA right for you, however?

Here are three points to consider:

1) Specialized Knowledge: Imagine you are interested in thoroughbred horse racing management or oil and gas management. Yes, of course you would need to understand management, accounting, economics, as well as the other core classes that are taught in general MBA programs, but you would also need industry-specific knowledge that might be increasingly difficult to obtain in a general MBA program, even one that gives you the opportunity to take electives in areas that are of interest to you. A specialist MBA in thoroughbred horse racing management, however, could impart the general management knowledge that you need and allow you to obtain the specialized knowledge, as well.

2) Career Path: Specialized MBA's are ideal for people who are certain of their career path after graduation and have years of experience in a particular industry. One advantage of a general MBA is that is it imparts knowledge and confers skills that are applicable to a number of different fields, from finance to health care. This makes it perfect for someone who is unsure of their career path after graduation. However, if you would like return to a particular industry after graduation, then a specialized MBA, which would give you the opportunity to build on specific knowledge and skills, could be a better option.

3) Job Outlook: Although the general MBA is still the gold standard, there are employers who view specialist MBA's favorably. According to a report by the Graduate Management Admissions Council(GMAC), 3 in 10 employers prefer to hire graduates with specialist MBA's; furthermore, a 2014 report by the Association of MBA's(AMBA), a professional membership organization that accredits MBA programs in over 70 countries, showed that employers increasingly seek MBA graduates with industry-specific knowledge.

If you need help to choose what type of MBA will benefit your career ambitions at best, MBA Center Europe has over 20 years of experience assisting students.

Do you want to know your GMAT level? Try our GMAT exam for FREE at MBA Center Europe.

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