Do I need to specialize in an MBA program?

Ready to start your journey? 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.

The most recent data from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) for 2017-18 reports that bachelor’s degrees in business have the highest numbers. Of the 1,956,032 conferred degrees during the same school year, 381,353 were in the fields of business. This trend carried over into master’s degrees, as again, business is at the top with 192,184 conferred degrees from a total of 820,102. At both the bachelor’s and master’s levels, education programs placed second. 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.

As we’ll expand on later in this article, business is overwhelmingly the choice, statistically, by university students worldwide. At the undergraduate level and more so at the graduate level, students can begin specializing in one of the four principal areas – finance, accounting, management, and economics (FAME). One reason for its selection as a major is the diverse subject matter learned and its applicability to various aspects of the business world. A business degree opens up employment opportunities in retail, banking, marketing, human resources, real estate, finance, management, insurance, and more.

Some figures contradict the reasons for the popularity of a graduate degree in business. This data comes from the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), which published its Salary Survey report in the Winter of 2020. Data contained in the survey came from 134 employer members from September 16, 2019, through December 2, 2019 (many being Fortune 500 companies). The results state that the projected average salary for Business graduates in 2020 will be $75,197 – 2.89% lower than the expected income for 2019. Master’s degrees in computer science ($79,793), math, and engineering take the top three places. Not a significant range from first to fourth place business.

Why Specialize?

The concise answer to the captioned query is “No,” you do not need to choose an area of specialization in your MBA. There are pros and cons to both. Here are some of them to consider:

General MBA


  • You receive exposure to a range of subjects about business, communication, leadership, and management.
  • You obtain the skills and knowledge to apply the coursework to a variety of sectors in the business world.
  • Acceptance may not require specific undergraduate courses – just pass the GMAT (Graduate Management Admission Test)

Specialized MBAs


  • Students receive an in-depth education in a particular concentration, like finance, marketing, accounting, or entrepreneurship.
  • Those who know their career path can focus on the coursework most beneficial to their aspirations.
  • A specialized program may provide a head start for those who have decided on their direction in business.

Some may enroll in an MBA after securing employment and see the advanced degree as a means for advancement. For these individuals, the specialized program might be the best choice to parallel their current area of work. Many schools offer online MBAs to suit working professionals. There are accelerated programs that one can finish within twelve months.

The list of possible areas of concentration is extensive. Those not previously mentioned above are:

  • E-Business/E-Commerce
  • Human Resources Management
  • Information Systems
  • Operations Management
  • Strategic/Risk Management
  • Technology Management
  • Global Management

Working professionals and those whose career aims at any one of these sectors will benefit from a specialized MBA. The former group may be fortunate to have the employer pay for the cost of the degree. In this case, you would have to select an online program approved by the company. Reimbursement is generally predicated on choosing a concentration that applies to your position, and you maintain a passing grade.

An MBA need not be an expensive proposition for those paying their own way. One of the most affordable is Georgia Southwestern State University, whose online E-Tuition for its MBA is $257 per credit hour. California Coast University (CCU) has a graduate tuition rate of $230 per credit. The school offers a General MBA, as well as specializations in Marketing, Health Care Management, Human Resource Management, and Management. CCU was established in 1973 to meet the demands of professionals who must continue working but want to elevate their status and wage in their line of business.


Ultimately, the decision to specialize or not is personal. First, will an MBA benefit your career in advancement that typically translates to a higher salary? If you launch into an MBA straight after receiving your baccalaureate, is it worth the additional time and expense? You may secure employment, and then find out if your employer has a college reimbursement program. Or, ask during the job interview.

There are jobs where an MBA is imperative if you want to move up the corporate ladder. Certain areas of management meet this requirement. According to the employment site, Monster, an MBA in Strategy or Strategic Management, is among the highest specializations. Management consultant, finance manager, and senior product manager comprise examples of this group, whose roles require vision and analytic thinking. Monster sets the median wage at $127,000 for those working in the field of strategy.

Additional Resources:

15 Top Degrees for the Highest-Paying Business Careers

What Are the Highest-Paying Jobs in Business Administration?

What Is the Salary Potential for Someone With a Business Degree?

What Is the Salary Potential for Someone With an MBA?

Do I Need a Graduate Degree to Become a Manager?

What Salary Can I Expect With a Human Resources Management Degree?