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A General MBA or One With a Focus: Which is More Useful?

Dec 7, 2012 Jennifer Williamson, Distance Columnist | 0 Comments

Most people are familiar with general MBA programs. While an MBA program could last from one to three years, depending on the school, most know that classes included can span basic business, economics, sales and marketing, and more. However, a new crop of MBA programs with special focuses—on everything from entrepreneurship to sustainable business—could change that.

So how does a general MBA stack up in the market place against one that is specifically focused on one area of business? Here’s an overview of things to consider before deciding which to earn.

A general MBA can be more versatile

If you’re earning a general MBA, either at a traditional school or at an accredited online college,  you may not be specially qualified in one single area of business—but it’s less likely to occur to recruiters and hiring managers that you are not qualified for theirs. If you aren’t sure which area of business you’d like to focus on—or if you have several different interests—a more general MBA program may be better suited for you. 

See Also: Online MBA Programs

A focused MBA can qualify you more strongly

If you have a strong interest in a specific area, a focused MBA can make you appear more heavily qualified for that particular area. Hiring managers are more likely to notice and recognize an MBA that’s precisely focused on the area of expertise they’re looking for.

See Also: Online Accounting MBA Programs

A focused MBA can stand out

If MBA’s are common in the field you’re going into—and your competitors are quite likely to have earned general MBA’s—you can make yourself stand out by earning a more specialized degree. Particularly in a challenging economy, many people who are unsuccessful initially in the job market return to school to strengthen their resumes and qualifications—including business school. To stand out from the crowd, you may need to differentiate yourself with a more specialized degree.

A focused MBA could work against you

It will be extremely powerful in areas where that focused expertise is valuable and required. But if you’re applying to jobs outside that field, it could make you look less qualified and less focused than even someone with a more general business degree. A focused MBA can be somewhat limiting in that way.

You have to be sure sooner with a focused degree

Most general MBA programs allow you to take the usual business courses in the first year or so, and let you focus on a specialization in the second. With a specialized MBA degree program, however, your area of focus begins much sooner. This can be great for students who know exactly what they want to do. But if you change your mind, it could make things more difficult. A general MBA degree allows you more room to decide.

Many employers love focused MBA degrees

That being said, many employers are impressed by specialized MBA programs. In many cases, nonspecific traditional and online MBA degree programs are quite common—and MBA degrees that focus strongly in a particular area can make you seem more focused and qualified than a more general degree.

It’s not easy choosing between MBA programs and between schools. A focused MBA program can work to differentiate you from other highly qualified candidates with more general MBA degrees. However, in certain cases, these specialized degrees can work against you as well. If you’re applying to a job outside your specialty, you have less flexibility to stand out in that field—and both those with specialized degrees in that area and people with general MBA degrees will likely look more attractive than you do to hiring managers. Still, if you know exactly what you want, a focused MBA degree can be a great option.

Online MBA Degree Programs:

George Mason Online MBA Degree Programs
Northeastern University MBA Programs
University of Phoenix: MBA Degree Programs
Drexel MBA Programs





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