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Not Your Usual MBA: Six Degrees That Can Help Your Business Career

Jan 15, 2008 Jennifer Williamson, Distance Columnist | 0 Comments

You already have a Bachelor’s degree, and now you’re ready to continue your education in the field of business.  Most people in this situation think of the MBA first.  An MBA, or Master’s in Business Administration, educates students on the theory and practice of standard business principles.  MBA degrees prepare students for management positions in a corporate setting.

According to MBA Alliance, over 80% of business executives surveyed say that a graduate degree is important for anyone who wants to rise to a top position in business.  But a run-of-the-mill MBA isn’t your only option.  There are many types of specialized MBA’s, as well as other postgraduate degrees, that can help you stand out from the crowd. Here are a few ideas.

Executive MBA

An executive MBA program is designed for experienced managers.  Most applicants to executive MBA programs have five or ten years of managerial experience, and the admissions criteria takes past job performance into account.  If you already have significant business experience, an executive MBA may be a better fit for you than a traditional MBA program.

Dual MBA

A dual MBA allows you to get two degrees: one in Business Administration, and one in something else.  The MBA can be combined with many different graduate degrees, including engineering, a Juris Doctorate, technology, or public policy.  Although you’ll be earning both degrees at the same school, you’ll usually have to apply for each program separately.  Still, a dual MBA program usually allows you to apply some of your credit hours towards both degrees, saving you the cost of pursuing both individually. It’s difficult to pursue these programs part-time, as they include more classes than a typical MBA. 

Specialty MBA

A specialty MBA allows you to specialize in one area of business—or apply an MBA education to a field outside of business.  These degrees are different than dual MBA’s; you’ll take the general MBA curriculum along with electives in your area of concentration, as opposed to taking two full programs.  Some common specialty MBA’s include:

  • Accounting
  • Criminal justice
  • Finance
  • E-business
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Health care administration
  • Hospitality administration
  • Human resources management
  • Information security
  • International business
  • Leadership
  • Marketing
  • Nonprofit management
  • Operations and supply chain management
  • Project management
  • Risk management

To see a complete list of available executive, dual, and specialty MBA degrees see our page on Online MBA's

Business Master’s Degrees

A Master’s degree in marketing is different from an MBA with a concentration in marketing.  An MBA degree offers a general business education and, if you’re specializing in marketing, you’ll take your electives in that area.  A Master’s degree will focus exclusively on marketing—or whatever your topic of study is. 
You can earn a Master’s degree in many different areas of business, including human resources, IT systems technology, information security, leadership, economics, and marketing.

Business Certifications

Sometimes you don’t need a full degree to advance in your field—you just need a certification.  Certification programs often take less than a year to complete, and require students to pass a test at the end of the program.  Certification programs usually cost much less than degree programs, take less time to complete, and are designed for working professionals.  Useful certifications for business careers include:

  • Business analysis
  • Business law
  • Contract management
  • Information security management
  • Project management
  • ROI Methodology
  • Six Sigma

To see a complete list of certifications use the navigation on the left hand side or use our search tool in the online business degree category.

Doctorates and Ph.D’s

Most Ph.D programs train you as a professional researcher, not a hands-on practitioner in your field.  However, there are several ways you can go beyond the Master’s and still get a degree that’s relevant to a career in business.  A DBA, or Doctor of Business Administration, can focus exclusively on research and business theory, or it can teach students how to apply advanced theory to real business situations—it depends on the school.

There are many routes to business success—and a typical MBA is only one of them.  A more focused MBA may help you stand out from a sea of resumes, a Master’s or Doctorate may make you look more qualified, and a professional certification could save you money and time.  It’s best to consider all your postgraduate options—and which one will be most effective in getting you where you want to go.




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