Throughout time, educational systems have developed in response to changes in society. The first MBA degree program was created at Harvard Business School in 1908 as institutional education’s response to the Post-Industrial Revolution business world. The MBA degree continues to evolve alongside the industry as new technology, and new markets emerge. New MBA specializations that reflect the complexity of the current business world have become the “norm” for both traditional and online MBA programs. These specializations are specific areas of study that help students develop expertise in a field. When selecting an MBA specialization, there are many things to consider. After you have your specialization figured out, be sure to check out our Top 50 Best Value Online MBA programs for help in choosing your school.

What Are the Different Types of MBA Specializations?

Most MBA students choose a traditional specialization in finance, marketing, or general management. However, there are many new MBA specialization options available that fit modern career goals. How does one choose from this growing list of choices.

Which Specializations Pay the Most?

One’s first inclination may be to gravitate to specializations that have the highest salaries. According to payscale, the highest paying MBA specializations include Strategy, Entrepreneurship, and Finance. While everyone what’s to make as much money as they can, it is important to consider more than salary as a predictor of success and professional growth.

What Are Your Previous Work Experiences and Education?

The old expression “Do What You Know” holds some value when considering an MBA specialization, and prior work experience and education should be contributing factors in this decision. For professionals who have expertise in a field, choosing an MBA that furthers one’s level of competence in that area is likely the best long-term financial choice. For example, an individual who has worked for years in hospitality may not be wise to choose a specialization in real estate, but an MBA in Hospitality could significantly boost career advancement and earnings. Similarly, an individual with an undergraduate degree in Anthropology may not be well suited for an MBA in Finance, but be an ideal candidate for an MBA in Human Resources. While there are exceptions to this line of thinking, it is important to remember that the MBA is a Professional Degree aimed at cultivating experts through education and experience working in a field. For help finding a program check out the Guide to Choosing the Right Management Program .

Should My Personality Type Contribute to My Specialization Decision?

Many employers utilize personality tests before hiring new individuals. Knowing one’s personality type before starting an MBA degree can be a valuable information guide to the best fit. Introverted people tend to do well in positions that do not require lots of social interaction. Conversely, extroverts tend to excel in jobs where they can let their personalities shine. Taking time to research personality types can provide valuable insight to aid in decision making, and a candid look at personality types is useful information to know before advancement into any higher education program. An internet search will yield results for free personality tests individuals can take online. The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), the Keirsey Temperament Sorter, and 16 Personality Factors (16PF) are a few well know assessments that can help determine personality type.

Are You in a Niche Market?

The MBA has evolved in the last 20 years, and many new and unique MBA specializations have developed. Interesting new niche MBAs include Wine and Spirits; Music Business; Aviation Management; Media, Entertainment, and Sports; International Luxury Brand Management; Football Industries; Horse-racing Industries; Green Energy; Gaming Management; Pharmaceutical Management; and Aerospace and Defense.
Although there is an inclination to not to be pigeonholed into one of these niche markets, some studies have shown a positive relationship between the niche specialization and income. For professionals already working in a niche market, the return on the MBA investment can be very high should they choose to advance a current career with a niche MBA.

The MBA degree is unique in professional fields in the sense that it draws equally from educational and work experience. Because work experience is an integral component when assessing an individual’s level of expertise, choosing a specialization that enhances the professional experience and is compatible with personality type is a winning equation.