Which MBA Specialization Should I Choose? [List of Factors to Consider]

MBA is one of the most sought after higher education programs by aspirants all across the globe. While millions of students pursue an MBA program, there’s one question that seems to trouble every beginner – “Which MBA stream should I choose?”

The first two semesters of an MBA program are crucial for each student since this is the time they must deliberate and choose a specialization stream. In fact, the institution you enroll in and the specialization you want to pursue are the most critical factors that determine your worth after you earn the MBA degree. 

Most institutes in the country (as well as overseas) offer a host of standard specialization streams as their MBA offerings, including:

  • Marketing
  • Business Analytics
  • Finance 
  • Human Resources 
  • Digital Finance & Banking
  • Business Management 
  • Information Technology
  • Operations Management 
  • Management Information Systems
  • International Business 

Naturally, choosing only one specialization out of so many is an overwhelming decision. And that’s why we’ve created this simple guide to help you with your selection of MBA specialization!

If you cannot make up your mind as to which MBA specialization to select, here are X aspects that you must consider:

1. The institution’s ranking.

The first and foremost consideration for an MBA program must be the school’s ranking. Although there are plenty of institutions that offer MBA courses, it is essential to select one that is both well-established and reputed. This is because reputable business schools usually partner with top players in the industry (IBM, TCS, Mahindra, Deloitte, Goldman Sachs, Barclays, etc.) thereby ensuring placement in top-notch companies in the country. 

2. Identify your strengths and interests.

The second most important thing on the list is self-analysis. Look within yourself to figure out what are your core strengths and identify the areas where you excel. Club it along with your interests and long-term career goals to get a more comprehensive picture. Once you get a clear idea of what you want in life and what you wish to achieve through an MBA degree, it will become much easier to choose a specialization.

The key is to select a stream that will not only help you grow as a professional but also ensure long-term employability and relevance in the fast-changing industry. 

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3. Evaluate the salary figures. 

When choosing an institution, carefully assess and evaluate their offerings, placement partners, and the average salary package promised. Try to find out the minimum and maximum placement package for the past year (for different specializations). This will give you a fair idea of what you can expect after completion. While the salary package is not the sole criterion, it is a pivotal one nonetheless. 

4. Take a close look at the faculty.

Make it a point to learn about the faculty members of different institutions. Look at their educational background, their qualifications, and their experience. After all, you have the right to know who your mentors will be and what fields they’ll teach you. By assessing the faculty profile of different institutions/schools, you can narrow down your choice to a select few institutes that have the most qualified and experienced faculty. 

Acknowledging the fact that the modern industry is pro-digitalization and highly data-centric, it makes sense to choose streams that are the most relevant in the present scenario. Thus, mainstream MBA specializations aside, here are the two most unique and promising MBA specialization streams that you should consider:

MBA in Business Analytics

The extensive adoption of Big Data tools and Data Science technologies across all parallels of the industry has made Business Analytics (BA) a vital component of business infrastructure. As a result, companies and organizations are always on the lookout for skilled and qualified professionals who are well versed in Big Data and Business Analytics.

An MBA degree in Business Analytics will introduce you to core management skills and teach you how to use business data effectively. Furthermore, you will learn how to apply Data Analytics in diverse areas like Finance, Marketing, Human Resources, Operations & Supply Chain, Machine Learning, and Big Data Technologies. 

On completion, you can aim for well-paying job roles in like Business Consultant, Management Consulting, and Growth Manager. An MBA in BA will equip you to take on managerial and leadership roles in areas like Data Analytics, Marketing & Finance, Sales, Human Resources, and Business Development. 

MBA in Digital Finance & Banking

Much like any other industrial sector, the BFSI sector is also undergoing a digital transformation powered by new-age technologies like Big Data, AI, ML, and Blockchain. These technologies are rapidly taking the place of traditional processes and technologies and encouraging the creation of innovative banking and financial solutions. The influx of modern technologies and tools in the BFSI industry demands a transformation of the workforce as well.

The new workforce must be proficient in disruptive technologies like AI and Blockchain and most importantly, know how to work with them. This is why an MBA program in Digital Finance & Banking can be super beneficial for aspirants who wish to build a career in banking and finance. 

The MBA course Digital Finance & Banking covers issues that are highly relevant to the BFSI sector such as Artificial Intelligence in Business, Data Visualization in Finance, Blockchain and Cryptocurrency, Fintech Ecosystems Management, Digital Fraud & Risk Analytics, Financial Management & Valuation, and Design Thinking & Leadership for Business. Students also get to expand their knowledge base and sharpen their skills by working on live industry assignments and case studies.

Wrapping up

So, that’s our little effort to help ease your tension and confusion while choosing an MBA specialization!

If you are keen on upgrading your career with an MBA Degree, upGrad is offering an MBA in Digital Finance & Banking in collaboration with the Jindal Global Business School and the Jindal School of Banking & Finance. The program has been designed to Future-oriented content suited for those working in or aspiring to work in finance across domains. Be a JGU alumnus and take advantage of continued engagement and networking with the world of academia, policy, and industry

Is an MBA in Finance better than Marketing?

It depends on your interest. If numbers and money excite you, then an MBA in Finance may be the better choice. The same is also applicable if you wish to pursue a career in finance dominated fields such as banking, trading, and so on. On the other hand, if you are a creative person and love selling ideas as well as products and services to people, an MBA in marketing would be a better choice. Rather than choosing a specialisation which would bring you a better income in the short term, it would be better to choose one which matches your skills and interest to develop a successful and fulfilling career.

Which MBA specialization will give me a better paying job?

There is no such guarantee. An MBA specialization is only a tool which enables you to narrow your focus in developing your career path. Hence, it should be chosen carefully – keeping in mind your existing skills, level of interest, and goals. For instance, an MBA in Finance or Business Analytics is usually one of the best paying MBA options, but if you do not like number crunching or data interpretation, then you may feel frustrated after a few years and yearn to switch profiles. Similarly, the glamour and lucrative income of marketing managers should only be pursued by those who enjoy selling and interacting with clients.

How to choose an MBA specialization?

An MBA specialisation should be chosen keeping in mind a few key factors. The most important is your existing skill set. Next comes your area of interest. Your comfort level with technology and interacting with new people is also an important factor. For instance, if you love technology, but are shy and are not comfortable in unexpected social situations, an MBA in Operations or Business Analytics would probably be a better fit for you. Similarly, if you are interested in business strategy and/or wish to pursue a global career, an MBA in International Business or a Global MBA program would be the better choice.

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