Given the variety of MBA concentrations available, it makes sense to do some research. Some MBA programs do not offer concentrations, but a growing number of them are. Sorting through MBA options can be challenging, but it may mean the difference between a satisfying career and an unrewarding one.
Many MBA degree applicants already have a focus in mind when they are researching programs. According to Graham Richmond, co-founder of MBA admissions consulting firm Clear Admit, most MBA program applicants enroll with at least two years of work under their belts. As a result, many of those students have already chosen a concentration: they are already earning in a particular field and look for the MBA to enhance their existing careers.
For others, though, the choice is more difficult. There are already many MBA concentrations to choose from, and programs add more concentrations all the time to keep pace with new technologies and roles. However, finance has always been among the best MBA concentrations.
MBA in Finance vs. Master’s Degree in Finance
Before discussing the benefits of an MBA in finance, it is helpful to differentiate it from another degree: the master’s degree in finance. An MBA is just that: a master’s degree in business administration. A focus on finance means that while the program emphasizes finance overall, it is a degree in business administration. As Investopedia puts it, “The MBA equips graduates with a broader skill-set and knowledge base comprising multiple aspects of business.” That is, an MBA with a concentration in finance has a broader range of employment options than the student with a master’s in finance.
Another distinction between an MBA in finance and a master’s degree in finance is the time-to-completion. MBA programs usually take around 2 years to complete, while a master’s in finance takes around a year. However, some MBA programs offer accelerated courses, which means students can complete the degree in less time, and many students opt to pursue the degree online while they continue working in their fields. For example, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi offers an online MBA program with a concentration in finance completely online. Students can complete the program in one year by taking two courses at a time.
The differences in pay and degree satisfaction graduates experience, however, is notable. As Poets & Quants — a website devoted to MBA education — reports, in 2014, those with an MBA in finance earned $126,800 compared to those with a master’s degree in finance, who earned $113,400. Further, Top MBA, a website that aggregates data on MBA programs, wrote that in another survey administered by the makers of the GMAT test, 70 percent of professionals with an MBA in finance reported satisfaction with their programs of study, compared to just 64 percent of those with a master’s degree in finance.
Determining the best MBA concentrations in terms of pay is a bit tricky. This difficulty is due to the various names different MBA programs give their concentrations. One program may call its concentration “Strategy,” while another calls a similar program “Strategy and Administration.” However, Finance is usually at the top of the list, no matter what a given program calls it. For 2016, Payscale ranked three types of finance concentrations falling within the top 10: Corporate Finance, Finance and Economics, and Finance.
For the same year, Corporate Finance MBAs reported a mid-career pay rate of around $138,000, with Corporate Finance and Finance at $137,000 and $130,000, respectively. No matter the variation, an MBA in finance promises to be a lucrative career choice.
The same Payscale study also asked respondents to report whether they thought their job had meaning, or more specifically, if they thought their job made the world a better place. For an MBA in finance, that number was 47 percent, a little above average for all MBA concentrations. Given the relative satisfaction with both program and career path that those with an MBA in finance possess, many students are opting for this route over all others. While there are advantages and disadvantages to every concentration, finance remains one of the best MBA concentrations to pursue.
Learn more about the Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi online MBA in Finance program.