3 Reasons to Choose an MBA Concentration (And 2 Reasons Not To)

May 3, 2023
Concentration Blog Photo

MBA advisors Kelly Gould and Chelsea Derry weigh in on factors to consider when choosing a concentration.

3 Reasons to Choose an MBA Concentration (And 2 Reasons Not To)

Kelly GouldKelly Gould

Chelsea DerryChelsea Derry

Every year, Baylor’s Hankamer School of Business welcomes a new cohort of Full-Time, Online and Executive MBA students with a diverse range of backgrounds, skillsets and experiences.

Kelly Gould, assistant director for Advising, and Chelsea Derry, associate director of Graduate Student Services, take a personalized approach to guiding each student toward a program that aligns with their unique talents and career goals.

One of the student questions they encounter most frequently is whether or not to choose an optional MBA concentration—and, if so, which one to choose. Below, Kelly and Chelsea suggest three reasons to choose an MBA concentration and two reasons to pursue a general MBA instead.

3 Reasons to Choose an MBA Concentration

1. You are planning to launch a career in an unfamiliar field.

Most students enrolled in Baylor’s Full-Time MBA program are early in their careers and lack many of the hard skills they need to gain an advantage in a specific field. A student from a general business background, for example, might pursue a concentration in cybersecurity to gain industry-relevant, hands-on experience in identifying vulnerabilities in code or designing effective company policies and procedures.

We also see many of our Online MBA (OMBA) and Executive MBA (EMBA) students choose a concentration to pivot to a new industry. An accountant enrolled in the EMBA program may have taken basic courses in marketing in the past, but choosing a concentration in strategic marketing will place them on an accelerated path to mastering more specific skills, from strategic brand management to advanced audience analysis.

2. You are seeking to advance in your current industry or role.

We have talked to many OMBA and EMBA students who have climbed the ladder in their chosen profession for years only to realize that the next rung is out of reach without further training. Sometimes this means pursuing a concentration within their niche. An OMBA student who works as a supply chain manager may opt for a concentration in global trade and supply chain management to gain more insight on how their role can advance a company’s broader aims or how to effectively lead a supply chain team in an environment of uncertainty.

In other cases, advancement hinges on developing more refined leadership and communication skills. Our concentrations in executive communication (OMBA) and executive presence and communication (EMBA) equip employees to become better leaders and convey information more effectively with other stakeholders in their organization, regardless of their industry.

3. You are looking for a competitive edge in the market.

We consistently hold focus groups and meetings with current students, alumni and employers to keep a finger on the pulse of market trends. From the healthcare administration concentration, created for the Full-Time MBA program 15 years ago, to concentrations established in 2019 and beyond, each new concentration is a direct response to gaps that we are witnessing in the market. The pre-clinical track of the Full-Time MBA program, for example, meets a burgeoning market need for a gap-year program for future medical and dental students looking to distinguish themselves in a competitive environment.

Across industries, employers benefit from employees with niche expertise. A job candidate who brings specific industry insights to the table and who can dive right in without extensive technical training is a candidate whose resume will move to the top of the pile. We strongly encourage students to speak with alumni, observe colleagues and read job descriptions to identify the skills that employers want most.

2 Reasons Not to Choose a Concentration

1. A General MBA is better aligned with your career goals.

While the popularity of our concentrations is rising, the General MBA path is still the most common choice for MBA students because of its tremendous versatility. Many of our students enroll in an MBA program with a specific technical skillset in fields like data science, healthcare and engineering. What they need most is not more technical expertise or niche knowledge but a broader education that closes gaps in their knowledge. For those who aspire to become managers or reach the C-suite, it is essential to learn fundamental leadership and management principles and accumulate a working knowledge of primary business functions. For these students, the key to success is generalizing, not concentrating.

2. You do not have enough information to make a choice.

If a student enrolls in an MBA program without a firm idea of what they want to study, we recommend choosing the General MBA path to avoid narrowing their options prematurely. Many students, especially those who are early in their careers, do not have enough information to make a well-informed decision. They might take a class that illuminates a new passion, leading them to choose a concentration later in the program, but they should start by keeping their minds and schedules open.

The Bottom Line

Baylor’s MBA concentrations are innovative, well-designed and responsive to market forces, but they are not for everyone. Choosing a concentration may be an advantage for one student and a disadvantage for another depending on what they are trying to achieve.

If you are on the fence about choosing a concentration, we look forward to working with you to determine the most strategic course of action.

Full-Time MBA Concentrations


Business Analytics

Entrepreneurship & Corporate Innovation

Healthcare Administration

Pre-Clinical Track

Online MBA Concentrations


Executive Communication

Global Trade and Supply Chain Management


Executive MBA Concentrations

Cybersecurity Technology and Strategy

Executive Presence and Communication

Healthcare Administration

International Trade and Supply Chain Management

Strategic Marketing

What's Next

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