How to choose an online MBA specialization

specialization options

Find Your MBA

Get matched with top online MBA programs now!

The Princeton Review has reported that some of the top Online MBA specializations are general management, international management, strategy, consulting, finance leadership, and entrepreneurship. While this list incorporates some of the most common choices among Online Master’s of Business Administration students, there are also dozens of other areas to focus your degree. In many ways choosing a specialization can be as overwhelming as picking an OMBA. If you need helpful tips on picking the right Online MBA program, you can click here to read Online MBA Coach’s article on How To Choose an Online MBA. But if you have chosen a program and are wondering what the best specialization option is, this is the article for you. 

What Is The Purpose of Online MBA Specializations?


Understanding the purpose of Online MBA specializations can make choosing an area of focus easier. All OMBA programs have a set of core courses that make up their business curriculum. Areas of specialization give students the opportunity to explore a subject of their choice through elective credits. In some cases, concentrations take a deep dive into core subjects like finance, marketing, or economics. Other formats offer industry-specific topics like consulting or IT management and include experiential learning components. The purpose of pursuing a specialization is to learn more about an interesting area of study or industry. In the event that you are not sure what direction you plan to take your career, general management covers a broad range of topics similar to most programs’ business core. 

What Are The Benefits of Choosing A Specialization? 

You may be wondering if you need an area of specialization. The answer to this is a personal decision. To specialize within your degree is not always a program requirement, but it does offer many benefits. In simple terms, the OMBA concentrations allow you to take a deeper look at areas that are of interest to you. Some students also use their specialization strategically. This action might look like choosing a concentration directly related to the field you plan to move into or even in an area in which you need to experience growth. 

Most specializations consist of three to four courses, which is usually around 25% of the curriculum. Typically, choosing a specialization is one of the only aspects of the OMBA program that is your decision. They offer a way to personalize your degree so that you can get the most out of the time and money spent on an OMBA. You will want to contemplate your Online MBA specialization, but remember that it is an option to serve you, not stress you. 

Does The Area of Specialization I Choose Lock Me Into a Certain Career Path?

Much of the stress around choosing an area of specialization is the fear that an Online MBA concentration will lock you into a particular career path. While you do want to choose your specialization with the mindset that it will assist you in reaching your career goals, it is essential to remember that it is just an option designed to let you learn more about a specific subject. 

One of the benefits of an OMBA is the broad subject base that is covered through the core curriculum. The field of business is multifaceted, and concentrations allow you to take a closer look at one area. If you know what direction you are headed after graduation, choosing a specialization within that realm is a great idea. But if you are still unsure, it is entirely ok to choose based on interest or potential applications within your current position. In short, OMBA specializations are a tool for success, not a strict path to one career or field. 

What Are The Highest Paying Online MBA Specializations?


For many Online MBA students raising their salary is an important goal. According to Fortune, the median salary for MBA grads is 75% higher than those with only a bachelor’s degree. Being strategic in your choice of OMBA specialization can help raise the overall salary even more. 

  • Computer & Information Systems Managers earn, on average, an impressive annual salary of $151,150. The majority of managers in this position hold a graduate degree and have at least five years of work experience. Expected job growth will be more than 10% over the next ten years. 
  • Those working in economics earn an average salary of $102,078. Some of the management positions within this field are finance director, senior financial analyst, director of analytics, and chief financial officer (CFO). 
  • Real Estate lends itself to many potential positions such as real estate development managers, VP of real estate acquisitions, and asset managers. For those with an MBA in Real Estate, the average yearly salary is $104,730. The growth rate for this professional field is estimated at 7%, which is higher than the national average. 
  • Business Analytics offers a median salary of $87,660 per year with higher pay rates for those with graduate degrees and more years of experience. This field is also projected to grow by 11% between 2019 and 2029. 

Action Plans

It is easy to become overwhelmed with many of the aspects of applying for and completing an Online MBA. Our guide to balancing business school is a great place to find actionable tips to stress less while earning your degree. Choosing an area of specialization can feel like another massive decision, but here are a few things that can make this decision easier.

  • See what specializations are offered through your top three OMBA programs. There is no reason to stress over or research specializations that are not available through your ideal program.
  • Remember that an area of specialization is not as important as the overall quality and accreditation of an Online MBA.
  • If you are unsure of your career’s direction, think about your interest and passions and use that to guide your specialization options. 
  • Utilize the information and experiences within your concentration to the best of your ability. These classes are electives, but they can play an important role in your future career. 

There are many things to stress about when it comes to earning an Online MBA, but what specialization to choose doesn’t have to be one of them!

Related Resources:

Guide to an Economics Online MBA
Top Online MBA Programs
Highest Paying MBA Concentrations
Best Online Entrepreneurship MBA Programs
Reasons to Get an Online MBA

Find Your MBA

Get matched with top online MBA programs now!