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Online MBA programs are constantly growing in popularity with a variety of institutions offering well-rounded, accredited programs. Pursuing an MBA online can move you forward in your career or entrepreneurial endeavors while allowing you the flexibility to continue working at your current job. Many schools also offer areas of specialization for their programs. Concentrations, such as finance, accounting, marketing, entrepreneurship, or health care management, allow students to tailor their education to their specific interests. All online MBA students are required to complete core courses covering management, financial accounting, marketing, business communication, leadership, statistical data analysis, business law, and ethics. Students who select a specialization will then typically complete 3 to 5 elective courses in their area of concentration.

Choosing an area of concentration can improve your marketability once you graduate by demonstrating your focus and clear career goals. Specialization can be particularly beneficial if you are interested in making a career shift to a different industry or job function since you may not have the professional experience to back up your application just yet. Students who choose an area of concentration within an online MBA program have the opportunity to participate in field research and receive in-depth instruction in real-world applications from experienced faculty. In business, this type of training demonstrates you can apply the knowledge you’ve gained in your field of interest, giving you an edge over other applicants.

Finance

Finance is the most common specialization for MBA students, both online and on-campus. A strong program will balance theory and practice in order to provide students with a foundational understanding of mergers and acquisitions, licensing, and value creation. In addition, graduates with a concentration in finance should have the capacity to integrate their knowledge of business strategy in areas such as risk analysis, entrepreneurship, and crisis management.

Some examples of courses offered as part of Northeastern University’s online MBA in finance include:

  • Investment Banking. An in-depth study of policy, strategy, and administration of the financial services industry. Includes topics such as the issuance of securities, pricing a negotiated issue of common stock or competitive bid issues, and the service function of the industry.
  • Value and Value Creation. Explores modern finance theory and its use in capital allocation decisions to maximize long-run value for a company.
  • Financial Strategy. Develops financial and analytical skills with a focus on written and oral communication. Students will learn to identify and analyze a firm’s strategic opportunities and propose a suitable financial strategy that is consistent with firm value creation.

Students who complete an online MBA program with a specialization in finance are prepared for management positions in the banking and finance industry. Graduates may also work in finance departments in a variety of other industries due to the broad application of their skillset.

Accounting

Students who pursue a specialization in accounting embark on a rigorous course of study to learn the details of budget planning and control, auditing, computational analysis, and all necessary procedures for reports and documentation. With this skillset, graduates should be able to measure and evaluate the financial status of a company.

Some examples of courses offered at the University of Nebraska’s online MBA in accounting are:

  • Financial Accounting. Foundational course in financial accounting and reporting. Includes the construction and interpretation of financial statements for internal and external users.
  • Professional Responsibility and Ethics in Accounting. Explores the detailed requirements of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 and the importance of quality financial reporting and effective corporate governance.
  • Fraud Examination. Discussion of fraud prevention techniques, schemes, and actual fraud cases.

Graduates of online MBA programs with a concentration in accounting are prepared for positions at accounting firms, corporations, and financial institutions. Some may also go on to become certified professional accountants.

Marketing

Marketing savvy MBA graduates are a valuable resource for companies. Their understanding of target markets, consumer behavior, and public relations put them in a position to help companies maximize profits. A strong online MBA program in marketing will blend theory and practice and teach students how marketing influences business plans, management decisions, and selling strategies.

Some examples of courses offered as part of the marketing concentration at the University of Colorado – Colorado Springs include:

  • Marketing Research. An overview of the acquisition, analysis, interpretation, organization, and dissemination of information for use in developing marketing plans and making critical market decisions.
  • Integrated Marketing Communications. An in-depth study of communication with critical constituencies. Will cover topics such as theories of communication, buyer behavior, and integrated marketing.
  • International Marketing and Export Management. An analysis of each marketing mix element with a focus on cultural differences and global ethics.

A wide variety of industries have positions well-suited to students who complete an online MBA program in marketing. Graduates may find opportunities in advertising, promotions, public relations, or other related fields.

Entrepreneurship

Fostering creativity and innovation in business is essential to any company’s success and an important factor for economic growth. An online MBA in entrepreneurship will teach students basic concepts and theories, but also challenge them to participate in field research to implement real-world solutions. This specialization is ideal for students who are interested in starting their own business venture.

Some examples of courses offered as part of Ball State University’s online MBA in entrepreneurship are:

  • Entrepreneurial Innovation & the Discovery of Opportunity. Focuses on fostering a creative decision-making process and discovering innovative solutions for real-world market opportunities.
  • Entrepreneurial Planning & Feasibility. An overview of the process for developing and evaluating the feasibility of an entrepreneurial idea.
  • Entrepreneurial Strategy. Students will integrate the principles, concepts, and theories of entrepreneurship into a field research project supervised by an approved faculty member.

Graduates of online MBA programs specializing in entrepreneurship may go on to pursue careers in management at established corporations, start-up companies, or may opt to start their own businesses.

Health care management

Health care is a rapidly expanding field filled with constant innovation and advancements in technology. With this in mind, there is also a growing need for qualified professionals who understand the industry. Students enrolled in an online MBA program specializing in health care management will learn about health care operations, resource management, and the legal, social, and political impact of management decisions in health care.

Some examples of courses taught at Duke University’s online MBA program in health care management include:

  • Health Care Law and Policy. Focuses on market and legal issues shaping the health care industry. This is a course designed for both law and MBA students.
  • Provider Strategy. An analysis of organizational innovation with a focus on strategies that allow the delivery of quality, ethical, and cost-effective care.
  • Economics and Management of the Pharmaceutical Industry. An exploration of policy and management issues as they relate to innovation, product commercialization, competition, and regulation in the pharmaceutical industry.

MBA graduates with a specialization in health care management are well-equipped to enter the growing health care industry as administrators and managers. They may find opportunities at pharmaceutical companies, medical supply companies, or work directly for hospital systems.

These are just some of a variety of specializations available as part of online MBA programs. Choosing an area of concentration can be beneficial in helping you make a career shift, improving your marketability in a tough economy, and demonstrating your ability to apply the knowledge you have gained in a specific industry. Before you make a decision about a program, do your research. Reading about the current job market and reviewing job descriptions for the area of specialization you are considering can be helpful in making sure that concentration is right for you.