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Written by Reese Lopez


Business ranks as the most popular field of graduate study in the United States, and an MBA serves as the gold standard for business education. These degrees build advanced management skills applicable to many professional fields. As business careers become more specialized, many students now customize their MBA with a concentration to develop unique skills in areas such as finance, management, or information technology. Concentrations build industry expertise and can help MBA graduates stand out to employers.

This page offers an overview of the highest-paying MBA concentrations, including information on industry trends, in-demand specializations, and average salary levels for dozens of career paths.

Top 10 Highest-Paying MBA Specializations

  1. Management
  2. Entrepreneurship
  3. Finance
  4. Marketing
  5. Information Technology
  6. Information Security
  7. Human Resources
  8. Healthcare Management
  9. Real Estate
  10. International Business
Read More About These Concentrations

What Are MBA Concentrations?

A general MBA program focuses on widely applicable business skills and builds broad knowledge of major business concepts such as management, finance, and marketing. Conversely, an MBA with a concentration covers the same business foundations, but narrows in on one area of business, such as healthcare management or international business. Concentrations may focus on core business practices such as marketing and human resources or specific industries such as real estate and information technology.

Concentration options can vary almost as much as businesses themselves, and available specializations vary widely among schools. While not all MBA programs feature concentrations, most schools do offer at least a few options, often in popular fields such as management and finance.

Students typically pursue concentrations to distinguish themselves in a competitive job market. The advanced knowledge conferred by an MBA concentration can help candidates pursue more specialized career paths, and studying an in-demand concentration may lead to more job opportunities with higher salary potential.

The Highest-Paying MBA Concentrations

This list features 10 of the highest-paying MBA concentrations, highlighting professional specializations that commonly lead to well-paid career paths. However, the constantly shifting nature of various industries and businesses means that any ranking of this type is unlikely to be definitive. Instead, this list explores several high-paying fields and professions in which MBA graduates are in high demand.

Earning a specialized MBA concentration can help students improve their career prospects, but the degree doesn't guarantee a six-figure salary immediately upon graduation. Most of the top-paying positions in any industry require significant professional experience and a proven record of business success -- neither of which are guaranteed by earning an MBA alone. However, the degree can set candidates on the path to upper-level management and other top positions.

This ranking considers average salary levels for various career paths, but it also takes into account general employment trends and projected industry growth. Beyond offering high salaries, these concentrations represent growing industries likely to see continued expansion in the coming decade. Most of the concentrations on this list combine competitive salary potential with a healthy industry outlook, giving MBA graduates a stronger chance of continued advancement and higher total earnings over the course of their career.

Management

One of the most popular and highest-paying MBA concentrations, management tracks introduce advanced business concepts and prepare students to plan, supervise, and make decisions for organizations of all types. General and no-concentration MBA programs typically also focus heavily on general management.

A management MBA offers the advantage of building broad, widely applicable skills that hold relevance for most sectors of business. These programs cover major business concepts such as organizational management, marketing, economics, finance, and business ethics. Given that these concepts apply to nearly all types of business, a management concentration prepares graduates for an assortment of career paths. However, more specialized positions may prefer candidates with more specialized concentrations.

Candidates who specialize in management can progress to the highest levels of an organization and assume top leadership roles that boast some of the highest salaries. However, these positions almost always require significant professional experience along with education.
Career Early Career Salary (1-4 years) Mid-career Salary (5-9 years) Experienced Career Salary (10-19 years)
Chief Executive Officer $112,000 $133,000 $160,000
Vice President, Operations $97,000 $113,000 $132,000
Divisional VP, General Manager $103,000 $123,000 $138,000
Source: PayScale.com
Explore Top Schools for Management

Entrepreneurship

Entrepreneurship focuses on strategies and best practices for starting new business ventures, with a particular emphasis on innovation, business planning, and business forecasting methods. This concentration typically serves candidates interested in founding their own businesses, but students can also use entrepreneurship skills to energize existing businesses and other organizations.

Most entrepreneurship programs stress planning and feasibility assessment methods. They provide students with the tools to analyze and project the marketability and potential success of business ideas. Another key curriculum component is innovation, as students explore the ways in which businesses enact effective change in their processes and services.

Salary expectations for entrepreneurship MBAs can vary more than other concentrations due to the inherent unpredictability of starting new business ventures. However, entrepreneurship graduates can also use their skills to pursue a variety of leadership and consulting roles with existing businesses, which yield generally high salaries.
Career Early Career Salary (1-4 years) Mid-career Salary (5-9 years) Experienced Career Salary (10-19 years)
Chief Executive Officer $112,000 $133,000 $160,000
Management Consulting Firm Partner $140,000 $155,000 $227,000
Venture Capital Firm Associate $91,000 $113,000 $150,000
Source: PayScale.com

Finance

A key component of any business, finance ranks high among MBA concentrations for its wide relevance and high salary potential. This concentration trains students to analyze financial outcomes to aid in decision-making practices, ensuring an organization remains as profitable as possible. The BLS projects careers for finance managers to grow 16% from 2018-2028, with particularly high growth projected for fields such as cash management and risk management.

An MBA in finance builds key knowledge and skills in management, financial planning, and financial analysis. The program commonly covers topics such as budgeting, accounting, economics, and taxation. Many programs also explore high-level frameworks for analyzing and projecting financial change, such as analytics and big data.

Financial organization and analysis play a vital role in any organization, and finance graduates can pursue careers in any sector of business. As with most career paths, advanced education typically leads to advanced career opportunities, but candidates also need to garner significant experience and demonstrate a record of success to move into the highest-level financial management positions.
Career Early Career Salary (1-4 years) Mid-career Salary (5-9 years) Experienced Career Salary (10-19 years)
Financial Director $80,000 $106,000 $123,000
Chief Financial Officer $100,000 $116,000 $138,000
Vice President of Finance $119,000 $130,000 $153,000
Source: PayScale.com

Marketing

Almost all companies rely on marketing to raise consumer awareness of their brand and generate interest in their products or services. Marketing can take many forms, such as advertising, promotional strategies, social media, public relations, and market research. The BLS projects the job outlook for advertising, promotions, and marketing managers to grow 8% from 2018-2028, which is higher than the national average.

Marketing managers most commonly take responsibility for developing, overseeing, and assessing the effectiveness of marketing strategies. Accordingly, an MBA in marketing covers key business management practices along with marketing topics such as advertising and public relations. These programs also prepare graduates to analyze marketing trends and implement effective marketing strategies that reflect changing consumer attitudes.

Earning an MBA in marketing prepares candidates for marketing management and director positions, most of which fall within the realm of mid- and upper-level management. Managers may take responsibility for individual aspects or the overall direction of a company's marketing strategy.
Career Early Career Salary (1-4 years) Mid-career Salary (5-9 years) Experienced Career Salary (10-19 years)
Marketing Director $59,000 $82,000 $102,000
Chief Marketing Officer $99,000 $134,000 $178,000
Advertising and Promotions Director $50,000 $74,000 $83,000
Source: PayScale.com

Information Technology

Information technology underpins most aspects of modern business, creating a high demand for technology leaders who can oversee companies' computing strategies. The BLS projects careers in computer and information technology to grow 12% from 2018-2028, which is much faster than the national average.

An MBA in information technology combines knowledge in business management with modern computing concepts, giving students the skills to integrate technology into business operations. Most programs cover advanced topics in management, organization, and other broadly applicable business concepts. Students also gain IT skills such as network administration, information security, and software architecture, building technical knowledge to bolster their leadership skills.

An MBA in information technology prepares graduates for a variety of mid- and high-level leadership positions. Given the widespread use of technology, students can typically pursue careers with many types of organizations. The highest-paying careers, such as chief technology officer, often require many years of experience.
Career Early Career Salary (1-4 years) Mid-career Salary (5-9 years) Experienced Career Salary (10-19 years)
Chief Technology Officer $108,000 $133,000 $159,000
Director of Information Systems $75,000 $100,000 $110,000
Information Technology Manager $67,000 $79,000 $94,000
Source: PayScale.com

Information Security

Information security functions similarly to information technology, but with a focus on securing digital information and computer networks for organizations of all types and sizes. The necessity of securing data, coupled with increases in cyberattacks and other forms of digital crime, have led to high demand for information security professionals. The BLS projects jobs for information security analysts to grow an astonishing 32% from 2018-2028, outpacing most other career paths even within the booming information technology field.

An MBA in information security prepares learners to develop, implement, and manage an organization's computer networks and security protocols. Many graduates pursue an assortment of positions in information security, network administration, and information technology management. Programs typically feature an overview of advanced business and management principles along with more technical courses focusing on network security practices.

An MBA in information security prepares graduates for many high-paying security and management roles, though candidates typically need extensive professional experience to advance to the highest-paying positions.
Career Early Career Salary (1-4 years) Mid-career Salary (5-9 years) Experienced Career Salary (10-19 years)
Information Security Manager $93,000 $109,000 $119,000
Network Architect $89,000 $110,000 $123,000
Information Systems Manager $67,000 $80,000 $93,000
Source: PayScale.com
Explore Top Schools for Information Security

Human Resources

By focusing on the management of employees within organizations, human resources (HR) managers ensure employee satisfaction and productivity through effective workplace policies and systems. At the highest levels of management, they may direct an organization's overall HR strategy, design employee hiring and firing procedures, create and issue performance assessments, implement pay and benefits systems, and develop protocols for addressing workplace issues.

As an MBA concentration, HR focuses on the varied dimensions of employee management, including labor relations, organizational development, and performance management. MBA candidates gain the skills necessary to negotiate the needs of organizations and their employees, with an emphasis on effective communication and management systems that meet legal and professional standards.

Given the widespread need for their skills, HR managers can find employment with almost any type of organization. The BLS projects positions for HR managers to grow 7% from 2018-2028, which is slightly faster than the national average.
Career Early Career Salary (1-4 years) Mid-career Salary (5-9 years) Experienced Career Salary (10-19 years)
Human Resources Manager $59,000 $68,000 $73,000
Human Resources Director $65,000 $81,000 $94,000
Compensation and Benefits Manager $73,000 $85,000 $96,000
Source: PayScale.com
Explore Top Schools for Human Resources

Healthcare Management

The rapid growth of the healthcare field has led to a demand for qualified managers who can apply business principles to healthcare administration and delivery of services. MBAs in healthcare management have grown to meet this need, and students who pursue this concentration can expect strong job prospects upon graduation. The BLS projects positions for medical and health services managers to grow 18% from 2018-2028, a rate about triple the national average.

An MBA in healthcare focuses on general management principles along with specialized topics in healthcare administration, such as health finance, healthcare law, and healthcare informatics. These programs prepare learners to manage healthcare personnel and services. Students examine general business issues such as marketing and finance, as well as specialized industry concerns such as insurance billing and hospital operations.

Healthcare MBA graduates can manage operations in a variety of settings, including hospitals, clinics, community health centers, and insurance agencies.
Career Early Career Salary (1-4 years) Mid-career Salary (5-9 years) Experienced Career Salary (10-19 years)
Executive Medical Director N/A $275,000 $316,000
Hospital Administrator $80,000 $90,000 $90,000
Program Director, Healthcare $69,000 $78,000 $88,000
Source: PayScale.com

Real Estate

One of the more specialized MBA concentrations, real estate applies the principles of business and management to the real estate market. These programs teach students how to analyze market trends and supervise real estate projects.

Real estate MBA programs build general business and management skills along with specialized knowledge relevant to the real estate market, such as real estate laws and contracts and real estate development. Students learn to analyze market trends in relation to real estate and property development. Courses often highlight factors such as population behavior, employment trends, and city planning.

Given the specialization of the degree, real estate MBA graduates most commonly find employment with real estate and property firms, though they may also pursue careers in other sectors where property transactions come into play, such as finance. At the highest levels, real estate MBAs may manage firms or specific company divisions, such as real estate acquisitions.
Career Early Career Salary (1-4 years) Mid-career Salary (5-9 years) Experienced Career Salary (10-19 years)
Vice President, Real Estate Acquisitions $95,000 $121,000 $147,000
Real Estate Development Manager $76,000 $95,000 $117,000
Senior Financial Analyst $76,000 $82,000 $87,000
Source: PayScale.com
Learn More About Real Estate MBAs

International Business/Global Management

A globalized business market has increased demand for professionals who can supervise operations both domestically and abroad. International business and management concentrations highlight management skills in a global context and emphasize the unique challenges of operating in foreign markets.

This concentration explores the varied international business market. Candidates prepare to work with U.S. companies operating abroad and foreign companies operating in the United States. International business MBAs cover topics such as supply chain logistics, organizational management, finance, and marketing, but with an emphasis on international operations. Most programs also examine international trade and investment regulations, often with an emphasis on specific global markets such as Europe or Asia.

At the entry- and mid-level, candidates may pursue positions such as international sales manager and international trade and compliance manager. At higher levels, MBA graduates may manage global accounts or direct global operations.
Career Early Career Salary (1-4 years) Mid-career Salary (5-9 years) Experienced Career Salary (10-19 years)
Global Account Manager $79,000 $94,000 $112,000
Global Program Director $88,000 $94,000 $140,000
International Sales Manager $59,000 $76,000 $92,000
Source: PayScale.com

The Best MBA Concentrations According to Industry Trends

Increased specialization in the workforce has led to increased demand for MBA concentrations, and employers value candidates who enter a job with specialized industry knowledge and skills. However, demand for different MBA concentrations fluctuates in accordance with industry trends. When selecting a field of specialization, it's wise to consider not only salary prospects, but the overall health of an industry and its likelihood of continued growth.

A 2019 survey on business school hiring trends conducted by the Graduate Management Admissions Council reports major growth (and corresponding increases in hiring) throughout technology, consulting, healthcare, and finance/accounting industries. Technology tops the rankings, with 80% of surveyed companies projecting growth. Consulting ranks second, with 75% of companies projecting growth, while healthcare and finance come in third and fourth, with 72% and 67% of companies projecting growth, respectively.

Technology ranks as a top field for career growth, and this trend is unlikely to change anytime soon. The BLS projects 12% growth in computer and information technology jobs from 2018-2028, which is about twice as fast as the national average. With more than 540,000 careers expected to be added in the coming decade, organizations need skilled managers who can develop and oversee technology operations. The BLS expects growth to center on cloud computing, big data, and information security.

Consulting boasts similarly strong growth projections, with the BLS projecting careers for management analysts to increase 14% through 2028. The variable nature of the field means that MBAs of all concentration types can pursue consulting after gaining significant professional experience. Management and entrepreneurship candidates often advise businesses of all types, while candidates in specialized fields like information technology or healthcare management consult in their respective areas of expertise.

An aging U.S population has led to dramatic growth in the healthcare field, and the BLS projects 14% industry growth from 2018-2028, with healthcare occupations expected to grow more than any other occupational group. Positions for medical and health services managers are projected to grow even faster, with jobs increasing 18% through 2028. While not all healthcare management jobs require an MBA, this advanced degree can help candidates distinguish themselves in the field and earn higher salaries.

Business and finance occupations, while not expanding as rapidly and healthcare and technology, still boast respectable growth levels, and the BLS projects this sector to expand 7% through 2028, adding more than 590,000 new jobs. In particular, the BLS expects high demand for specializations in accounting, auditing, and market research, which should correspond to increased demand for finance and marketing MBAs.

Should You Get an MBA Concentration?

Completing an MBA concentration builds a high level of specialization that can help students increase both their career prospects and salary potential. An in-demand concentration can also help graduates distinguish themselves in a competitive job market and advance to high-level management positions with increased leadership responsibilities. Some of the many benefits of earning an MBA concentration include:

  • Advanced Job Opportunities: Earning an MBA with a concentration opens up an assortment of specialized career opportunities, and many graduates move immediately into mid-level management positions. Completing a concentration can also make graduates more competitive applicants for higher-level positions.
  • Increased Salary: Any type of MBA typically leads to higher earnings, and a concentration in a high-paying career field, such as finance or information technology, can help graduates increase their earnings even further.
  • Stand Out to Employers: A concentration demonstrates a student's dedication to a particular field of business. By indicating their seriousness about a specific industry, students can distinguish themselves to employers.
  • Opportunity to Change Careers: While MBA programs typically draw on students' professional experience, the specialized skills built through an MBA concentration offer the opportunity to completely change careers. Industry-specific concentrations such as real estate or healthcare management serve as the perfect springboard to a new career path.
  • Specialized Networking Opportunities: Students in a specialized concentration program interact with peers, faculty, and other business professionals involved in their industry, thereby creating strong networking opportunities. For instance, international business candidates can build a network of global contacts during their studies, while healthcare management students can connect with other professionals in the healthcare field.

Concentration tracks distinguish themselves from general MBAs through their focus on a single area of business, but this level of specialization can also have its drawbacks. A general MBA builds broad, widely applicable skills and prepares graduates to pursue a wide selection of careers in many different industries. More specialized concentration pathways, such as real estate, healthcare, or information technology, may somewhat limit students to pursuing career paths within their field of specialization.

For students already employed or committed to pursuing a career path in a specific field, a concentration is a natural choice. However, for students just entering the world of business, or those uncertain about their future career path, a general MBA may serve as a more practical, open-ended choice.

The rankings below highlight the variety of MBA concentrations. These individual concentration pages offer an overview of major MBA pathways, including top schools, typical courses, and potential careers after graduation.

Rankings for Best Online MBAs by Concentration

Frequently Asked Questions

How much does an MBA increase salary?
While salary levels vary based on many factors, an MBA typically yields dramatic increases in pay. A recent survey from the popular MBA site Poets & Quants reports that graduates see an average annual salary increase of $36,742 after earning their MBA.
Which MBA is most in demand?
No single MBA concentration ranks as the most in demand, but rapidly growing fields such as information technology, consulting, healthcare, and finance offer strong employment prospects for MBA graduates.
Who earns more, an MBA or MS?
Precise salary figures vary widely depending on factors such as experience, location, and industry of employment. In general, the MBA is more popular among business majors, though the MS can yield high salaries in specialized fields such as finance, accounting, and data analytics.
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