Whether you are in the professional field or finishing up your undergraduate degree, chances are you have looked around and seen first-hand the value of a graduate degree. In the business field, more and more professionals holding a degree in Business Administration (MBA) has become the industry standard, as employers seek the best and brightest to add to their team.
Traditionally an MBA represents a student’s advanced proficiency in the areas of critical and analytical thinking, as well as problem solving. However, some would argue that the degree has become diluted — less persuasive on a resume due to the overabundance of qualified candidates holding MBAs.
With all the MBAs out there, pursuing a specialized business degree is an excellent alternative to the more traditional route. Holding a specialized business degree has several advantages, including better job opportunities and salaries, possessing more desirable leadership skills, and training in a unique and highly marketable set of business skills.
The traditional MBA is a great degree, but it might not be for everyone! Read on to discover the value of a specialized business degree and to see if pursuing one could be the right choice for you.
A specialized business degree is a master’s program that is focused exclusively on one area of business or industry, rather than providing a broad overview of standard business practice and skills. These specialized degrees include coursework that is isolated to one particular area of study, allowing for in-depth academic exploration. The degrees are ideal for students who want to develop a specialty in one area or are certain of the career path they want to take.
Often, specialized master’s programs are designed to respond to current market needs. For example, relatively new degrees have been created to fill growing industry and organizational needs. Many of these degree programs are offered either partially or fully online, making it easier for students to maintain a career and return to school.
Although it does not have the history or popularity of an MBA, there is a growing need for leaders who specialize in their unique fields and have the in-depth knowledge acquired through specialized degrees. According to the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) Corporate Recruiters Survey, the demand for specialized master’s degrees is increasing. Now is a great time to look into a specialized degree and what sets it apart from a standard MBA.
TRADITIONAL MBA VS. SPECIALIZED
There are a few key differences between an MBA and a specialized business degree. Perhaps the most obvious difference is in the educational objectives of the programs: MBAs are professional degrees that focus on developing functional business skills such as accounting, finance, and statistics, and then applying these skills in business applications. They generally provide a broad overview of business, offering students exposure to many different areas, but not a great deal of in-depth study across the various fields.
The objective of a specialized business degree is to provide the student with a curriculum concentrated exclusively on their particular area of interest. Coursework in these master’s programs is isolated to one area of study, providing an in-depth look at a particular field such as finance or accounting. Specialized degrees build on the student’s undergraduate coursework, allowing them to hone their expertise in their chosen area of business.
Another significant difference between the two degrees is the prerequisites required to enter the program. MBA programs often require two or more years of related work experience. Specialized business degree programs are perfect for those just finishing their undergraduate degree, because they do not generally require work experience. Some specialized degrees, particularly Master of Science degrees, frequently require an undergraduate degree in a similar academic area and/or required prerequisite courses.
Finally, MBA programs traditionally can take two or more years to complete, while specialized business degrees are frequently able to be completed in less time, saving you money and allowing you to jump into a career faster!
BUSINESS LEADERS VS. BUSINESS
If one of your goals in pursuing a specialized business degree is to move up the corporate ladder, then it is important to understand what companies look for in their higher ranking employees.
Generally, business are looking to hire leaders, not managers. The difference between a leader and a manager is that leaders inspire others to follow them, while managers simply have people who work for them. Leaders are people of character and integrity, who have vision and a strong ability to communicate that vision and inspire others to work effectively. Leaders also challenge those they work with, encouraging them to think creatively and innovatively, coaching them toward success, while still empowering employees to problem solve on their own.
A specialized business degree can equip you with the in-depth knowledge and expertise needed to confidently lead others. Businesses need leaders who specialize in their specific field and who can operate with strong and defined vision. Leaders who have strong decision making skills, as well as clear interests and career goals, are needed to pilot various professional sectors.
If you know exactly what area of business you want to dive into, a specialized business degree will allow you to take control of your function or industry, and lead — not just manage those around you.
According to research done by the Graduate Management Admissions Council, given the choice, 9 out of 10 alumni would choose to pursue a graduate business degree all over again, and most would recommend the program to a friend or colleague.
Across the board, graduates of these specialized degrees think that the program is worth it, but in what ways exactly can students expect to see the advantage and a return on their investment?
Check out these four areas where holding a specialized business degree gives you a distinct leg up:
According to a report from the MBA Career Services & Employer Alliance, 55 percent of the responding business schools reported an increase in both on-campus recruiting and full-time job postings, for graduates holding a specialized business master’s degree. The survey polled 83 business schools with specialized business programs, and found that not one of the Top 50 schools reported any decrease in job opportunities. In fact, 64 percent of the Top 20 business schools reported increased employment opportunities for specialized master’s graduates.
55 percent of the responding business schools reported an increase in both on-campus recruiting and full-time job postings, for graduates holding a specialized business master’s degree.
64 percent of the Top 20 business schools reported increased employment opportunities for specialized master’s graduates.
Translation? A specialized business degree increases your chances of landing the job you really want, and opens up to you a number of highly coveted career opportunities.
It is important to look at the long term when deciding to pursue an advanced degree. You should only choose to pursue a degree that has the potential to help you secure a good job and keep that job in the future.
The great news about specialized business degrees is that they can offer you job stability and opportunities for promotions later in your professional career. Several of the common fields for degree holders are projected to grow in the coming years, making this degree a great asset, and increasing job security for those who hold it.
For instance, data shows that 93 percent of graduates of a specialized business degree had found jobs within three months of graduation in 2014, up from 75 percent in 2010.
75 percent of graduates of a specialized business degree had found jobs within three months of graduation
93 percent of graduates of a specialized business degree had found jobs within three months of graduation
Employment rates and starting salaries for specialty master’s graduates of the top-ranked schools tend to be reasonably high and are also strong in many mid-tier schools.
Generally speaking, the type of specialized degree you earn will determine your starting salary. It is certain that a specialized graduate degree will allow you to make more than an undergraduate degree in an equivalent field. Here are some of the starting salaries for some of the more common specialized business degrees:
While both master’s programs have merit, one might provide you with a better fit. When looking at which degree to pursue, it can be helpful to evaluate the degrees keeping in mind your goals.
The first step in deciding is to look at your career objectives: If you have an unrelated undergraduate degree and are looking to acquire functional business skills, the MBA would be a good choice. On the other hand, if your objective is to further your knowledge and skills in a specific area of business, or become a specialist, a specialized business degree would be the right fit.
If you desire to have the biggest potential impact in your chosen field, a specialized business degree can empower you to do just that. For example, those choosing careers that require an in-depth background such as accounting, finance, and marketing, benefit the most from a specialized degree. This degree provides them with the opportunity to cultivate their knowledge in that specific subject, as opposed to receiving a broad overview of business practice.
If you are still having trouble deciding, take this Interactive Quiz: Should I Do a General or Specialized Master’s? By evaluating your goals, industry interests and preferences, and personal habits the quiz is designed to help guide you toward pursuing the optimal master’s program.
At Neumann University, we strive to invest in you and in your future career. In each of our three specialized business degrees, professors who have real world experience and a breadth of professional knowledge are eager to help you succeed through our small class size and personalized attention. Learn more about each of our specialized business degrees below.
A Master of Science in Accounting is a specialized business degree that focuses on honing your analytical skills, and preparing you to work in a number of different roles, in virtually every area of industry. Sometimes abbreviated MAcc, this degree will give you expert-level training that will allow you to slide into the financial sector of any company. Coursework will provide you with training in subjects such as taxation, auditing, cost analysis, ethical issues, and business law and financial regulations.
According to a 2017 survey by the Graduate Management Admission Council, there is a great demand for professionals with an MAcc. According to the survey, 42 percent of companies indicated they planned to hire recent graduates in 2017, a three percent increase over 2016 hiring rates. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ (BLS) found that the median annual salary for accountants and auditors is $68,150, with top-tier accountants earning more than $120,000 annually. The BLS data also indicates that the demand for accounting professionals is on the rise, predicting 10 percent job growth through 2026.
At Neumann our Master of Science in Accounting program has a particular emphasis on Forensics and Fraud Detection. Forensic accounting is one of the fastest growing sectors of law enforcement. It is these sharp sleuths that comb through personal and corporate financial records looking for discrepancies and evidence of illegal activity such as fraud or other financial crimes. 30 credit hours are required, and the degree can be completed in as little as 18 months. Our degree is offered in either an in-class or hybrid format, providing students with the flexibility they need to complete their MAcc. As with all of our graduate programs, the faculty who will teach your classes are working professionals with expert-level experience in the field. Additionally, if you choose to pursue your certified personal accountant (CPA) licence, the credits in your degree program will count toward the 150 total hours you need to sit for the CPA exam.
A master’s in Sport Business degree differs from an MBA with a sports management concentration. The master’s in Sport Business focuses more exclusively on the sports industry and business practices within the industry. Students learn about the business elements of the sport industry, from the perspective of the sports industry, as opposed to an MBA program where students learn business fundamentals and then apply them to the field of sport management.
A master’s in Sport Business is a more subject specific and in-depth program than an MBA. It will also provide you opportunities to network with like-minded professionals, and students also pursuing a career in the industry. Often this networking among colleagues leads to internships and career relevant experiences that can help you later down the road. Careers in sport business are competitive, and a specialized business degree will help you to distinguish yourself as one of the top candidates. There is overlap between the world of business and sports, however, several careers become more accessible with a master’s in sport business that would be less feasible with only an MBA and no job-related experience.
At Neumann, our Master of Science in Sport Business program is designed to give you a comprehensive understanding of the management of sport organizations. With classes focusing on analytics, leadership and ethics, marketing and partnership activation, legal and regulatory issues, events and facilities, revenue generation, financial management, and digital media/communication, your extensive and expert knowledge will help you make impactful decisions in your chosen profession. The degree is comprised of 30 credit hours, which can be completed in as little as one year. The degree is offered in a hybrid format, allowing students the utmost flexibility for quick completion. Additionally, the sport business faculty are expert practitioners who have significant industry relationships and meaningful experiences with external industry partners, which will help you further your career in the sports industry.
A Master’s in Organizational and Strategic Leadership prepares students by helping them gain valuable management expertise through coursework in the field. The curriculum is typically centered around the human elements of business, such as communication techniques, leadership theory, multicultural workplace dynamics, and team development. This differs from an MBA, which generally provides a broad overview of all business operations and takes an analytical approach to management, rather than a human one. By emphasizing more personal and creative approaches to management, this specialized business degree enables students to work with the emotional intelligence of individual subordinates, inspiring them to their fullest professional potential.
At Neumann University, our Master of Science in Organizational and Strategic Leadership has been ranked among the “Top 10” management programs in Pennsylvania, and the “50 Best Online” organizational leadership programs nationally. The focus of this specialized business degree is the students’ personal transformation and developing exemplary leadership skills. Through the program, students are prepared to lead high-performing teams, develop effective strategies, and make a positive impact in the lives of others. The curriculum includes extensive study on knowledge management, legal issues and public policy, fiscal planning, change management, and ethical responsibilities. Students are strongly encouraged to connect research projects with their prospective careers, so employers can see first-hand a return on their investment.
The degree consists of 30 credit hours and is offered in an accelerated 18 month curriculum. Classes are cohort-based providing students with a group of peers that delivers academic and logistical support throughout the degree process. Classes are offered in eight-week sessions, and held on the same night each week. Additionally, the professors and faculty possess significant leadership experience and are ready to help students navigate potential situations, drawing from their own personal and professional knowledge.
It can be difficult to know where to begin when it comes to a graduate business degree. However, with the abundance of MBAs in the workforce, and the rise in popularity and demand of the specialized business degree, it is a great option for those looking to spend minimal time in school, and reap the maximum professional reward.
Specialized business degrees also provide graduates with subject specific, in-depth and expert level knowledge — something you don’t get with an MBA. Specialized business degrees offer lots of options and are perfect for those who know what sector of business they want to dive into and where they want their career to go.
After evaluating all the options, it seems the only question left is, which specialized business degree will you choose?
Come find out if Neumann University is the right place for you to start following your academic and professional dreams!
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