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Selecting an MBA Concentration

Do I need a concentration?

Determining whether or not you need a concentration is a career decision. Yes, academics will be involved in course selection, concentration requirements and graduation planning, but this is primarily a decision related to how you will market yourself for the job search. In general, it is recommended that everyone complete a concentration to clearly show your career interest and focus in a particular field or functional area. However, if you have work experience or a prior degree in that functional area, a concentration may not be necessary.

Who Am I?

Work Experience

Is a Concentration Recommended?

MBA 0-2 years Yes
MBA 2+ years unrelated to your area of interest Yes
MBA 2+ years specifically related to your area of interest It depends on your specific job function or industry. Meet with the CRC to discuss your career goals and options.

MBA
(changing jobs or industries)

Variable Yes
BS Business/MBA 0 years Yes
BS Engineering/MBA 0 years Yes, but it depends on your long-term career goals. Meet with the CRC to discuss.
Joint MBA
(focus in another career area: law, medicine, social work, etc.)
Variable Not usually, but it depends on your long-term career goals. Discuss with the CRC during your introductory appointment.

How do I select a concentration?

Work with the Career Resource Center. Begin by making some career decisions and take a systematic approach to selecting a concentration. This involves several steps in the career development process

  1. Self-assessment 
    To understand your interests as well as your skills, we recommend you engage in self-assessment. The MBA program is going to help you develop business-related skills through both the core curriculum and concentration electives.
    • Identify your highest-match business career areas by reviewing the CareerLeader assessment results that you completed the summer before you entered the MBA program. Refer to the MBA blueprint for directions on accessing the CareerLeader assessment
    • Review the results of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) which gives you information about your personality and some work behaviors. You received the results during August MBA Advantage
  2. Understand your concentration(s) of interest
    • Review the MBA curriculum, the concentrations available and course requirements
    • Read the descriptions of your suggested career paths in your CareerLeader results
    • Watch the concentration workshops videos online 
    • Read the MBA concentration course descriptions 
    • Read career and industry guides from Vault Career Insider (shortcut on BizLink
    • Talk with faculty and other students about your interests and functional areas
  3. Explore career options related to a specific concentration

    • Read job descriptions for various level positions

    • Conduct informational interviews with alumni and friends of the School of Management who work in your area of interest. You can use the Mentor Program to identify those contacts

    • Meet with a CRC staff member to discuss your career goals and concentration selection. (First-year MBAs will accomplish this through their introductory CRC appointment in their first semester)

    • Attend networking or educational events, including Executive Speaker Series, Realistic Job Previews and alumni networking events like Network New York and Network Buffalo

    • Join School of Management clubs or national and local professional organizations to learn more about your areas of interest and network with those already working in those fields

    • Plan to complete at least one MBA internship in your concentration area

You should start this process during the first semester of your program because there are many factors involved in your decision. Do not wait to take courses to decide which area interests you. This is an important decision that can have a major impact on your job search success. Taking one course will typically not give you enough information to make this decision.

How do I know which courses to take, and in which order?

Work with the Graduate Programs Office. After you have narrowed down your area of interest and feel confident about your career goals, your next step is to formalize an academic plan. Use the MBA handbook, talk with faculty, current students and recent alumni to better understand what courses will align with your career goals. If you need additional assistance with your academic plan, schedule an appointment with Jill Phinney by visiting the Graduate Programs Office in 203 Alfiero Center or calling 716-645-3204. Jill can assist you with your course selection, sequencing, academic plan and graduation success.