Since the birth of the Master's of Business Administration degree, students and professionals have been pursing this program for more training in best business practices, new tools, and effective decision-making. Some prospective online MBA students will simply pursue the most prestigious and top ranked MBA programs in the country, others will narrow their search with location, pricing, accreditation, and specialization or concentration topics. If you are embarking on a career in business, the concentrations, specializations, and certificates you choose while earning your Online MBA can greatly affect your future earning power. Yes, it's important to examine current salaries; but students should also have a long-term perspective on job prospects.
When contemplating an Online MBA, this list can help give context on specific job sectors, job specialties, and thus MBA curriculum. This list is comprised of the most popular concentrations available with the most recent average career salary reported by PayScale. Concentrations are listed in alphabetical order.
Accounting is often called, "the language of business." The importance of the role of professional accountants and auditors in business is in ensuring the quality of financial reporting cannot be overly emphasized. Accountants and auditors prepare and examine financial records. They ensure that financial records are accurate and that taxes are paid properly and on time. Accountants and auditors assess financial operations and work to help ensure that organizations run efficiently. Check out our Guide to Online MBAs in Accounting and our Ranking of the Top Accounting Online MBA Programs for more information.
2. Change Management
Change Management is a particularly challenging and exciting area of expertise. Managers and leaders dealing with change need to understand micro and macro systems, how to focus on organizational goals, and how to create and manage the practical and human side of dealing with change. These managers must understand organizational behavior, effective managerial skills, forming and implementing strategic organizational business, and organizational leadership. This small, but dynamic group of Online MBAs in Change Management include schools from Pepperdine University, Wright State University, and Friends University.
Change Manager median annual salary: $91,379
2. Cybersecurity, Information Security Analysis
Information security analysts protect information stored on computer networks. They do this with special software that allow them to keep track of who can access and who has accessed data. Also, they might perform investigations to determine whether or not data has been compromised. As you might expect, demand for information security analysts is expected to be very high, as these analysts will be needed to create innovative solutions to prevent hackers from stealing critical information or causing problems for computer networks. Check out our Guide to Online MBAs in Cybersecurity and our Ranking of the Top Cybersecurity Online MBA Programs for more information.
Entrepreneurs are the brave businessmen and women that make businesses out of ideas. They face risk, maneuver challenges, and channel their creativity and strategy into fruition. Online MBAs in Entrepreneurship will cover basic topics in finances, ethics, marketing, and law, as well as venture creation. Entrepreneurship Online MBAs provide a significant advantage in flexibility for those that are juggling jobs, personal lives, and their future or current entrepreneurship endeavors. Check out our Guide to Online MBAs in Entrepreneurship and our Ranking of the Top Entrepreneurship Online MBA Programs for more information.
Entrepreneur average annual salary: $85,646
5. Environmental Management, Sustainability
An environmental Management MBA provides a firm foundation in business administration, while also incorporating sustainability concepts. This degree concentration teaches students the ways in which business operations may affect the environment, environmental laws, and how operations can be improved to minimize those effects. It includes a strong background in core courses such as operations management, business law and ethics, and marketing management. It also includes courses on financial accounting and financial management to educate students about how the environmental aspects of business can affect the bottom line. Check out our Ranking of the Top Environmental Sustainability Online MBA Programs for more information.
6. Executive MBA
An Executive MBA program is for top corporate executives. CEOs, for example, devise strategies and policies to ensure that an organization meets its goals and survives. Top executive officers direct, and coordinate operational activities of companies and organizations. Since many EMBA students are current high level managers or executives, a distance-based program is perfect for their schedule needs. Check out our Guide to Executive Online MBAs and our Ranking of the Top Executive Online MBA Programs for more information.
CEO median annual salary: $162,774
Finance is a wide open and lucrative business specialty, and one of the most popular specializations available. Career options for Finance MBA graduates include going into corporate finance, investment banking, venture capital, individual investments consultancy, asset management, or private equity. Check out our Guide to Online MBAs in Finance and our Ranking of the Top Finance Online MBA Programs for more information.
Finance Manager median annual salary: $86,987
8. Healthcare Management
As the large baby-boom population ages and people remain active later in life, the healthcare industry as a whole will see an increase in the demand for medical and health service managers, also called healthcare executives or healthcare administrators. Their job is to plan, direct, and coordinate medical and health services and teams. They might manage an entire facility, a specific clinical area or department, or a medical practice for a group of physicians. Medical and health services managers must direct changes that conform to changes in healthcare laws, regulations, and technology. Check out our Guide to Online MBAs in Healthcare Management and our Ranking of the Top Healthcare Management Online MBA Programs for more information.
9. Homeland Security
This is a relatively new field within an MBA curriculum, but the overall vision of the job, and agency, is to ensure a homeland that is safe, secure, and resilient against terrorism and other hazards. Positions in the DHS are at a premium and it certainly helps to have had a concentration in security while working towards your MBA. Jobs in this field are highly sought after and offer competitive salaries and benefits. In some particular positions, you might find an opportunity to have tuition reimbursement, health and wellness programs, fitness centers, and a uniform allowance. There is a small group of schools offering this specialization, including Wilmington University and American Public University.
The hospitality industry includes businesses and organizations centered around tourism, lodging, events, and even transportation. This exciting field needs leaders and managers who not only understand the consumer experience but also the particular human resources that is involved. Topics within Hospitality Online MBA programs include International tourism, Hospitality operations, Strategic management, Big events, Food service, Lodging, Human Resources Management, Hospitality Operations & Financial Metrics, Hospitality Asset & Financial Management, and Hospitality Revenue Management & Pricing Strategies. There is a growing number of schools offering this specialization, including Washington State University, East Carolina University, and the University of New Hampshire.
11. Human Resources
Students with a concentration in Human Resources often become Human Resource Managers. Their job is to plan, direct, and coordinate the administrative functions of an organization. They oversee the recruiting, interviewing, and hiring of new staff; consult with top executives on strategic planning; and serve as a link between an organization's management and its employees. As new companies form and organizations expand their operations, they will need human resources managers to oversee and administer their programs, and to ensure firms adhere to changing and complex employment laws. Strong competition can be expected for most positions. Check out our Guide to Online MBAs in Human Resources and our Ranking of the Top Human Resources Online MBA Programs for more information.
12. Information Technology
Computer and information systems managers, often called information technology (IT) managers or IT project managers, plan, coordinate, and direct computer-related activities and systems in an organization. They help determine the information technology goals of an organization and are responsible for implementing systems to meet those goals. This job function and management role is absolutely essential in today's global marketplace. Check out our Guide to Online MBAs in Information & Technology and our Ranking of the Top Information & Technology Online MBA Programs for more information.
13. Innovation Management
Innovation is an area of business that is on the cutting edge of development. Any entrepreneur or business leader that wants to gain or maintain a competitive advantage in the future of an ever changing business environment needs to have some expertise in innovation. Leaders in innovation need to have an understanding of customer need, strategic and creative thinking, and product development. Courses in the Innovation Online MBA programs include Consumer behavior, Market research, Product and brand management, Product design and development, Fostering Creative thinking, Strategic Innovation, and Entrepreneurship. There is a growing group of schools offering this dynamic specialization, including Temple University, North Carolina State University, and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
14. International/Global Business
Global Manager average annual salary: $94,484
15. Investment Management
16. Managerial Economics
Economists study the production and distribution of resources, goods, and services by collecting and analyzing data, researching trends, and evaluating economic issues. Business leaders in all industries use the knowledge of economics when making decisions that affect the short-term as well as long-term profitability of a company. Having the knowledge and skills to look ahead and make decisions based on previous trends and market history can help improve decision-making outcomes in any line of business. Check out our ranking of the Top Managerial Economics Online MBA Programs for more information.
As a market research analyst one of your job functions would be to study market conditions, all relating to potential sales of a product or service. A market analyst understands what products people want, who will buy them, and at what price: valuable information in the business community. Employment growth in this field is driven by an increased use of data and market research across all industries. Also, the need to understand the wants of customers and the need to measure the effectiveness of marketing and business strategies. Check out our Guide to Online MBAs in Marketing and our Ranking of the Top Marketing Online MBA Programs for more information.
18. Non-Profit Management/Social Entrepreneurship
When you think about working for a non-profit organizations don't forget that it's a huge sector of the workforce. Indeed, the nonprofit sector alone is now the third-largest segment of the U.S. workforce, following retail and manufacturing. The latest figures say there are about 1.8 million nonprofit agencies located in the United States, employing 13.7 million people and accounting for nearly 10% of the nation's workforce. That's good news for those interested in pursuing work in this field. The combined assets of U.S. nonprofits are nearly $3 trillion, making the sector the seventh-largest economy in the world—larger than the economies of Brazil, Russia, and Canada. Check out our Guide to Online MBAs in Nonprofit Management and our Ranking of the Top Nonprofit Management Online MBA Programs for more information.
19. Operations Management
Operations Concentration focus on the design and management of how products are manufactured and services are delivered to customers: key to good business. Critical processes enable service delivery systems, supply chains and quality improvement efforts. Duties and responsibilities of someone in this field would include formulating policies, managing daily operations, and planning the use of materials and human resources. There is a growing number of schools offering this important specialization, including Kettering University, the University of Scranton, and Carnegie Mellon University.
20. Public Administration
21. Risk Management
Risk Manager median annual salary: $85,793
22. Social Media Management
Advertising, promotions, and marketing managers plan programs to generate interest in products or services. They work with art directors, sales agents, and financial staff members. Given the explosion of social media and its use as promotional vehicles, someone well versed in digital marketing and advertising will continue to be essential for organizations as they seek to maintain and expand their share of the market. There is a small group of schools offering a specialization in this growing field, including National University, Southern New Hampshire University, and Saint Leo University.
24. Statistics, Business Analytics
â¨Statisticians and Data Analysts use statistical methods to collect and analyze data and to help solve real-world problems in business, engineering, healthcare, or other fields. Think of how often the concept of analytics is used to steer an organization's growth plan. This is a specialization with great growth potential due to the anticipated widespread use of statistical analysis to make informed business and healthcare decisions. Check out our Guide to Online MBAs in Business Analytics and our Ranking of the Top Business Analytics Online MBA Programs for more information.
Data Analyst median annual salary: $58,017
25. Supply Chain Management, Logistics
As a logistician or supply chain manager you'll analyze and coordinate an organization's supply chain—the system that moves a product from supplier to consumer. A logistician manages the entire life cycle of a product, which includes how a product is acquired, distributed, allocated, and delivered. How important is the specialty to an organization? Many economists say that employment growth will be driven by the need for logistics in the transportation of goods in a global economy. Check out our Guide to Online MBAs in Supply Chain Management and our Ranking of the Top Supply Chain Management Online MBA Programs for more information.