It’s fairly common for people to change their majors once they’re in school. Maybe once they learn more, they decide they don’t like the field or the career opportunities. Perhaps they take other classes and realize other topics are more interesting. They may realize they don’t have the aptitude or related skills for a particular field, such as a pre-med student who learns they don’t do well around blood.
This is a fairly standard part of the American college experience. A 2017 Department of Education study from the National Center for Education Statistics found that about 30 percent of undergraduates in associate or bachelor’s fields change their major at least once in three years.
Rather than have students focus solely on one discipline, most schools require a variety of core classes to allow student to experience different areas of career opportunity before committing to a major.
Advanced degrees, however, are different. When in the process of researching graduate programs, you already have a good idea of the field you want to study. In some cases, choosing an overall program is the easy part. Choosing a specialty or a concentration within that field can be a little more challenging.
Take, for example, the Master of Business Administration at University of Tennessee at Chattanooga (UTC). It offers three career-focused concentrations, each with advanced insight into different academic and career areas, and one general MBA option.
The MBA program also offers different delivery methods of instruction. These options can be especially handy for people trying to balance issues involving work, family, transportation, time, and even health.
Continue reading for an overview of some of the best options available to help you choose the right MBA concentration for your future.
Prior to selecting a concentration, it helps to identify the type of program that would work for your schedule and other needs.
UTC’s 100% online MBA program allows students to take the program from anywhere and allows students a choice of when they work on coursework throughout the week. Students taking these online asynchronous classes have access to lessons online as well online forums where they can communicate with other students, upload papers and presentations, and ask questions.
A second option is UTC’s Flexible MBA program which offers a blend of on-campus and online classes. This could be appealing for people who enjoy in-person interactions with other students and instructors as well as the consistency of a fixed class schedule for each day or week. To some, this could be more satisfying and better for self-discipline.
Fortunately, even in a graduate program, students often have some time to make up their minds on which concentration to pursue. And, if none of the concentrations appeal to you, you could take a mixture of electives that interest you and will fit with your career goals.
For those weighing the options for concentration options, consider these questions:
1. What are some career options for different areas?
Healthcare administration is an especially popular field. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment in the overall health care industry is expected to grow 15 percent by 2029 and add about 2.4 million jobs. It’s considered the fastest-growing sector due to an aging population plus higher demand overall. Besides the direct value of patient care, health care also has a business component, with everything from operating facilities to coordinating billing to hiring qualified personnel.
Advanced finance skills can also translate into all sorts of career options. The BLS said this can include areas of accounting, auditing, data, underwriting, and more. The general finance field is expected to grow 5 percent by 2029 with 476,200 new jobs added.
The data analytics field is projected to grow 31% by 2029 according to the BLS and earning a concentration in business analytics could land you a job as a data scientist or analyst in this ever-growing field that has a current median pay of $98,000 per year.
2. What kinds of wages are available?
The answer to this depends on profession and level of experience, but an MBA in any concentration can definitely open doors for larger salaries and leadership tracks than someone with a bachelor’s degree.
In the health care arena, for instance, administrators, controllers, and business managers can see a wide range of salaries. The overall wage of health care professionals was $69,870 as of May 2020, higher than the average wage for all occupations of $41,950. A general business concentration could lead to someone being a financial advisor, which has a median pay of $89,300 per year and a positive job outlook.
3. Do I need more school?
Some people are eager to get out in the workforce with their new MBA. Others may already be working but may be excited to look for ways to advance themselves with their new credentials.
In other cases, someone may want or need more education to get closer to their dream jobs. UTC does offer additional programs in addition to the MBA program, including a stand-alone Graduate Certificate in Business Analysis or related master’s programs such as the Master of Science in Data Analysis or the Master of Accountancy. Some pre-requisites for other graduate programs may be waived for completing an MBA program, allowing a faster process.
People may also want to pursue education credentials if they want to work in academia, perhaps teaching future students business fundamentals.
4. Can I change concentrations if I change my mind?
The answer will depend on where you are in the program and how many concentration courses versus core classes you’ve taken. You may be required to take additional concentration courses, but your program advisor can assist with this decision.
5. What kind of support exists for certain concentrations?
Beyond the assistance of a program advisor, students may be interested in other school-relevant resources. Is there an active network of alumni? Is there an official or unofficial group of current or past students who can share ideas, strategies, and job leads? What concentration includes the most graduates? Are there noteworthy faculty from whom you could learn or be mentored? Is there career coaching available?
6. What ‘soft skills’ are taught in each concentration?
Whatever you pursue, you’re going to have a solid foundation in modern business. But part of this training should also include coverage of American and global business cultures. Are there classes that teach ‘real world’ topics? This can include interview skills, networking, leadership ideas, and more.
For more information about MBA opportunities and the different concentrations offered at UTC’s Rollins School of Business, visit here.