P&Q Editor John A. Byrne Answers Reader Questions About The MBA



Which MBA specialization helps to make a career in general management?

The MBA itself is a degree in general management. It’s not a degree in a specific discipline or specialty but rather an education in all the core basics in business from accounting and finance to strategy and marketing.

That said, many MBA students do take a concentration or specialization once the core curriculum is concluded and this mainly depends on your interests and passions as well as your intended career path. My impression is that companies hire MBAs expecting them to jump right into things.

There is often little investment in training. So if you accept a job in marketing, you are expected to know all the basic marketing frameworks to immediately make you effective in your job. The same is true of other fields of business. So you would generally choose your electives on the basis of what you want to do.

We’ve done articles at Poets&Quants on the most popular and least popular specializations among MBA students. For men, the most popular is finance. For women, it’s marketing and accounting. See here:

Most and Least Popular MBA Specializations

We have also done stories on how business schools rank by specialization, based on U.S. News & World Report’s peer assessment survey which asks business school deans and MBA directors to rank the schools on this basis. See here:

How Business Schools Rank By Specialization

And finally, we have written on the highest paying specializations in business school. See here:

The Highest Paying MBA Concentrations

Ultimately, however, if you choose a concentration (not all business schools require one), it should obviously be related to your intended career path. Some schools, including Emory’s Goizueta School of Business, have moved up their entry dates for students so that they will actually begin taking a number of electives in year one, before they head off into their summer internships. The reason: So their students will know enough about the field they are entering to impress the employer and make sure they convert that internship into a full-time job offer.


What kind of specialization in MBA should I go for if I want to start my own business in a few years? Also suggest the world top B-Schools for it.

There was a time when your choices would have been fairly limited. But these days you would be hard pressed to find a quality business school without a menu of entrepreneurship courses along with plenty of mentoring and coaching to help you get a business off the ground. That said, you should get into the school with the strongest brand, if you can. Why? Because those schools are more likely to have the resources, the support, the network to help you start your own business. Obviously, schools that are well known for entrepreneurship are also good bets and that would include such places as Babson College, which routinely places first for entrepreneurship in U.S. News’ specialty rankings. Each year, we do a thorough survey of MBA startups and here’s what the data tells us:

Top Business Schools For Startups

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