The Changing MBA Value Proposition

MBA Blog / 5th June 2024

As the business community calls for more leaders with specialized skillsets, Kennesaw State University has responded by revolutionizing its MBA program and replacing a general business curriculum with seven highly focused concentrations.

Traditionally, the value of an MBA degree was in the wide range of business skills students learn that are applicable across industries and roles. MBA programs often involve broad training in concepts like project management, leadership, finance, data analysis, and more, which makes graduates attractive as potential hires.

While all this is still true, working professionals are discovering that being a generalist may only get them so far. Instead, developing specialized skillsets in critical business areas allows them to increase their marketability and enhance their long-term career prospects.

Why Specialization Matters

Employers continue to value the skills that MBA graduates bring to their organizations. According to 2023 survey resultspublished by the Graduate Management Admission Council, 91 percent of organizations around the world hired MBA graduates in 2022, making MBA graduates the most in-demand candidatesamong employers compared to candidates holding other business master’s and bachelor’s degrees.

While MBA graduates are widely distributed across their organizations, they are most likely to work in a few key functional areas, with the most common being strategy/innovation (at 47 percent of employers), consulting (45 percent), marketing (44 percent), and general management (42 percent).

By rethinking MBA programs away from the general and towards the specialized, Kennesaw State and others are helping students hone their skills in key areas like innovation andmarketing, which makes students better able to meet their future – or current – organization’s unique needs.

How Kennesaw State is Responding

Business schools like Kennesaw State University’s Michael J. Coles College of Business recognize that specialization will only become more important as professionals look to differentiate themselves in a competitive job market. In Fall 2023, the Coles College redesigned its part-time Evening MBA program to allow students to declare a concentration when they begin the program.

Launching with concentrations in accounting, finance, general management, and fintech, the program will offer three additional concentrations – digital marketing, organizational entrepreneurship and innovation, and information security and assurance – in Fall 2024.

Renee Bourbeau, Kennesaw State’s executive director of MBA programs, says that the time is right to offer students more flexibility to customize their degree to meet their specific career goals.

“Concentrations and specialized master’s programs have gained popularity among many business schools nationwide over the past five years,” Bourbeau said. “Specialization is an important vehicle for meeting industry demands because it enables our MBAs to develop expertise and a depth of knowledge that leads to greater innovation, problem-solving and increased efficiency for employers.”

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