We’re all familiar with the concept of a major and a minor, but what is a “concentration” within a graduate degree program? Why might one consider choosing a concentration in their field? As careers in business and marketing become more specialized, graduate programs are encouraging students to declare a concentration within their business degree program. A concentration makes a business graduate that much more attractive to employers, often broadening their job prospects and better preparing them to meet the challenges of today’s high-tech marketplace.
While it’s typical for a student to declare a minor in a different field altogether—say, a business administration major might choose a minor such as environmental science if they intend to work in the field of sustainable development—a concentration is often closely linked with the major, more tailored to a specific job description. Someone looking to establish a career in Internet marketing and new media technologies, for instance, might pursue a masters degree in business administration with a concentration in marketing.
Students desiring training in marketing typically pursue an MBA (Master of Business Administration) with a concentration in marketing. Those hoping to go on to teach marketing may obtain a PhD; however, an MBA is considered sufficient practical training for a career in the marketing field.
Marketing Concentrations within Degree Programs
Most marketing degrees at the masters level are contained as a concentration within a larger, more general business curriculum. Marketing degrees at the masters level are rarely self-contained, and – if available at all – never offer the diversity of concentrations available in more general business programs. In fact, of the top five business schools (Harvard, Stanford, Penn, MIT and Northwestern), according to U.S. News and World Reports, only two MBA programs offer official concentrations in marketing. The remainder of programs offer individual courses in marketing that can be applied toward the degree’s elective requirements.
Credit hour requirements for concentrations vary greatly; programs typically require anywhere between 12 credit hours and 36 credit hours to complete degree requirements for a concentration within the primary degree program. This varies from one institution to the next and is dependent on the nature of the concentration itself.
When considering educational training in marketing through an MBA program, it is essential to review the course offerings in marketing. Ask yourself these questions
- How many courses are offered in marketing?
- How many faculty members are available to offer courses and dedicated expertise in marketing?
- Are consultancy and practicum courses available in marketing, or are all courses lecture-based?
Take note, if a business school offers a PhD program in marketing, the courses available in marketing will be more numerous and diverse. (Three of the five top-ranked schools offer doctoral programs specifically in marketing.)
The Key Components of a Marketing Concentration
The core curriculum for marketing degrees will always include courses in Marketing Strategy, Marketing Research and Consumer and Buyer Behavior. A program’s strengths in marketing expertise will reveal itself through its additional course offerings, including courses in practical marketing problems and fundamental theory.
Strong marketing programs will also offer courses and/or faculty members with expertise in marketing across diverse industries, including specializations like retail, business-to-business, e-business and in specific consumer contexts like entertainment, agriculture or sports.
Careers to Consider
With a graduate-level degree in business and marketing, and with the variety of expertise you’ve gained, you’ll be prepared to pursue a wide range of careers within the field. Here are just a few job functions and titles:
- Strategic management
- New product development
- Pricing and branding
- Marketing law and public policy
- Public relations
- Market research
- International/global marketing
- Internet or e-marketing
We hope this has given you some fresh ideas and perspective on your future career as a marketing professional. An MBA with a concentration in marketing presents you with a truly wide variety of career options, a broad knowledge base and a great deal of transferable skills. Again, it’s important to remember that specialization is the name of the game now, and while you’re beginning to pursue a graduate degree in business, give some serious consideration to setting yourself up with a concentration in marketing; you’ll be that much more successful and fulfilled as a business professional in the long run.
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