When Comparing MBA Schools in Virginia Consider Specializations

For many professionals, the MBA program can offer them a chance to delve into specific areas of business that interest them. Many programs offer students an opportunity to concentrate in specific areas of business, or to pursue a dual degree program. Each of these options is a great way for students to customize their MBA and specialize in a topic of interest for them. When researching MBA schools in Virginia, it is important to consider the various specializations offered through each program.

The top ranked MBA schools in Virginia (part-time) according to U.S. News & World Report are:

  • George Mason University School of Management
  • Pamplin College of Business at Virginia Tech
  • Robins School of Business at University of Richmond
  • Mason School of Business at College of William & Mary
  • Virginia Commonwealth University

Below is a brief breakdown of some specializations offered at each of these top ranked MBA schools in Virginia.*

George Mason University School of Management

  • Accounting
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Financial Management
  • Information Systems Management
  • International Business
  • Leadership
  • Marketing
  • Project Management
  • Real Estate

After completing the core MBA Program curriculum, George Mason students may use their 15 credits in electives in one of the defined areas of emphasis. Alternatively, students may choose any electives that meet their interests. One of the most popular specializations is finance. It is a hot topic for many students pursuing their MBA because there is a strong demand in the labor market for those studying finance. Mason’s MBA in Finance is designed to prepare students for high caliber professional, managerial or investment careers in both the private and public sectors.

Another popular area of emphasis is entrepreneurship. George Mason offers a variety of programs, conferences, and academic courses designed to fully integrate entrepreneurship into the lives of students and alumni. These initiatives are led by Entrepreneur-in-Residence, Jim Wolfe, and the Director of Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Mahesh Joshi. George Mason has a large entrepreneurial alumni base and is uniquely integrated into the regional startup community.

Pamplin College of Business at Virginia Tech**

  • Organization Management & Strategy (46%)
  • Marketing (44%)
  • Finance (25%)
  • General Management (13%)
  • Specialized Concentrations (8%)
  • Building Construction (6%)
  • Civil Engineering (6%)
  • Industrial & Systems Engineering (2%)
  • MBA/DO (2%)

**Student Concentration Selection 2010-12

Students who are interested in going beyond the generalist MBA, may select from one of the concentrations listed above. While a concentration is not required, most students find the focused classes and deeper interaction with faculty enhances their overall MBA experience.

Virginia Tech MBA also offers a variety of ways to enhance student’s education by partnering with other areas at the university and offering dual degree programs, including:

Robins School of Business at University of Richmond

  • JD/MBA Program

During the course of their program, MBA students take four elective courses. Specialty electives may be offered from time to time based on faculty interest, student demand, and emerging events in business. Students have the option to pursue the JD/MBA program, completing one year of law school classes before beginning the MBA program.

Mason School of Business at College of William & Mary

  • Business Analytics
  • Consulting
  • Entrepreneurship and Private Enterprise
  • Finance
  • Health Care
  • Marketing
  • Operations and Supply Chain Management

William & Mary’s MBA offers seven concentrations designed to enhance student’s success in the career of their choice (listed above). These seven areas were chosen for concentrations based on an assessment of where jobs are, and more importantly, where they are going to be in the coming years. Each concentration includes one of Mason’s unique CAMS (Career Acceleration Modules) as well as electives tailored to meet the requirements recruiters in each field are looking for in MBA candidates. Students can choose one of these concentrations or a general management degree without a concentration.

Virginia Commonwealth University

  • Business Analytics
  • Corporate Finance
  • Entrepreneurship and Innovation
  • Global Business
  • Health Care Management
  • Human Capital
  • Information Resources Management
  • Investments
  • Real Estate
  • Supply Chain Management

At Virginia Commonwealth, students may elect an MBA without a concentration or may choose an MBA with a single or double concentration in one or more of the concentrations listed above. The concentration in health care management is offered as a summer cohort weekend format.

Prior to committing to an MBA school in Virginia, be sure to take some time to consider if there is a particular concentration or dual-degree program that interests you or will enhance your career path. Upon completing your MBA program, you should be able to couple the general business and management skills you learned in the core curriculum with the specialized field or industry knowledge from elective courses to pursue greater levels of responsibility and leadership in your career.

*Data obtained from individual university websites.

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Jackie Buchy

Since 2011, I have served as the assistant dean for graduate enrollment at George Mason University's School of Business. In my role, I work with prospective graduate students to identify and select the best graduate program to meet their career goals.

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