General vs Specialised MBA: Which is better for you?
If you're thinking of pursuing an MBA, find out which type is better for you. Source: Shutterstock

In today’s competitive world, more and more people are looking to pursue an MBA to learn leadership skills, receive high salaries and gain promotions, among other reasons.

Because of this, there are several different types of MBA programmes offered, each with varying levels of flexibility (part-time, online, etc).

Anyone who intends to pursue an MBA should first ask themselves, what do I want to accomplish with it?

It’s not enough to simply want an MBA under your belt, and you should also know the reasons behind getting one and what you intend to use it for, or else you could be wasting your time and energy in a course that could be rigorous and challenging.

Taking up an MBA, whether it’s part-time or full-time, can be a big investment both financially and personally, so you’ll want to be sure it’s the right path for you.

But if you aren’t sure whether a general or specialised MBA is the best track for you, here’s a brief outline of their pros and cons:

General MBA

With a general MBA, you get a broad base of business knowledge. Source: Shutterstock

A general MBA offers students a way to learn the basics in business and management, and is ideal for those who want to  master certain skills in leadership, communication and critical thinking.

It’s also easier to get accepted, as you don’t need a specific education or professional background for most MBAs. What you will need is a good GMAT score and strong application, depending on the course.

The general MBA curriculum (which often spans two years) is usually built around a year of completing a set of core courses and then choosing electives in the second year.

So who is a general MBA ideally for?

The broad knowledge acquired in a general MBA programme is suitable for those wanting to take on more responsibility (such as an upper management role) or seeking a higher position in a different company or industry.

According to Ramapo.Edu, “Many choose the general MBA to differentiate themselves in a crowded field or to breakout from a timeworn perception that may be limiting their upside, e.g., “You’re just an IT person.” For those with a non-business undergraduate degree, the general MBA is an ideal way to advance your business knowledge.”

So, if you’re looking for more career opportunities with an MBA and you aren’t set on the specific industry you want specialise in, a general MBA would be more suitable.

The drawback of a general MBA is that it could be “too general”, and with the growing number of people with postgraduate degrees, it might not really set you apart from competition.

According to, “many educators feel that because of the mushrooming of so many MBA programs, the quality of faculty for these programs have declined and students are not receiving the quality of education that is enabling them to get jobs after graduation.”

Suresh Chitturi, Vice-Chairman and Managing Director, Srinivasa Hatcheries, said, “There is a huge gap between what they learn in business schools and what the industry needs. Quite a few of them are out of sync with reality, get fascinated by an MBA degree and think that they’re something special, which they’re not.”

Specialised MBA

Ambitions to get to the top? A specialised MBA could help you get there. Source: Shutterstock

As the name suggests, an MBA that is ‘specialised’ allows students to dive deeper into a specific programme or industry, such as Marketing, Finance or Human Resources.

These programmes are tailored to individuals who want to gain more expertise and learn leadership skills in their industry of choice.

You’ll receive an in-depth education in a certain field, and it can give you a more targeted management experience, according to Princeton Review.

It’s a good plan for those who already have an idea of what they want to pursue upon graduation, and it gives you a head start as you enter the field armed with specific knowledge.

It’s also more time-efficient and cheaper as specialised programmes are more focused and are usually only a year long, instead of traditional MBA programmes that span two years.

So what are the cons?

If you plan to change careers later down the line, chances are your specialised MBA won’t help as it’s focused on one industry.

Plus, it may be harder to get into a specialised course as many of them require you to have some prior experience in the field so applicants are committed to studying this particular niche.

If it’s general management knowledge you’re after, a specialised course is focused on a specific industry so chances are, you won’t obtain much of that.

Therefore, it’s important to outline your goals and determine how you plan to use your MBA for your future career before you choose a programme.

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