And the specialized MBA programs themselves cause me some questions.

And the specialized MBA programs themselves cause me some questions.

The spread of specialized MBA programs has divided the opinions of teachers of world business schools

Does MBA specialization make sense?

Professor Simon Stockley of the Imperial College Business School in London states: “An MBA is, by definition, a general qualification in management, and so we are not quite convinced that there can be such a thing as a specialized MBA program in a field. “

Others believe that if a candidate has significant experience in one industry and knows that his or her future is tied to it, why not specialize with MBA experts who have both general management techniques and skills in this unique industry?

According to Vladimir Nanat, a professor at the Italian MIB Management School in Trieste, “every industry has highly qualified professionals who just want to progress in their field and an MBA can help them in their career growth.”

For critics, the main reason for the existence of MBA programs is to teach the general basics of business, its universal laws, as well as expanding the career horizons of graduates of such programs. They ask the question – why narrow the specialization, and hence the opportunities?

Professor Stockley is not alone in his warnings. In recent years, there has been a proliferation of specialized MBA programs, examples of which are: MBA in winemaking at Bordeaux Management School, MBA in football from the University of Liverpool, MBA in oil and gas management at Aberdeen Business School at the Robert Gordon University and this is only a small part of such examples.

This proliferation of specialized MBA programs is due to the need for experimentation and training diversification. The MBA is more than 100 years old, and given the hardships of the banking and financial industries, deans and programmakers are trying to find innovative ways to train the next generation of business leaders.

However, it is incorrect to assume that the increase in the number of specialized MBA programs is widespread.

Currently, although there is no exact data, only a small proportion of MBA students attend such courses. To date, the largest number of those receiving business education through MBA programs are still enrolled in traditional programs.


The emergence of such specialized MBA programs has not gone unnoticed by strong players. According to Alain Lemperea, Professor of Negotiation and Mediation at ESSEC Business School Paris-Singapore, specialized MBA programs play an important role for students with a clear focus on a specific industry.

“Students attending specialized MBA programs master the basics of management provided by the general MBA course, as well as the specifics of a particular industry in their field of interest,” says Professor Allen.

However, many business schools still reject the concept of a specialized MBA program. Professor Alphonse Soke, Dean of ESADE Business School in Barcelona, ​​argues that the true value of an MBA lies in providing a common approach to management, and therefore an understanding of the entire corporate structure. As in all leading MBA programs, electives play a key role in students’ personal development and interests.

“Within the MBA, electives allow participants to further focus on a specific area of ​​interest and configure the MBA program according to their interests and goals for the future. Electives should work together to give the student the same clear understanding of, say, finance as strategy, ”says Soke.

Specialization at the master’s level

According to Soke, specialization can be obtained within the master’s course, but such courses are aimed at other groups of students, other than MBA groups. They “develop specific competencies in areas such as marketing, finance and are aimed at functional managers, not future leaders of organizations.”

David Bach, dean of programs at IE Business School in Madrid, suggests that personalization of the MBA program is important, but not specialization: “Our strong emphasis on versatility and diversity is incompatible with the idea of“ specialized MBA programs ”and therefore we do not offer or defend them. … However … our students can personalize their MBA experience by choosing from 80 elective courses. “

This is not the case in leading American business schools, such as the Stanford University Graduate School of Business. The two-year MBA course at this school gives students time for introspection and careful study of core subjects, after which, in the second year of study, they can specialize in their chosen field.

Stanford’s new dean, Garth Saloner, told the Wall Street Journal that “students will increasingly need to specialize in a variety of fields in the future. By giving them the opportunity to work with the best students in other fields, we will allow them to expand their scope of activities. “

The real test, however, may not be what experts think about the relative benefits of general or specialized MBA programs, but the opinions of potential employers about their graduates. For some large players, the specialization option makes a lot of sense.

Pricewaterhouse Coopers, for example, says that “MBA students who specialize in finance for advisory functions in the company win.”

Russia’s leading investment bank Renaissance Investment Management also looks favorably on MBA graduates with financial specializations, particularly in the field of corporate finance expertise, but for them the nature of the program is much less important than the school where the candidate studied.

“A good MBA graduate is certainly more and more valued here in Russia,” says CEO Andrei Movchan, “but I don’t see employers focused on specific specialties, they are more focused on the prestige of the MBA school.” There is a real differentiation between simple MBAs and “stars”.

The conclusion seems to be that although the MBA market is growing, employers are not yet fully aware of the importance of specialized MBA programs. Currently, the main criterion remains the prestige of the business school. The strength of the brand seems to be dominating for some time to come.

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TopMBA 07/11/2011

The main goal of such a program is to develop managerial capacity in a particular area

Specialization of MBA programs in Ukraine

As in the rest of the world today, more and more so-called specialized MBA programs are appearing on the business education market in Ukraine. The process of conquering the market with such programs is in a constant struggle for awareness of potential consumers about the possibilities of these programs, as well as for their willingness to learn in a new format.

Every year there are more and more such specialized MBA programs in Ukraine, but the leaders of the leading Ukrainian business schools state that the educational market is not always ready to accept them. Therefore, the market has to be conquered, working ahead and overcoming the problem of low awareness of Ukrainian top management about the opportunities and benefits of even standard programs – General MBA.

So what are specialized MBA programs and how do they differ from regular General MBA programs?

Yuri Zelenin, Vice President of the International Institute of Business, believes that, like bricks that form a solid wall, the MBA program integrates courses in various economic disciplines, forming the fundamental worldview of a manager that he needs to solve complex management problems.

In his opinion, the specialized MBA program consists of the same bricks as the classic MBA program, but these bricks will be connected in a completely different way, depending on what the wall will be built for. The specialized MBA program provides an opportunity to study the features of management depending on certain industry or functional specifics. The specialization of such a program can differ both in functional features (for example, marketing, finance, personnel management, logistics, etc.) and in industry (agro-MBA, MBA in IT, etc.).

Vladimir Pavelko, Director of MBA Programs at the Kyiv-Mohyla Business School, is convinced that the MBA is a program that should provide an understanding of the company’s holistic system management. In addition, the MBA program is an environment for professional and intellectual growth, the growth of leadership capital. People come to the MBA program in order to get the opportunity to touch new trends and tendencies, significantly increase their knowledge, master the tested approaches and at the same time communicate with leaders like themselves. This is where the so-called synergetic effect in learning works, when the output results far exceed the simple arithmetic sum of the learning components.

According to Vladimir, the first thing the MBA program teaches is the ability to see the whole picture of a living management organism, and then the ability to see how this system decomposes into certain subsystems, and to find interdependent connections between them.

“We used to be very skeptical about specialized MBA programs and therefore developed General Approach programs. And the specialized MBA programs themselves cause me some questions. For example, in the case of training in a certain functional area. In my opinion, the MBA program gives a holistic view of management, and when considering a single function, the overall focus may be lost. But we changed the approach to specialized programs, because there was a need to reformat the consciousness of society in relation to the spheres of finance and agribusiness, “says Vladimir Pavelko.

He believes that a specialized MBA program should focus on a specific area of ​​management and not lose the integrity of thinking in the context of the classic General Approach program.