A standard MBA program is normally of two year’s duration and offers compulsory courses in the first two semesters, followed by optional courses and project work in the next two semesters.
The compulsory courses on production, marketing, personnel and financial management along with basic courses on economics, mathematics, statistics and business strategy are common for all the students and are meant to provide an overall and holistic knowledge platform, useful for managing any business.
The optional courses leading to specialization in a specific area of management are meant to provide extensive and intensive knowledge in that specific area.
Students specializing in marketing would be therefore taking optional courses in advertising/sales promotion, marketing research etc. while students specializing in production management would take courses on materials management, operations research etc.
These days it has become common to designate different management programs as MBA-HR, MBA-Marketing and so on.
Basically these offerings are the same as the standard (generic) MBA; except that here the area of specialization is highlighted with the offered program, while the standard program allows the students to choose from a bouquet of subjects, available for specialization in any area.
It is important to understand that the standard MBA program offers a wider perspective and does not limit a student to a particular discipline by the very designation of the program.
Therefore as far as possible, this should be the first choice of the students.
Even more important is the fact that students do not have to commit themselves to any area(s) of specialization till almost the end of the second semester. By that time they gain sufficient exposure to different management functions and are in a better position to select their area(s) of specialization.
While selecting your area of specialization, the main criterion should be:-
• Educational background
• Personality type
• Personal interest and passion
• Career options available
Educational background need not be a limiting factor but is usually a key determinant. Students with an engineering background have the widest scope to opt for different areas and usually go for operations (production, services) and marketing. However they can also opt for other disciplines like human resources and even finance.
Students with commerce and an accounts background can ideally go for a finance specialization. The arts background may be more suited for the personnel management discipline.
Your own personality type, i.e. an introvert vs. an extrovert personality type and the personal interests should also be taken into account.
Any one fond of meeting and interacting with people and fond of traveling should go for the marketing field, while an introvert person having an interest in analysis and office work should opt for business strategy or human resources.
The feminine gender has greater empathy and for girls personnel management (human resources) can be a good choice. Moreover this function does not need extensive traveling and has fixed timings.
Someone driven by targets and continuous challenges may again find marketing more challenging.
Students with an accounts background make very good financial analysts, though given the importance of this function; many engineers also opt for this discipline.
Career options are available in all the disciplines. One should be on top of one’s game and thorough in the chosen area to be able to succeed. Your passion is very important for a continued commitment to any function, which in turn will be the defining criterion.
Understand yourself well and analyze your options in advance. Also dynamically introspect during the first two semesters before selecting your areas of specialization. Unless it is very essential and you feel that you have made a gross error, stick to your choice(s)