Specialised MBA? Or not?

By definition, the MBA is a general management qualification. For some experts, like Professor Simon Stockley at Imperial College Business School, “the term ‘specialised MBAs’ is an oxymoron.” After all, most MBA candidates go to to the degree in order to learn the overall general practices of business in its entirety, from HR to operations, marketing to finance. This ‘helicopter view’ of how business works offers flexibility and allows the incumbent to work in a vast array of different organisations. It is, as they say in French, the raison d’etre of most MBA courses.

In recent years there has been a proliferation of specialised MBAs. Famous ones include the Wine Business Management MBA in Bordeaux, the Football Industries MBA at Liverpool and the Hospitality Management MBA at Essec in France. And there is nothing wrong with any of these courses per se.

But, and there is always a but, you will want to be pretty darn sure that that is what you want to do with most of the rest of your career. Specialising early will limit you. It will be much harder to go to a recruiter in a big finance house and answer the question “Why are you, with your specialised Wine Management MBA, applying to work here?”

It won’t exclude you, but it will narrow down your options. And that, it seems to most MBA experts, is missing the whole point.

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