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Choosing the Perfect MBA Field: Admission Tips

MBA field selection

One of the decisions you'll face during your graduate business journey is selecting the right career field that complements your analytical skills and goals. This choice impacts the core and elective courses you'll enroll in and also sets the stage for your long-term career goals.

How to Select The Right MBA Field

With a number of specializations, formats, and schools to choose from, the process can be overwhelming. Selecting the right MBA field isn't just a footnote in your educational journey. This will be used to build your career and expand your professional network. Here are some strategies that can help you make an informed choice.

  • Self-Assessment Is Key: Understand what makes you tick. Consider your strengths, your weaknesses, and what you enjoy doing. Do you love numbers? Then maybe technology management is for you. If you have excellent communication skills, you may want to concentrate in something like leadership or human resources management. This self-awareness will help steer you to the right MBA field, optimizing your return on investment both personally and professionally.

  • Market Research: Dive into industry trends and get a read on the job market. You'll want to pick a field that not only piques your interest but has plenty of job prospects for business school graduates. It’s about matching your skills with what the world needs.

  • Career Goals: Where do you see yourself in 5 or 10 years? If you're aiming for the top floor offices, a specialization in Management and Leadership could be your route. If you're a numbers person, Business Analytics offers valuable skills that are sought-after.

  • Educational Background: Your past studies can act like a springboard into certain MBA fields. Looking for a big career shift? Be prepared to take additional courses to catch up.

  • Financial Investment: Let's talk numbers. Consider the cost of the program. Then measure it against potential earnings, job opportunities, and your personal growth. You're not just investing money, you're investing in your dream job and your future.

MBA Admissions Tips

Getting into one of the top business schools—like the Pepperdine Graziadio Business School—is competitive. Here are some business school admission tips to help you stand out against your competition.

  • Complete Picture: When it comes to MBA admissions, you're more than just a collection of grades and scores. Admissions teams are keen on getting a holistic view of who you are. That means your personal story, your career aspirations, and your potential to make a positive impact in the business world all play crucial roles. Don't shy away from sharing experiences that shaped you or projects where you've showcased leadership skills.

  • Research and Tailor: Doing your homework on the MBA program and its various specializations pays off big time. When you're up to speed on what a program offers, you can better tailor your application and recommendation letters to show you're not just a strong student academically, but also a good fit for that specific program. Your recommenders should ideally be people who can vouch for your skills and ambitions in the MBA field you're leaning towards.

  • Interview Prep: Interviews can be nerve-wracking, but preparation is your best ally. Go in ready to discuss why you chose your specialization but also the journey that led you there. Be prepared for a variety of questions, including those surrounding your problem-solving and decision-making abilities. Prepare key talking points that show you've thought through your choice of study and the goals you are trying to achieve.

  • Be Proactive: Don't just stop at online research—get out there and engage with the program. Attend any information sessions, workshops, or campus tours that the school offers. This proactive approach serves a dual purpose: It gives you valuable insights into the program, and it also demonstrates your genuine interest. Being an active prospective student can make you more memorable when admissions are sifting through applications.

Specialized Master's Programs

Organizational Development

If you're fascinated by what makes a company tick, organizational development could be the specialization for you. This isn't just a study of rigid corporate structures; it's an exploration of how dynamic systems change and grow. You'll dive into core courses that cover everything from organizational behavior and operations management to change management. The management skills and know-how you'll pick up aren't just textbook material; they're real-world tools you can use to elevate business processes and practices.

Career Options for Organizational Development

  • Change Management Consultant: Help organizations go through major transitions. This role is for you if you love problem-solving at a macro level.
  • HR Director: Take a more strategic approach to human resources, with a focus on organizational behavior and development.
  • Organizational Psychologist: Use psychology principles to solve workplace issues and improve the well-being and performance of employees.
  • Training and Development Manager: Responsible for creating and implementing training programs within the organization.


If you're the kind of person who likes to have their hand in every pot, a general Business MBA might be your best bet. This concentration gives you a broad sweep of everything from marketing management and business planning to finance and international management. It's a versatile choice, especially if you're looking to switch career lanes or just want a comprehensive understanding of business administration. Plus, the sky's pretty much the limit once you've got that graduate degree. Whether you're eyeing business ventures in a startup, planning to climb the corporate ladder, or dreaming of being the next big business leader, this MBA keeps all doors open. You could even pair it with a dual degree to up your game even more.

Career Options for Business

  • Marketing Manager: Oversee marketing strategies and campaigns. This is a great choice if you enjoy both creativity and analytics.
  • Operations Manager: Similar to the role in Management and Leadership but with a broader focus that could encompass everything from logistics to sales.
  • Entrepreneur: Use your broad business skills to start your own venture.

Applied Finance

If crunching numbers and dissecting balance sheets feels like a day well-spent to you, then a finance specialization is probably your calling. This isn't just a numbers game. It's about understanding how numbers drive business decisions. Your specialization courses will cover a wide range of topics. From the dynamics of financial markets to the nuances of fund management. And let's not forget risk management, a skill that is as golden as it gets in the financial industry. With this toolkit, you're pretty much prepped for a variety of financial leadership roles—think investment banking, hedge funds, or corporate finance. Plus, the job availability in these sectors is often higher than average, so you'll be stepping into a field where your skills are both needed and rewarded.

MBA field selection

Career Options for Applied Finance

  • Investment Banker: Engage in high-stakes financial deals, mergers, and acquisitions.
  • Financial Planner: Work with individuals or organizations to manage finances and plan for future financial stability.
  • Risk Analyst: Focus on assessing the financial risks involved in various business operations and decisions.
  • Portfolio Manager: Manage investment portfolios for individuals or organizations.

Global Business

This advanced degree digs into the mechanics of how businesses work on a worldwide scale. You'll tackle topics like international management, business practices in diverse markets, and even international trade laws, prepping you to take on a variety of roles in multinational companies. Whether you're leading a team that's spread across continents or negotiating global deals, this specialization sets you up for a business career with a truly international scope.

Career Options for Global Business

  • International Marketing Manager: Handle marketing on a global scale, adapting strategies for different markets.
  • Export-Import Manager: Manage the flow of goods across borders. A role that requires strong regulatory and logistics knowledge.
  • Global Operations Manager: Oversee the business operations of an international company.
  • Diplomat: Use your business acumen in international relations. Though less traditional, your skills could be useful in a governmental role.

Real Estate

MBA field selection

Real Estate as an MBA specialization could be your gateway to the fascinating world of property development and investment. This isn't just about buying and selling properties; it's a multi-faceted field that covers areas like property valuation, real estate finance, and sustainability in development. Courses often touch on subjects like urban economics, real estate law, and portfolio management. You'll also gain insights into the market dynamics affecting both residential and commercial properties.

Career Options for Real Estate

  • Real Estate Developer: Involved in buying land and developing properties.
  • Property Manager: Oversee the operations, maintenance, and leasing aspects of properties.
  • Real Estate Broker: Facilitate the buying and selling of properties.
  • Appraiser: Specialize in valuing properties, often for sale or insurance purposes.

Business Analytics

Now, if you're the type who believes that data drives decisions, Business Analytics is an intriguing specialization to consider. Go a step further with an MS in Business Analytics. Courses cover data visualization, machine learning, statistical methods, and how to apply these to real-world scenarios. Unlike traditional MBA programs that may just skim the surface, this MS program prepares you to be a data-savvy leader capable of driving strategies backed by solid data analytics. Career prospects are vast, ranging from data analyst roles to becoming a chief data officer at a leading organization.

Career Options for Business Analytics

  • Data Analyst: Pull and interpret data to guide business decisions.
  • Business Intelligence Manager: Oversee the collection and analysis of business data to improve strategy and execution.
  • Quantitative Analyst: Use mathematical models to identify trends and potential investment opportunities.
  • Chief Data Officer: A C-suite role focused on managing and leveraging a company's data as an asset.

Human Resources

If you believe a company's value lies in its people, then HR is for you. Students build a solid foundation in topics like human resource management, talent strategy, human resources analytics, and even the legal aspects of employment. This specialization sets you up for a range of high-paying job options, including roles in management consulting focused on HR strategy. With a rising demand for professionals who can effectively manage a company's human capital, you'll be well-positioned to make your mark.

Career Options for Human Resources

  • HR Manager: In charge of employee relations, compensation plans, and benefit programs, among other responsibilities. Ideal for someone who wants a broad scope of HR duties.
  • Talent Acquisition Specialist: A role focused on recruitment and staffing strategies. Perfect for those who enjoy the headhunting aspect of HR.
  • Employee Engagement Coordinator: Here, you'd be responsible for programs that improve employee morale and productivity. A good fit if you're passionate about workplace culture.
  • Organizational Development Consultant: Work on improving organizational practices and processes for better performance and employee satisfaction. This role is well-suited for those who enjoy strategic planning.

Management and Leadership

If you've got your eye on the C-suite, then Management and Leadership is where you want to be. Your course lineup will cover a variety of business concepts, including the ins and outs of project management, ethics, and yes, even handling a crisis. Beyond the technical stuff, this field is big on soft skills too—think communications skills and innovative thinking. This is a fast-growing field that sets you up for success. Whether you want to lead a startup or corporation, you'll walk away with a toolkit that makes employers do a double take.

Career Options for Management and Leadership

  • Operations Manager: You'd oversee daily operations, ensuring efficiency across all departments. Good for those who love optimization and logistical planning.
  • Business Development Director: Focus on revenue growth through customer acquisition and market penetration. Ideal if you're driven by targets and enjoy networking.
  • Project Manager: Manage a team to complete specific projects on time and within budget. Best suited for people who excel at multitasking and leading diverse teams.
  • Chief Executive Officer (CEO): The top role where you'll be making all the high-stakes decisions that shape the company's future. This position is for those with significant experience and a track record of leadership.

Explore Your Options at the Pepperdine University Graziadio Business School

Founded in 1969, Pepperdine's Graziadio Business School has a rich history of shaping leaders with integrity and innovation. Offering a wide variety of programs, including full-time, part-time, executive MBAs, and specialized masters, you're sure to find a program that aligns with your goals. The school also provides online options and has five graduate campuses in California, making it convenient for prospective students.

Selecting the right MBA field is a significant commitment, but it's also an investment in your future. With the options and credibility of an institution like Pepperdine University Graziadio Business School, you're in good hands. Take your time, do your research, and choose a path that best suits you.