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Research, Startup or Industry: Which MBA Specialization Would You Choose?

Looking for an MBA that caters to your interests? Find out how you can take control of your learning with a specialized curriculum

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By  Priya Khaira

Fri Jan 13 2023

BusinessBecause
Do you know in which industry you'd like to launch your career? An MBA specialization can help you gain industry-specific expertise, giving you a head start in the professional world and ensuring you get the most out of your MBA. 

While MBA programs typically offer a generalist business curriculum, a specialization gives you the chance to benefit from a business education that is tailored to your interests and desired career outcomes, helping you specialize in your chosen field. 

The University of Glasgow’s Adam Smith Business School MBA program allows students to choose either a research, startup, or industry specialized pathway at the end of their MBA. 

BusinessBecause spoke with students and faculty at the school to find out how the specialized pathways can enhance your MBA experience


Build on your management skills

MBA specializations typically occur towards the end of your degree. This allows you to build upon the fundamental knowledge you’ve gained throughout the program.

At Glasgow, for example, you’ll learn about the foundations of management. In your first term, you’ll develop your strategic management skills through core modules in financial analysis, management resources, marketing management, strategic management, and global economics. 

In the second term you can choose an elective module in marketing, finance, strategy, entrepreneurship, or international business

You’ll then experience consultancy week. A time for you to put your skills into action and complete a live project for a business. This week allows you to expand your professional network and form connections with the businesses who you work with. 

All of this provides a broad business acumen, giving you foundational knowledge to launch a management career across any industry. Your MBA specialization will then help you build knowledge that's more tailored to a specific career or sector. 


Specialize in a pathway of your choice

In the final stage of your MBA, students at Glasgow have the choice of specializing in either a startup, industry, or research pathway. This involves a dissertation style project running from June to August, including a mixture of practical and theoretical learning. 

Students who choose the startup option, are graded on their ability to develop their own business plans. The industry pathway requires students to utilize the skills they’ve learned throughout the MBA to solve real life problems faced by clients. Those who choose the research pathway will delve into an industry of their choice and navigate specific managerial problems that are common within that sector.

“Students have found it to be most valuable to match their final project to their post-MBA career goals,” says David Levinson, MBA careers manager at the University of Glasgow. 


What’s the value of an MBA specialization? 

As a prospective MBA student, it is likely that you are at a critical stage in your career. 

Whether you’re looking for a change in industry, an advancement from your current position, or you're aiming to gain expertise in a certain field, pursuing a specialization can provide you with specialist knowledge and skills that enable you to excel in your career. 

Ling Say Wong, a current student on the program, specifically chose to embark on the Glasgow MBA because she wanted to take part in the the startup pathway.

Ling Say aspires to start a business that focuses on sustainable travel. She was keen to utilize the startup pathway to test and develop her business proposition.

“The startup pathway has allowed me to develop, test and validate my business idea,” she says. “The hands-on, real-life experience has given me more confidence to work towards my career aspiration,” she says. 

While a startup-focused MBA specialization is tailor made for Ling Say's chosen career, choosing any specialization that fits your own career goals will equip you with the skills necessary to launch to the next level of your career. 

“We know that students use these experiences [during the pathway] as evidence when applying for their next role or when seeking support for a start-up. This is a very valuable element of the MBA year,” adds David.

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