MBA Concentrations for In-Demand, Fast-Growing Fields
AI is rapidly changing the landscape of both higher education and the business world. Millions of jobs could be affected by the ever-evolving technology, the BBC reported, but could also lead to new jobs and better productivity across the board.
AI is also set to affect the higher education sector through engaging new students, helping with academic advising, and changing curriculum, BestColleges previously reported. The World Economic Forum estimates that AI could create 97 million jobs by 2025, leading to ripe opportunities for job seekers with skills in machine learning.
Some business schools have already adapted AI into their curriculum. At Northwestern University, for example, the Kellogg School of Management partnered with the McCormick School of Engineering to create an “MBAi” program geared toward teaching students both about business management and AI.
Artificial intelligence jobs in the United States bring in an average of $129,063 a year, as of May 2023, according to Glassdoor.
Cybersecurity and Information Technology (IT)
The pandemic accelerated the digital transformation of many businesses, leading to a greater focus on tech and data across the country — but that also meant a greater risk of data breaches and ransomware attacks. Nearly half of IT professionals surveyed by the Thales Group reported an increase in ransomware attacks, according to an April report.
Major employers are scrambling to train cybersecurity workers: BestColleges previously reported that Microsoft plans to recruit more than 200,000 cybersecurity workers via community colleges by 2025. The demand for information security analysts is projected to grow by 35% between 2021 and 2031, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
As businesses look to bolster their cybersecurity efforts, various MBA programs have made information technology and cybersecurity a key part of their curriculum. Many of those programs offer online coursework, BestColleges previously reported.
Purdue University Global offers an online MBA in information technology featuring systems analysis, design, and technology management. Baylor University’s cybersecurity MBA concentration incorporates courses on cyberwarfare and threats, cybersecurity policy, and tech factors surrounding cybersecurity.
Specializing in cybersecurity can bring hefty returns, according to Florida International University: Chief information security officers have an average annual income of between $150,000 and $250,000.
The demand for data experts has grown dramatically over the past decade, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics expects that trend to continue: Employment of operations research analysts is projected to grow 23% between 2021 and 2031.
Data analyst jobs start with annual earnings of between $56,000 and $88,000, according to Glassdoor, but those returns increase over time: Data analysts with 5-7 years of experience bring in $93,000-$142,000 a year.
Many business schools combine data science and traditional MBA curriculum to create data-focused degrees that embrace changing technology and prepare students to land good-paying jobs. Louisiana State University, for example, has an MBA data analytics concentration that includes available courses on financial analytics, using data-driven decision-making, data visualization, and more.
A data analysis MBA concentration opens up a slew of job opportunities for graduates, according to Louisiana State, including strategic planners, risk management experts, marketing researchers, and healthcare analysts.
Sustainability and Climate Change
Sustainability and climate change is an increasingly pertinent topic for MBA students, breaching the top 10 highest priorities for prospective students for the first time in a recent survey by the United Kingdom-based consulting firm CarringtonCrisp.
Andrew Crisp, the co-founder of CarringtonCrisp and author of that Tomorrow’s MBA report, previously told BestColleges that the heightened priority of climate change comes as businesses embrace related positions like chief climate officers.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects the employment of environmental scientists and specialists to grow 5% between 2021 and 2031. As companies embrace various “green” technologies, from sustainable energy to electric vehicles, businesses are expected to increasingly focus on sustainability. Lightcast reported that the demand for green jobs is up more than 50% since 2019.
More business schools are embracing sustainability and climate change in their curriculum. Bard College offers an MBA in sustainability that teaches students to “to build businesses that are in business to solve social and environmental challenges,” according to the program’s website.