Graduating from one of the top business schools in the United States with a master of business administration (MBA) degree could pay big dividends in the long term. But which business school is right for you? The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is known for technology and operations management, but may not be ideal if your interests lie in corporate social responsibility.

Similarly, Babson College's Olin Graduate School of Business is big with budding entrepreneurs, but may not be the best for banking-oriented individuals. Candidates should assess their skills and interests, applying to top business schools offering specialization which matches their career goals.

This article lists the top three U.S. business schools within 10 areas of study. The schools are sourced from various study portals and ranking guides. The schools are picked based on several factors, which include faculty size of the particular department of specialization, the number of specialized courses and electives offered, past record of placements in the particular specialization, awards and accolades won in the particular specialization, and the composition of the current class of students and their professional backgrounds.

Key Takeaways

  • By focusing on your area of specialization, you can narrow down which of the top business schools in the U.S. would be the best fit for your interests and career aspirations.
  • There are many areas of specialization for a master of business administration (MBA) degree, such as banking and finance, corporate social responsibility, information management, and operations management.
  • Some of the top business schools in the U.S. are Harvard Business School, The Wharton School, Stanford Graduate School of Business, and Kellogg School of Management.

Banking and Finance

The dream jobs of the majority of MBA aspirants lie in the banking and financial sector. High salaries and sky-rocketing bonuses based on deal values are lucrative enough to attract the best MBA talent. Opportunities exist in multiple segments—investment banking, hedge funds, private equity, corporate banking, retail banking, wealth management, and investment management.

Corporate Social Responsibility

Interested in bridging the divide between the capitalist business world and the realm of high ethics and standards? Then an MBA in corporate social responsibility is the right specialization for you. Amid increasing business challenges emerging from financial irregularities, unethical practices, dangerous working conditions, and the ill-effects of globalization, this discipline works toward a fair and justified business environment while implementing and following standardized practices. 

Entrepreneurship and Innovation

  • Harvard Business School
  • Stanford Graduate School of Business
  • F.W. Olin Graduate School of Business (Babson College)

Entrepreneurs usually start solo due to their self-belief and the innovative nature of their work. However, the art of taking a venture from an innovative idea can benefit tremendously from formal schooling. Right from developing a product/service idea, to identifying the right market, to attracting angel investors, to securing funding, and all the way to finally establishing a successful business is covered under MBA entrepreneurship courses.

$73,440

The MBA tuition cost for the 2020-21 academic year at Harvard Business School.

Information Management

  • Sloan School of Management (Massachusetts Institute of Technology)
  • Tepper School of Business (Carnegie Mellon University)
  • Stanford Graduate School of Business

The past decade has seen a rapid advancement in the information technology sector, which has now become the backbone of markets all over the world. From high-end mechanical automation to social networking platforms, MBA graduates specializing in technology, information management, and information management technology are in high demand.

International Business Management

Once, an international outlook was the province of transportation and export-import businesses. But globalization has changed that. The world is shrinking at a rapid pace due to technological innovations and easy connectivity, making markets and economies increasingly interdependent across the oceans and continents. And so MBAs in international business management are now prized by all sectors and industries. 

Leadership

  • Harvard Business School
  • The Wharton School
  • Stanford Graduate School of Business

With businesses failing at a large global scale during the worldwide recession of 2008-09, the age-old debate continues as to whether leadership can be taught. Business schools seized this opportunity to introduce innovative courses focused around leadership: studying and practicing theories centered around people and product development, vision and mission, network and collaboration, and evolution and crisis management.

Management Consultancy

Management consultancy entails the selling of business expertise, knowledge, and advice to the C-suite suits by extremely bright, talented individuals. One of the highest-paid specializations among MBA courses, this specialty trains management consultants to convince top business executives to trust confidential business data, reports, and strategies to them, to analyze corporate cultures and operations, and to provide expert advice on courses which can make or break a business.

Marketing Management

  • Kellogg School of Management
  • Harvard Business School
  • The Wharton School

With a shift to online and digital marketing campaigns, marketing has evolved into an altogether new platform needing constant innovations. Fine arts, designing, human behavioral analysis, communication, quantitative skills, and predictive analysis—everything can now be encompassed under marketing management.

Operations Management

  • Harvard Business School
  • Sloan School of Management
  • Kellogg School of Management

An MBA in operations management enables a candidate to handle challenges and introduce efficiencies in supply chain management, logistics, product assembly-lines, processes, implementation, and operational performance of an entire company or organization.

Strategic Management

  • Harvard Business School
  • Stanford Graduate School of Business
  • The Wharton School

Strategic management is a critical business resource in today’s competitive world. It involves taking a holistic view of an organization and its different segments, performing internal analysis, implementing structural changes to management, product lines or services, and assessing outsourcing opportunities. It also involves assessing external factors like competitor analysis, market dynamics, market evolution, product placement, and target marketing.

The Bottom Line

Amid intense global competition, entry to a premier business school is very difficult, not to mention expensive. Aspirants often leave their well-paid jobs to attend the costly courses. So candidates should make sure they assess each business school and its course content to match with their fields of interest. It will not only improve their chances of admission but help them get the best out of a program once they're enrolled.