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Best MBA specialisations for international students

mba specialisation
If you are an undergraduate student considering to pursue a Master in Business Administration, picking the right specialisation can help to kickstart your career in the business world. Source: Melissa Sue Gerrits /Getty Images North America/Getty Images/AFP

So you’ve decided to study a Master in Business Administration (MBA), but now you found yourself embroiled in another predicament: which MBA specialisation to choose.

A specialised MBA is an excellent way to become an expert in a chosen field, prepare for a specific career in business or further explore an aspect you’re interested in.

But what if you’re an international student? You have special considerations to factor in. You’ll likely pay more expensive fees than locals, which is fine if you can recoup the amount after graduating. Being able to work in that field with your post-study work visa would be a requirement too — you wouldn’t want to miss valuable experience over some immigration technicalities. You’ll also want to be able to land graduate jobs easily and not face intense competition.

Bear in mind that the cost of pursuing an MBA specialisation will vary according to the country, type of programme and university.

The point is: the best MBA specialisations are the ones that let international students maximise their programme and experience. Look no further. Consider these four MBA specialisations and where you can study them, according to MBA.com

mba specialisation

Most top-ranked schools in the US offer popular MBA specialisations. Source: Emily Elconin/Getty Images North America/Getty Images/AFP

4 popular MBA specialisation for international students to consider

1. MBA International Business

This specialisation follows the same curriculum as a general MBA but focuses on international finance, economics and cross-cultural management. 

Darla Moore School of Business’s two-year programme costs US$71,580 if you come from out of state. In Asia, the HKU-FDU International MBA two-year programme will set you back US$77,000. In terms of salary, picture earning US$95,000 a year as an international marketing manager, according to Glassdoor.

Considering your prospects to work upon graduation? We got great news: the UK graduate visa allows to stay and work in the country for 2 years after you have completed your MBA. The same applies to other MBA specialisation in this article. 

Those in the US can consider Optional Practical Training(OPT), which allows you to work in the country for 12 months. 

The best part about this specialisation? Versatility. Choose to enter various roles with multinational companies or contribute to local organisations with international aspirations. 

2. MBA Finance

Have you set your heart on a role with Goldman Sachs or JP Morgan? Consider an MBA finance specialisation to secure a chance to launch a coveted career after your MBA.

With this MBA, expect to dive deep into asset management, financial tech, managing financial risks and how to value a company.

When considering an MBA in Finance, you are considering your long-term prospects. Yes, it is expensive to pursue this specialisation. The average cost of studying one of the world’s best MBA programmes — including one with a significant finance specialisation — is US$176,000. This number will be lower if you pursue an MBA in Finance in the UK or Europe.  

However, the highest 10% of those in financial manager roles have secured salaries of more than US$208,000 in the US. Generally, financial managers earn an average of US$96,000 within the country. Third-year private equity associates can expect a salary of up to US$160,000

With that said, 36% of finance and accounting firms have reported that they will increase their hiring of MBA graduates over the next five years. 

Students studying science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) can extend their OPT by 24 months. An MBA in Finance can qualify as a STEM MBA — allowing you to work in the country for up to three years. 

mba specialisation

In this MBA, you’ll learn how to analyse stock returns with historical data — and more. Source: Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images North America/Getty Images/AFP

3. MBA in Business Analytics

Data forms the heart of many businesses. Building your expertise in this fast-growing field can transform you into a valuable asset for many companies — and a programme that offers a strong business analytic track can help you achieve just that.

Once you’ve focused on your core business modules, you’ll learn how to use data to support decision-making in business, build links between the impact of advertising on sales and analyse stock returns with historical data. 

Is it worth pursuing this specialisation? Take New York University’s Stern Business School, for example. Graduates saw their salaries rise by 122 percent after completing this specialisation. Within three years after graduation, they can expect to earn salaries averaging around US$166,000.

Consider studying outside the US if you are interested in pursuing an MBA in Data Analytics. For instance, the University of Amsterdam Business School in Europe offers an MBA in Big Data and Business Analytics, costing around US$47,000.

With 2.5 quintillion bytes of data generated on the internet daily, professionals with data-analytical skills will be in high demand. This is an advantage for international students since they can stay and work abroad with a UK graduate visa or OPT (which includes your STEM OPT extension). 

4. MBA Marketing

Are you passionate about marketing and want to work in that industry? A marketing specialisation would be a suitable choice.

An MBA in Marketing is one of the common MBA specialisations since marketers will receive an edge if they hone specific business management skills. 

It will cost over US$218,000 to pursue this MBA specialisation at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University — which is one of the top MBA marketing colleges in the US — for two years of study. Studying in Europe can be cheaper since MBA programmes only last a year.

Your salary will differ according to the roles you have chosen. Marketing salaries can range from US$50,000 to US$180,000 in the US and US$25,000 and US$85,000 in the UK. 

If you seek a role in advertising after business school, you can also expect to see higher-than-average earnings. In the US, the average salary of an advertising manager is around the US$70k mark.

The good news is that the total number of marketing jobs will grow by 10% by 2030. Pair that with the fact that an MBA in Marketing can open up a wide array of career opportunities in diverse industries, and you will see the return on investment in pursuing this specialisation.