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Study MBA abroad: General or specialised
Gayathri Gopakumar

Meet Gayathri - a Content Editor at Hotcourses India- an IDP company. A once-international student herself- she loves to research & give insights into the world of global education through her writing. When she isn’t working, you'll find her playing, travelling or binge-watching just about anything.


26 Apr 2019 401 Book icon 3 mins Share

Study MBA abroad: General or specialised – which should you choose and why

If you’re aspiring to pursue MBA abroad, this article is a must-read for you – it tells you how to pick between a general MBA and specialised MBA.

26 Apr 2019 401 Book icon 3 mins Share
Study MBA abroad: General or specialised

Planning to study MBA abroad? We’ve got some good news for you: according to Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC), over 70% of employers across the world hired MBA graduates in 2018 and 2019.

With demand, comes great supply. Tapping on the increasing demand for MBA graduates, more and more universities are now coming up with a variety of MBA programmes. So, you have general MBA programmes as well as specialised MBA programmes. Graduates of both categories are equally desirable among employers. Now, how will you choose between the two? This is where we come to help. We’re going to breakdown all the pros and cons for you and help you pick between a general MBA or a specialised MBA. So stay with us till the end guys.

In today’s gung-ho world, there has been a staggering rise in people pursuing MBA abroad – rightfully so, given the leadership roles, high salaries and rapid career growth that come with it. But to begin with, if you’re looking to pursue an MBA abroad, you must first yourself – Why do I want to do this and what do I want to achieve with it? We all know MBA is a challenging and demanding course, so unless you’re clear about your goals and plans with an MBA degree, you’d be wasting your time in trying to scrape through the course. 

Now, let’s dive into the analysis of general and specialised MBA and see what suits you best.

General MBA

General MBA is all about learning the nitty-gritties of business and management. It is ideal for someone who’s looking to gain expertise in communication, leadership and critical thinking. A general MBA usually spans across two years – with the first year revolving around core modules and the second focussing on electives.

Bright side:

Easier admission

Getting into the programme is relatively easier, since most MBAs don’t require you to have a specific professional or educational background. Although the requirements vary with the course, mostly you’ll need only a good GMAT score along with a solid application.


The broad knowledge outcome from pursuing a general MBA gives you the flexibility in seeking higher roles across various verticals and fields; and in taking on upper management roles.

According to Ramapo.Edu, “Many choose the general MBA to differentiate themselves in a crowded field or to breakout from a timeworn perception that may be limiting their upside, e.g., “You’re just an IT person.” For those with a non-business undergraduate degree, the general MBA is an ideal way to advance your business knowledge.”


The only drawback with a general MBA programme is that you may lose out on subject-specific, in-depth insights.

Specialised MBA

It’s no surprise that a specialised MBA enables students to gain profound understanding and core knowledge of a particular industry – such as finance, marketing or human resources. A specialised MBA is ideal for those who’ve already got a clear idea of what field of industry they want to work in, upon graduation. 

Bright side:

Specialised MBA programmes are tailor-made for you – enabling you to acquire expertise and skills in the fields you choose.

Since the specialised MBA programmes are only a year long, they cost lesser than general MBA programmes. It’s a time and money-saving option.

Again, if you know which field you’d like to grow in, a specialised MBA will get you a great head start as you’ll bring relevant expertise with you into the industry. According to Princeton Review, it will also provide you an additional targeted management experience.


Rigid career

If you intend to switch your field of work later in time, not only will your specialised MBA prove futile at that point, you must also then acquire fresh expertise in your new field again.

Tougher admission  

You may find it hard to get admission into specialised MBA programmes – as you may have to show prior subject/industry knowledge or professional experience.

According to, “many educators feel that because of the mushrooming of so many MBA programs, the quality of faculty for these programs has declined and students are not receiving the quality of education that is enabling them to get jobs after graduation.”

So… what next?

Your next step should be choosing the most ideal university for you. Do you think you should pursue MBA in the USA or Canada or any other country, for that matter? There’s a wide set of choices for you.

Our 2 cents:

Keep in mind that, while almost every other university provides programmes in MBA, not all are in sync with industry-demands and standards. It is prudent to study in a university that prepares you to be employable in this competitive world. Here’s a list of popular universities that offer MBA abroad:

  1. Stanford University
  2. Australian National University
  3. Harvard University
  4. University of Sydney
  5. ETH Zurich
  6. John Hopkins University
  7. University of Glasgow
  8. University of Sheffield
  9. University of Toronto
  10. University of Otago

That’s a lot of universities, isn’t it? Well don’t worry, our expert counsellors will not just guide you in shortlisting the universities and programmes, but also sort out the application process for you. So, hurry! Sign up in our ‘call back’ form and we’ll make your MBA abroad dream come true!

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