What Are MBA Specializations vs. the MBA General Track?

Many Master of Business Administration programs offer detailed education on specific business areas through specializations. At the University of Maryland’s nationally ranked Robert H. Smith School of Business, we offer a general track in addition to five career-focused specializations. Designed for those looking for the broadest MBA experience, the general track provides a more diverse understanding of business concepts. This will provide you with the core management concepts of each specialization.

For those who wish to focus on one particular area of business education, the Robert H. Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland offers MBA specializations in the following areas:

  • Finance
  • Information Systems and Business Analytics
  • Marketing
  • Supply Chain Management

Explore each track offered through the Smith Online MBA program.

Types of MBA Specializations

Perhaps you’re already thinking about where you believe your career is headed in the next five years. Maybe you want to be a CPA at a major corporation or you’re considering becoming a global logistics manager at Amazon. Whatever the case may be, a specialized MBA is a fast track to obtaining specialized knowledge and training in the field of your choice.

The Smith Online MBA program offers five types of MBA specializations.

  • Finance: The finance specialization of the MBA program will give you a comprehensive understanding of financial restructuring, corporate finance, and portfolio management. With the ability to evaluate financial markets, make informed strategic decisions and correctly evaluate risk, you will become a valued asset in the world of finance.
  • Information Systems and Business Analytics: For those looking to learn how to leverage technology and develop their technical skills, the information systems, and business analytics specialization will do just that. Graduates leave the program able to use data mining, predictive analytics, social media, and web analytics.
  • Marketing: All companies need a marketing plan, which is why the marketing specialization of the MBA program is the perfect fit for someone who aspires to help companies promote their brand to consumers. Graduates of this program learn about consumer behavior, how to target specific customer demographics, and predictive modeling.
  • Supply Chain Management: Through the supply chain management specialization of the MBA program, students learn about Six Sigma and other popular managerial approaches that help improve business processes and customer satisfaction. 

General Track Highlights

The Smith Online MBA program seeks to broaden perspectives and enhance the knowledge and skills necessary for future success. While some students choose to narrow their focus to MBA specializations, others are interested in developing more well-rounded business acumen.

Choosing the general MBA track allows you to learn the core and advanced business concepts covered in the program. It also enables you to customize your degree by selecting specialization courses that provide you with the skills to be successful in your chosen career path. This opportunity to create a unique combination of courses encourages you to explore the curriculum and get the most value from the program in the long run.

After completing the general track, you’ll have the expertise to be a well-rounded, multi-skilled business professional. You can pursue various career paths with confidence, well-equipped with skills and knowledge, including:

  • Advanced understanding of domestic and global business
  • Nuanced application of various business concepts and theories to real-world scenarios
  • Insightful data analysis and interpretation for better decision-making
  • Working knowledge of relevant policies, programs, and technology
  • Strategic management and leadership skills

As a Smith MBA graduate, you’ll be prepared to pursue advanced career opportunities, higher earning roles, and more fulfilling professional endeavors.

General Track Courses

If you choose the MBA general track, your studies will begin with foundation courses. Decision Modeling, for instance, covers how to tackle modern business data and challenges. The Entrepreneurship course introduces students to the tools and skills necessary for leading new business ventures. Other foundational courses include:

  • Corporate Finance
  • Data Analysis
  • Financial Accounting
  • Leadership and Teamwork
  • Managerial Accounting
  • Managerial Economics and Public Policy
  • Marketing Management
  • Strategic Information Systems
  • Supply Chain Management
  • The Global Economic Environment

Students then enroll in Foundation II courses, which delve deeper into concepts like operations management, business communication, and ethical leadership. The general track allows you to choose various elective courses, as opposed to only those that fall under one focus in an MBA specialization program. By this point in the general-track program, you’ll understand various management concepts such as:

  • Managing financial assets
  • Understanding corporate finance
  • Leveraging technology for information management and strategic advantage
  • Leading brand management and customer segmentation
  • Streamlining business processes

With a focus on experiential learning, your online MBA will also include Action Learning Projects, campus business residencies, and a capstone project. Global study options further enhance international business perspectives and allow you to work hands-on with multinational organizations.

The Smith Online MBA program further uses advanced digital learning tools and communication platforms, including audio and video messaging, state-of-the-art video conferencing, integrated multimedia, and collaborative online workspaces. The result is an engaging, interactive, and fulfilling academic experience.

Smith School of Business Faculty

When you choose to complete your Online MBA degree at the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business, you’ll learn from the very best in the business world. Our top-ranked faculty includes some of the industry’s most influential and established professionals, all of whom have robust resumes distinguished by teaching and career experience. Many are published in leading business journals and other respected publications, while others continue to lead industry breakthroughs. You’ll learn from professors who also consult for Fortune 500 companies, passing on their experience of helping managers solve complex business problems to their students.

Led by such distinguished leaders in academia, research and business, Smith MBA courses encourage innovative thinking, embrace an entrepreneurial spirit, and foster successful business professionals. Smith professors and advisors are valuable connections who can offer priceless support and introduce you to career opportunities in various areas of business. Additionally, you can lean on a network of over 66,000 Smith School alumni once you graduate from the program. Not only will you leave with one of the best educations in the country, but you will do so with a network of peers and business professionals that will serve as valuable assets during your career.

Whether you select the MBA general track or one of the five types of MBA specializations, you can rest assured that your program of choice is accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB). This means that the Smith School of Business has demonstrated a level of excellence and devotion to its student body that meets the rigorous standards of the AACSB.

Beyond the Degree

General track MBA degrees can lead to several career outcomes because the varied skills and knowledge covered in the program are relevant to multiple business sectors and industries. You can apply your broad business skills and knowledge in general management, logistics, finance and accounting, sales and marketing, consulting or operations, and production. The cross-functionality of your advanced degree can also qualify you for more senior leadership roles within these business functions.

With this in mind, you can set your sights on positions such as:

  • Management consultant
  • Operations manager
  • Product manager
  • Sales and marketing manager
  • Financial advisor
  • Research analyst

Earning an MBA degree can also significantly increase your yearly pay, with the average base compensation for recent

Why the Smith Online MBA Program Is Right for You

The flexible and engaging curriculum of the Smith Online MBA program can augment business acumen, hone leadership abilities, elevate analytical skills and enhance data-driven decision-making abilities. You’ll gain valuable expertise that you can apply confidently in your professional endeavors. Whether you select the MBA general track or one of the five types of MBA specializations, the program can set you up for a lifetime of success in your chosen career field.

Ready to broaden your business proficiency? Reach out to an advisor to learn more about the Smith Online MBA program offered at the University of Maryland. 

Recommended Reading

Benefits of Online Learning

Important Business Skills

Why Get an MBA? It’s Still the Best Business Decision You Will Ever Make


American Society for Quality, What is Six Sigma?

Indeed, “20 Best MBA Jobs That Pay Well”

Indeed, “Decision-Making Models: Definitions and Examples”

Indeed, “MBA Degrees: What They Are and Why You Should Earn Yours”

PayScale, Master of Business Administration (MBA) Degree

University of Maryland, Building Careers and Fostering Success