Sector specific MBA Vs General MBA

Have you ever wondered when MBA itself is a specialized course why need for further specialization of specialized course. Yes I am talking about sector specific MBA which has become a raging phenomenon in the recent past. MBA programme was prominently introduced in first half of 20th century in US B-schools to train budding managers in specializations like Marketing, Finance, Strategy, Systems, Operations and HR.

Generalization Vs Personalization Vs Specialization

In line with the trends, MBA programmes moved away from generalized courses to personalized ones wherein students were given the option to choose electives from above streams during second year of his/her study. A student who is interested in Finance and Marketing is given the option to choose electives so that he can specialize in both of them. Some of the industries/sectors felt that the MBA graduates lack specific know-how pertinent to that particular industry and started encouraging sector specific and industry friendly structured MBA programmes in last 3 decades.


In India, Institute of Rural Management Anand (IRMA) started offering courses in Rural and Agri management from 1979, Indian Institute of Forest Management (IIFM) was established in 1981 focusing mainly on training managers in forest and allied sectors. Mudra Institute of Communications (later renamed to MICA) was setup to provide necessary training to succeed in Advertising , media and communications industry and the list goes on. In Europe, MBA programmes for vineyard management and Horse Racing had come up. You think of an industry and probably there is an MBA programme associated with it. 

Hard Vs Soft Skill

In addition to sector specific MBA, some of the employers are in desperate need for MBA grads with soft skills. The belief that domination of ‘hard’ skills like analytical and strategic thinking as the only sources of success are over and employers are looking for more on soft skills front like oral and written communication, presentation, adaptability and the ability to negotiate. As the 2014 Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) Employer survey demonstrates Accenture, for example, introduced a ‘soft’ skills measurement technique which combines “defined critical characteristics for success, which are assessed by behavioral questions”.

So to opt or not to opt for Sector Specific MBA

Sector specific MBA really helps you to understand the nitty gritty of that particular sector and may provide good career opportunities. . However, not all sectors recognize the same. In addition, each sector has its own life cycle and so doing an MBA in those sectors which are in saturation or declining stages may not provide the correct impetus to your career. If the sector faces a slump then placements may go for a toss and it will be very difficult for those with specialized MBAs to move across industries. My suggestion is always go for a generalized MBA unless you are very particular to make a mark in your favorite sector and find an irresistible offer for specialized MBA. Students should consider following parameters before embarking on sector specific MBA:


  • Reputation of college
  • Vintage like when the institute was established, how good the alumni network is and what is the placement track record over a period (including during slump period)
  • Current industry cycle as illustrated by following diagram


Few Reputed Specialized MBA Courses offered in India:

  • MBA in Banking (Offered by NIIT in collaboration with industry)
  • MBA in Telecom Industry (Symbiosys Institute of Telecom Management)
  • MBA in Health Care Management (offered by Manipal University and Symbiosis)
  • MBA in Family Business Management (offered by ISB-Hyderabad, NIRMA University, and SP Jain-Mumbai)
  • MBA in Entrepreneurship (Offered by Symbiosis Institute of Business Management, Department of Management Studies-IIT Madras)
  • MBA in Advertising and Media (offered by MICA)
  • MBA in Rural Management and Agri Business (offered by IRMA)
  • MBA in Forest Management (offered by IIFM)

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