The MBA – it’s the most popular graduate degree in the US for a reason.
While it often takes an enormous amount of time, money, and effort, it can be a sure-fire way to develop professionally and pivot your career.
There are a host of benefits for MBA graduates, including networking that can lead to job opportunities, lifetime connections, and an excellent income.
From when the first MBA program was founded at Harvard Business School in 1908, there are more than 1,000 MBA programs in the U.S. alone. According to the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC), 89% of employers plan to hire MBA graduates this year.
Ever wondered if you could combine your managerial dreams with a passion for technological innovation? Enter the tech MBA – a program designed to equip the business leaders of tomorrow with the skills needed to solve complex problems and make better decisions through the use of data, technology, and analytics.
What is the difference between a traditional MBA and a tech MBA program?
Both traditional and tech MBAs are post-graduate programs that focus on business management and administration, economics, and the strategies used to excel in the world of business.
Both will in many cases create opportunities and open doors you may not even have dreamt existed. Having an MBA under your belt puts you into a class of achievers with aspirations that are bound to lead to success at some level.
A traditional MBA usually takes two years of full-time study to complete, as do some specialized tech MBAs. However, an increasing number of tech MBAs offer an accelerated program that can be completed in a single year.
While this can certainly be appealing – and a great choice for some applicants – it’s worth bearing in mind that a shorter program may indicate more specific eligibility requirements – such as work experience – that are required to ensure an applicant is suitably prepared for the level of the program.
Traditional MBA curriculum
Traditional MBAs focus on developing management and leadership skills.
The core subjects of a traditional MBA curriculum typically relate to accounting, finance, economics, marketing, as well as business ethics, leadership, strategy in business, and a wide range of management skills.
MBAs aren’t traditionally STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) degrees, but an increasing number of STEM MBAs are now on offer. One reason for this is a shortage of applicants for STEM jobs. The other is due to the drop in international applicants to US schools because of visa issues for standard MBAs.
Harvard Business School collaborates with the John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) to offer both a Business Analytics program, as well as its joint MS/MBA which allows students to combine entrepreneurship with technology.
Kellogg School of Management also offers a one-year tech MBA in addition to its traditional two-year MBA with the usual rigorous core curriculum.
Tech MBA curriculum
Specialized tech MBAs are ideal for students who want to utilize their technical expertise within a business context.
While different business schools offer different features within tech MBA programs, the core concept remains the same. A core curriculum focusing on business strategy, uniquely designed to meet the needs of the tech sector.
Specialized technology tracks commonly include:
- Technology leadership that embraces technological processes and resources
- Technology immersion that arms students with 21st-century technology skills
- Emerging technologies like artificial intelligence (AI), the Internet of Things IoT), robotics, biometrics, and augmented reality (AR)
Tech MBAs don’t ordinarily offer STEM programs, but some do. For instance, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) MBA qualifies as a STEM-designated program.
Traditional and tech applications
Different MBA programs have very specific requirements for applicants. For example, Cornell University’s Johnson Graduate School of Management will only accept tech MBA students who have a combination of leadership skills and software design or development experience.
It’s important to check these requirements before you start the application process.
Career prospects: Traditional vs Tech MBA programs
Any MBA has the potential to improve the full realm of career prospects.
It is true that career prospects for graduates of traditional MBAs are vast and varied and cover just about any conceivable industry. That is, presuming a special interest or specialized knowledge or skills aren’t needed.
Similarly, career prospects for tech-related industries are often improved when the candidate is applying to a tech company. However, career prospects are not only tech-specific, as many big companies prefer to have managers who can bring a level of technical expertise to the table.
In an increasingly technologically driven world, there continues to be an increased demand for technology professionals who have both business and commercial expertise. A specialized MBA in technology can, and often does, result in a fulfilling and worthwhile career that combines technical and business acumen.
Benefits of a tech MBA over a traditional MBA program
For many years, tech companies have been major employers of MBA graduates. Here are just some of the benefits of attaining a tech MBA:
Persistent demand for tech graduates
The demand for tech graduates is growing along with the demand for business leaders who can upskill and increase their tech capabilities. This means that no, more than ever, is a great time to be a candidate who possesses both skillsets.
Competitive salary prospects and compensation
It’s a well-known fact that having an MBA can often increase your salary prospects. With an increasing demand for top staff with tech MBAs, salary prospects and other perks like stock options may continue to improve.
Tech culture continues to embrace entrepreneurship
There is no doubt that emerging technologies open doors to entrepreneurs.
While tech MBA programs attract students who want to get into big tech companies like Amazon, Apple, Cisco, Dell, Facebook, Google, IBM, and Microsoft, this is not the only goal. They also teach skill sets that are invaluable for entrepreneurs and managers of new technology ventures.
Reduced time and cost
An accelerated one-year tech program will take less time than a traditional MBA program and therefore also cost less in tuition and living costs. It’s an option that appeals to many students, and one that an increasing number of business schools are embracing.
It may, however, call for increased discipline and the ability to cope with a much more concentrated academic workload, so it is worth bearing this in mind when considering which program to apply to.
Top Tech MBA programs in the US
What to look for in a Tech MBA program
Many of the top U.S. tech MBAs come from learning institutions that owe their existence to visionaries who identified the incalculable value of teaching business acumen and related knowledge. But what should you look for when choosing the best tech MBA for your needs?
It can be important to consider not only the location of the business school and the length of its program, but also any STEM or non-STEM specialties that it may offer, particular research areas the faculty may focus in, and of course the overall reputation of the institution.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology: Sloan School of Business
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) was founded in 1861. The original campus was in Boston, but they moved to Cambridge in 1916, facilitated largely by a substantial donation from an anonymous donor later identified as the founder of Eastman Kodak, George Kodak. There’s founding technology for you!
MIT has boasted a strong tradition of problem-solving issues relating to the connection of humanity and technology ever since. Open to international students since 1866, MIT’s first master’s degree, in management, was established in 1925.
Today, MIT’s challenging STEM-designated experiential learning program is open to U.S. and international students.
University of California: Haas School of Business
The Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley, is another 19th century school of learning. The idea of the school came from an entrepreneur, Arthur Rodgers, in 1883. It became reality when a substantial donation from Cora Jane Flood 15 years later founded the University’s College of Commerce.
Known for its Nobel-Prize-winning research, Berkeley Haas has STEM designations for all three of its MBA programs.
Cornell University: Johnson Graduate School of Management
Founded in 1865, Cornell University is a privately endowed research university located in Ithaca, New York. The graduate school was founded in 1946, but named the Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management in 1984, after the Johnson family gifted $20 million to the school.
Cornell has a one-year full-time MBA program that is especially appealing to entrepreneurs. It is also a STEM-designated program, and it focuses on technology, data analytics, and other disciplines that relate to contemporary business leadership skills.
NYU: Stern School of Business
Located in New York, NYU Stern boasts being one of the first business schools in the U.S. Founded in 1900, it only got its name in 1988 in honor of the school’s benefactor, Leonard N. Stern.
NYU Stern has ranked at the top of business schools in the finance category for many years. Its tech MBA offers access to global headquarters and local startups as well as cutting-edge industry projects.
Research productivity is tops for NYU Stern which boasts more than 200 professors that include four Nobel Laureates. They rank second in the work for research productivity.
Northwestern University: Kellogg School of Business MBAi
Founded in 1908, Kellogg was the first business school to launch a one-year MBA program, and that was half a century ago. Now they offer a wide range of MBA programs.
Research specialties relate to marketing as well as management and decision sciences.
Its innovative MBAi program combines strategic business innovation with the full realm of tech including machine learning, robotics, AI, and computational thinking for business.
Ready to make your next move?
With such a range of MBA, tech MBA, and STEM-designated MBA programs out there, it can be tough to know where to start.
Whether you’re already applying, or need help figuring out your next steps, you don’t need to go it alone. Admissions Roadmap has the backup and experience to make your story a success.
Reach out to Admissions Roadmap and get your MBA journey started today.