The Pros & Cons of a General MBA

The business landscape has changed dramatically over the past decade. Three years ago, few executives understood or could explain the benefits of hybrid cloud computing; five years ago, Uber was a fledgling idea and driverless cars were the stuff of science fiction; ten years ago, BlackBerry & Nokia dominated the world of mobile devices and "app store" was a spelling error. How can you rise to a leadership position within your organization if you're still catching up with the latest industry trends?

Getting an MBA can open up new career options by helping you stay ahead of new technology and market trends that impact business. But, should you pursue a degree with the breadth of a general MBA, or the depth of a specialized MBA? Below you'll find the pros and cons of both options.

Pros of a General MBA

Whether you intend to climb the corporate ladder or strike out on your own, a general MBA provides business executives with a solid foundation from which to grow. MBA graduates emerge with proficiency in subjects ranging from accounting to finance, marketing to strategic management, and leadership to analytics. A master's degree in business administration provides the holder with a comprehensive set of skills that are necessary for success in today's competitive job market.

The business landscape, as it exists now, is characterized by ever-shorter life cycles, the proliferation of global competition, and the onslaught of disruptive technology, all of which tends to favor professionals with the most agile and flexible skill set. Those with a general MBA degree are likely to see beyond the corporate silos that can stymie the best laid career plans. Professionals with broad business knowledge may be better able to see the big picture and can quickly shift gears to take advantage of the next opportunity. Those able to reframe conventional wisdom using comparisons to past product or market cycles will be the most valuable leaders of tomorrow. The broad-based MBA prepares professionals for success in any job function, in any industry, and at any time in their career.

Cons of a General MBA

Critics of the general MBA contend that it lacks the depth of knowledge that is needed in increasingly complex areas such as finance, data analytics and digital marketing. In addition, holders of a general MBA might be disadvantaged, at least initially, when applying for positions where depth of knowledge is required. Finally, applicants seeking to concentrate often question the utility of taking business courses that are of little interest and limited value to them.

Is a General MBA Right for Me?

Whether you choose a degree offering a broad-based curriculum or one with concentrations, business executives are likely to find it necessary to continue their education throughout their careers. The marketplace is just too demanding and dynamic. Further complicating your selection, many general MBA programs have expanded their curriculum, minimizing the differences with programs offering concentrations or specializations.

Depending on your educational background and your goals, a general MBA may be the right path for you to pursue. Consider the following when making your choice:

If you are planning to change industries or job function, a general MBA will diversify your skill set, making your more attractive to potential employers.

If your goal is to become a manager at the highest levels, you will most likely need to be conversant in a broad range of business subjects.

If you wish to improve your soft skills, e.g., leadership, critical thinking, collaboration, etc., a general MBA is a good choice.

If you hold a nonbusiness undergraduate degree, a broad-based MBA curriculum will provide you with essential skills that you'll need no matter what position you hold.

If you've been pigeonholed by a finite skill set and need to breakout, a broad-based MBA will raise your stature and bring greater recognition to your work.

If you need more personalized advice, schedule a one-on-one meeting with an MBA Adviser to discuss what makes the most sense for your goals and career aspirations.

The MBA Program at Ramapo College

Many professionals looking for a general MBA program have turned to the 20-month Accelerated MBA Program at Ramapo College. This unique part-time curriculum was custom-built to fit into the busy lives of today's professionals. It is a cohort-based model that emphasizes leadership, critical thinking and international management. This fall, Ramapo will add a second elective to its popular project management offering so that students can graduate with their MBA and qualify for the certification exams offered by the Project Management Institute (CAPM, PMP).

Ramapo College's Anisfield School of Business is accredited as one of the top AACSB business schools in New Jersey. Surrounded by world-class corporations in northern NJ, students gain a broad and practical based education in less time without giving up their day job. Graduates point to the capstone-consulting project with area businesses, the China immersion trip and the network of friends they've created as being among the program's highlights.

By spending just two evenings each week on campus in Mahwah, New Jersey, and three hours per week online, students earn a degree in less than two years. And they come away with the confidence and the skills to face any challenge in today's dynamic marketplace.