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What Can I Do With an Innovation MBA?

Once you have an innovation culture, even those who are not scientists or engineers – poets, actors, journalists – they, as communities, embrace the meaning of what it is to be scientifically literate. They embrace the concept of an innovation culture. They vote in ways that promote it. They don’t fight science and they don’t fight technology – Neil deGrasse Tyson

When debates about fundamentally changing capitalism come up, one of the first things proponents of our economic system point to is innovation. They argue that central planning or any substantial change to the “free market” system we live under would eliminate incentives that lead to innovation. The logic goes that the market prizes products and services that are in low supply and highly demanded, which is a good thing that drives productivity and creation.

This “free market” scarcity applies to dwindling resources and commodities, and it also applies to new ideas, products, and services that enter the marketplace and offer a value that wasn’t available previously. Resources are often dwindling, driving up their value, which is predictable and somewhat quantifiable. However, until a new idea that revolutionizes an industry comes to market, its impact, and the wealth it can create is incalculable.

Because of this relationship between markets and ideas, there’s continuous pressure for new creations, or for reworking commonly accepted ways of doing things. This pressure leads to innovations that in theory improve our lives and the world around us. Unfortunately, innovation ISN’T always useful, and the changes that capitalism incentivizes and often rewards DON’T create value for our society. Instead, they enrich very few people while having a net negative impact on the rest of us.

Innovation can be great. It can cure diseases, make our lives easier, and create multigenerational wealth. But in a system that places profit above anything else, profit will lead innovation more than problem-solving will. If our system incentivized improving life quality, that’s where innovation would be most active.

You can become an innovator in many ways, including working entirely outside of the systems and hierarchies that rule our world. That isn’t very likely though, so you might want to consider getting training in innovating and managing innovation that’s in line with the current power structures.

One great way to do this is with an Innovation MBA. In these programs, you’ll get a graduate business education mixed with coursework and experiential learning that directly deals with the creation, supervision, and unveiling of innovative methods, products, services, and much more.

In this guide we’ll look at Innovation MBA’s, the work we’ve done at MBA Central to help you find the right MBA program for you, consider the factors that should inform choosing a specific degree, explore how to get into an Innovation MBA program, and much more.

Let’s go!

What is an Innovation MBA?

Innovation MBA’s are MBA’s that feature a specialization in, you guessed it, innovation. They’ll begin with the classic graduate business curriculum that you can expect from any MBA program, including advanced courses in finance, economics, legal and ethical aspects of business, and then move into courses specific to creating revolutionary, impactful change in organizations across the economy.

An MBA curriculum will include courses in:

  • Business ethics
  • Accounting
  • Finance
  • Supply chain structure
  • Business laws
  • Human resources
  • Micro and Macro Economics
  • Among other common topics.

These courses aim to help you understand common business issues and also gain a better understanding of what makes a thriving organization successful. You’ll also come away with a complete understanding of how our national and global economies function. After this you’ll move into courses focused on innovation, like:

  • Identifying problems that need new solutions
  • Research for product fabrication and creation
  • Making prototypes and business plans
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Communications and negotiations
  • Competitive technical intelligence
  • Innovation Capstone project
  • Among many other courses

An innovation MBA should take one to three years to complete, depending on the format you choose to earn it.

Each MBA in innovation will have different courses, and examining the specific curriculum offerings of a program will help you determine if it has coursework relevant to your career goals.

With that in mind, let’s explore some of the common considerations you should employ when searching for an Innovation MBA:

What to Consider When Searching for an Innovation MBA

  • What’s the highest degree level you’ve achieved? You’ll need a Bachelor’s degree to apply to an Innovation MBA program.
  • What has been your career experience thus far? How has it prepared you for an MBA in innovation, and your career post-graduation?
  • If you’re a natural innovator, or have innovation experience, you’ll be able to expand it in these MBA’s, and also shore up your weaknesses.
  • How much can you afford in tuition for your Innovation MBA and how much would you have to take out in loans to pay for one? Carefully examine any loan options and interest rates you might take. It’s best practice to take out public over private loans, and whenever you can to choose programs you can afford.
  • Depending on your current employment status, your employer might (at least partially) pay for your Innovation MBA.
  • How much time can you commit to an Innovation MBA daily, weekly, and overall before you graduate from it?
  • The delivery format you choose will heavily influence what you get out of your Innovation MBA degree. Do you want a full-time program, part-time, a traditional on-campus program, online program, or a combination of both traditional, in-person, and online study?
  • What job or career track do you want? Are there specific businesses, government agencies, economic sectors or non-profits you’d like to work for? What does a specific MBA in Innovation offer that is tailored towards achieving these goals?
  • What are your career goals in the immediate future? How would an Innovation MBA help you reach them?
  • Where would you like to live and work during and after earning your Innovation MBA?
  • Depending on what school you attend you’ll be entered into regional networks that can help you find job opportunities in different parts of the country.

Let’s look at some of your other options in the MBA world:

Innovation MBAs vs Related Degrees

Innovation MBA programs are created to help you disrupt different sectors of the economy. You’ll learn how to identify weaknesses or absences from markets, then research potential solutions and why they haven’t been tried or executed correctly. You’ll also study project, product, and business plan conception and execution, likely learn how to communicate those ideas to build support and investment, work with others on projects, and build towards a culminating Capstone project in innovation.

Of course, many other specializations in the MBA world could give you similar skills and experience, while sharpening you in a slightly different direction. Some of the top options include:

  • Business Management MBA
  • Communications MBA
  • Organizational Leadership MBA
  • Operations Management MBA
  • Human Resources Management MBA

Why should you choose an Innovation MBA degree program over one of these related degrees?

If you have a strong desire to create crucial, lasting change in the world, you’re already a budding innovator. However, getting formal training in where to target innovation, how to create change, bring a team together that will work with you to make it, and understand plus avoid the pitfalls that have prevented it previously will make or break your success. That’s where Innovation MBA programs come in. In these related degrees, you’ll spend more time learning how to work within existing systems and hierarchies to enrich others, and maybe one day claw your way to the top of the heap. An Innovation MBA program is an opportunity to build something new and valuable that you control, and that upsets current structures and markets.

While these related degrees will give you many valuable skills and significant business experience, they are more likely to push you towards jobs where you’ll work for corporations. If you want that, great. But if you’d rather have more control over what you create, earn, and do on a day-to-day basis, Innovation MBA programs make great options.

Graduates of Innovation MBA programs often go on to work at existing organizations but have built more skills that can give them utility over their careers even within those structures.


How Can We Help You Get an Innovation MBA?

There are so many available MBA programs, and specializations within them. Innovation MBA’s are rarer than some of these specializations, but there are still a number of them or programs that are closely related. Sometimes you’ll see MBA’s in “sustainability innovation,” or something similar. Luckily, at MBACentral we’ve created a plethora of articles, rankings, and other resources that can help you figure out your path within the MBA world.

Some of the work we’ve produced includes:

There’s much more content on MBACentral, including far more rankings, career profiles, and answers to frequently asked questions. We’re continually updating our content, so check back often for more resources. If you find a school through our content that you’re interested in, you can follow our links to their website to learn more. If you contact a school’s support staff, you’ll likely find them ready and willing to provide you more information about their program and help you through the application process.

So, if you wanted to earn an Innovation MBA from home, can you?

Can You Get an Innovation MBA Online?

MBA’s have become a prevalent online degree option. They’ve always been designed to accommodate working adults who want to take the next step in their careers. As the Internet has become ubiquitous, what was once distance, weekend and night classes have transitioned online. Innovation MBA’s are no different, and as mentioned above, we’ve ranked twenty of the top online MBA’s in innovation. So what would you get out of attending an Innovation MBA online?

Some of the benefits include:

  • Location: Instead of being forced to reside in any particular place, online MBA programs let you work and study from anywhere with access to the Internet. If you want to work in a specific state, earning an MBA online from a school in it can significantly help your networking opportunities there.
  • Schedule: Online programs give you flexible scheduling options like asynchronous classes, which allow students to attend class, do coursework and complete exams on a schedule conducive with their ongoing responsibilities. This flexibility also lets students keep their 9-5 employment hours and saves them money on commuting and housing fees typically associated with colleges and universities
  • Price: Online programs let you avoid some of the costs associated with higher education, like the commuting as mentioned earlier and housing fees, letting you trim the fat off the typical college experience in favor of a lean steak of work and education. They’re intended for people who want to complete their work, earn their degree and get a great return on their investment as soon as possible.

How Do You Get in to an Innovation MBA Program?

Getting into graduate school can feel extremely overwhelming, especially if years have passed since you’ve earned a higher education degree. But if you manage it in bite-size pieces (as opposed to letting the weight of everything you need to do crush you), you’ll have a lot more success and reduce your stress tremendously. Here are some of the steps that will help you in your quest for an MBA:

  • Complete a Bachelor’s degree: Before you start the process, you need to have a bachelor’s degree (as with all graduate programs). If you don’t have one and know you want to earn your MBA, it is suggested that you major in a related field, but that’s not a requirement. You will also want to reach out to undergraduate professors to ask for letters of recommendation as part of your MBA applications.
  • Take the GMAT: MBA applicants are often asked to take the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT). The GMAT is a standardized test which measures your analytical, writing, and quantitative skills, and how they’re specifically related to business practices. To see more, check out our In-Depth Guide to the GMAT.
  • Consider your needs: MBA programs mean a lot of hard work and even when you take one online, they will cost you a pretty penny (you can prioritize cheaper ones, and we’ve included that in our rankings). Before applying to any schools, write down what you want from them on many metrics. The earlier section on what to consider is a good start, but try to do some soul-searching on what might be most important to you. It will be helpful to take account of your expectations for your MBA program. An online program can go a long way to helping you meet your current responsibilities while earning your degree, so check out our Online MBA program rankings.
  • Research Schools: Once you know what you want from an MBA program, it’s time to start researching schools. We’ve given you a big head start on this process. Remember, if any of the schools feel like a good fit for you, it’s helpful to click the links to their website and request more information about their programs.
  • Apply: After researching Innovation MBA programs and choosing schools you’re relatively sure you can get into (safeties), ones you think you can, and that you want (targets), and dream schools (reaches), you are ready to apply. It will do wonders for you to get in contact with professors, academic advisors, and admissions counselors to any school you want to apply to.

So, what will you get out of an Innovation MBA program career wise?

What Jobs Can You Get With an Innovation MBA Degree?

Graduates from Innovation MBA degree programs are prepared and qualified to enter some of the most stable and high-paying positions in the American (and global) business world, plus have the opportunity to build something on their own that could potentially earn them far more money and prestige. Some of your options might include:

  • Entrepreneurs: This won’t be easy, but you’re not here for that. Entrepreneurs build businesses from scratch. They build teams that help them do it and work doggedly to take their dream idea from their imagination and put it into the world. In many ways, Innovation MBA’s are preparing you to fill this role, but that won’t be your only option. If you crave security and stability, you might consider aiming for other positions. Innovation can happen anywhere, and you can revolutionize an existing organization or department in roles like:
  • Top Executive: Top executives like CEOs and COOs are the highest level administrators at their organizations. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics found that top executives make an average annual salary of $104,980, and there are currently 2,572,000 positions employed in the United States, which is expected to go up by 8% over the next decade.
  • Management Analyst: Management analysts, also called are consultants, work with organizations to dissect workplace efficiency and find ways to improve it. They make an average annual salary of $83,610, and there are currently 806,400 people working in these roles in the United States. That’s expected to increase by 14% over the next decade.
  • Administrative Services Manager: Administrative service managers work in office facilities and activities, coordinating responsibilities like information archiving and retrieval, as well as general office upkeep, and much more. They make an average annual salary of $96,180, and there are currently 281,700 positions employed in the United States. That’s expected to increase by 10% over the next decade.
  • Human Resources Manager: Human resource managers serve as liaisons between employees and management, dealing with negotiating, hiring and firing, recruiting talent, and resolving workplace conflict. They make an average annual salary of $113,300, and there are currently 136,100 positions employed in the United States. That’s expected to increase by 9% over the next decade.
  • Financial Manager: Financial managers write financial reports, speculate on investments, and employ other financial strategies that maximize organizational profits and help them achieve their goals. They make an average annual salary of $127,990, and there are currently 580,400 positions employed in the United States. That’s expected to increase by 19% over the next decade.

Of course, starting your own business, or bringing a product or service to market with the help of an existing organization is an extremely appealing career path for some, especially those attracted to Innovation MBA’s. However, it’s a challenging path that’s not for everyone, and the education you’ll receive in an Innovation MBA can prepare you for the roles above, and so many more as well.

Innovation MBA’s in Conclusion

Here at MBACentral we really hope you’ve found this guide useful, and that it will give you insights and resources that make your search for an Innovation MBA (or any other MBA) much more productive. Remember, if and when you find a program that feels like a good fit, help yourself out by reaching out to its support staff directly to request more information and get help in your application process.

Best of luck in the search, and for some extra reading, check out:

Further Reading