With 22% of business professionals having advanced degrees in their field, according to a 2008 U.S. Census Bureau survey, it is more important than ever for students to choose a degree program that can help them gain a competitive advantage in the workplace. But how can students determine which degree program can help them differentiate themselves in their field?

Dr. William Schulz III, associate dean of the School of Management, explains the benefits of variety and helps potential business students sort through the many degree program options.

Dr. Schulz points to the traditional Master of Business Administration (MBA) as the obvious choice for those with less than four or five years of work experience and a desire for general knowledge of the functional areas of business. After that, he says, “It’s a question of aspiration: Are you seeking a senior leadership role? Do you want to expand your local network or go global? Perhaps you want to open your own business, specialize, teach, or become a consultant.”

While the MBA may be the best-known graduate management program, it’s far from the only one. Seasoned managers might turn to Walden’s newest program, the Executive Master of Business Administration (EMBA), intended for those with seven or more years of work experience. Candidates for the EMBA program must have at least four years of experience with significant management responsibilities; they might manage multiple functions, oversee a sizable budget or staff, report to a vice president, or already hold an executive position.

“First and foremost, they will be surrounded by motivated people who are driven to be better leaders for their organizations,” Dr. Schulz says. “In the EMBA, it’s not just knowledge that’s important, it’s also the context in which you learn it.”

The program offers students opportunities to build a strong professional network, assess and enhance their leadership skills, work with an executive coach, gain international business development experience, and integrate knowledge to become more productive leaders in their organizations. Dr. Schulz says, “The program is designed to be a journey of personal and professional transformation.”

EMBA graduates and others who want to focus on the ways research helps to improve organizations and practice might subsequently choose a Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) program, which offers preparation for research, teaching, and consulting careers.

Those interested in doctoral-level research have an additional choice: the PhD in Management. Rather than focusing on practice, it addresses how to use research to expand knowledge itself.

For some people, specialized, rather than broad, business skills matter most, and graduate programs that focus on human resource management or project management might best meet their needs. For someone interested in organizational processes, diversity, or culture, an MS in Management program, which incorporates a variety of specializations, might be ideal.

Others may find that a leadership program suits them best. Dr. Schulz says this group might include executives who have already earned an MBA, managers who want to enhance their leadership skills, or business professionals who believe they have leadership potential.

“At Walden, we have purposely designed an array of business management programs to meet the needs of the lifetime learner. We hope people will look at our programs and say, ‘That’s the one for me,’” Dr. Schulz says.

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