In a rapidly changing business world, the skills of strategic business leadership are becoming increasingly important – and those skills are in high demand.
In a typical MBA in Strategy Degree program, the coursework involves a cross-disciplinary approach to learning how to solve business problems. Students work on case studies, real world projects, and group exercises.
What kind of business degree should you get?
The MBA in strategy is one avenue for students who are interested in the intersections of markets and management. In the end, the choice depends on whether you are more interested in the the investment side of the business world or the corporate management and consulting side.
Looking for a flexible degree program that you can complete while keeping your job? Take a look at our ranking of the Best Online MBA Degrees.
How much do people make with an MBA in strategy?
Depending on your employer and job description, you can expect a salary of $70,000 and up as a business consultant or manager with an MBA. Those in senior executive positions, of course, are paid more. And those working in consulting or investment positions – especially at the “Big Three” consulting firms – may make much more, both as salary and in bonuses.
What can you do with an MBA in strategy?
A key benefit of earning an MBA is the flexibility and relevancy it offers across industries – and an MBA specializing in strategy only emphasizes that flexibility with career opportunities in public, private and government roles offering a range of opportunities in many fields.
Whether your goal is to move into senior corporate role, work as a strategic consultant, or start your own business, the ability to analyze and interpret markets and implement strategic development plans is a sought-after skill and increasingly important as organizations expand across the globe.
What are the requirements for an MBA in strategy?
To apply for competitive MBA programs in strategy, you will need a bachelor’s degree with coursework that shows you’re well prepared for graduate work in business. You don’t necessarily have to major in business or economics as an undergraduate to be a competitive candidate.
You’ll also take the GRE or GMAT, depending on the requirements of each school. Finally, you’ll complete a personal essay and interview process to ensure you’re a good fit for the school.
What are the best MBA degrees in strategy?
We’ve ranked the top 10 MBA programs that can help you become a leading candidate for a consulting position – or to lead your own start-up business. Our rankings take into account factors including reputation, graduation rates, selectivity, and faculty resources.
Some, but not all, are targeted towards management professionals already working in the field and require previous work experience for admission. Check those requirements carefully so you can find the program that best fits your needs.
College Choice Score: 100
Average Net Price: $16,205
Our top-ranked MBA program with an option to concentrate in strategy is at Harvard Business School, where decisive moments define each student’s education. Here, everything from section life to case studies, from field-based learning to international Immersions, culminates in one larger lesson—what it means to assume leadership. Through case method courses, FIELD projects, multimedia simulations, and more, you’ll exercise the leadership skills you will practice in business and beyond. The issues are complex, the stakes high, and the demands challenging. But as a result, you leave HBS with lessons in leadership that are practical, invaluable, and most importantly, real.
The Required Curriculum forms the first year of study and establishes a common foundation in the fundamental practices of business including finance, marketing, leadership, negotiation, operations, strategy, and more. All students participate in the same set of classes within their section of 90 colleagues, including FIELD, which complements case-method learning with smaller hands-on team projects, personal reflection, and global immersions. In addition to acquiring specific analytical and quantitative skills, students become acclimated to MBA Program standards of communication and collaboration, and develop strong, lasting relationships with one another. During the second year, students choose from an unparalleled range of elective courses to build on the basic concepts developed in the Required Curriculum. This portion of the program enables students to integrate the functional skills learned in the first year into an understanding of the firm as a total enterprise. Students may take any combination of courses—up to five courses per semester—and also have the opportunity to cross-register for courses in other select graduate programs.
Upon arrival at HBS, students are assigned to a specific “section”—a group of approximately 90 students with whom they will complete the Required Curriculum. The section’s rich mix of backgrounds, interests, experiences, and ambitions reflects the greater diversity of the class and much of the world as well. Section mates take their first-year classes together, sharing cases, classroom facilities, and their own dedicated team of faculty. Section faculty teach and manage the learning environment, using their own research and real-world experience to introduce innovative ideas and approaches to learning. In turn, students exercise their team-building and management skills to develop protocols for effective learning and shape the distinctive norms and personality of their sections. Through FIELD projects and global immersions, first-year students enrich their section experiences by participating in small, cross-section teams that change throughout the year, connecting participants to the broader HBS community. Harvard University is regionally accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, and Harvard Business School is accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB).
College Choice Score: 99.59
Average Net Price: $16,695
The MBA program at Stanford University is distinguished by its flexibility as well as the inclusion of global experience to the degree requirements. Regardless of your major, the first-year curriculum is shared among all students. In the General Management Perspectives core, you’ll dive into complex managerial issues. You will begin to gain insight into the perspective of a senior manager or leader and to understand the larger context of management. Through practical experience and detailed feedback from your classmates and leadership coaches, you’ll enhance your leadership style. You also will focus on developing your managerial skills, including managing in a global context. Then, toward the end of your first quarter, develop a personalized plan for your General Management Foundations courses, which will provide the base for your general management education. These courses offer a menu of choices in each required discipline, calibrated to your skills, experience, and future goals.
In the second year of the MBA Program, you will likely be taking almost all electives, during which time you can focus on the principles and practice of strategic business leadership. These courses can help broaden your experience and perspective, or broaden your knowledge in a specific area. Recent electives in strategy include:
- Game Theory and Strategic Management
- Innovation in Healthcare Venture Capital Investing
- Entrepreneurship from Diverse Perspectives
- Create a New Venture: From Idea to Launch
- Entrepreneurial Approaches to Education Reform
- Global Value Chain Strategies
- Strategic Management of Nonprofit Organizations and Social Ventures
You can also choose to take a series of two-week compressed courses to build deep knowledge in specific business topics. These two-unit concentrated courses give you flexibility in your schedule to pursue career development and other interests.
Participating in a Global Experience is a noteworthy requirement — and a highlight — of the Stanford MBA Program. You’ll gain a rich perspective of global management issues, and experience life-changing insights, as you take part in these exciting global opportunities. You can choose an immersion experience, where you’ll spend at least four weeks during the summer working on projects for a sponsoring organization in an industry such as consumer products, international development, energy, finance, healthcare, media and entertainment, technology, and telecommunications. Or, you can choose a faculty-led Global Seminar that provides small group learning experiences for incoming students prior to the start of the MBA Program. You will develop an in-depth understanding of a global-business topic through an online learning community where you will participate in preparatory discussions about readings and video lectures relevant to the seminar’s topic. Then, you’ll spend eight to 10 days in the seminar location gaining first-hand knowledge about the seminar topic from faculty, meetings with industry leaders and government officials, and other stakeholders. Stanford University is regionally accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, and the MBA program is accredited by AACSB.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
College Choice Score: 97.14
Average Net Price: $21,576
‘Action Learning’ is the centerpiece of the MIT Sloan MBA experience, describing both its approach to management education and a wide range of hands-on learning opportunities for students. To reinforce their developing knowledge, students at MIT Sloan exercise their leadership skills and apply classroom learning to management challenges in organizations around the world. MIT Sloan offers Action Learning labs focused on subject areas, like sustainability or analytics, or on geographic regions or type of company. During the first, or “Core,” semester, students are divided into six cohorts with nearly 70 students in each from a rich mix of backgrounds, interests, and experiences. Each cohort moves through the Core semester together. Within each cohort, smaller teams of six or seven students work together throughout the Core semester on assignments, collaborate on projects, and study for exams. Just like the cohort, the team’s diversity parallels that of the modern workplace. Cohorts and teams offer students safe places to learn new skills and test their leadership abilities.
Students interested in strategy specialize through the Entrepreneurship and Innovation track of the MBA program. There, you’ll learn how to handle the challenges of moving ideas from the earliest stages of basic research to effective products and services with an impact on the world. You’ll explore the factors that go into basic research, the role of entrepreneurship and strategy in bringing ideas into the market, and the strategic challenges faced by large organizations as they strive to remain at the innovation frontier. Finally, you’ll explore the conditions that drive economic and social impact at the local, regional, and national level, in developed as well as developing nations.
The ability to ask the right questions, parse large quantities of structured and unstructured data, and translate analytic insights into actions and influence key business decisions is an essential skill needed to be successful within modern organizations. In response to the growing demand from students to dive deeper into analytics and data science, MIT Sloan launched the Business Analytics certificate, available to all MIT graduate students enrolled in a degree-granting program. The certificate prepares students for career paths in business analytics across a variety of industries. Students can select from a wide array of electives in their vertical of interest. The classes are completed over a 2-4 semester period, including a number of options for students to learn and practice using analytics techniques in operations, finance, marketing, human capital, healthcare and sustainability. MIT is regionally accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, and the MBA program is accredited by AACSB.
University of California Berkeley
College Choice Score: 96.73
Average Net Price: $17,160
The MBA program at the Haas School of Business at UC Berkeley is anchored in the fundamentals of general management, including the latest theories of and best practices in business – from accounting and finance to marketing and strategy. You’ll learn to lead and manage an enterprise as a whole, gaining a basic framework of qualitative, quantitative, analytical, strategic, and problem solving skills. You not only gain knowledge about best business practices, but also learn about the fundamental principles behind them – the “how” and the “why.” The core curriculum provides a solid foundation, rooted in business fundamentals, such as marketing, finance, accounting, and operations. Beyond the core, you are able to tailor your education to meet your goals and interests through a wide variety of cutting-edge elective offerings and global opportunities.
In total, the MBA program requires 51 semester units of coursework: 12 core courses, an applied innovation requirement, and elective courses. As part of the applied innovation requirement, students participate in a team performance module. You can take these courses as early as the spring of their first year. You’ll also select from hundreds of elective courses, both within and outside of the business school, to fulfill the remainder of the 51-unit requirement. Up to 6 units may be taken as either graduate or upper-division undergraduate courses in other departments on campus; all other elective course units must be taken in graduate business classes. Electives cover a range of topics from Mergers & Acquisitions and Entrepreneurship to Pricing and Power & Politics in Organizations.
Student-initiated elective courses are a tradition at the Haas School of Business. Every semester, the Berkeley MBA Program offers several courses that are initiated and run by students with faculty guidance. Typically, such courses focus on a specific theme or industry. As a Berkeley MBA student, you will enlarge your innovative leadership skills by taking a required applied innovation course that will enable you to hone your leadership skills in a real-life setting. The applied innovation course requirement is taken in conjunction with a teamwork module, designed to make the experience as meaningful as possible. The University of California at Berkeley is regionally accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, and the Haas School of Business is accredited by AACSB.
University of Chicago
College Choice Score: 93.47
Average Net Price: $31,068
The Booth School of Business at the University of Chicago offers an MBA program tailored to prepare its students for business leadership at a new level. You’ll experience an academic program that features an emphasis on analyzing problems, generating key insights, and implementing creative solutions. The curriculum is noted for its flexibility, with only one required course. This gives you the ability to target the depth of knowledge and skills in accounting that a potential employer will value.
Many students at Chicago Booth pursue MBA interests in strategy, business development, and business design. From classroom academics to real-world experience, Booth offers a variety of different ways to explore the ever-changing business landscape. More than getting an MBA in business development or strategy alone, you are exposed to a broad business foundation with opportunities to build upon your unique educational and professional background.
The program is noted for an emphasis on experiential learning, giving you the chance to strengthen the connection between theory and practice. Testing the skills and knowledge you’ve gained in a practical setting will stretch and prepare you for business leadership. You’ll also benefit from an academic connection with the University of Chicago, one of the leading research institutions in the world. Through a number of joint degree programs, you can increase the value of your MBA by combining it with a degree from one of the University’s other world-renowned programs. You also may choose to study in another country and learn about how business is conducted across borders, broadening the perspective you bring to a position. The University of Chicago is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, and the Booth School of Business is accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB).
College Choice Score: 94.29
Average Net Price: $22,973
Columbia Business School’s MBA in strategy begins with a comprehensive core curriculum that builds the foundation necessary for success in any field. Versatile programs like Master Classes, the Individual, Business, and Society Curriculum, and Columbia CaseWorks all approach business education in new ways, and the School’s cluster system encourages students to learn not only with, but from, their peers. Beyond the classroom, the School’s more than 100 student organizations, a remarkably accessible alumni network, cutting-edge research centers, and countless events all work in tandem to help students prepare for success amid uncertainty.
All Columbia Business School students gain a foundational understanding of strategic business principles through the core curriculum, and those interested in further refining their expertise may take electives in strategy, business development, and entrepreneurship. The Eugene Lang Entrepreneurship Center offers a balanced combination of courses, programs, and mentorship for committed students who want to gain the fundamental skills and principles of an entrepreneurial mindset, including starting and growing a business. Experienced practitioners and faculty teach courses ranging from Master Classes like the Entrepreneurial Greenhouse Program (a selective accelerator), to Digital Literacy for Decision Makers (communicating with the tech world), to Entrepreneurial Finance (taught by the dean of the school on how create, identify, and ensure value) to the Venture Capital Seminar taught by renowned venture capitalists.
Columbia’s program is noteworthy for its emphasis on community building. This process begins right at the start of the MBA program, as admitted students are assigned to clusters of 65 to 70 fellow students who take all of the first-year core classes together. As diverse as the class itself, each cluster is made up of people from all over the world, with a wealth of different skills, ideas, leadership styles, and backgrounds. By sharing so much of the academic experience together, clusters become especially close, and this closeness invites a richer learning environment, one where students are more comfortable challenging ideas — and each other — while working together to become transformative business leaders. Each cluster is further divided into learning teams, groups of about five students from diverse professional and personal backgrounds who complete assignments for most core courses as a team. Columbia University is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, and the Business School is accredited by AACSB.
College Choice Score: 92.86
Average Net Price: $29,326
Today’s leaders will be asked to confront increasingly complex problems, requiring them to bring together insights from multiple disciplines. At Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Business, you will a gain firm grounding in the fundamentals through the Growth Core MBA curriculum. After you complete required courses, you’ll be able to explore a wide range of electives and 1,000+ experiential learning opportunities, to learn, test and build your skillset to meet your professional aspirations. Because a global perspective is increasingly important in today’s interconnected marketplace, Kellogg also offers a number of global learning opportunities, including 37 exchange programs across 20 countries. Its global breadth means you can participate in multiple experiences to prepare you to lead confidently in a complex world.
Kellogg’s rigorous core MBA curriculum provides you grounding in the fundamentals of growth and the foundation for advanced, specialized work in academic majors and professional fields. The core curriculum for the Two-Year Program consists of nine courses in fundamental areas, including accounting; management and organizations; marketing; finance; managerial economics; decision sciences; operations; and management and strategy. Courses in the strategy major are designed to improve students’ understanding of how the decisions of managers influence the economic performance of their firms. These courses combine rigorous, analytical thinking with careful attention to institutional detail in order to illuminate aspects of firm behavior, market structure and organizational design.
Strategy majors may also choose to further develop their skills by concentrating in the entrepreneurship pathway. This pathway offers a curriculum that combines strategy, finance, organizations, and marketing in pursuit of successful new venture creation. It includes a sequence that allows interested students to develop and launch new companies, coupled with courses that develop discipline-based skills of particular relevance to building new firms. Northwestern University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, and the Kellogg School of Business is accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB).
College Choice Score: 92.24
Average Net Price: $21,177
The Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth offers an MBA that, among other options, allows students to concentrate in strategy and prepare for a career in the field. Every element in the academic experience at Tuck—from team-based project work and experiential and global learning opportunities to case-based courses, independent study, and small-scale Research-to-Practice Seminars—is designed to push students further than they thought possible with the goal of developing curious, creative leaders. Rigorous self-analysis is at the core of Tuck’s approach to leadership development. Combining feedback from coworkers and fellow students with instruction and peer coaching, Tuck students gain insights that the traditional case teaching method can’t provide.
Tuck’s integrated core curriculum provides rigorous coverage of key functional areas and disciplines with courses that build on and complement each other: statistics and decision science, corporate finance and capital markets, managerial and global economics, marketing, organizational behavior and personal leadership, strategy, communications, and operations. Students who have extensive previous background in a particular discipline may exempt out of a course and take an elective course in its place. Courses in the strategy field include:
- Advanced Competitive Strategy
- Corporate Development
- Entrepreneurship and Innovation Strategy
- Global Strategy and Implementation
- Innovation Execution
- Strategic Principles for Internet Businesses
- Sustainable Business
Throughout these courses, you’ll gain an understanding of both the economic and psychological aspects of strategic business leadership, and develop your own leadership skills.
Students participate in the Tuck First-Year Project (FYP), a required course in which teams of Tuck students apply learning from their entire first year at Tuck to complex, real-world issues of strategic importance for a variety of clients—multinational corporations, SMEs, nonprofit/nongovernmental entities, and early-stage startups from a wide range of industries. Second-year students participate in OnSite Global Consulting, a second-year elective course where students offer professional quality consulting services to a host of worldwide clients. Consulting projects are carried out by teams of students working under the supervision of advisors with extensive consulting and project management experience. All projects include an immersive, full-time fieldwork component, typically outside of the U.S. Dartmouth College is regionally accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, and the Tuck School of Business is accredited by AACSB.
New York University
College Choice Score: 91.43
Average Net Price: $35,147
While all students at NYU’s Stern School of Business graduate with an MBA in General Management, they can select up to three specializations, and choose from one of the largest selections of elective courses among top business schools. The first year consists of core courses in accounting, finance, operations, management and strategy. Then, in the second year, you can focus on your chosen areas of specialization as well as participate in a number of experiential learning projects. The variety of choices and combinations of specializations enables you to define your educational objectives as narrowly or broadly as you like.
Management and consulting require resourcefulness, a faculty for learning, and advanced strategic thinking. A specialization in strategy provides a necessary foundation for tomorrow’s business leaders, with courses including:
- Advanced Strategic Analysis
- Competitive Strategy in the Marketplace
- Corporate Governance
- Strategic Design
- Globalization: A Cross-Functional Perspective
- Strategic Talent Management
- Operations Strategy
- Service Operations and Strategy
You’ll be prepared for careers in fields that range from consulting to entrepreneurship to taking over and growing a family-owned business to the next level.
Based in one of the world’s business capitals, NYU is known for its programs that offer hands-on experience to MBA students. Industry immersions allow students to learn specific industry knowledge from highly engaged alums at sponsoring organizations, at the same time as they build a crucial industry skillset. These programs are designed to prepare students for a successful career transition. Examples include:
- Investment Banking Immersion
- Consulting Mentoring Immersion
- Entertainment & Media Immersion
- Luxury & Retail Immersion
- StartUp Immersion
New York University is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, and the Stern School of Business is also accredited by AACSB.
College Choice Score: 86.53
Average Net Price: $19,950
The MBA in strategy at Duke’s Fuqua School of Business prepares students with the ideas and expertise they need if they’re looking for a career with leading strategy consulting firms. It’s also well-suited for those who are interested in strategic planning or general management positions requiring similar skills. You’ll learn why some firms are more profitable than others. You’ll also explore the sources of sustained profits in the face of competitive pressures. In doing so, you’ll gain the concepts and skills necessary for managers, management consultants, and financial analysts to understand, craft, and support a firm’s strategy.
Along with the foundations of strategy, you’ll also learn about the details of entrepreneurial strategy. This is especially relevant to students who hope to pursue start-up opportunities upon graduation or at a later career stage. In these studies, you’ll gain the information and tools you need to evaluate opportunities to starting a new firm. Topics in entrepreneurial strategy include how to choose markets for entry, when to enter, and what resources and capabilities it will take to provide a platform for future growth.
An optional certificate allows you to branch out within the curriculum to further specialize in a particular area. Three certificates are offered within the program, in Finance, Health Sector Management, and Management Science/Technology Management. However, if you plan to work toward a certificate, you may pursue no more than one major concentration. Duke University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, and the Fuqua School of Business is accredited by AACSB.