Post-MBA Certifications and Courses

Many MBA graduates enter the world of business, only to realize that they could use more preparation in their chosen field of expertise. These people often choose to supplement their education with post-graduate certifications and courses that boost their skills—and their hireability.

In the past, earning accreditation often meant quitting work to attend a program full-time. Today, however, the path to specialty study has been greatly simplified thanks to the proliferation of accredited online programs. Hundreds of programs offer 100 percent online coursework, allowing students to earn an advanced education on their own schedule—even while working full time, if desired. In short, there are few barriers to earning exactly the certifications that will further your knowledge and career.

Post-graduate business education is available through many institutions, both in person and online. Washington State University’s Online Master of Business Administration is one program that offers post-graduate coursework. With some of the best post-MBA certifications available, WSU’s Online MBA degree program opens the door to many MBA career paths and opportunities.

Most Popular Certifications

A handful of certifications are by far the most popular post-MBA offerings both because they are highly respected and recognized, and because they offer useful information that candidates can apply immediately in their careers. The top certifications are:

  • CFA (Chartered Financial Analyst). The CFA certification is a good option for those interested in a career in the finance area, such as corporate finance, investment banking, portfolio management, or equity research. The certification has 3 levels (Level I, Level II, and Level III). The exam for each level requires at least 300 hours of preparation, and on average, it takes part-time students about 4 years to pass all 3 exams.

Students may attempt the first exam in the last year of their MBA coursework. For levels II and III, they must have graduated from an MBA program. Only between 40 and 50 percent of people pass the exams, so this degree is somewhat exclusive and very desirable.

  • FRM (Financial Risk Manager). Offered by the Global Association of Risk Professionals, this certification provides expertise in the specialized area of financial risk management. It is very helpful for anyone expecting to take calculated risk as required in the finance sector mainly in investment banks, corporations, or asset management firms.
  • CISA (Certified Information Systems Auditor). The CISA certification is internationally recognized. It is awarded by ISACA (Information Systems Audit and Control Association). This certification has sprung from the growing demand for professionals with the skills to monitor the information technology, business systems, and processes of any organization. CISA certification provides the necessary skill and knowledge in this area.
  • CRMA (Certification in Risk Management Assurance). Offered by the Institute of Internal Auditors (IIA), this course is meant for internal auditors and risk management professionals. If your career objective is to become a trusted advisor to the audit committee and handle management in the critical areas of risk assurance, governance processes, quality assurance, or control self-assessment, the CRMA designation may be for you.
  • CPIM (Certified in Production and Inventory Management). The CPIM certification is also a globally recognized certification. Offered by APICS (American Production and Inventory Control Society), the CPIM is for those who wish to pursue a career in supply chain management. It provides a thorough understanding and knowledge of the production planning and inventory management of any company, from local to global.
  • PMP (Project Management Professional). The Project Management Institute (PMI) is a nonprofit organization focusing on project management. It offers various globally recognized certifications, one of which is the PMP. The PMP gives professionals the expertise and competence they need to be recruited for project manager positions. It also illustrates commitment because the certification requires an investment of time, money, and effort. Those who earn the PMP can expect a higher salary compared to others in this field.
  • SHRM (Society for Human Resource Management). Certification from this organization shows employers that fresh graduates have acquired some basic knowledge in the human resources area, based on the guidelines set by The Society for Human Resource Management’s (SHRM) Assurance of Learning®.
  • CCR (Confluence Certified Recruiter). This certification is designed for individuals who seek a career in recruitment. Major competencies addressed in the coursework include designing job criteria, identifying potential sources for candidates, designing the selection process, and evaluating selection tools.
  • SAP (Systems, Applications, and Products). SAP is a recognized name in business solutions and software. It offers a wide range of certifications with international acceptance. Most popular among them are SAP Business Intelligence (SAP BI), SAP Business Planning and Consolidation (SAP BPC), SAP FI (for financial accounting), SAP HR Human Capital Management (SAP HR HCM), SAP Material Management (SAP MM), and SAP Sales and Distribution (SAP SD) certifications.
  • Second MBA from an international business school. This trend has arisen in recent years. Once they enter the working world, many MBA graduates realize that they went into management too early in their careers and their coursework has not lived up to their expectations. They may choose to go for a bigger, better MBA from a globally recognized institution to boost their knowledge, skills, and career.

MBA Concentrations

For those who do not wish to pursue formal certifications, but who need specific skills or background to boost their job performance or hireability, MBA concentrations are a way to gain the needed expertise. WSU’s Online MBA degree provides an example of such concentrations. The program features 4 concentrations, allowing students to focus their educational experience on their career-specific interests and goals. Each concentration is also available as a standalone 9-credit MBA certificate, which can be taken outside of the formal MBA program.

The 4 concentration areas are:

  • Marketing. This concentration includes courses on international marketing management, promotional management, and new product marketing. Coursework allows students to take an in-depth look at consumer behavior and the psychology behind it. Students will learn to analyze and react to consumer trends, examine the differences between foreign and domestic markets, and discover strategies to help navigate those differences.
  • Finance. This concentration includes courses on investment analysis, interest rates and finance markets, and international finance. These courses allow students to study financial practice and principles from an international perspective, as well as learn about financial management of multinational corporations and international investments. Additionally, students will explore related topics, such as asset management, investment analysis, interest rates, and financial futures.
  • International Business. This concentration includes courses on international business management, international marketing management, and international finance. It allows students to explore the ethical, economic, and societal challenges associated with doing business in a foreign marketplace. It will also help students to delve into risk management as it applies to the international marketplace.
  • Hospitality Business Management. This concentration includes courses on services management, international tourism strategy and planning, and hospitality operations analysis. It helps students to learn more about business operations within the hospitality industry.

Additional Options

These are some of the most popular offerings available, but they only scratch the surface of a graduate’s possibilities. MBA grads can seek certification in practically any skill or sub-specialty they desire. Earning certifications can be valuable in any job search process and can also just be satisfying. For the lifelong student, there is no reason to ever stop learning and improving.

About WSU’s Online Master of Business Administration Program

Washington State University’s Carson College of Business delivers one of the top-ranked MBA programs in the nation. WSU offers an Online MBA course curriculum designed to equip students with the tactics, knowledge, skills, strategies, and other resources utilized by today’s high-profile business leaders.

WSU’s Online MBA degree program offers several MBA concentrations—marketing, finance, hospitality business management, international business, and general MBA. For more information, visit WSU’s Online MBA website.


Recommended Reading:

Work to School: Changes to Expect and How to Manage Them

Five Fast-Growing Industries for Executives

Benefits of Flexible Online Learning Environments for Professionals



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