UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Penn State has expanded its highly ranked online MBA program to include seven new areas of study, a move aimed at giving today’s business professionals a chance to shape their graduate education to their career goals and diversify their skill sets.

Students in the Penn State Online MBA can now choose from concentrations in the fields of information technology, engineering, health care, homeland security, international affairs, public administration, and economic development.

With the new additions, there are 22 concentrations to choose from in the online MBA, which is led by the internationally recognized Penn State Smeal College of Business and offered online through Penn State World Campus.

The additional concentrations in disciplines outside of business can appeal to those who want to tailor their MBA to match the skills they need in the workplace, whether that’s in the private sector, government and military, or nonprofit organizations, said Stacey Dorang Peeler, the managing director for the Penn State Online MBA.

“Students want more than the core courses they’d expect from their MBA — they want the flexibility to customize and work in electives that will be immediately applicable to them in their roles or prepare them for job changes,” Dorang Peeler said.

It’s also a sign of the evolution in graduate business education, she said.

“Working professionals aren’t necessarily going to the same jobs their parents did and staying there for 30 years,” Dorang Peeler said. “They may change industries. Each leg of their career may be completely different from the last one.”

The following are the new concentrations:

  • Community and economic development
  • Cybersecurity intelligence leadership
  • Engineering leadership and innovation management
  • Health care business
  • Homeland security
  • International affairs
  • Public administration

The concentrations consist of three courses in the topic area. The concentrations in community and economic development, engineering leadership and innovation management, and homeland security can lead to graduate-level certificates if students apply and are accepted.

In the homeland security concentration, students will take courses that focus on the organization and development of the homeland security enterprise, its scope of natural and manmade hazards, and the continuously evolving roles of the public and the private sector. The courses are taught online by faculty members from the homeland security master’s degree program led by the Penn State Harrisburg School of Public Affairs. 

Alexander Siedschlag, the chair of the homeland security program, said the private sector is an important player in the homeland security enterprise, helping to foster national preparedness across communities, businesses and organizations, and the government. He said that work ties into infrastructure protection, supply chain management, safety management, security culture, and more. 

“Wherever your jobs take you in the business world, you will find out your work is connected to homeland security,” he said. 

John Shingler, an associate research professor in the Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences, said the community and economic development concentration can be of interest to business professionals who want to play a leading role in their communities.

Students will take courses in leadership and entrepreneurship in the community and on how to launch local ventures and nonprofits.

“They are committed to improving the quality of life in their community,” said Shingler, the professor in charge of the online community and economic development graduate program.

The Penn State Online MBA is a 48-credit degree program that focuses on the principles and practices essential to modern management. It ranked No. 6 in the 2020 U.S. News & World Report “Best Online Programs” rankings, and the program is accredited through the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business.