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Best Non-MBA Degrees for Women in Business

Best Non-MBA Degrees for Women in BusinessAccording to Fortune, there are three ways modern women can make their way into the C-suite: securing positions in the boardroom, finding corporate mentors and workplace sponsors, and education. Indeed, business education remains one of the best paths to upper-level management, which means women in business must continue learning throughout their careers.

However, after obtaining a bachelor degree, few women know what to do next. MBAs are common advanced degrees for managers, but they often don’t provide the specialized training necessary for particular upper-level positions. Even supplemented with a concentration, MBAs are designed to prepare students for general business leadership rather than the actual work within a particular field.

While being a business leader may sound prestigious, such training isn’t necessarily valuable for understanding the needs of the business overall, which is what women must do to gain access to the C-suite. Thus, it is wise to know alternative (and often more flexible) business education options that will prepare any woman for the C-suite.

Organizational Leadership

In many ways, an MS in organizational leadership is almost identical to an MBA: Both imbue students with skills and knowledge necessary to lead a business team. However, unlike MBA programs, organizational leadership degree programs teach students a more creative and personal approach to leadership, encouraging true connection to help workers reach their productive potential.

Organizational leaders tend to feel most satisfied in positions that require their human touch, such as training and development or human resources, and director positions within these fields can earn graduates upwards of $100,000 per year. What’s more, organizational leadership is excellent preparation for the executive position of chief operating officer (COO), which has the responsibility of overseeing ongoing business operations and is typically second only to the CEO.

Risk Management

There is no such thing as business without risk, but the best businesses are able to mitigate their risk and maximize their rewards by hiring qualified professionals. Risk management degree programs train students how to identify risky business decisions and balance them with more secure actions. Because types of risk vary across industries and geographies, businesses need those trained in risk management to remain solvent while they grow. A risk manager typically earns between $91,000 and $121,000 per year. 


Having healthy finances is a primary goal for most businesses, and to achieve such aims, many happily hire those with an education background in finance. Typical courses in this program include math-heavy subjects like statistics, financial economics, and accounting, which will prepare students with the hard skills employers desperately want.

Indeed, according to the Graduate Management Admission Council, 78 percent of employers plan to increase their acquisition of finance grads in the coming year. What’s more, those with an MS in finance are better prepared for one of the most prestigious spots in the C-suite, the chief finance officer (CFO), which typically takes home $210,000 or more in salary.


Accounting is one of the most vital activities in business, which is why small and large companies alike devote plenty of office space to accounting operations. Because accounting is so complex, graduate degree programs, usually require students to achieve undergraduate education in the same field.

Still, an MS in accounting can allow professionals to specialize in particularly complicated fields, like taxation, to prepare them for better employment opportunities.

Though accountants are often considered grunts, the truth is many of the best-paid executives tend to have accounting backgrounds. Accounting can easily catapult workers into chief accounting officer or CFO positions. Alternatively, those with systems experience might seek a promotion to chief information officer (CIO), who understands how to use information technology to the benefit of the company and who earns roughly $157,000 in salary.


Having an MS in statistics allows workers to analyze data and develop optimized business strategies. Because this field tends to be dense with complex methods, a background in some type of math or numbers-heavy field is helpful. Typical courses for statistics degree programs include categorical data analysis, regression and time series analysis, quality improvement, and business performance.

Statistics grads are well-educated for several positions in the c-suite, but those adept at recognizing trends can make it all the way to chief executive officer (CEO) and help improve equality in the C-suite as one of the few female CEOs in the country.

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