Which Innovation Program is Right for You?
Innovation has been dubbed one of the critical indicators of business success. In today’s competitive and tech-focused business environment, you can’t expect to last long if you’re not innovating.
Subsequently, it’s more important than ever that business administration students pick up skills in innovation. By studying an innovation-centred program, students effectively future-proof their education, allowing them to more easily adapt to future technology and ways of working.
From critical skills in creative thinking and decision-making to a knowledge of the latest technology like machine learning and blockchain, studying innovation can also lead to exciting job prospects in the business world.
Business schools across the globe are honing in on innovation skills with dedicated MBAs and Master’s degrees in the subject – but where do you start if you want to study innovation?
To help guide your decision, we’ve looked at the different types of innovation degrees you can study today. From business analytics specializations to sustainability, this will help you decide which innovation degrees is best for you.
What are the Different Types of MBA Innovation Degrees?
Full MBA Degrees in Innovation
A Master of Business Administration is one of the most popular degree types for prospective business students. Suppose you want a broad yet intensive business education with the opportunity to dive into advanced topics, and already have a few years of work experience. In that case, this is the degree for you.
With innovation on everyone’s mind, some business schools are starting to embed the topic directly into their flagship MBA courses. This means you can now study for a full-time MBA with innovation as the core component.
On these courses, innovation will be woven through all standard MBA core modules and electives. However, case studies and projects will focus mainly on innovative thinking. Additional hands-on projects may allow you to practice innovation first-hand, such as by consulting with startups.
The University of Louisville College of Business has a nationally-ranked Innovation MBA that helps students hone their critical and strategic thinking skills and apply them to innovation. As part of the program, you participate in a venture launch and venture accelerator, mentored by venture experts.
In the UK, the University of Sunderland offers an Enterprise and Innovation MBA that focuses on new technology and how it can be integrated into companies, and managing innovation from a senior leader standpoint.
If you’re interested in sustainability (about half of prospective students say this is a GME curriculum must-have), there are also options within full-time innovation MBAs. The University of Vermont offers a Sustainable Innovation MBA, while the University of Bradford in the UK have a part-time online MBA in Innovation, Enterprise, and Circular Economy.
While full MBA degrees in innovation are still few and far between, it’s far more common to see programs with MBA specializations in innovation.
With an MBA specialization, you can adjust your program curriculum based on your interests and career goals. As the MBA is known for being a broad program, specializations allow students to become experts in a particular field such as finance or marketing.
Today, many programs also offer an MBA specialization in innovation. Unlike a complete MBA in innovation, MBA specializations will see you pursue specific electives in innovation, while the rest of your program will centre around more traditional MBA topics.
This may be useful for students who want a more well-rounded, traditional MBA education while exploring topics like entrepreneurship, AI, and strategic thinking.
Some of the most prominent schools in the world offer MBA specializations in innovation on their MBA programs, sometimes paired with entrepreneurship. In the US, top-ranked MBA programs at the University of Pennsylvania Wharton School and MIT Sloan School of Management have MBA specializations in entrepreneurship and innovation.
At HEC Paris, students can choose a specialization in Sustainable and Disruptive Innovation, which focuses on building radical and innovative business strategies to tackle critical challenges like climate change and resource depletion.
Master's in Innovation Programs
If you’ve just graduated from your bachelor’s degree, have minimal work experience, or want to specialize in a particular area of innovation, then a Business Master’s degree could be a good option.
A Business Master’s is substantially more affordable than an MBA degree and can sometimes be studied in ten months.
However, within Business Master’s, there are many different innovation programs, and your choice will depend on your area of interest and knowledge background.
MSc Business Analytics and Innovation
Data analytics is one of the most popular Business Master types – almost one-fifth of students interested in a Master’s degree choose this area of study. It’s also a popular Master’s to pair with the study of innovation, as technology, business analytics, and cutting-edge thinking go hand-in-hand.
On a business analytics and innovation degree, you’ll learn core data analysis and visualization skills, paired with soft skills in innovative decision-making and problem-solving.
Programs combining business analytics with innovation are a reasonably new concept, so you might have to search to find the right one. All will prepare you for a career in business analytics, focusing on how analytics can propel organizations into the future.
One institution in the UK which is pioneering the study of business analytics and innovation is the London School of Economics. There, you can study for a Master in Management of Information Systems and Digital Innovation, which introduces students to topics like social networks, network governance, and AI.
MSc Entrepreneurship and Innovation
It’s common for business schools to pair the study of innovation with entrepreneurship. Innovation skills are critical for any entrepreneur, especially those developing startups in science or technology. A Master’s degree in Entrepreneurship and Innovation prepares to become successful entrepreneurs, develop cutting-edge companies and find solutions to digital challenges.
Most entrepreneurship and innovation degrees include more practical elements than a standard business administration degree, such as developing business plans and pitching. This way, your degree will prepare you to innovate with your own company.
On the MSc in Entrepreneurship & Innovation at Hult Business School, students take part in three business challenges throughout the year, including company visits, simulations, and hackathons.
At ESCP Business School, the MSc Digital Innovation and Entrepreneurial Leadership prepares students to lead tech companies through digital transformation initiatives, focusing on international leadership: students spend the year rotating between Berlin, London, Paris and Turin.
It’s also common to find 100% online Master’s programs in entrepreneurship and innovation. At HEC Paris, the online MSc in Innovation & Entrepreneurship is taught over two years and is aimed at people wanting to pursue a career in innovation management or innovative project management.
MSc Disruptive Innovation
Disruptive innovation is another element of innovation focusing on the displacement of existing companies and products. It looks at how technology can upset traditional business structures and models and requires knowledge of future tech and current innovations.
On a Master’s in Disruptive Innovation, you’ll follow a similar curriculum to an Entrepreneurship and Innovation degree, looking at how to lead innovative projects and utilize disruptive tech. However, a Disruptive Innovation program may also look specifically at managing tech companies and how to use creativity to innovate.
For example, the MSc in Innovation and Technology Management at the University of Bath contains elements of disruptive innovation. Students are taught by the the School of Management and the Department of Mechanical Engineering and learn how to commercialize new technology and overcome challenges inherent in technological disruption.
MSc Strategic Management and Innovation
Strategy is vital to most Business Master’s degrees, but with a Strategic Management and Innovation program, you’ll dive into how innovation can be implemented into business strategy and leadership skills.
This program will combine analytical skills with leadership and technology and most will feature elements of sustainability and CSR. As a result, you’ll be prepared for senior leadership roles in organizations, focusing on big-picture strategy and management with innovation.
At NUS Business School in Singapore, the MSc in Strategic Analysis and Innovation prepares students to work in a data-driven world. You’ll explore specific management topics, such as economic analysis and stakeholder value, combined with work on innovation strategy.
MSc Sustainable Innovation
Business institutions and prospective students know that sustainability is a critical parts of a business curriculum today. Consequently, some schools offer innovation programs with a key focus on sustainability and environmental challenges.
On a degree in Sustainable Innovation, you’ll learn how to harness skills in innovation to combat sustainability challenges in organizations. After the degree, many students go on to work in large organizations in sustainability departments, launch their own startups in sustainability, or lead other impactful social innovation projects in non-profit organizations.
While a Master’s in Sustainable Innovation may offer electives in cutting-edge technology like blockchain or AI, there will be a larger focus on social innovation and related topics like impactful investing and climate economics.
For example, on the Master in Sustainability and Social Innovation at HEC Paris, students follow core courses in how the climate and biodiversity crises are impacting businesses and how to conduct sustainability research. Students can also choose a specialization such as intrepreneurship or impact entrepreneurship to guide their career path towards a specific area.
Similarly, the two-year Master in Sustainability Entrepreneurship and Innovation at ESCP Business School prepares students specifically to lead sustainability transformations in organizations, whether their own or an existing company.
Online Short Courses
For business professionals who don’t want to take time out of their careers to complete an MBA or Master’s degree – or don’t want to commit to a longer part-time business administration degree – a short course can be an ideal option.
Short courses can be taken on-campus or completely online, and last for a few days up to a couple of months.
On these programs, you’ll study one specific area of innovation in great detail, allowing you to complement or supplement your current knowledge in business.
Disruptive innovation is a common topic for short courses, and both the University of Minnesota Carlson School of Management and INSEAD offer courses in this area.
At IMD Business School, meanwhile, you can choose from a number of in-person and online courses in innovation, covering many of the topics that Master’s programs specialize in. Options include strategic innovation, disruptive innovation, and innovation in action.
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