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What is a business administration degree?

A degree in business administration is among the most versatile of degrees. The typical curriculum covers a wide range of business topics that apply to a vast array of industries. These are common courses in business administration programs:

Program options

Associate Degree in Business Administration
The Associate in Business Administration degree can serve as the stepping stone to complete a bachelor’s or as preparation for entry level/trainee administrative and management positions in the field. Coursework at this level covers fundamentals of business, management principles, project planning, and business software; as well as business communication and critical thinking. Some schools may offer specialization/concentration options in areas such as human resources, information systems, and healthcare administration.

Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration
Some of the roles for which graduates with a Bachelor’s in Business Administration degree qualify are accountant, auditor, cost estimator, budget analyst, meeting/convention/event planner, and personal financial advisor. At this level of education, concentrations include accounting, management, business communication, marketing, and healthcare management.

Classes in bachelor’s programs may include:

  • Business Statistics – basic statistical analysis and how it applies to business
  • Business Law – how to read, understand, and apply business law; microeconomics: how businesses and individuals manage money
  • Business Communication – how to communicate effectively in the business world
  • Principles of Management – management theories and practices

Master’s Degree in Business Administration
The Master's of Business Administration (MBA) degree is particularly valued in the world of business. It is the preferred degree for many professionals working in senior management roles. Some of the concentrations at this level are general business, accounting, business management and administration, marketing and marketing research, and finance.

Here are samples of courses offered in many MBA programs:

  • Information Technology – information systems, applications, implementation, related case studies
  • Financial Accounting – financial accounting and reporting systems; the accounting cycle; profitability analysis
  • Strategic Management – developing and implementing business strategies; related case studies

Doctoral Degree in Business Administration
Holders of this advanced degree typically work in research, as university professors, and in upper-management/leadership positions, such as chief information officer, human resources director, administrative services manager, financial manager, and controller. Doctoral level concentration options may include supply chain management and logistics, human resources, international business, information systems, and healthcare management.

Coursework at the doctoral level often includes:

  • Contemporary Challenges in Business – crisis management; change management; innovation
  • Organizational Leadership – leadership styles; leadership assessment; stress that comes with leadership
  • Business Strategy and Innovation – how to use the SWOT analysis: strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats
  • Advanced Microeconomic Theory – understanding the behavior of individuals and companies as they make decisions about how to distribute resources
  • Research Methods – how to gather, organize, analyze and present research data

Degrees similar to business administration

Marketing
This degree field is focused on activities undertaken by businesses to promote the buying or selling of products and services. Students study advertising and promotion, marketing communications, international marketing, marketing management, sales and sales management, consumer behavior, marketing research, and marketing strategy.

Economics
Economics asks wide questions about world economies, how governments should respond to financial crises, how stock prices and exchange rates are set, and how to help people living in poverty. The degree field of business and managerial economics is focused on how to use the concepts and theories of economics to study and solve problems in business.

Finance
The finance field is concerned with how individuals, businesses, and organizations raise, distribute, and use money. Classes cover accounting and statistics for financial analysis, financial markets and institutions, investments, analysis of financial statements, financial management, and international finance.

International Business
Students of international business study business from a global perspective. They learn how to work cross-culturally, how to manage multinational businesses, and how to turn local and national companies into international corporations. Coursework often includes some foreign language studies, as well.

Entrepreneurial Studies
Students of entrepreneurial studies learn how to build, promote, and manage their own or others’ businesses. Common classes are entrepreneurial finance, foundations of entrepreneurship, investor relations and funding, new product design and development, and business plans.

Public Administration
Public administration degree programs teach students how to make and direct policy at various levels of government. These policies can involve a wide spectrum of public concerns, from healthcare to social programs to the environment. Typical courses for public administration students include community analysis, economic development, grant writing, local politics and administration, organization theory, public budgeting and financial administration, public policy, structure of government, volunteerism and the non-profit sector.

Management Information Systems
This degree field is focused on information systems and how they are used by businesses and organizations to improve their operations. Classes cover computer databases, networks, and computer security, and related project management.

Skills you'll learn

Because business administration degree programs are designed to apply to all sectors of the diverse business world, students come away from their chosen course of study with a transferable skill set:

Undergraduate Studies

  • Fundamentals of Business
  • Management
  • Critical Thinking
  • Project Planning and Implementation
  • Business Software
  • Business Communication
  • Organizational Leadership
  • People Management
  • Strategic Planning
  • Business-oriented Computer Applications

Graduate Studies

  • Advanced Management Concepts and Best Practices
  • Organizational Behavior and Design
  • Ethical leadership
  • Strategic Planning
  • International Business
  • Accounting
  • Finance
  • Information Technology
  • Marketing

What can you do with a business administration degree?

Business administration graduates are welcome in virtually every business sector because of the diverse coursework that they complete in their degree programs. What they learn can be applied in sales, advertising, marketing, communications, purchasing, finance, human resources, public relations, and operations research for companies in every major industry:

  • Aerospace
  • Agriculture
  • Chemical
  • Computer
  • Construction
  • Defense
  • Education
  • Energy
  • Entertainment
  • Financial
  • Food
  • Healthcare
  • Hospitality
  • Information
  • Manufacturing
  • Mass Media
  • Mining
  • Telecommunications
  • Transportation
  • Water

Business Administration Careers

The career trajectory of people with a Business Administration degree appears to be focused around a few careers. The most common career that users with Business Administration degrees have experience in is Financial Analyst, followed by Accountant, Marketing Manager, Human Resources Manager, Account Manager, Operations Manager, Sales Manager, Consultant, Digital Marketing Specialist, and Customer Service Representative.

Career % of graduates % of population Multiple
Financial Analyst 8.5% 0.3% 32.8×
Accountant 4.6% 1.0% 4.4×
Marketing Manager 6.4% 1.3% 5.1×
Human Resources Manager 7.4% 0.5% 14.0×
Account Manager 6.7% 0.4% 14.9×
Operations Manager 9.3% 0.6% 16.8×
Sales Manager 6.1% 1.1% 5.4×
Consultant 8.8% 0.8% 11.5×
Digital Marketing Specialist 4.9% 0.6% 8.7×
Customer Service Representative 4.1% 2.1% 2.0×

Business Administration Salary

Business Administration graduates earn on average $k, putting them in the bottom percentile of earners with a degree.

Percentile Earnings after graduation ($1000s USD)
25th (bottom earners) -
Median (average earners) -
75th (top earners) -

Business Administration Underemployment

Business Administration graduates are highly employed compared to other graduates. We have collected data on three types of underemployment. Part-time refers to work that is less than 30 hours per week. Non-college refers to work that does not require a college degree. Low-paying includes a list of low-wage service jobs such as janitorial work, serving, or dishwashing.

Employment Type Proportion of graduates
We are still collecting information for this degree

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