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What is a business degree?
Interested in business? You're not alone.
Business is one of the most popular university degrees. In part, this is because it opens so many doors. Business graduates are in high demand across the world. Their skills and training apply to a wide range of industries. As a result, business students can expect great pay and a great career outlook.
This degree is also popular because of the breadth it covers. To thrive in this field, students learn about all aspects of running a business. They learn about accounting and finance, the health of any operation. They also explore marketing and promotion, the "public face" of any business. Finally, they learn to strategize, plan, and think critically about the future.
Different schools offer different specializations. Management, marketing, accounting, and human resources are just a few examples.
But all business programs share a common focus: practicality. In a business degree, you'll learn to apply theory to solve real-world problems. You'll look at case studies and examples in the news. You'll also practice your knowledge in internships, team projects, or work placement schemes.
Competitive yet collaborative, this can be a dream degree.
It can be difficult to find the right business degree. There are so many options to choose from!
You can study online or on-campus, full-time or part-time. Many people specialize in a subject like finance or advertising. But it's also possible to enrol in a broader, more general program. Whatever you decide, make sure your degree aligns with your personal goals. Only you know what's best for your professional future.
Here are some of the most common options to consider:
Associate Degree/Certificate in Business
Associate degrees usually take about two years to complete. Many are specialized—ideal training if you know exactly what you want to do for work. They are usually more affordable, but provide fewer career opportunities than a bachelor's.
Bachelor's Degree in Business
Bachelor's degrees take about four years to complete. They cover a broader and deeper range of subjects than associate degrees. They're also more competitive, requiring a high GPA for admission. There are lots of different options to choose from. But a Bachelor's of Business Administration (BBA) and a Bachelor's of Business Management (BBM) are two popular choices.
Master's Degree in Business
If you want work in a leadership role, a Master's Degree in Business may be for you. Master's are more specialized than bachelor's or associate degrees. Most have smaller class sizes and put greater emphasis on student participation. Graduates tend to be in high demand, and can usually expect a competitive starting salary.
Doctoral Degree in Business
There are two kinds of doctoral business degrees, PhDs and DBAs. PhDs are more academic. Many people with this training become university business professors. DBAs are more practical, ideal for advancing your professional skills. Although getting a DBA doesn't guarantee you a CEO position, it can help.
Degrees similar to business
Many students feel torn between business and economics. Both degrees involve finance, trends, and the trade of goods and services. They also open up similar jobs opportunities. But although these degrees have some things in common, they're actually very different. Economics is broader and more theory-based. Business tends to be more specialized, with a focus on practical skills. For this reason, students who know what they want to do for work usually prefer business.
Commerce is another degree that's often confused with business. Like business, this degree covers money and management. It teaches students about finance, accounting, and economics. But commerce degrees involve a lot of math. They take a "big picture" approach to financial management. As a result, many graduates go on to become business analysts or stock traders.
Business degrees focus more on running businesses than analyzing them. They also offer specializations that are less finance-focused, like marketing and real estate. People who want to become CEOs, managers, or entrepreneurs tend to prefer business.
Skills you'll learn
One of the best things about a business degree is the wide range of skills you gain along the way. Whatever degree you choose, you'll improve your abilities in these key areas:
- Communication – both oral and written
- Problem solving
- Logic and reasoning
- Decision making
- Data analysis and interpretation
- Project and resource management
- Critical thinking and analysis
- Self-motivation and time management
- Team work
- and more.
You'll also gain a valuable understanding of economic trends and business operations. This training, as well as the skills above, prepare you for success in a wide range of careers.
What can you do with a business degree?
Almost every industry hires business graduates. As a result, there are many career paths to choose from. Here are a few common areas to consider after your studies:
Ever wanted to become an investment banker, budget analyst, or loan officer? These are just a few finance-related careers available to a business student. Finance is all about money, assets, and debt. It involves a great deal of math and economics. If you love working with numbers and statistics, this career area might be for you.
At the heart of every successful business is a talented accountant. Jobs in accounting involve a strong understanding of finances and numbers. People in this field love to solve problems and organize data. For a money-oriented business student, it can be an ideal fit.
Management and Administration
Almost every company needs a manager. Business students are strong candidates for the job. During their degree, they learn skills in administration and supervision. They gain knowledge about how organizations work, and how to help them work even better.
Sales involves understanding customer needs and how your products or services meet them. No business can survive without a great sales team. There are lots of positions in this area, and business students thrive at many of them.
Marketing and Advertising
Advertising, strategy, product development—there are lots of career options in marketing. And business students are well-suited for many of them. Why? During their studies, they learn the basics of pricing and promotion. They gain skills in customer research and branding. They also learn how to communicate and persuade.
Do you love to start new projects and watch them grow? Many business students pursue entrepreneurship after their degree. Some build their own businesses. Some help others manage theirs. Whatever the details, this field is all about opportunity and progress.
Human resources professionals focus on the people side of business. They help recruit, interview, and hire staff. They also handle payroll, benefits, and training. By creating work environments that are welcoming and supportive, they help businesses thrive.
Real estate jobs involve a mix of sales, communication, marketing, and finance knowledge. They also require time-management and people skills. Business graduates have these qualifications and more.
Consultants work with organizations and businesses of all kinds. They analyze what their client is doing well and what they could improve. Sometimes they help with a particular problem or goal. Many business students enjoy the varied, solutions-focused nature of this work.
The career trajectory of people with a Business degree appears to be focused around a few careers. The most common career that users with Business degrees have experience in is Financial Analyst, followed by Marketing Manager, Accountant, Account Manager, Sales Manager, Digital Marketing Specialist, Entrepreneur, Consultant, Investment Banker, and Human Resources Manager.
|Career||% of graduates||% of population||Multiple|
|Digital Marketing Specialist||2.5%||0.6%||4.4×|
|Human Resources Manager||2.1%||0.5%||4.0×|
Business graduates earn on average $40k, putting them in the 55th percentile of earners with a degree.
|Percentile||Earnings after graduation ($1000s USD)|
|25th (bottom earners)||$30k|
|Median (average earners)||$40k|
|75th (top earners)||$55k|
Business graduates are not very well 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|
|Jobs that don't require college||77%|