Students have many options when it comes to earning a business degree. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, business is the most popular major for undergraduate students. A business degree prepares graduates for careers in many industries, including health care, marketing, information technology, and financial services. Business graduates often enjoy above-average salaries and strong job growth.
This article explores business degrees at all levels, helping to shed light on what you can do with a business degree and what your future earning potential might be.
What are the types of business degrees?
Students can earn business degrees at the associate, bachelor’s, master’s or doctoral level. Each degree can provide targeted training for specific business careers after graduation. For example, graduates of a bachelor’s degree may qualify for entry-level positions such as operations research analyst or budget analyst. Supervisory positions such as CFO or marketing manager often require a master’s degree in business.
Professionals can increase their earning potential and employment opportunities by earning higher degrees. As the following chart shows, professionals with a bachelor’s degree in business earn more than those with an associate’s degree, and those with a master’s degree earn more than those with an undergraduate degree.
Some roles also require graduate degrees. For example, many employers prefer to hire managers and executives with an MBA or master’s degree in management.
Associate’s Degree in Business
An associate’s degree in business introduces students to key business areas such as accounting, marketing, human resources and finance. Through these foundational courses, learners explore business principles, marketing strategies, and laws and regulations governing businesses. Students can further their studies by choosing an associate degree in management or an associate degree in entrepreneurship.
An associate degree typically takes two years to complete, and graduates can find work as hospitality managers, accountants and financial clerks. Graduates can also transfer to a four-year college to earn a bachelor’s degree in business administration, which requires two additional years of study. Many career paths in the business field require a bachelor’s degree. You can learn more about the best associate degrees in business administration in our guide.
Bachelor’s Degree in Business
A bachelor’s degree in business teaches students how to analyze data, supervise teams, and make decisions about business strategy. Undergraduates can specialize their degree by choosing a bachelor’s in business management, which emphasizes management skills, or a bachelor’s in entrepreneurship to become a business founder. Many programs also offer electives or concentrations in human resource management, health care administration or logistics.
In many industries, a bachelor’s degree is the minimum requirement for an entry-level position.
Business graduates work as market research analysts, accountants and management analysts. A bachelor’s degree typically takes four years to complete for full-time students.
BBA or BA in business or BS in business?
A Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) often includes more business courses and fewer general education requirements, emphasizing hands-on training. Students pursuing a bachelor of arts (BA) in business take more humanities and social science courses. They also often have a foreign language requirement. A bachelor of science (BS) in business includes courses that are more focused on STEM subjects. For example, BS students may need to take courses in statistics, advanced mathematics or economics.
Each of these bachelor’s degree options typically requires 120 credits and four years of coursework, although specific graduation requirements vary.
Master of Commerce
A master’s in business trains graduate students in advanced business practices and techniques. At the graduate level, an enrollee can earn a master’s degree in management, which provides focused training in management, or a master’s degree in business administration (MBA). An MBA typically takes two years to complete, although some accelerated programs offer one-year MBAs. A Master of Management degree typically takes one year to complete.
During a master’s program, business students explore high-level business management concepts such as operations management, organizational behavior and leadership theory. These programs often incorporate internships to provide hands-on experience. Many MBA students also specialize their degrees with concentrations, such as entrepreneurship, project management, finance and international business.
Graduates of a master’s degree in business can move into leadership positions in many fields. For example, they can work as CFOs, marketing managers, and operations managers. They can also hold executive positions, such as CEO or COO.