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The best business degrees deliver foundational and specialized knowledge. Business degree-seekers gain the skills necessary to lead teams of diverse professionals. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), business professionals earn a median salary of $72,250 per year.

Most business programs feature coursework in marketing, accounting, and management. Curricula may also cover supply chain operations. Professionals with a business degree often work as entrepreneurs, chief executive officers, and team directors.

Students can earn an associate in business in two years. Advanced business degrees, such as an MBA, take about six years to earn. This guide explores types of business degrees and corresponding careers.

Questions About Business Degrees

true Q. What is the difference between an MBA and a master’s?

MBA programs cover many business areas. Other master’s degrees focus on one business-related subfield.

true Q. Is a business degree a bachelor of arts or a bachelor of science?

Many schools offer both a BA and a BS in business. BA in business programs focus on theory and generally include electives. A BS in the field emphasizes practice.

true Q. What business majors have the highest salaries?

Some of the highest-paid business degree-holders work in finance. According to the BLS, personal financial advisors earn a median annual salary of $89,330.

Q. What is the most common business degree?

In addition to the MBA, popular business degrees include master’s degrees in marketing, accounting, management, and economics.

Why Get a Business Degree?

A business degree can prepare learners for lucrative and rewarding careers. Graduates often help businesses achieve strong profits.

Students in the broad business field can choose a niche that matches their interests. For example, learners who enjoy math and investing can study finance. Creative students can pursue careers as art directors with marketing firms.

Career Outlook for Business Majors

The BLS projects employment for business and finance professionals to increase 8% from 2020-2030. This projection translates to about 750,800 new jobs.

Certain business subfields feature stronger job growth projections. The BLS projects employment for financial examiners to increase 18% during the same time. These professionals earn a median salary of $81,430 per year.

Business Degree Options

Depending on their career goals, students may enter the workforce after earning an undergrad business degree. Others pursue a graduate degree in the field. The following section highlights the differences between various business degrees.

  • Certificate

    Certificate programs in the field typically require one year to complete. A business certificate qualifies holders for entry-level positions. Bachelor’s degree-holders may earn a certificate to expand their skill set. Most certificate programs require about 12 credits. However, some call for as many as 30 credits. Certificate programs rarely need full-time study. These programs typically focus on one business area, such as economics or management.
  • Associate Degree

    Full-time learners typically earn their associate degree in two years. Associate programs require about 60 credits and prepare learners for entry-level business roles. An associate-level business degree qualifies holders for specialist and assistant positions. Students may earn an associate degree from an affordable community college and transfer the credits into a bachelor’s program. Associate programs typically focus on practical business applications.
  • Bachelor’s Degree

    A bachelor’s degree typically requires about 120 credits. Full-time learners usually graduate in four years. Students can earn a BA or a BS in business. The former focuses on theory and may include language and humanities courses. A BS covers practical applications and features fewer electives. Most business roles require at least a bachelor’s degree. Graduates can become coordinators.
  • Master’s Degree

    Learners can earn a master’s degree in one business-related subject. Schools offer master’s degrees in fields including marketing and economics. Most master’s programs include a capstone or thesis. During their studies, master’s degree-seekers contribute new research to the business field. Most master’s programs require 40-60 credits, which full-time students typically complete in two years. Graduates with a master’s degree in business can work as company managers and directors.
  • MBA

    MBA programs generally cover more business topics than specialized master’s programs. Learners pursuing an MBA gain skills in accounting and marketing. Students prepare to lead businesses and collaborate with specialists. Applicants to MBA programs may need professional experience. MBA programs typically require about 60 credits. Most full-time students graduate in two years. An MBA can lead to careers as entrepreneurs and chief executive officers.
  • Doctorate

    Doctoral business programs explore theories. Degree-seekers conduct research and write papers. Credit requirements vary, but most doctoral programs require 90-120 credits. Students may earn the degree in 4-6 years. This terminal business degree qualifies holders to become college professors.

Types of Business Majors

Large and midsize businesses hire business professionals with unique skill sets. The following list highlights marketable majors for learners in the business field.

  • Marketing

    Marketing students learn how to craft messaging to sell products and services. Coursework prepares learners to forecast trends and reach target audiences. Marketing directors work closely with art directors and copywriters to create marketing campaigns. Graduates often become social media and public relations coordinators.
  • Finance

    Finance professionals create budgets and investment strategies for organizations and individuals. Learners studying finance explore methods for increasing companies’ efficiency by decreasing expenses and increasing profits. Finance degree-holders can become financial examiners, personal financial advisors, and budget analysts.
  • Accounting

    Accounting students learn how to create procedures to track companies’ expenses accurately. Coursework covers tax laws and auditing basics. Graduates often become certified public accountants and auditing specialists. Accounting degree-holders can also work for the Internal Revenue Service.
  • Human Resources

    Human resources programs prepare learners to facilitate functional work environments. Students learn how to create benefits packages and screen job candidates. Coursework covers conflict resolution best practices. Graduates often become human resources professionals for midsize corporations.
  • Management

    Management programs teach students how to motivate teams to reach a common goal. Learners explore various management approaches and theories. Coursework covers human resources and customer service principles. Graduates can become sales managers, operations managers, and project managers.
  • Supply Chain Management

    Supply chain management involves following the production of goods. Students learn how to source materials and oversee the manufacturing process. Curricula highlight transportation and marketing logistics. Graduates can work as transportation, storage, and distribution managers.

How to Select a Concentration

Many business programs offer concentrations or minors. Learners attending programs without these options may pursue a second major in a business subfield. This section provides guidance on selecting a concentration based on career goals.

Conduct an honest audit of your strengths and weaknesses. Consider asking a trusted source for constructive help. Choose a concentration that emphasizes your strengths while encouraging you to improve your weaknesses.

Consider your interests when choosing a concentration. For example, learners interested in copywriting and design could specialize in marketing. Students who have a passion for their subject often enjoy their studies and future careers.

Explore current job postings and information from the BLS. Focus on positions that match your skill set and interests. Then, select a relevant concentration. An academic advisor can help with this decision.

The BLS lists job growth projections for specific careers. Choosing a concentration that correlates with a fast-growing career may increase job prospects after graduation.

Other Areas of Study in Business

Administration

Actuarial Science

Business Law

Economics

Entrepreneurship

Human Resources

International Business

Management

Management Information Systems

Real Estate

Supply Chain

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