Business Degree Overview

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Job security, promotion potential, salary increases, and professional growth constitute a few reasons why students might pursue a business degree. No matter where you are in your career, you can find the right business degree for you.

Business degrees remain a popular choice among college students. Of the over two million degrees awarded for the 2018-19 school year, 400,000 were business degrees.

A business degree can be a broad overview of business or concentrate on a subfield, such as finance or marketing. Regardless of the route you choose, earning a degree in business will help you gain the skills and knowledge necessary to pursue careers in the field.

Learn About Your Options:

Jobs | Degrees | Majors | FAQs

What Is the Field of Business?

Business degrees became an option for students in the United States in the 1880s. The field expanded in the early 1900s to include a master’s degree. By the 1990s, entrepreneurship and ethics joined the course of study. Since then, business degree offerings continue to increase, allowing students to specialize in subfields.

A business degree can take you in a variety of career directions. Anything from insurance agencies to transportation offer jobs that require candidates to have a business degree. Some of the most popular fields of business are finance, accounting, management, and economics.

The business field requires professionals with a broad skillset. If you fare well with numbers and math, take a look at a business degree in finance or accounting. If you are great at coordinating teams and organizing work, a management concentration might suit you.

Why Get a Degree in Business?

  • Advance Your Career: No matter where you are in your career when deciding to pursue a business degree, it will help you move toward achieving your career goals.
  • Land Lucrative Jobs: Because of their high employer demand, business degrees are an assured path to making more money throughout your career.
  • Build on Existing Knowledge: Pursuing an advanced business degree is one of the best ways to become a specialist in a particular subfield of the industry.
  • High Demand Field: Job security weighs on everyone’s mind when selecting a career. A business degree is increasing in demand and shows no signs of slowing.
  • Versatile job opportunities: Every single industry has an element of business, increasing your chances of getting and keeping a good job.

Best Bachelor's Degrees in Business

Jobs for a Business Major

There are several careers business graduates can pursue, ranging from entry-level roles to C-suite positions. If you already decided to pursue a business degree, the next question might be what kind of job to expect upon completion. First, think about your long-term goals and then work backward. Consider how to make yourself a marketable job candidate.

Hiring Statistics

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects 5% growth for business and finance roles between 2019-2029. The median annual wage for these positions exceeds $70,000 per year, compared to $41,000 for other jobs. In 2018, business ranked among the top six fields of study. Business degrees are highly versatile and apply to almost any industry.

What are the requirements for a career in business? How much can I earn by studying business? How can I get a business internship?

Sponsored Business Programs

Types of Business Degrees

There are several types of business credentials to consider when pursuing a career in the field. Your previous experience, either educational or professional, may factor into your decision. You should also determine the business field you are interested in and the amount of time you want to spend pursuing a business degree.


Business certificates come in various shapes and sizes. Students can choose to get certified in a specific business area to boost their resumes or pursue a general business certificate if they are making a career shift. Most universities and colleges offer business certificates. Many of the programs can be completed online, which might be ideal for students with prior commitments.

Most schools offer certificates at the undergraduate and graduate levels. To earn your certificate, you must complete a certain number of credits and likely choose a concentration. Certified Business Analyst Professional (CBAP), Certified Public Accountant (CPA), and Salesforce are three of the most popular business certificates.

It is important to note the difference between certificates and certifications. A certificate is earned from a highly specific learning program, often referred to as “Assessment-Based Certificate” or “ABC” programs. A certification recognizes a student’s prior experience and is earned based on previously acquired knowledge and skills.

Getting a business certificate in a specific area will help increase your marketability to potential employers and further develop your skills.


An associate business degree is a two-year program typically completed at a community college. Associate of Science (AS) and Associate of Arts (AA) degrees are generally for students planning to transfer to a four-year university or college. Associate of Applied Science (AAS) and Associate of Applied Business (AAB) prepare students to immediately begin working after graduation.

Students can choose to earn a general business associate degree or concentrate on a specific business subfield. An associate business degree might be less intensive than a bachelor’s or master’s degree in business but still serves as a gateway into the industry.

Individuals with an associate degree in business are more likely to get a job and have a higher paying salary than those with only a high school diploma.


A bachelor’s degree in business is one of the most sought-after degrees. The number of employers seeking job candidates with at least a bachelor’s in business is increasing steadily. You can choose to pursue a Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA), which teaches an overarching view of business, or you can opt for a Bachelor of Science in Business (BS) that covers a particular business subfield.

Nearly all bachelor programs are four years long. They can be completed on campus or online, depending on the school. Prerequisites might vary depending on the university of college, but all students are required to have a strong GPA and high school diploma. The most popular degrees are in marketing, finance, accounting, and entrepreneurship.

Earning a bachelor’s in business helps qualify students for almost all entry-level business positions. Learners also obtain the prerequisites necessary to pursue an advanced degree in business.


There is a difference between a Master’s in Business (MS) and a Master’s in Business Administration (MBA). An MBA is a general degree, teaching a broad education in the field of business. A business master’s focuses on a specific area of the field. It invites students to dive deep into accounting, marketing, human resources, or other areas of business.

You should consider an MS if you already know what business area you want to specialize in and do not have work experience in this subfield. Pursuing an MBA is ideal for those who are early in their career with little work experience or interested in making a career change later in life.

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An MBA is a generalized graduate business degree that covers several areas of business. Students pursuing an MBA will study everything from sales to management. You should consider an MBA if you are several years into your career and looking for a way to boost your resume. Most people pursue this graduate degree to get higher-paying jobs and make them stronger candidates for promotions.

Most MBA candidates have at least five years of work experience under their belt. The graduate degree can usually be done online or in person, depending on the school and location. Most programs are two years, although accelerated programs can be completed in less time.

Program duration will depend on how many credits you take per term and the curriculum requirements. Some employers will also reimburse a percentage of tuition for their workers seeking an MBA. An MBA is worth considering if you want to enhance your resume and become a stronger job candidate.

Learn more about MBAs Is an MBA worth it?


When it comes to getting a Ph.D. in business, students have two options. The first is a traditional Ph.D., ideal for those who want to work in academia. These candidates are interested in business field theory and creating new ways to study business. The second option is a Doctor of Business Administration or DBA. This degree is typically pursued by those interested in becoming experts in a specific area of business.

You will likely conduct your doctoral business program on campus, but some online options exist. DBA students choose a highly concentrated problem or aspect of the business field and study it intensely. Earning a DBA or Ph.D. makes you a true expert in your field. Graduates attain the highest degree possible for their field, expanding their career opportunities for promotions and higher salaries.

Types of Business Majors

Business degrees are broad and versatile. You can choose to concentrate in a specific area of business or pursue a general business degree. You can customize your academic experience to reflect your career goals. Getting involved in extracurriculars, completing internships, and taking courses specific to your concentration are all excellent ways to hone your expertise.

Students can pursue minors in any topic, whereas a concentration is a subfield related to their major. Those who choose a concentration can customize their college experience to closely align with their career goals. Usually, concentrations do not require additional credits because it is included within the program. Minors may require additional credits.

Which business majors yield the highest salaries?

How to Select a Concentration

Choosing a concentration can impact the rest of your career. It is important to choose one that best reflects your personal strengths and career goals. Weigh several factors when selecting a concentration:

What are your strengths and weaknesses?

  • Ask yourself where you excel and where you could further develop your skills. Focus on your strengths and consider a career path that develops them further.

Do the classes in this concentration cover what you want to learn?

  • Take a look at what classes your university or college offers related to the concentration you are interested in. Do these classes sound intriguing to you? Do you think you would gain a lot from taking them?

Does this concentration align with your intended career?

  • A concentration is a subfield of your business major. Make sure you are choosing to concentrate on a field you are truly interested in pursuing. It will help propel your career and keep you feeling satisfied.

Is your concentration in demand or growing?

  • Think about and research your career long term and determine if your concentration is growing. You may reconsider getting a concentration in an area that is not in demand or witnessing growth.

Popular Business Concentrations

Some concentrations get more attention than others, usually those are in high demand by the industry and employers. For example, accounting is one of the best business subfields. The list below represents a sample of business concentrations available to students.

Learn about the field of accounting Learn about the field of finance Learn about the field of marketing

Learn more about other areas of study in business:

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What jobs can you get with a business degree?

    Many jobs are open to business degree holders. For example, you can be a consultant, investment banker, data scientist, stock market analyst, and much, much more.

  • Is a business degree worth it?

    Because of the growing demand by employers, business degrees are worth the investment. An increase in job opportunities, promotions, and increased salary all comes with earning a degree in business.

  • Are business majors in demand?

    Business ranks in the top six fields of study. The BLS projects that business occupations will increase by 5% between 2019 and 2029. This rate is faster than the average for all occupations.

  • Is a business degree a BA or BS?

    A BS in Business will focus more on technical skills like math and science. Students earning their BS can pursue concentrations in economics, entrepreneurship, or related technical subjects. Students getting a BA in business will also take classes in history, English, communications, and writing for a broader education.

  • Is an MBA better than a master's?

    An MBA is different from a master’s, so one is not necessarily better than the other. A master’s of science in business is designed for those who want to study a business subject in depth. An MBA is better suited for those who want a broader overview of business.

Feature Image: courtneyk / E+ / Getty Images

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