What Kinds of Degrees Are Available in Business and Management?

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Earning a business and management degree opens up job opportunities in business, education, healthcare, technology, and human resources. Many business and management programs tailor curricula to a specific career path, but most include core courses in management, finance, economics, and logistics. More specifically, coursework develops budgeting and management skills so students may effectively manage teams and make strategic business decisions.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that jobs will grow 7% between 2018 and 2028. The BLS also reports that professionals with a business and management degree earn a median annual salary of $104,240. Earning potential may increase as professionals gain experience and education. Read on to learn more about business and management degree options.

Associate Degree in Business and Management

The typical associate program requires 60 credits and takes most full-time students two years to complete. Some schools may offer an accelerated or self-paced format; they may also allow students to test out of courses and/or transfer previous credits. With each of these options, students may complete program requirements quickly and, thus, potentially save on tuition costs.

The curriculum for an associate degree in business and management typically provides an introductory education across several topics in order to develop critical thinking, communication, and computer skills. Each program’s exact courses vary, but common ones include marketing, project planning, business communications, accounting, and business law.

An associate degree in business and management prepares students for entry-level positions like administrative assistant, customer service associate, and sales support specialist. Advancement opportunities and higher earning potential may require a bachelor’s degree, so if you plan on seeking out those, be sure to earn a transfer-friendly associate degree.

Bachelor’s Degree in Business and Management

Job opportunities and earning potential usually increase for professionals with a bachelor’s degree. Many employers may even prefer candidates with a bachelor’s degree for entry-level positions, but this varies. Common positions for which bachelor’s graduates qualify include business analyst, account manager, marketing manager, and financial analyst.

A business and management degree consists of 120 credits and four years of schooling (for full-time students). This degree aims to develop advanced skills in decision-making, communication, and financial planning. Individual program curricula may vary, but common courses include business law and ethics, introduction to human resource management, and project management.

Many business programs offer concentration options — such as finance, management, human resources, and marketing — so students may tailor the degree to specific career goals. Earning a degree with a concentration typically involves completing core course requirements in addition to concentration-specific courses. For example, a concentration in marketing may consist of a marketing core course and include additional courses in social media and digital marketing.

Master’s Degree in Business and Management

Earning a master’s degree in business and management allows professionals to advance their knowledge and skills to become business leaders. Graduates typically qualify for higher-level positions with more responsibility and higher earning potential. The BLS reports professionals may earn up to 89% more wages than peers with only a bachelor’s degree (depending on the industry they pursue). Common careers for master’s graduates include business operations manager, healthcare administrator, and management analyst.

The typical master’s program takes two years to complete, but some schools offer accelerated formats so students can earn their degree in roughly a year. Several business and management degrees offer concentration options, so curricula across schools vary.

Common courses in this field include management for effective and ethical organizational behavior, entrepreneurial thinking, and operations strategy. To qualify for a master’s program, prospective students must typically possess a bachelor’s degree from an accredited school.

Doctoral Degree in Business and Management

Earning a doctorate requires a substantial investment of time and money, and it is not necessarily required to advance your career. You should carefully consider all aspects of earning this degree and determine if it will help you achieve your goals before pursuing it.

Professionals with a doctorate may qualify to work as C-level executives, economists, and professors. These higher-level positions require more responsibility and may increase earning potential. In general, salary potential varies across industries.

A doctorate in business and management may take up to three years to complete, and it typically includes a capstone, thesis, or dissertation requirement. Curricula may vary, but students often take courses in business strategy and innovation, research methods, and advanced microeconomic theory.

Most doctoral programs require students to possess a master’s degree in business or closely related field and professional experience to qualify.

Certificate in Business and Management

A certificate in business and management typically caters to professionals who want to add to their current credentials or who want to advance or change their career. Certificate programs may also help high school graduates or people with a GED gain introductory-level knowledge and skills without investing in a degree. In some cases, community college certificate programs can transfer to associate and/or bachelor’s degrees.

Common courses that lead to certificates include financial accounting basics, principles of business marketing, applied business strategies, and fundamentals in business law. Earning a certificate may take up to two years to complete.

Graduates typically qualify for entry-level positions like marketing coordinators and human resource specialists. Those with work experience or a college degree in addition to a certificate may qualify for positions like office manager, consultant, or restaurant manager.

How does a certificate differ from a degree?

A certificate in business and management takes less time and costs less than a full-fledged college degree. It also typically focuses on one subject or profession (unlike a degree that requires an array of general education classes). Earning a certificate represents a solid first step for those looking to launch or advance their careers.

Why would someone who has a degree choose a certificate program?

The primary reason to earn a certificate even if you possess a degree is to change careers. Many certificate programs introduce students to essential topics that provide them with new skills or knowledge necessary to shift a career path. Some certificate programs offer concentration options such as project management, leadership, or entrepreneurship that allow professionals to specialize their education. This may qualify graduates for career advancement opportunities.

Who is qualified to participate in a certificate program?

To qualify for most certificate programs in business and management, students must possess at least a high school or GED diploma. Some schools may offer certificate programs to current professionals looking to change their careers that may require a college degree.

What kind of salary or career boost might a certificate provide?

For professionals with work experience and a college degree, a certificate may increase annual salaries by $5,000-$20,000 (amounts vary by industry or employer). Earning a certificate proves to employers you understand current trends and strategies that may qualify you for career advancement. According to Monster.com, the best fields for earning a certificate include logistics coordinator, quality assurance, actuary, and fleet manager.

Additional Accreditation and Licensing to Consider in Business and Management

In addition to overall school accreditation, some schools may obtain programmatic accreditation for certificates and degrees. Programmatic accreditation indicates a program adheres to education standards based on industry trends. Earning a degree with programmatic accreditation may be seen as more prestigious, and it may offer you a competitive edge over other job candidates.

Common accrediting agencies for business and management programs include the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs, the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools Of Business, and the International Accreditation Council for Business Education.

Earning additional business licensing is not typically required to launch a rewarding career in business and management. But some fields — including accounting, payroll, insurance, and consulting — may require a license to practice. For example, accountants must earn the certified public accounting license, and payroll managers may need to earn a certified payroll professional certificate. In general, earning additional licensure may not be required, but it may increase your earning potential.

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