Business degree is an umbrella term for programs covering a wide span of business-related academic subjects such as accounting, finance, marketing, business communications, international business, and business management, among others. Degree programs in this field can range from comprehensive and broad to highly specialized. Business degrees aim to impart in graduates an understanding of leadership, communication and technological skills, together with business knowledge and other valuable intellectual assets and character traits.
Business degrees are offered at every level, from associate and bachelor’s up to master’s and doctoral degrees. Certificate programs are also widely available as stand-alone programs or for both undergraduate and graduate credit. Core subjects common to all degree levels include accounting, business analysis, business administration, statistics, developing markets, and finance.
Undergraduate Degrees in Business
Students enrolled in a business associate degree program will learn the basics of business through courses such as fundamentals of business and marketing, business writing, applied business solutions, and accounting. By the end of the program, students should be skilled in communication, mathematics, and specialized business topics listed above, and able to discuss basic business principles and operation including finance, marketing, and management. An associate degree in business is likely to open up job opportunities such as customer service associate, store manager, assistant store manager, executive assistant, and administrative assistant.
A bachelor’s degree program will cover the fundamentals of business, such as principles of marketing, principles of finance, business law, statistics, strategic management, and business policy, in more depth than an associate’s program does. Some of the job titles open to graduates of a bachelor's program include business adviser, business analyst, forensic accountant, project manager, social media manager, marketing executive, and insurance underwriter.
Graduate Degrees in Business
A master’s of business, or MBA, is preferred and often necessary for those aspiring to find work in leadership and executive positions. MBA programs offer a rigorous and in-depth overview of subjects such as leadership, accounting, economics, finance, marketing, and management, and usually combines theory with practice. Typical courses at the MBA level include business strategy, financial accounting, organizational behavior, managerial marketing, international business, and managerial economics.
Anyone who is looking to ascend to the very top of a company or organization, become a business consultant, or teach business at the college level will need to consider a doctoral degree in business. PhD programs require students to study business concepts in more depth than they did at lower degree levels, and tend focus on business theory in addition to research and practice.
Certificates in Business
Business certificates are available to individuals seeking to specialize and become certified within specific areas of business without pursuing a full degree; alternately, certificate programs can be completed alongside a degree program or after the completion of an undergraduate or graduate program for further specialization. Certificate programs often aid in career advancement and may offer courses including fundamentals of business, introduction to finance, introduction to marketing, and financial accounting.
Common career choices for those holding a business degree include positions in management, marketing and advertising, retail, business consultancy, accounting, and finance. Business graduates working as managers or executives might be in charge of leading operations and ensuring the smooth functioning of their organizations. Those who pursue careers in accounting and finance are likely to be responsible for reviewing a company's financial situation, managing records, and advising clients with regards to tax and expenditure. The retail sector offers numerous opportunities for business graduates, including both traveling and in-store positions, while business consultants are hired to provide valuable advice to companies, helping them grow in their industries or optimizing specific projects. Graduates of business degree programs who end up in marketing and advertising jobs are likely to use their skills for conducting market research, evaluating campaign results, developing marketing strategies, and managing relationships with clients. Since business degree programs develop skills that are useful across a wide variety of industries, graduates of such programs may also find work in several other fields including banking, communications, insurance, law, logistics, and more.
Tuition & Admission Requirements
Annual tuition for business programs can vary widely, with associate degree programs costing between $4,700 and $31,000 a year and bachelor’s degree programs ranging annually from $6,000 to $40,000. Students should expect to pay anywhere between $6,300 and $30,000 per year for an MBA program and up to $48,000 per year for a doctorate. Certificate program annual tuition can range from $4,700 to $43,000, depending on the certificate type as well as the academic institution.
The base level requirement for admission to an associate or bachelor's degree program in business is a high school diploma or an equivalent. Some schools will also require a minimum GPA score, a personal statement, or even an interview, during which applicants can demonstrate their interest in business and leadership potential. Applicants to master’s degree programs will usually need at least a few years of work experience, while those aspiring to become doctoral students should have several years of work experience in addition to a graduate diploma. Schools will take undergraduate GPA scores into consideration for application to all advanced degree programs. Requirements for admission to certificate programs vary widely, and will depend upon whether a program is being completed concurrently with a undergraduate or graduate level degree program.
Students enrolled in a business degree program can specialize within specific concentrations, or even within a specific industry sector or world region. There are plenty of concentration options available including advertising, marketing, entrepreneurship, business law, economics, accounting, business management, health management, finance, public relations, statistics, supply chain management, and many more. Alternately, students may choose to focus their studies in a specific industry, such as e-commerce, social media marketing, or brand management, or upon business logistics in a particular part of the world, such as North America, Asia, or Latin America. Location-specific business degrees often involve traveling and taking foreign language courses as prerequisites for degree completion.