Business Degree Programs: Types, Majors & Important Info You Need to Know
Get the facts about business programs and learn how these educational opportunities can help you reach your professional goals.
Do you want to jumpstart your career in business or refine the skills you already have? It’s time to uncover the world of business degree programs and give yourself the tools needed for success.
But before we drill down into the specifics, let’s first answer a critical yet straightforward question.
What are Business Degree Programs?
Business programs are a multi-purpose and sought-after area of study for those eager to embark on a career in accounting, finance, human resources, entrepreneurship, and more. They provide a strong foundation in fundamental business concepts and skills, preparing you for a wide range of career opportunities in the business world.
You will learn how to effectively manage people and resources within an organization and gain valuable insights into how businesses function.
Whether your college ambitions exceed an associate degree or encompass doctoral studies, the business field has career opportunities ready to challenge and reward graduates.
But precisely what abilities will you acquire from obtaining a business degree, and how can you profit from them?
Skills You'll Learn with a Business Degree
In addition to helping you develop your career, business programs offer you the skills and knowledge necessary to succeed in various other roles.
One of the most significant advantages is that you’ll develop your business-specific expertise and learn to apply them to real-world situations.
However, you’ll also get the chance to develop the most critical competencies for success: communication, problem-solving, collaboration, and creative thinking. To top it all, you will also hone your leadership skills and better understand how to manage people effectively.
Skills and Key Competencies
- Strong analytical and problem-solving skills
- Understanding standard principles of accounting
- Ability to make data-driven decisions
- Knowledge of financial management
- Project management skills
- Understanding of marketing, operations, and strategic management
- Strong communication, collaboration, and leadership abilities
- Knowledge of business law, ethics, and regulations
- Familiarity with technology and digital tools to support business operations.
As a student, you will be able to build your knowledge base on specific topics such as finance, economics, accounting, human resources, marketing, and operations management.
These topics will not only help you obtain entry-level positions but also prepare you for more advanced roles within your chosen field down the line.
At the end of your business program, you will also understand how businesses operate within the global economy and how decisions made by one organization can impact other organizations around them.
What types of Degree Levels can you find in Business Programs?
When you discuss business degrees with anyone or even if you google about them, the conversation is often focused on a bachelor’s in Business.
However, it’s necessary not to overlook Associate and Master’s level programs that are equally as impactful for aspiring entrepreneurs.
We will lay out each program option available, so you can make the most educated decision possible when weighing your educational options!
An Associate of Business degree (AB) typically lasts two years and is designed to give you a broad overview of various aspects of business— economics, accounting, business law, communication strategies, etc.
The advantage is that if you decide to advance your career, you can use this two-year program as a stepping stone toward obtaining a bachelor’s degree in business.
Jobs: Executive Assistant, Administrative Assistant, Financial Clerks Sales Coordinator, Marketing Assistant, Customer Service Associate, etc.
Median weekly wage: $963 (yearly: $50,090)
A bachelor’s degree in business is a four-year undergraduate program emphasizing any field area – from general management to more specific areas like accounting, economics, or entrepreneurship.
Many industries require prospective employees to possess at least a bachelor’s degree for entry-level jobs.
Types of Bachelor’s degree in Business: Bachelor of Arts (BA), Bachelor of Science (BS)
Jobs: Accountant, Financial Analyst, Management Analyst, Human Resources Specialist, Loan Officer, Logistician, etc.
Median yearly salary: $76,570
A master’s program is designed for those seeking advanced knowledge on specific business-related topics. It typically takes two years beyond the bachelor’s level but can be completed faster, depending on your university.
Types of Master’s degree in Business: Master of Science in Business (MSB) and a Master of Business Administration (MBA)
Jobs: CEO, COO, Marketing Executives, Financial Manager, Operation Manager, Human Resource Director, etc.
Median yearly salary: $81,867
Doctorate degrees are the optimal choice for those aspiring to research and academic positions, as they allow greater depth of study than Master’s programs by providing a wide array of specializations.
This level of education requires at least four years. Still, depending on your chosen university, it may take longer because it requires extensive coursework, and doctoral candidates must conduct research projects culminating in dissertations before receiving the degree.
Most recognized Doctorates in Business: Ph.D. in business administration and Doctorate in business administration (DBA).
Jobs: Top Executive, Professor, Government Agent, Organizational Development Manager, etc.
Median yearly salary: $99,273
Disclaimer: Be advised that the average salary provided by the BLS may deviate significantly from state to state and occupation to occupation, depending on various factors.
Finding The Right Fit: Choosing a Business Program Major
If your motivation to pursue a business degree has only grown stronger after reading this far, remember that there are many different types of majors available.
Each offers a uniquely tailored curriculum, different outlooks, and job opportunities, so there’s sure to be one that meets all your requirements.
Let’s dive deeper into these options and discuss their benefits.
An accounting major enables you to advise businesses on financial matters, including taxes, investments, and budgeting. This type of degree may be best suited for those with an aptitude for math and analysis since you will be required to interpret financial data and make informed decisions.
Accounting programs cover topics such as cost accounting, auditing principles, taxation policies, and more.
For those who have successfully finished an accounting degree, the most popular employment title is Certified Public Accountant (CPA).
CPAs provide various services, including auditing financial statements, preparing tax returns, evaluating internal controls, creating budget reports, and consulting on financial matters. With experience, CPAs may become partners in public accounting firms or manage their private practice.
A business administration major provides you with the foundational skills needed to launch successful careers in many areas of the corporate world.
Business administration degrees often include courses in finance, operations management, project planning, and international business practices that enable graduates to manage complex projects efficiently.
It also prepares you for executive roles by teaching leadership strategies and ethical decision-making techniques.
The most enticing job option for those with a business administration degree is becoming the CEO of a company.
CEOs are responsible for setting the overall direction and strategy of the organization they lead while also ensuring that their team has everything they need to succeed.
To become a CEO, it helps to have several years of experience in management or executive roles before applying for the position. However, having the proper education and skillset can give you an edge over other applicants who may not have taken the time to get a business administration degree.
Marketing degrees provide insights into how consumer behavior affects marketing decisions while helping you develop the quantitative skills needed to measure the success rates of campaigns and initiatives.
Marketing degrees also teach pricing strategies and analytics tools to optimize success rates when launching products or services online.
For young professionals looking for roles in the ever-expanding digital age, a marketing degree yields an abundance of career opportunities. Digital marketing encompasses not only traditional social media marketing but also SEO, PPC campaigns, emails, and content creation – to name a few!
Finance is a popular business major focusing on financial planning, asset management, investment analysis, money markets, and economics. This major helps students develop critical thinking skills and manage money effectively.
Graduates with a finance degree often go on to work as financial analysts, personal finance advisors, hedge fund managers, or financial managers in banking institutions or other organizations.
Investment banking is one of the more popular career paths for finance graduates. Investment bankers enjoy a dynamic career in which they buy and sell corporate securities, provide valuable guidance to organizations and people, and trade stocks on the stock exchange.
The responsibilities of an investment banker can be wide-ranging, ranging from trading bonds to researching markets.
A Human Resources degree can open many doors in the professional world. It is a versatile degree that allows you to manage the most valuable asset of any company—people—and understand and follow employment laws.
You can pursue many career paths with an HR degree, including working in human resources departments, benefits administration, recruiting, employee relations, labor relations, training and development, and more.
You’ll be responsible for:
- screening job applications and selecting new employees;
- overseeing employee compensation and benefits;
- managing employee relations;
- creating policies related to harassment prevention or diversity initiatives; conducting performance reviews;
- organizing training programs, and much more.
Another critical aspect of HR is strategic human resource management. Strategic HRM is vital to ensuring the best talent and optimizing human resources. By fostering an atmosphere that values employees, HRM provides staff with the motivation to remain in their positions, which is invaluable – especially now when every sector faces labor shortages.
This field can effectively address these concerns through its systematic approach to understanding personnel needs and anticipating new trends related to hiring practices.
Management and Leadership
Management and leadership programs provide the knowledge and skills needed to manage people effectively in various organizations. As a student, this program offers you abundant resources and an invaluable understanding of essential leadership areas such as strategy, marketing, finance, and human resource management.
In addition to providing insight into various business roles, a degree in management and leadership also provides an understanding of what it takes to be an effective leader.
Success in any managerial role requires excellent communication skills, strong decision-making abilities, emotional intelligence (EI), perseverance through complex tasks or situations, self-awareness about one’s strengths and weaknesses, and the ability to delegate tasks appropriately.
By honing these qualities during your studies—as well as other important tools such as financial analysis techniques—you will have everything needed to become an effective manager or leader at any organization.
Courses & Curriculum in Business Degree Programs
For anyone considering enrolling in a business program, it’s essential to understand the course curriculum. After all, understanding the courses and topics covered can help you make an informed decision about which school or program to attend.
Let’s take a closer look at some common topics and courses you might encounter in a business program.
Financial Accounting and Reporting (Accounting Course)
This course provides an in-depth, global understanding of accounting and financial reporting.
You’ll gain a deeper insight into the concepts behind these systems and investigate topics such as revenue recognition, valuation allowances, leases, pensions, stock options, and derivatives from both practical and theoretical points of view.
Business Perspectives (Business Administration Course)
This course is the foundation of successful business education. It will give you an insight into how businesses operate, providing fundamental understanding and knowledge to help assess complex situations to make informed decisions.
Using methodologies for evaluation, students are provided with the opportunity to evaluate their skillset on leadership within this field.
Employment Law (Human Resources Course)
Understanding fundamental employment law and its applications is essential for any business in today’s economy.
Regulations are designed to protect employees from discrimination, harassment, and other workplace violations while providing a more balanced work environment with clear expectations of rights given to both employers and their staff members.
Financial Institutions and Markets (Finance Course)
This course provides an in-depth look at the intricate relationships between global markets, financial institutions, and central policies.
Exploring interest rate strategies and commercial banking practices offers a comprehensive overview of how international economics affects us.
Business Degree Programs: Career Outlook, Salary Potential & Positions
Business programs are incredibly popular and represent an excellent opportunity for those looking to jumpstart their careers. The career outlook for graduates of business programs is generally positive, as the demand for business professionals is high across a wide range of industries.
By 2030, the business and finance sector of the job market is expected to expand at a steady rate. According to figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), this growth should exceed 8% — keeping pace with most other industries within America’s economy.
In terms of salary potential, the median annual wage for business and financial occupations was $76,570 in May 2021, according to the BLS. However, wages vary significantly depending on specialty and experience level.
Pursuing a degree in business is an exciting step that can unlock endless potential for your career. Learn more about the lucrative job opportunities, salary possibilities, and tremendous growth awaiting you upon graduation!
Top jobs you can get with a degree in the business field:
Accountants evaluate financial records, identify potential risks and opportunities, create solutions, and guarantee accuracy in data entries while also helping pay taxes properly.
$77,250 per year
Management analysts, commonly referred to as management consultants, suggest tactics for improving an organization’s effectiveness.
They aid executives in understanding how to make their businesses more successful by reducing costs and increasing incomes.
$93,000 per year
Social Media Manager
Social media managers are the communicators of a brand, responsible for cultivating its online presence and reputation.
They manage their employers’ social media accounts, curating shareable content across various platforms to engage with the public.
$70,287 per year
Chief Executive Officer (CEO)
Develop and execute plans for businesses or organizations within the framework of rules set by a governing board.
Lead operational activities in a top-level management role with assistance from other executive team members and staff managers.
$213,020 per year
Financial analysts guide companies and people in their monetary decisions, ensuring success and high returns.
They can evaluate investments such as stocks and bonds to assess profits generated from these ventures.
$95,570 per year
Organizations, ranging from governments and private companies to universities, rely on Budget Analysts to inform them of their financial matters.
Not only do they prepare reports, but they also evaluate proposed budgets based on the analysis of data regarding related costs versus benefits.
$79,940 per year
Human Resources Manager
Human resources managers ensure smooth administrative operations by planning and coordinating their teams; recruiting qualified candidates; interviewing potential employees; and hiring new team members.
Furthermore, HR personnel collaborates with leadership on strategic plans to help them reach organizational goals.
$126,230 per year
Bachelor's or Masters
Loan officers conduct a thorough underwriting process to assess whether individuals meet the criteria for loan eligibility.
They meticulously collect and authenticate all necessary financial documents before considering them carefully to weigh up an individual’s need for a loan and their potential capacity to repay it.
$63,380 per year
Logisticians are essential in determining the success of an organization’s supply chain.
They oversee every product component from procurement to distribution, ensuring that products travel efficiently and quickly from supplier to consumer.
$77,030 per year
Tax Examiners and Collectors
Tax examiners and collectors are responsible for calculating the correct amount of taxes due and collecting that tax from individuals or businesses on behalf of federal, state, and local governments.
They review all submitted tax returns to ensure accuracy before conducting any audits. These experts diligently collect overdue payments to keep government entities fiscally sound.
$58,780 per year
*Please be advised that the average salary provided by the BLS may deviate significantly from state to state and occupation to occupation, depending on various factors.
Popular colleges with Business Degree Programs
There are many excellent business colleges and universities in the United States, each with its strengths and specializations. Some of the most popular and well-regarded business schools in the US include:
No list of top business schools would be complete without mentioning Harvard University. Located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Harvard is known for its prestigious MBA program and highly respected faculty.
Stanford University is another top-ranked university with a well-respected business school program. Located in Palo Alto, California, Stanford offers an MBA program focusing on innovation and entrepreneurship. The school’s curriculum encourages students to take risks while teaching them how to manage their businesses effectively and efficiently.
New York University
The NYU Stern School of Business is a top-notch accounting school offering undergraduate and graduate-level programs. Students benefit from the school’s world-class faculty, cutting-edge facilities, and numerous extracurricular activities.
University of Pennsylvania
The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania is known for its rigorous curriculum and cutting-edge research opportunities. It offers undergraduate and graduate degree programs covering topics related to business. Wharton has produced some of the most successful entrepreneurs in history, including Warren Buffett and Elon Musk.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
MIT Sloan School of Management is renowned for its innovative approach to teaching and research. Its MBA program is especially popular among aspiring entrepreneurs thanks to its focus on cutting-edge technology, data analytics, and financial engineering.
Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University
Located in Evanston, Illinois, Kellogg School of Management is consistently ranked as one of the top business schools in the United States. It offers undergraduate, graduate, and executive education programs.
Columbia Business School
Located in New York City, New York, Columbia Business School is consistently ranked as one of the top business schools in the United States. It offers undergraduate, graduate, and executive education programs.
What you need to know about Accreditations
Programmatic accreditation ensures students obtain a quality education in their desired field of study. Rather than reviewing the institution as a whole, programmatic organizations evaluate individual programs or offerings to guarantee they align with established standards and provide an adequate level of instruction within the specialty area.
So, when searching for a business school and degree program, make sure to confirm that your program is accredited by one of the most esteemed organizations, such as AACSB (Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business), AMBA, or EQUIS.
Of these three accrediting bodies, AACSB stands out as the premier level in business education, with its recognition being granted only to those institutions of the highest caliber.
*Our website proudly displays a reputable list of colleges and universities, all accredited by either renowned regional associations or highly respected national agencies that have been acknowledged by the US Department of Education or the Council for Higher Education Accreditation.
FAQ about Business Degree Programs
Completion times will vary depending on the level of study, but typically completing an associate’s degree may take two years; a bachelor’s degree is an additional two years, while completing a master’s may take up to three years beyond earning your bachelor’s degree. Doctoral-level programs require three to five years for completion, depending on the concentration area chosen by the student.
The general requirements for enrollment are:
You must have either a high school diploma or the equivalent (GED). Prospective students must provide their transcripts as proof of graduation when filling out their applications.
Business schools require applicants to submit their SAT or ACT scores as part of their application process.
Besides having a high school diploma or GED and submitting SAT/ACT scores, most business schools will have additional requirements that must be met in order for an applicant to be accepted into their program.
This could include letters of recommendation from teachers or employers, essays about why you want to attend the school, interviews with faculty members, and more.
There are various scholarship and grant options available to students pursuing business degrees. These range from full-tuition awards to smaller monetary rewards that can help defray the cost of tuition and other educational expenses.
In most cases, credits earned at one regionally accredited school should transfer over to another regionally accredited school.
However, it’s important to check with both the sending and receiving institutions before making any decisions, as every school has different policies regarding credit transfers.
Some course credits may become outdated since the course curriculums get updated regularly to keep up with industry standards.
Before enrolling in any degree program, it is important to consider the school’s accreditation, programmatic accreditation, course offerings, faculty, and other resources available such as career services. Individuals should also think about their desired career path and how the chosen program can help them achieve their goals.
Understanding the cost and time investment associated with completing such a degree is also essential.
A business degree program is an invaluable asset for students looking to gain the proficiency required for success in their professional lives. They’ll have the opportunity to master key theories and cultivate practical experiences they can apply in their future business endeavors.
It’s no surprise that enrolling in a business program has become such an attractive decision among aspiring entrepreneurs and corporate professionals alike. Many prestigious colleges offer elite business education that leads to successful careers in the business field.
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