The study of business administration is one of the most popular in our country, if not the world, and it is easy to see why. It is a very versatile credential that allows people to get involved in any type of industry, from automotive to nonprofit, and from music to chemical engineering. There are many different types of business degrees, however, and it is important that you learn to understand the differences between them in order to choose the one that is right for you.
#1 Associate’s Degree in Business Administration
This program will take around two years to complete. It leads to entry level positions, usually as management trainee in retail or sales. Some can work in project coordination or office management. The associate’s degree is a popular option for those who do not have the necessary credentials to enroll in a bachelor’s degree, or for those who are not yet sure about the direction of their education. The focus of the curriculum tends to be on software applications, management, and accounting, and most end with a capstone project.
Because the world of business is so vast, it is now common to have concentrations in a specific field of business, even at associate’s degree level. Some of the most common specializations are information systems, human resources, and health care administration. Associate’s degrees focus on building careers, giving graduates the opportunity to take on an entry level position in a certain specialized field.
Common courses in your curriculum will include:
- Fundamentals of business
- Project planning and implementation
- Critical thinking
- Business software
#2 Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration
The bachelor’s degree usually takes four years to complete. This will equip you with the skills and knowledge necessary to take on a managerial role. You will have an in depth understanding of interpersonal skills, technical know how, and business management principles. You will be able to find work in nonprofit, public, and private organizations. Some of the most popular job roles for graduates include:
- Human resources generalist
- Business analyst
- Marketing specialist
- Operations manager
During your degree program, you will take part in a number of highly specialized courses to understand the principles and practices of management as they relate to each element. This includes:
- Organizational leadership
- Strategic planning
- Resource management (time, money, and people)
- Financial management
- Business computer applications
- Business ethics
- Core business subjects (marketing, information technology, finance, accounting)
- Elective courses (integrated business, business law, quantitative analysis, marketing, and so on)
- Introductions to core subjects (marketing, information technology, finance, accounting)
#3 Master of Business Administration (MBA)
The MBA is the gold standard among business degrees and is widely respected in all industries across the world. It usually takes around two years to complete these degrees and they will help to prepare you for a role of CEO (Chief Executive Officer) or CFO (Chief Financial Officer).
Once graduated, you will be able to take on a wealth of different managerial roles, ranging from CFO at a nonprofit agency to executive director of a consultancy business. You will essentially prepare yourself for an exciting career in managing businesses. To be accepted into an MBA program, you usually have to hold a bachelor’s degree. However, with the popularity of this degree rising rapidly, some schools now offer dual degrees, such as the BA/MBA or the BS/MBA. Make sure that whatever school you go to, it is properly accredited preferably by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB), which is the most respected of accrediting bodies. However, only around 3% of all MBA programs have received accreditation through them.
Soon after the development of the first MBA at Harvard University, it became clear that some students wanted to specialize in a more specific field. Hence, most schools now offer different MBA formats and concentrations, such as:
- Behavioral science
- Organizational behavior
- Business education
- Business communication
- Corporate social responsibility
- Business ethics
- Business law and the legal environment
- Managerial economics
- E-Commerce and e-business
- Small business administration
- Hospital administration
- Health services management
- Hospitality industry
- Human resources management
- Labor Relations
- International business
- Operations research
- Operations management
- Production management
- Quantitative methods
- Public administration
- Real estate
- Supply chain management
- Strategic management
#4 Doctor of Business Administration (DBA)
Up until recently, the MBA was seen as a terminal degree, but some universities have now developed a doctoral program to prepare people to become teachers, consultants, and leaders in the academic arena of business. Usually, only those with significant managerial experience can take part, and the degree will require people to have already studied at master’s level. As a doctorate degree, it ensures participants have a full grasp and understanding of the different management and leadership principles, and they learn to build on those through research.
It generally takes between three and six years to complete this program, depending on wether they are full time or part time students. The curriculum varies depending on the school, but common classes include:
- Analytical and research methods
- Managing change
- Strategic planning
- Solutions orientated leadership
You will also have to choose a specialization, with options not yet being as vast as those offered by the MBA, but still including:
- Information systems
- International business
To complete this degree, you will need to write a doctoral dissertation and defend it, as well as pass a lengthy and comprehensive examination.
#5 Business Administration Certifications
Certifications exist in different areas of business, as well as on different levels. However, the most popular ones are the graduate or professional certificates that enable someone who already has significant business administration skills to gain knowledge and understanding of a different field, such as:
- Information technology
- Human resources
These certificates are mainly designed for career progressions. Someone who has an MBA with International Business qualification, for instance, may want to complete a certificate in environmental management, to have a greater understanding of the environmental impact of the globalization of the world.
Certificates, diplomas, and degrees in business administration are offered in a variety of different ways. Many are offered on campuses, others are offered 100% online, and others still combine the two. Some programs are full time, others are part time.
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