When you start planning for a career in business and finance, you are probably aware that you need to go to college. Success in business requires not only a foundation in business principles and practices but also considerable skills in planning, management and communication. Either a bachelor’s degree or master’s degree can prepare students for good jobs in a variety of business functions.
The Curriculum of an Undergraduate Business Program
A bachelor’s degree in business administration equips students with a broad scope of knowledge of business topics. The AACSB, a well-respected organization which accredits business degree programs, identifies a bachelor’s degree program in business as one in which at least 25 percent of students’ total coursework comes from traditional business subjects. Qualifying business courses include studies in management, finance, accounting, human resources, marketing, entrepreneurship and economics. The AACSB identifies 35 skills areas that students should be able to develop through their undergraduate studies in business, including analytical and reflective thinking, written and oral communication, interpersonal relations and teamwork, social responsibility and financial markets and analysis. By the time business administration students graduate with their bachelor’s degrees, they should be capable of applying their academic knowledge to real-life business situations and integrating real business work experiences into their knowledge base.
While some business administration degrees are general, many allow students to focus their education by declaring a concentration or specialization. Among the most popular business administration specializations are finance, marketing, entrepreneurship, human resources and international business. Many business majors have an interest in management roles of some kind, so they pursue concentrations such as business management, operations management or project management.
More specialized business subjects recognized by the AACSB include decision sciences, management science, organizational development, technology management and supply chain management.
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Jobs With a Bachelor’s Degree in Business
Earning your bachelor’s degree in business can open a lot of doors. This degree is sufficient for entry-level roles in business and finance occupations such as loan officer, cost estimator, budget analyst and purchasing agent or manager, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Even management roles in business often call for only a bachelor’s degree as formal education requirements go, though a graduate degree can increase your advancement and salary potential, the BLS reported.
Specializing in accounting can help you become a financial advisor or an accountant or auditor. A concentration in human resources is excellent preparation for a role as a human resources specialist or generalist, training and development specialist or labor relations specialist. The popular finance specialization can prepare graduates for financial analyst roles along with financial planning careers such as personal financial advisor. With a management concentration, you could become a management analyst or management consultant.
Not all jobs with a bachelor’s degree in business are in the for-profit sector. Many jobs for fundraisers and event planners are in nonprofit organizations, while tax examiners and logisticians often work for government entities.
Studies in a Master of Business Administration Program
Like bachelor’s degree programs in business administration, MBA degree programs offer both a breadth and depth of knowledge. At the graduate level, business administration programs have a curriculum that includes advanced coursework in core business subjects. Since MBA programs are typically geared toward current and aspiring business leaders, much of this required core coursework tends to focus on management. For example, MBA students might take classes in marketing management, strategic operations management, global strategic management, financial management and ethics in management.
Beyond the mandatory coursework in different business disciplines, MBA students choose an area of specialization, just as they do in bachelor’s degree programs in business administration. MBA specializations can be as broad as finance or marketing management or as focused as investment management or brand management.
In addition to traditional MBA programs, graduate options for business professionals include specialized master’s degrees in subjects such as finance, accounting and human resources, which often take a year to complete, and shorter graduate certificate programs.
Jobs for MBA Graduates
If a bachelor’s degree in business administration puts you on the path to numerous in-demand and well-paying occupations, having your MBA places even more opportunities within reach. Many MBA graduates advance to high-level roles such as financial manager, fundraising manager, operations manager, global business manager and public relations manager. Others use their MBA degrees to attain jobs like venture capitalist, private equity investor, investment banker and commercial banker. With more specialized education or experience, MBA graduates also find work in fields such as health services management and information technology management.
MBA specializations are becoming more valuable in securing sought-after business jobs and employers are beginning to expect MBA graduates to have completed a specialization, according to U.S. News & World Report.