If you are considering majoring in business administration, you are in good company. The degree path is consistently popular, and with good reason. Studying business administration equips you with a broad and versatile set of skills that can help you secure several different well-paying jobs. Specialization options allow business administration students to choose one niche to explore in-depth or to develop their full range of general business skills. After graduating, you can forge your own path, finding work opportunities that further focus your skills and, if desired, going to graduate school for any number of different business-related degree programs.
While it may be tempting to look ahead to graduation, it’s also important to be aware of the steps toward completing your degree. Before choosing a business degree program, students should investigate the curriculum, so they know what business administration degree classes they will be taking.
What Classes Do You Take for Business Administration?
The business degree classes required for graduation depend on your specific school and degree program, but they usually fit into three categories:
- Business core coursework: a diverse group of foundational business classes
- Business concentration classes: intermediate through upper-level coursework in the areas of business that most interest you
- General education courses: classes outside of your major and program of study that meet school-wide requirements and help to make you a well-rounded learner
As you begin your undergraduate business administration studies, you should expect to take courses that fit into these three classifications throughout your college career. Often, students work to complete most of their general education classes and basic business core courses during the early years of college, while the most advanced and specialized of their business concentration courses will usually not begin until their later semesters of study.
Students are often eager to label one type of class as “more important” than the others, but in reality, each type of course requirement contributes to the overall education you receive from pursuing your degree. Your business core studies are important for acquiring a comprehensive view of the field, while your concentration classes are what build your depth of knowledge in your chosen area, and your general education classes make you a well-educated citizen.
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Core Business Degree Classes Required
In a business administration degree program, you need to learn all aspects of business, from accounting to personnel recruitment and everything in between. Generally, to be recognized as a business degree program, at least 25 percent of the undergraduate curriculum must consist of conventional business coursework, according to business degree accrediting body AACSB International. Your core business courses are the foundational classes required for all business administration majors. Through these classes, you will develop the breadth of business knowledge that makes a bachelor’s degree in business administration so versatile.
Your core business administration courses might include introductory classes in the following areas of business:
- Financial accounting: The generation of financial statements and reports based on reporting and analysis of financial transactions like credits and debits
- Managerial accounting: The generation of financial statements, typically meant for a company’s internal use, that managers of an organization use to make business decisions
- Marketing: The processes and strategies used to attract interest in products or services from prospective customers, including targeting an audience, conducting market research, developing creative campaign concepts, coordinating and planning marketing campaign efforts and calculating outcomes and returns on investment
- Financial analysis: The practices used to make meaning from financial data, such as predicting the performance of investment options based on past data trends
- Business law: The basic laws, regulations and ethical considerations that affect business organizations, including how business contracts work and the types of legal business structures that exist
- Economics: The social science concerned with how humans and human societies use and distribute resources, including financial wealth, at both the macro (societal, national and governmental) and micro (individual, household and company) levels
- Business statistics, analytics or applied mathematics: The quantitative courses that emphasize the applications of numerical analysis in business operations
- Human resources: The area of business concerned with recruiting, training and managing workers in an organization
While not so narrowly focused on leadership skills as a business management degree, most business administration degree programs will include coursework that pertains to management. These classes may include:
- Management theory and skills: Courses that explore the concepts and models of effective leadership and the practical skills managers at various levels of an organization need
- Strategic management: The area of management that emphasizes strategic decision-making for big-picture goals and business direction
- Operations management: The area of management that emphasizes the design of processes and procedures pertaining to day-to-day business operations for the purpose of achieving maximum efficiency and performance
- Organizational behavior management: The application of behavioral principles to business organizations and environments for the purpose of influencing behaviors in the workplace, including performance and workplace safety
Once you complete your foundational business coursework, you will build upon it through general or specialized intermediate business classes. Often, you will complete a capstone course near the end of your college education that brings together the material you have covered both in and outside of the classroom throughout your business studies. Since employers in the business world so heavily value experience and practical skills, business students should take part in an internship if possible.
With your business degree, you could work in many business and finance occupations, such as loan officer, management analyst, logistician, budget analyst, cost estimator or human resources specialist, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Specialized Classes Required for Business Majors
Other classes needed for business administration degree programs are part of a concentration area chosen by students. Many business administration programs offer students the chance to build focused areas of expertise as well as broad business knowledge. Business schools do this by housing different concentrations, specializations or academic tracks within their business administration degree programs.
Like a major within a major, your area of specialization requires you to complete specified coursework. The variety of concentrations available within business administration programs is huge, but many schools themselves offer just a handful of options. Among the most popular business administration tracks are finance, accounting, management, marketing and human resources.
The Business Degree Classes Required for a Finance Concentration
When you choose finance as your area of concentration, you’re going to be in for a math-heavy business curriculum that covers technical topics like different types of financial investment options. Your coursework for a BBA in finance might include studies of banking institutions, money markets, financial markets, securities markets, international finance, public finance, financial investment analysis and financial management. You might pursue this concentration if you want to work in a role such as financial analyst, financial planner, financial manager, or financial risk manager.
Accounting Concentration Courses in a Bachelor of Business Administration Program
If you aspire to make a career out of financial reporting, a BBA specialization in accounting may be a good fit. You should be prepared to take intermediate through advanced coursework in all aspects of accounting. This may include financial accounting, cost accounting, taxation, auditing, accounting analytics and accounting information systems. An accounting major in a business administration bachelor’s degree program can put you on the path to becoming a certified public accountant (CPA), although aspiring CPAs will need additional education to meet the 150-credit hour requirement now in place in many states, according to the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA).
Business Degree Classes Required for Management Concentrations
A BBA in management concentration might include required coursework in topics like organization theory and international management. Students may study the concepts and practices of human resource management as well as working to develop their skills in leadership, motivation and negotiation.
Classes in Marketing Tracks for BBA Students
Aspiring marketers can often pursue a concentration in this area of business. Classes in marketing might include the basics of consumer behavior, marketing strategy, professional selling, marketing management and advertising management. Often, business students specializing in marketing have a range of electives to choose from, so they can focus on their areas of interest. For example, you might have the opportunity to study the practices of digital marketing, health care marketing and luxury marketing. Marketing sometimes overlaps with branding, courses in which may include brand storytelling and brand content management. Although marketing may seem like one of the more creative areas of business, it also involves quantitative and technical fields of study like marketing analytics and metrics and the use of artificial intelligence technology. Specializing in marketing can help students make their way toward roles like market research analyst, marketing specialist, sales manager, social media marketer, digital marketer and advertising specialist or manager.
Human Resources Business Degree Major Requirements
When you focus your BBA curriculum on human resources, you will likely take classes in all areas of HR, including recruiting, talent management, training and development and benefits and compensation. You also need to understand human resources and hiring laws, including what interview questions are discriminatory and prohibited, what requirements you can legally place on employees and what an organization’s responsibilities are as an employer. You might also learn the theories and practices used in human resources management.
You don’t necessarily have to choose an area of concentration within your Bachelor of Business Administration. Students who choose to study general business, rather than focus on one specialization, continue to take classes in an array of different business topics just as they did earlier in their education, but they are now advanced enough to complete upper-level coursework.
Gen Ed Liberal Arts and Science Classes
While preparing for your future business career might be your main reason for pursuing a bachelor’s degree, a college education is about more than training for a single career. It is important for college graduates to be educated on other subjects, as well, so that they can be great critical thinkers, problem solvers and communicators and can understand the complex issues that arise in the world. Your business classes alone may not accomplish this sweeping level of education in general, even though they do provide a comprehensive picture of the field of business.
To achieve this well-rounded education, most four-year colleges and universities have mandatory general education requirements that students must meet in order to graduate. These classes often include everything from writing and composition to math, laboratory science and humanities. While you are unlikely to learn many technical business skills through your general education courses, taking these classes is about more than checking off a list of graduation requirements. They add real value to your knowledge base and, in the case of certain subjects, to your understanding of business principles and markets.
For example, general education classes in macroeconomics and microeconomics can help undergraduate business students understand the economy and how economic issues impact business organizations. While you don’t need high-level abstract mathematical knowledge to succeed as a business professional, a basic business calculus or applied calculus course can be important for developing your analytical skills and learning to apply math skills to business problems. Classes in psychology, sociology and anthropology are all crucial to helping business majors understand the thinking and behavior of individuals, groups and cultures and societies. This knowledge can give you a better understanding of marketing campaigns, better management strategies and better sales and communications skills.
Your general education courses can also help you develop soft skills that are valuable in the business world, including communication skills, interpersonal skills, critical thinking skills and problem-solving skills. The liberal arts classes that make up much of your general education courses are also known for helping students learn how to learn – how to process and make meaning out of new information. In today’s business world, where markets change rapidly, technology is continuously evolving and whole industries are emerging that never before existed, the skills to learn new information are essential. Throughout your career, you will be learning to use new tools to accomplish your work and to look at new markets and at traditional markets in new ways.
Some schools require as many as 60 credits, or half of your total college studies, of general education coursework.