The chances that you already know someone majoring in business are good. In fact, business is consistently among the most popular college majors. What you might not realize is that there are distinct programs of study within the field of business – not only in disciplines like finance, marketing and accounting, but also among “general” business programs. Undergraduate degrees in business administration and business management differ not just in name, but in their breadth and depth, their area of focus, their curricula and the career opportunities open to their graduates.
The Focus of Business Administration vs. Business Management Degrees
An administration-focused business degree at the undergraduate level is often called a Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) or Bachelor of Science in Business Administration (BSBA) degree. Management-focused business degrees are called Bachelor of Business Management (BBM) or Bachelor of Science in Business Management (BSBM) degrees. The distinction between administration and management might seem small, but it can be important.
A business management degree revolves around learning management theory and techniques that graduates can apply across a wide range of business situations. As a result, despite the emphasis on management, BSBM degrees are often broader in scope than BSBA degrees. The focus is on cultivating the skills to plan, organize and manage, which can be applied to just about any operation of a business or organization.
Students who pursue a business administration major often specialize in one subdiscipline of business, such as entrepreneurship, marketing or project management. In these subdisciplines, business students primarily work to attain practical skills that they can apply within their specialization.
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Which degree is better, business administration or business management? Both have their merits, and neither one is likely to hurt a student’s future opportunities. A broader major like business management is more versatile, but some employers may feel that students who pursued this degree don’t have enough specialized knowledge. On the other hand, concentrating on one specialization as a business administration major can be limiting, in that it means that you have less breadth of business knowledge and know less about business areas outside of your specialization. Ultimately, prospective students need to consider what aspect of business most appeals to them.
Students who have trouble choosing between a BBA and a BBM degree might consider a Bachelor of Business Administration program with a concentration in management. This option would give you the practical skills of a BBA and the management focus of a BBM.
Curriculum Differences for Administration and Management Majors
Both business administration and business management degree programs begin with a set of core courses in business subjects. After all, whether you are diving deep into one specialization or learning management theory for all areas of business, you need a strong foundation in each of the major disciplines. Students in both fields of study will often take classes such as principles of accounting, principles of marketing, introduction to business, business law, financial management, organizational leadership and human resources management.
Beyond these core business requirements, the curriculum splits based on the nature of your degree. For business management majors, further coursework in finance, entrepreneurship, small business management, organizational behavior and management principles, business ethics and business writing and communication are common. Taking advanced management classes is crucial to help students learn the concepts used in financial planning, project management and data analysis. On the other hand, business administration majors will spend a good deal of their remaining business coursework on topics related to their specialization. A BBA student pursuing a marketing specialization might take classes such as public relations, consumer behavior, advertising, marketing campaign and strategic planning and marketing management. Choosing a finance specialization might instead have the student completing coursework in budgeting, financial instruments, risk management, financial analysis and asset and debt management.
The concentrations available to business administration majors vary from college to college, but they can be as narrow as hospitality management, technology management and fashion marketing.
Career Prospects With Administration and Management Degrees
At the undergraduate level, both business administration and business management degrees set students up for success in the business world. However, which major you chose could affect the jobs that are initially available to you and the additional education you may need to advance your career. A business management degree is more likely than a business administration degree to lead to positions such as entry-level manager and assistant product manager. However, a business administration degree could be your first step toward a career as an accountant, personal financial advisor or financial analyst, depending on your area of specialization.
Graduates of administration programs may work their way up to management roles with experience and a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree, while graduates of management programs can gain specialized skills through a specialized master’s program.