Business is a practical field of study for most students because organizations, regardless of industry, largely rely on business principles to prosper. Therefore, individuals with a business education may be well positioned to either start their own business or excel in a variety of roles in an industry they find interesting.
Students who study business have the opportunity to develop core skills across a wide range of subjects including accounting, finance, project management, information technology (IT), human resources (HR), marketing, international business, logistics and organizational behavior. These skillsets can be flexible enough that upon graduation, careers in a variety of different fields may be possible. According to Dr. Tony Lyons, Dean of Business at Colorado Technical University (CTU), “Sometimes students choose business because the thought of being a manager is appealing but what they learn is that there are plenty of diverse careers in business beyond management.”
Employers also seem to appreciate the versatility of a business degree as much as students. According to a study from the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), more than 75% of companies surveyed planned to hire business majors at all degree levels in 2016. It was further reported that business-related degrees claimed six of the 10 most in-demand degrees of 2016, including accounting (54.4%), finance (50.6%), business administration and management (47.8%), management information systems (40.6%), supply chain management (37.2%) and marketing (35.6%).1
By studying present day theories and learning best practices, business majors can develop critical skillsets, such as leadership, communication, analytical and technical abilities. Students may also learn soft skills like how to handle ambiguity, lead team-based projects, and think like an entrepreneur. According to CTU’s Dr. Lyons, one of the positive aspects a business program from an accredited college or university offers is that curriculums can be designed with real-world business scenarios in mind. Dr. Lyons explains, “In an accredited program, the competencies and skills that are taught often align with modern day industry standards.”
Types of Business Degrees
Whether a student is looking to establish a core educational foundation in the business field or seeking to specialize in one particular area, there is a degree to match. From the associate level to advanced degrees, there are multiple opportunities for an education in business.
Associate’s Degree in Business
An Associate of Science in Business Administration can help a student develop an understanding of the basic skills required in the business field. It may be a way to position oneself to prepare to take the next step at a job or even explore a new career.
Associate degree instructors are generally aware of the trends and skills required to make a contribution in the business field, and students may explore curriculum to help establish core competencies in the basic principles of business practices and processes. With the potential to develop a well-rounded understanding of the business industry, including concepts relating to business law, human resources, marketing and more, associate degree graduates may be prepared to pursue a career in a number of industries.
Bachelor’s Degree in Business
A Bachelor of Science in Business Administration may be a requirement for professional business careers. Having a bachelor’s degree in business may provide an advantage when applying for jobs, and it can prepare for continued growth in a career. This degree may also be mandatory should a student decide to pursue a graduate degree. With a bachelor’s degree in business, a graduate may develop proficiency in business management practices, become familiar with modern day business technology and applications, and build skills capable of facilitating successful interactions with others in a variety of roles and industries.
Bachelor degree students can also learn fundamental management skills, and they may have the opportunity to develop skillsets that help them prepare to create organizational value – from the effective management of finances and investments to the efficient management of resources and people. With a bachelor’s degree in business, a professional may pursue positions in public and private organizations such as a financial analyst, market research analyst, human resources manager, loan officer, and training and development specialist.2
Master’s Degree in Business
A Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree is usually designed for professionals who want to develop advanced knowledge in their field. With a master’s degree in business, a student can broaden their business understanding and competency across several business functions including international business, strategic marketing, operational management, organizational development, change management, business conduct and funds management.
In an accredited master’s degree program, the faculty may be deeply immersed in their respective fields. Students may find that these instructors understand the latest trends, emerging challenges and cutting edge theories in business, and they generally teach to these modern day dynamics. Therefore, upon earning a master’s degree, a graduate should have obtained the knowledge and skills to help them prepare for the next step in their career Students who receive master’s degrees in business may go on to pursue roles such as compliance officer, business operations manager, financial manager, medical and health services manager, and accountant.3
Doctoral Degree in Business
A Doctor of Business Administration degree is designed for students who may seek a challenging learning environment and want to prepare for senior-level responsibilities within their organization, pursue consulting, or conduct research and teach at the post-secondary level. Doctoral candidates can broaden their knowledge of specific subject matter such as organizational theory or microeconomics and practice advanced qualitative and quantitative research.
Doctoral degree students can develop unique research and problem-solving skills, and degree requirements might include completing and defending a dissertation – a formal document that researches and supports a specific business theory, which can be used by future business students in studies.
Business Degree Requirements
To study business at the post-secondary level, colleges and universities in the United States require students to have a high school diploma or an equivalent certificate. It can be advantageous to have maintained a respectable grade point average (GPA), and if a specialization in an area of business such as accounting or finance is intended, a preference for mathematics and similar subjects may be beneficial. Some colleges and universities may also ask students to demonstrate leadership skills and express an interest in business through interviews or personal statements on applications. Since additional requirements may vary from school to school, students interested in attending a business program should speak with a university Admissions Advisor to discuss all program and other university requirements before enrolling.
Skills and Characteristics of Business Students
Business students should be encouraged to develop respectable communication skills and appreciate both public speaking and writing. Business professionals may converse and interact with others in small and large group formats, both inside and outside of an organization. For example, a business professional might give a presentation, participate in negotiations or conduct an interview.
Strong analytic skills may also be essential for business degree candidates. Students may also focus on developing an understanding of the cause and effect between different functions within an organization, marketplace dynamics and financial opportunities. In addition, the business world can change regularly. New technologies, methodologies and markets may emerge. Business professionals might be required to analyze these opportunities in order to develop appropriate courses of action in response.
Finally, business students may be encouraged to obtain leadership skills and have an interest in managing others. A business professional’s responsibilities can be centered on coordinating a company’s personnel resources and motivating them to work toward a common goal. In fact, a 2016 NACE study revealed that more than 80% of employers surveyed look for evidence of leadership skills on a job applicant’s resume.4
Breaking Down Business Degree Career Paths
Students with a business degree may have the opportunity to pursue career opportunities in multi-national companies, small business environments, entrepreneurial ventures, government, non-profit organizations and more. While the following positions are only a sample of the possible careers a student can pursue, they demonstrate the wide range of industries and organizational roles that may be available to students who graduate with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration degree.
Sales managers lead a team of professional sales representatives for an organization. They are expected to identify target markets, set sales goals, analyze data, motivate the sales team and create sales training programs. Sales managers also handle customer complaints, analyze budgets and identify ways to improve the end-to-end sales process. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), opportunities for sales managers are expected to grow 5% through 20245
Management consultants and management analysts are professionals who are trained to identify solutions to complex business problems and improve efficiency. They design strategies to improve the financial and operational health of their client organizations. Companies hire management consultants for their industry knowledge, problem-solving abilities and objectivity. Some consultants specialize in an industry or field, such as inventory management, and others join firms that provide general consulting services. The BLS projects the number of opportunities for management consultants is expected to grow 14%, or much faster than average, through 2024.6
Though there are many different types of financial analysts, such as securities, investment and ratings analysts, in general, they all collect and examine vast quantities of financial data and then make recommendations to companies or clients based on these analyses. Generally, financial analysts are broken into two separate groups. Buy-side analysts work for organizations that have money to invest, and sell-side analysts help investment banks and securities firms sell their products. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, job prospects for financial analysts are projected to grow by 12% through 2024.7
Market Research Analyst
Market research analysts are key members of product and marketing teams tasked with developing new products. Market research analysts seek to understand why consumers prefer certain products and therefore they conduct surveys and analyze data to track what consumers want and what it would take to change their minds. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports job opportunities for market research analysts are projected to grow by 19% through 2024.8
Human Resources Specialist
Human resources specialists typically work for large companies or consulting firms and are usually responsible for employment and recruiting, labor and employee relations, training and development, job analysis, and benefits and compensation. According to the BLS, job opportunities for HR specialists are projected to grow 5% through 2024.9
Loan officers use a process called underwriting to determine whether a loan applicant is qualified. They collect and verify financial documents from the loan applicant to determine the applicant’s needs and assess whether the applicant is capable of paying back the loan. The role of a loan officer is typically customer-centric, since he or she may guide applicants through the financing process. There is also a sales component to the occupation, since loan officers are usually expected to market their lending institutions’ products and services and solicit new business. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects job prospects for loan officers to grow 8% through 2024.10
Meeting, Convention and Event Planner
Meeting, convention and event planners bring together every individual who has a role in planning a meeting, convention or special event. It requires working with many individuals in the hosting organization as well as those with external resources such as venues, transportation companies, caterers, rental companies and florists. Meeting, convention and event planners must keep track of all meeting logistics as well as troubleshoot problems. They also communicate with everyone involved to maintain the event team’s focus and meet deadlines. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, careers for meeting, convention and events planners is projected to grow by 10% through 2024.11
Training and Development Specialist
Training and development specialists plan, conduct and administer training programs to improve employees’ knowledge and skillsets. Additionally, training and development specialists assess training needs through surveys, employee interviews, and consultations with managers. Based on this information, they then develop training manuals, course materials and online learning programs. These specialists also perform administrative tasks such as monitoring costs, scheduling classes, setting up systems and equipment, and coordinating enrollment. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports the job growth outlook for training and development specialists is projected at 7% through 2024.12
Pursing a Business Degree
Business career preparation may be the reason a degree in business is such a popular choice among undergraduates, and research reflects employers support this choice. According to 2015 survey data published by NACE, more than three-quarters of employers analyzed put business majors on the list of graduates they’d like to hire.13
At Colorado Technical University, our business degree curriculum offers the opportunity to learn industry fundamentals and real-world principles. U.S. News & World Report, a global organization and authority in education rankings, ranked CTU bachelor’s degrees among the Best Online Programs for three consecutive years (2015 - 2017). Additionally, the business degree programs offered by Colorado Technical University are ACBSP accredited. Learn more about CTU’s business degrees.