Many students who hope to ascend the corporate ladder will pursue a Master of Business Administration degree at some point in their careers. For those just beginning their college studies, a Bachelor of Science degree, a Bachelor of Arts degree and a Bachelor of Business Administration degree each have different advantages. Because MBA programs value a breadth of knowledge as well as insight into specific industries, the field a student pursues can be more important than the degree itself.
The Value of an MBA
According to “Business Insider,” corporate recruiters value the breadth of knowledge regarding strategy and long-term outcomes that MBAs bring to companies. Graduates of MBA programs tend to have stronger leadership and interpersonal skills and are big-picture thinkers. As The Chicago Tribune notes, the biggest value students receive from their MBAs is often their networks. Students who go to top-ranked schools tend to be better connected, which make both academic performance and leadership activities and experience more important than whether a student obtains a BBA, B.A. or B.S.
The Difference Between a B.S. and B.A. Degree
In the United States, a student can pursue either a B.S. in business administration or a B.A. in business administration. While both degrees typically require 120 to 180 credit hours to graduate, B.S. students are required to take at least 50 hours within their major, with 20 hours in advanced level courses, while B.A. students are required to take only 35 hours in their major and must take more general education courses, including foreign language or fine arts courses. The B.S. gives students more advanced knowledge of their major subject, but the B.A. gives students a greater breadth of knowledge and better accommodates a double major. Given the increasingly global nature of many corporations, the foreign language requirement is also an asset.
The Difference Between a B.S. and BBA Degree
Canadians use the acronym “BBA” to refer to a Bachelor of Business Administration rather than a Business Bachelor of Arts. In Canada, a BBA actually requires fewer credit hours in general education than a B.S. degree, and the BBA is recommended for students who have already begun working and want to build on previous professional experience. BBA degrees provide a speedier transition to the MBA.
Specific Majors that are Strong for the MBA
Students don’t need bachelor degrees in business to gain admission to top MBA programs, though it is common for MBAs to have degrees in the math-related specialties of business, such as finance, accounting and economics. Some MBA candidates have degrees in fine arts or the humanities, but all must have basic facility with calculus, economics and statistics. According to Peterson’s, the best schools -- with the best networks -- want to see students who have shown an ability to lead, excel and solve problems regardless of what field they studied. Exceptional extracurricular and professional experiences are essential. Still, since globalization and technology are the two forces driving the world economy currently, B.A. or B.S. degrees in foreign languages, computer science or engineering may bring added value to an MBA candidate.
Laura Holland Fletcher has graduate level training in ESL, linguistics and the teaching of writing. She taught ESL and college writing for more than 10 years in both the US and Asia. She also writes for local and national magazines that cover legal, educational and social justice issues.