Business degrees give individuals a well-rounded education of several different business management concepts and techniques. Many learning options are available for degrees, including traditional classroom settings and the increasingly popular online environment. Individuals obtaining business degrees have the potential to earn promotions, obtain management positions or increase the salary at their current job. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, management positions are expected to grow at an average rate of 12 percent during the decade 2008 to 2018.


The associate's degree is the lowest college-level degree offered by educational institutions. Most programs require 2 years to complete the program and may offer different specializations, such as finance, accounting or general management. The usual number of credit hours required to earn an associate's degree from colleges and universities is 60 to 65; courses include principles of accounting, business management, corporate finance and strategic management.


Bachelor's degrees are the most common type of college education obtained by individuals. Common degree formats include the bachelor of science (BS), bachelor of arts (BA) and bachelor in business administration (BBA). The main differences between the BS and BA degrees are the liberal arts requirements in the BA program, which may include science and foreign language courses. The BBA usually has a few more business course requirements, depending on the college or university. Bachelor's degrees require 120 to 134 credits to be completed in a 4-year schedule prior to graduation. Course topics include accounting, business management, leadership, economics, finance and global business strategies.


A business master's degree is commonly known as the masters in business administration (MBA). This is perhaps the most popular degree obtained by postgraduate students. MBA programs usually require 30 to 64 credits for completion, depending on the program, educational institution and degree specialization. Specializations include economics, accounting, finance, human resource management and leadership. Most courses offer advanced information on business tools and techniques, including advanced courses for the selected specialization. Most MBA programs are completed in 18 to 24 months.


Three types of doctorates are offered for business: the doctor of management (D.mgt), doctor of business administration (DBA) and the business Ph.D. The D.mgt degree focuses on the application of business theory to management situations in everyday business situations. Programs may range from 45 to 70 credits in a 4-year program; while a thesis or dissertation is not required, most students must complete a special management project.

DBA programs focus on learning business theory for a future career in college-level education. Programs range from 60 to 80 credits in a 4-year program and require a thesis or special business project for completing the degree.

The business Ph.D. program is the highest business degree offered in the United States, focusing on the development of new business theory. Most individuals pursue a future in education with this degree, which requires 60 to 80 credits for completion, including 1 to 2 years spent on writing a thesis or dissertation for graduation.

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