The first business education degrees were created in the United States in the 1880s. Business school founders wanted to formalize the education of future business leaders, just like medical schools created standards for doctors. The Wharton Business School at the University of Pennsylvania and the Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley were founded within a few years of each other.
Undergraduate business education increased rapidly in the 1900s throughout the country. The modernization and standardization of work meant workers and managers needed more formal education in business concepts. Most schools now offer courses in management, marketing, human resources and economics. Students can choose many electives within these subjects such as global business management and marketing management.
The Tuck School of Business awarded master's degrees in Commerce in 1902 for students who studied for two more years after obtaining their bachelor's degrees. Harvard University first offered master's degrees in business administration in 1908. Master's degrees are popular with people who already have bachelor's degrees and some work experience and want to move into management positions. Applicants usually have to submit resumes, letters of recommendation, a GMAT or GRE score, and transcripts to be considered for programs. They do not need to have bachelor's degrees in business administration. According to Business Week, MBA programs attract more applicants during recessions because they believe the degree will improve their job prospects.
Ethics and entrepreneurship courses became more popular in the 1980s. Both kinds of classes are found in bachelor's and master's degree programs. Ethics courses include role playing and analyzing case studies. Entrepreneurship classes are aimed at students who want to open their own business after graduating. These classes often give students the chance to develop their business ideas in class with business plans and get feedback from professors.
According to the Dallas Business Journal, alternative programs were created in the 1990s to cater to people who can’t attend the full-time classes in the daytime because of work. University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business has an evening MBA program with classes that meet for a few hours at night and a weekend MBA program with classes every Saturday. Students tend to pay the same for classes and take a longer finishing alternative programs.
Thanks to technical advances in the 1990s, online classes have become more common in bachelor's and master's degree programs. Some blended or hybrid classes, such as those at St. Edward's University, meet online and then in person on alternating weeks. Students use tools like email and digital interfaces like to turn in work and take exams. Classes generally cost the same as in-person classes.
Joe Kelly has been writing since 2003, specializing in media, education, design and business issues. She has worked for magazines and other media. Kelly received a Master of Business Administration from St. Edward's University.