If you enjoy working with people, numbers, finance and the idea of running your own company, you might consider a degree in business. There are many different types of business degrees, and if you decide that you want to earn a bachelor's degree in business, there are multiple areas of specialty that you can consider. The decision of which business degree to work toward is based on your areas of interest, and your ultimate career goals.
Some popular business degree types include a business administration degree, a business management degree or a degree in international business. These degrees all offer similar core classes but with different areas of focus. At this point you might be asking yourself, "how long does it take to get a business degree?" In general, a bachelor's degree in business takes about four years of full-time school to complete, although some colleges offer fast track options that can help you finish more quickly.
Choosing a Business Degree
If you're considering going to business school and asking yourself, "what kind of business degree should I get?" the choices can seem overwhelming. There are many different schools that offer business degrees online, in person or as a hybrid mix of the two. You can work toward a more general business administration degree with or without a specialty area, or you can specialize in a narrower field such as international business, finance or marketing.
When considering your options, look at your budget, time constraints and learning style, and think about your future career and educational goals. A business degree program that is right for you will fit with your budget and time needs as well as being a good match for your preferred learning styles. Look at the reputations of the programs that you're considering, the overall costs and their job placement statistics. Gathering all of this information will help you narrow down your options and select a business degree that is right for you.
Business Degree Coursework
A bachelor's degree in business can cover a wide variety of topics. If you choose this degree path, expect to take classes in marketing, human resources, communication, finance and ethics. These courses are typically heavy on reading and writing. They will also include advanced math if you're focusing on finance as a specialty area.
You should be able to read about a topic, analyze what you have read and then either write or discuss your reflections on the reading. Collaborative or group work is also common since you'll be expected to work with coworkers and employees in your eventual leadership roles.
You should have strong verbal and written communication skills and be comfortable speaking to groups of people. If you aren't sure if a business degree is right for you, consider completing some introductory coursework at a community college before transferring to a university. This can save you money and let you get a feel for the work, as long as you're sure that your program of choice will accept the transfer credits.
Business Administration Degree
A business administration degree is an option for students who want a general business education that prepares them for a wide variety of management careers. A degree in business administration includes coursework in finance, human resources and marketing as well as communication and data analysis. Internship opportunities are common with this degree, which can help with job placement after you finish school.
Some business administration degrees include an option for students to learn a foreign language, which can also help you to be more attractive to potential employers. This degree can be a stepping stone to a master's in business administration or to a wide variety of administration and management jobs. If a master's in business administration is one of your goals, be sure that your career goals warrant the added time and expense of the additional education.
Business Management Degree
A business management degree is one of the most popular business degrees, and many schools offer degree programs for this area. Since this is a bachelor's degree, it typically takes four years to complete, although some programs offer online options that can increase flexibility and allow you to work while going to school.
A degree in business management will help you learn about managing and coaching employees, communication and the nuts and bolts of running a business. Classes specific to this degree can include contract management, human resources or ethics. Many students who receive a degree in business management choose to specialize in an area such as finance or international business. If you're looking for a general business degree that will help you learn to work with people and manage a company, then a bachelor's degree in business management might be the one for you.
International Business Degree
If you're particularly interested in working internationally, a bachelor's degree in international business is one to consider. It's possible to specialize in international business while earning a more general degree in business management or business administration, or you can earn a degree specifically in international business.
With an international business degree, your areas of focus will be foreign policy, cultural diversity and international trade, in addition to the more traditional business education in management and finance. Internships with this degree are more likely to include experience with international businesses or trips overseas to study how businesses function in other countries. Understanding different businesses and cultures is a major part of this degree, as is understanding macro and microeconomics and trade.
If you want to major in international business, speaking at least one language in addition to English is also beneficial. Language proficiency and good communication skills will help you to meet and interact with people from a wide variety of cultures and backgrounds. A degree in international business can lead to rewarding jobs working with companies or nonprofits that have a larger international presence.
Internships for Business Majors
A positive internship experience can be the capstone for any business degree. It can give you valuable experience and even lead to a job offer after graduation. Many internships take place during the summer between your junior and senior year of school, and they can be paid or unpaid. When you're considering different bachelor's degree programs, it's important to ask questions about their internships. Find out if the school you're considering will help you to find an internship or if you're responsible for finding your own.
Some schools have a network of companies that offer internships while other schools expect you to find your own. If you have a specific area of interest such as finance or international business, it's helpful to have an internship in this area to gain more contacts and firsthand experience. Knowing ahead of time whether or not your program of choice will help you to find an internship opportunity helps you to plan and think ahead.
Online Business Degree Programs
If you have a busy schedule, learn best through reading and writing or want to be able to work while taking classes, an online business degree might be a good option. Many traditional schools offer online options alongside their classroom-based degrees. This can be important because there is a bit of a stigma against online-only degree programs, but degrees earned online from traditional schools will bear that school's name.
If you choose an online-only school for your business degree, make sure that the school is accredited for the degree that they are offering. This will help to make sure that all of your hard work and tuition money pays off on graduation day and in your future career. Keep in mind that with an online business degree, if you do not take a full-time caseload it may take longer for you to graduate.
Fast Track Business Degree Programs
You can generally plan on taking four years to complete a bachelor's degree in business, especially if you attend a traditional university. However, if you're self-motivated and have some business experience already there can be ways to shorten this timeline. These are sometimes referred to as fast track programs, and they're offered at some online colleges. Most fast track programs work by condensing a typical 16-week semester into just 5 or 10 weeks. These compressed courses still cover the same amount of material, they just do it more quickly.
If you choose a fast track program you should be prepared to do a lot of reading and writing outside of class time. The advantage is that classes are usually offered year-round instead of just during the spring and fall, and they offer the flexibility to work and complete your classes at the same time. Some online schools will also allow you to transfer credits from other programs or even get class credit for relevant work experience.
Business Degree Careers
If you're considering a business degree, it's helpful to think about your eventual career goals. Do you want to be in management, or would you like to run your own company? Do you want to travel for work or work overseas? Are you more interested in the finance or marketing side of the business than in working with employees? Do you want to give back to the community by working for a nonprofit organization?
Your answers to all of these questions can help you to identify possible future career goals and help you choose a business degree and an area of specialty. A bachelor's degree in business is one of the most flexible degrees out there, and it can prepare you for a wide variety of career paths. However, it's also one of the most popular degrees, so you can expect a lot of competition for internships and jobs. You will want to be on the lookout for ways to set yourself apart from other students.
Earning a Bachelor's Degree in Business
The time that you spend earning a business degree in management, administration or international business is likely to be some of the most challenging, but most rewarding time of your life. You will study a far-reaching list of topics that encompass math, human psychology, communication and economics among other things. You will meet people who aspire to the same goals that you have; to manage a group of employees, build a business or help a nonprofit become more streamlined.
Your bachelor's degree may take the traditional four years to complete, or you may be on a fast track or even take some time off to pursue other interests or goals. You might be attending class each day at a traditional university, logging in to online classes every evening or doing a combination of both of these. No matter how you do it, you can be sure that your business degree will get you off to a great start in an interesting and rewarding career in management, finance or marketing.
Stacy Zogheib's writing has been published in various online publications including Classroom.Synonym. She is a teacher and developmental specialist with experience teaching first grade, special education and working with families of children ages 0 to 3. She has a Bachelor of Arts in elementary and special education from Wittenberg University in Springfield, Ohio and a Master's degree in Early Childhood Education from Northern Arizona University.