A business degree is a great option for anyone. A business degree is very versatile and opens many doors for students after graduating from their respective schools. Unfortunately, many students do not know enough about their business degrees before declaring their major and may run into trouble throughout their college career. A business degree can seem complicated – it is our goal to break down the business degree and everything it encompasses in this total guide to business majors.
Table of Contents
- Common Business Degrees
- Different Business Majors
- Career Outlook
- Helpful Resources
- Frequently Asked Questions
Common Business Degrees
There are a couple of different options when it comes to obtaining a business degree. The first option is to obtain an associates degree in business. This option will typically take a student 2 years to complete and will require 60 credit hours. An associates degree is a good option for students who do not want to commit to a 4-year bachelors program but still want to have a business background. Students who complete an associate degree in business will have solid knowledge of key business concepts once they graduate. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, associate degree holders earned $7,332 more per year compared to others who only had a high school diploma.
The next option for a business degree is a bachelor’s degree. Typically, students will take four years to complete this degree. A bachelor’s in business administration (BBA) requires 120 credit hours. A bachelor’s degree in business is a great option for students who are attending a 4-year college or university and want to have a background in business. There are many different majors offered within the BBA degree. We touch on some of those majors here. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, bachelor degree holders earned $18,772 more per year compared to others who only had an associate’s degree.
Another popular option for students is to go back to school for their Master of Business Administration (MBA). Contrary to popular belief, students do not need to have a business degree in their undergrad years to earn their MBA. A ton of MBA students have a background in science, engineering, and math. Another reason MBA’s are popular is due to the fact that some companies will pay for their employees to get their MBA’s while working. Not only will the company pay for the MBA, they will most likely promote you once you earn the MBA.
|Associate’s||2 years||60 credits|
|Bachelor’s||4 years||120 credits*|
|MBA||1-2 years||55 credits|
*150 credit hours required for accounting majors who plan on sitting for their CPA exam.
Students working towards a BBA degree will have to choose a business major to specialize in. There are many different business majors out there and they will vary depending on the school you choose. It is best to choose something you are interested in. Studying something you are interested in will be more rewarding than studying something because it is easy. Talk to other students who have already decided or completed their business major – see what they liked and disliked about the major they chose. Some common business majors include:
- Management Information Systems (MIS)
- International Business
- Supply Chain Management
Every business will utilize some form of accounting in their day to day operations. Accountants will always be valuable to their companies as they will most likely understand how the business makes money. Accountants will understand the language of finance and be able to explain things going on in the business to partners and executives.
Most students who major in accounting have plans on becoming a certified public accountant (CPA). In order to sit for the CPA exam, students need 150 credit hours. While you can graduate with a BBA in accounting with only 120 credit hours, most students choose to earn the extra 30 hours so they can become a CPA.
Finance is a very broad field with many different opportunities. Students who major in finance will be working with numbers and understanding how to derive those numbers. Students who major in finance can most likely specialize within the field of finance. Some specializations in finance include corporate finance, investments, and financial planning.
The classes you take as a finance major will vary depending on the specialization you chose. However, most finance students will take some core finance classes that teach concepts like financial statements, financial markets, valuation, and personal finance.
Marketing is how companies and brands get their product or services out there. Marketing may be one of the most important aspects of a business. Marketing students will learn about consumers and how they act. Marketing majors will learn different methods of marketing products or services and when to use those methods.
Business majors who choose marketing should expect a lot of group work and case studies. Group work and case studies are very common in many marketing programs. Students majoring in marketing should also be comfortable learning how to work with data. Companies are collecting more and more data on their consumers and want employees who are able to convert the data into something meaningful.
Management Information Systems (MIS) Major
Management Information Systems focuses on computer information systems to help manage business operations and guide decisions. This field is becoming more popular with students as more and more companies are seeking students with a background in MIS. Students will learn about databases, data analysis, coding, and project management.
Students who choose MIS as their business major will reap the rewards right away. According to PayScale, an IT business analyst can expect to make $66,000. Some skills that students should have when considering a MIS major are problem solving, ability to think critically, time management, and passion for working with technology.
Many people confuse economics majors with general business majors. They are very different. An economics major will focus on economic theory and different economic principals. Economics majors will focus on microeconomics, macroeconomics, international economics, game theory, and other theories. Economics majors will spend more time on mathematics and analytical thought versus other general business majors – this is something to consider when choosing a major.
As an economics major, you will have many career opportunities post-graduation. Since economics majors are not focusing on one aspect of business, they will have the opportunity to settle into numerous roles in various sectors. Some economics majors may find themselves working in the government, while other may find themselves working for fortune 500 companies.
A major in entrepreneurship should be pursued by anyone interested in starting or running their own business. This major will combine all courses from the college of business that will be necessary for starting and running a business. Some of those courses and concepts include entrepreneurial finance, business management, marketing, project management, and business strategy.
International Business Major
An international business major is great for students who want to travel and explore the world. Students in this major will learn the key concepts in business as well as how to connect those to different cultures throughout the world. Doing business in the United States will be different than doing business in Germany – it is important for students to understand these differences.
An international business major will most likely take courses like international marketing, cross-cultural leadership, and international market assessment. As a student majoring in international business, you may be required to have an “international experience.” This could include interning abroad, traveling abroad, or consulting for an international company.
Business management majors will learn the techniques and skills necessary to lead an organization. Students who choose this major will focus on all aspects of business from a very broad viewpoint. Students will learn skills in business organization, finance, accounting, marketing, and administration.
A business management major is a good choice for those students who may not be sure what they want to do with business. A management major will allow students to have a solid base knowledge of business in their repertoire and will make them desirable to companies post-graduation.
Over the last 10 years, colleges and universities have added analytics to their course offerings because companies want students who are comfortable working with data. As an analytics major, you will learn different strategies when working with data, how to clean data, and how to analyze the data. Students in this major will learn many technical skills that will help them in their professional careers.
A popular trend among students is to pair these analytics majors with another major from the business program. By pairing the analytics major with another major, students can show companies they have a technical background and are comfortable working with data, while also having a background in another field of business. Majoring in analytics is a great way for students to stick out from the rest of the crowd and learn relevant skills in the ever changing world of data.
Supply Chain Management
Supple chain management is important for any business that participates in the production or sale of goods. Supply chains have become very complex and need people who understand how they work to run them. Supply chain management is changing before our eyes as companies are using data and information to improve the efficiency of their supply chains. With the global economy becoming more and more prevalent, companies’ supply chains are now global, which makes them even more complex.
Students who major in supply chain management will learn about different types of supply chains, effective supply chain management, how to manage a supply chain, and strategies to improve a supply chain. Students may consider taking courses in analytics if the supply chain management major does not include them already. Analytics courses will help differentiate you from the pack and make you more successful in you field post-graduation.
Career Outlook for Business Majors
The table below outlines common jobs within different business majors. We highlighted the 25th, 50th, and 90th percentiles to give the best indication of potential earnings at different points in your career. Think of 25th percentile as entry level, 50th percentile as the median, and 90th percentile as the top earners for that occupation.
The jobs listed are common jobs for each business major, but not the only opportunities. With any business major, there will be numerous job opportunities post-graduation. Entrepreneurship should be taken with a grain of salt. Anyone who is majoring in entrepreneurship most likely wants to start their own business or company, so salaries are hard to calculate for that major.
|Major||Common Job||25% Percentile||50% Percentile||90% Percentile||Learn More|
|Accounting||Accountant & Auditors||$55,900||$71,500||$124,450||Review|
|Marketing||Market Research Analyst||$46,800||$63,790||$122,630||Review|
|MIS||Computer Systems Analyst||$70,000||$90,920||$147,679||Review|
|International Business||Management Analyst||$64,060||$85,260||$154,310||Review|
|Management||General and Operations Managers||$65,660||$100,780||–||Review|
|Supply Chain Management||Cost Estimator||$51,300||$65,250||$111,350||Review|
Accounting Major Career Outlook
Accounting careers can vary depending on what the student is looking for. If the student wants to sit for the Certified Public Accountant Exam, they will need to complete 150 credit hours while in school – this may take an extra semester or year depending on the student. Students may become public accountants, tax accountants, forensic accountants, financial accountants, managerial accountants.
|Accountant & Auditors|
|Number of Jobs (2018)||1,424,000|
|Job Outlook (2018-2028)||6%|
|Employment Change (2018-2028)||90,700|
Finance Major Career Outlook
Finance students will have plenty of opportunities after they graduate. Students will need to decide which sector of finance they want to work in. There will be opportunities in corporate finance, investments, and wealth management. Some job opportunities in corporate finance include financial analyst and cost estimator. Some job opportunities in investments include investment banking and buy-side or sell-side analysts. Some job opportunities in financial planning include financial planner or stockbroker.
|Number of Jobs (2018)||329,500|
|Job Outlook (2018-2028)||6%|
|Employment Change (2018-2028)||20,300|
Marketing Major Career Outlook
As with most business majors, marketing students will have a couple of potential career paths to choose from. Students will be able to enter a sector of marketing that is interesting to them where they will be able to excel. Some potential jobs for marketing majors include market research analyst, media planner, event planner, digital marketing specialist, and brand manager.
|Market Research Analyst|
|Number of Jobs (2018)||681,900|
|Job Outlook (2018-2028)||20%|
|Employment Change (2018-2028)||139,200|
Management Information System Majors Career Outlook
As a student majoring in management information systems, you can expect to make more right out of school than other business majors. Students with an MIS major can expect to earn $70,000 if they fall in the 25th percentile. While this field may not have the same earnings potential as other business majors, students will be able to find a nice paying job fairly easily after they graduate.
|Computer Systems Analysts|
|Number of Jobs (2018)||633,900|
|Job Outlook (2018-2028)||9%|
|Employment Change (2018-2028)||56,000|
Economics Major Career Outlook
Economic majors can find themselves in many different careers after they graduate. As an economics major, you will be taking an analytical approach to the business world. You will not be focusing on one specific aspect of business but rather the mathematical and theory aspects of business and the economy. Students can expect to work as market research analysts, economic consultants, financial analysts, and many other analysts positions for either fortune 500 companies or governments.
|Number of Jobs (2018)||21,000|
|Job Outlook (2018-2028)||8%|
|Employment Change (2018-2028)||1,700|
Entrepreneurship Major Career Outlook
Entrepreneurship is one of the most difficult business majors to project the career outlook. Some students may start their own companies right after school, while others may get jobs and start a company later on down the road. Students in this field may start off as analysts for their companies and work their way up to CEO’s because of their background in entrepreneurship.
|Number of Jobs (2018)||2,639,500|
|Job Outlook (2018-2028)||6%|
|Employment Change (2018-2028)||150,600|
International Business Major Career Outlook
International business majors will be recruited by companies that have roots in multiple countries around the world. These companies will want students who are willing to work and travel abroad in order to conduct business. Students may find themselves working abroad for a couple of years on a rotational program or a couple of months on an assignment – it will depend on the company.
|Number of Jobs (2018)||876,300|
|Job Outlook (2018-2028)||14%|
|Employment Change (2018-2028)||118,300|
Management Major Career Outlook
As a business management major, students will have the skills and know-how to manage and lead people. Students may start off in lower level positions in a company and have the opportunity to work their way up to a management position. Another great option is to enter a rotation program offered by a company. A rotation program will expose students to different portions of the business and is perfect for people who want to step into a leadership role within a company.
|Number of Jobs (2018)||405,700|
|Job Outlook (2018-2028)||5%|
|Employment Change (2018-2028)||20,600|
Analytics Major Career Outlook
Analytics majors will have the opportunity to work in many different sectors – finance, technology, insurance, manufacturing, etc. Companies are seeking students who are comfortable working with data and can contribute meaningful insights to the firm. Students with a background in analytics can expect to start off as some sort of analyst or someone who is working with numbers.
|Number of Jobs (2018)||174,900|
|Job Outlook (2018-2028)||5%|
|Employment Change (2018-2028)||8,400|
Supply Chain Management Major Career Outlook
As a student with a background in supply chain management you will be desirable to companies who have complex supply chains – which in this day-in-age is numerous companies. These companies will hire you to work as an analyst most likely to start and will promote from within once you learn more about the company and supply chain. Students will be expected to work with data and should be comfortable with it.
|Number of Jobs (2018)||217,400|
|Job Outlook (2018-2028)||9%|
|Employment Change (2018-2028)||18,700|
Below are some resources to help students who are thinking about declaring a specific business major.
For more information on choosing a major, check out our guide.
What is the best business major?
This question depends on what you are looking for. If you are looking for the best business major in terms of salary or career earnings, entrepreneurship may be your best bet because students with this major, in theory, have no cap to their potential earnings.
What may be the best business major for one person, may not be the best option for someone else. Students need to evaluate their skills, likes, and dislikes before choosing a major. There is no right answer to this question and students need to consider numerous things before choosing their business major.
What is the easiest business major?
According to our findings, the easiest business major is marketing. While there is no such thing as an easy major in college, we found that marketing had a high combination of retention rate and average GPA. Every business major will require work and dedication. Students may need to work a little harder in some business majors versus others, but in general, no business majors will be easy.
Are business majors worth it?
Business majors are definitely worth it. Students who major in business tend to have lower unemployment rates when compared to students in other majors. Companies are always looking to hire business majors and this trend is expected to continue. When looking at the 25th, 50th, and 90th percentiles for common jobs for each business major, we can see that students will be compensated well for their respective jobs.
What is the hardest business major?
This question will vary for each student. Some students may not be as good at math so they think economics will be the hardest major. Other students may not enjoy crunching numbers, so finance may be the hardest major for them. In general, accounting may be considered the hardest major because of the 150-credit hour requirement to sit for the CPA exam. This is the only business major that requires 150 credit hours (if you plan on sitting for the CPA exam). The other majors only require 120 credit hours.