Business degrees provide accessible training that applies across several fields. The best business schools in the U.S. prepare students for various business and financial careers, a sector that the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects will add more than 475,000 new jobs between 2019 and 2029.
According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), 17% of all undergraduate degrees awarded in 2018-2019 were in business, the most of any discipline. Nevertheless, to choose the best college for business or the best business degree program, prospective students need to know more about their degree and program options.
What Is a Business Degree?
Every business degree features its own unique curriculum and approach, but the top business schools usually offer comprehensive training that touches on various subdisciplines, such as accounting, marketing, human resources, and management. Many business schools offer multiple business degrees at different levels, so students can build on their foundational training through specializations and graduate programs.
Types of Business Degrees
Associate Degrees in Business
Many of the best undergraduate business schools offer associate degrees, which typically teach students the fundamentals necessary to launch entry-level careers or move on to further study. Curricula usually feature an introduction to subdisciplines like finance, customer service, and business management.
In general, business majors at the associate level gain communication and interpersonal skills, studying topics like basic administration, ethics, and operations knowledge. Some programs may offer concentrations like accounting or marketing.
Bachelor’s Degrees in Business
Most of the best business schools in the U.S. offer bachelor’s degrees. These four-year programs cover introductory and intermediate levels of business management, accounting, marketing, and human resources training. These degrees often allow learners to specialize in an area of their choice, such as economics or computer information systems.
Along with business knowledge, students acquire soft skills like communication and problem-solving that apply to many careers after graduation. Top business schools also offer interdisciplinary approaches, teaching students to apply business expertise to fields like healthcare and information technology.
Master’s Degrees in Business
At the master’s level, business students delve into more advanced topics and material, taking courses in business analytics, social media marketing, and management. Learners gain the ability to communicate with various business professionals, thrive in challenging situations, and lead teams to success.
Master’s students can often pursue concentrations in fields like internet marketing, sustainability, and international business. They can also pursue a master’s in business intelligence or a master’s in business law.
A master’s in business administration degree provides advanced training in various business disciplines. MBA programs differ from traditional business degrees in that they typically cater to professionals with business experience. The top MBA programs develop business leaders, entrepreneurs, and innovators, offering coursework in strategic management, ethical and sustainable operations, and organizational behavior.
MBA concentrations often include corporate finance, healthcare management, and public policy. These advanced business degrees also emphasize leadership and peer-to-peer networking. Many programs also require a significant experiential component, which often includes coaching sessions, workshops, professional presentations, and internships.
Doctoral Degrees in Business
At the doctoral level, students can pursue a Ph.D. in a business major or a doctorate in business administration (DBA). While both degrees feature substantial amounts of research, a Ph.D. typically prepares students for careers in academia, whereas a professional DBA degree emphasizes practical applications.
Coursework in doctoral programs may include strategic management tools, statistics and data analysis, adaptive leadership, and intellectual property. Concentrations may include energy management, human resource management, and global supply chain management.
Business Degree Concentrations
Business administration concentrations focus on the entire scope of business operations, including accounting, marketing, and sales. Bachelor’s degree-holders in business administration can pursue entry-level careers in all business fields, while MBA graduates can pursue most management positions. Business management concentrations provide similar training to business administration specializations but focus more on leadership and personnel development. Most business management programs cover organizational behavior, performance evaluation, and communication strategies. International business programs teach students about business operations in various countries around the world. Coursework examines the differences in economic and sociopolitical systems and how they can impact business strategies and consumer behaviors. The top business schools may offer international immersions for these business majors. Business intelligence programs teach students to make better business decisions using data analysis. Students learn how to collect data and analyze it using various statistical and modeling tools and techniques. Business law programs explore the legal institutions and processes that govern business operations. Students take courses in contract and property law, information security and privacy, and mergers and acquisitions. They may look at specific business landscapes, such as commercial law or corporate law. Small business programs often provide similar training to an entrepreneurship business major, offering courses in leadership and business plan writing. Students in this concentration learn how to supervise various operations, such as accounting and marketing. Additionally, they gain skills and knowledge in business law and forecasting.
More Degree Programs Also Offered at Business Schools
Accounting degrees provide students with a diverse skill set. Coursework focuses on the management of financial records and documentation. Learners gain the skills needed to maintain and analyze financial information while helping organizations improve their operations and make sound financial decisions.
Economics degrees explore the flow of goods and services and the various policies, institutions, and societal outcomes that result from these exchanges. Students learn about market conditions, forecasting, and statistical analysis. These degrees can lead to careers in business and government.
Students in entrepreneurship programs learn how to launch and manage their own businesses. They gain leadership and administration skills, along with strategies and tools for creating a business plan, identifying risk and opportunity, and driving innovation.
Finance programs offer versatile and widely applicable training, focusing mainly on financial operations and responsibilities of businesses. Students learn how to use financial data to make informed decisions, identify investment opportunities, and evaluate operations and performances.
Human resources degrees prepare students to manage the people within an organization and handle the issues that concern them. Covered topics often include organizational behavior, labour relations, and labor laws and policies.
Marketing degrees focus on the sale and promotion of goods and services and prepare learners for various business-related careers. Students learn how to analyze market conditions and consumer groups, develop targeted campaign strategies, and create promotional materials and communications to drive sales.
Risk management degrees explore financial and cybersecurity risks and strategies to mitigate them. The curriculum often features coursework in risk planning, prevention, and recovery strategies, along with data analysis and supply chain management techniques.
These degrees prepare students to manage the strategies, people, and processes involved in projects. Learners gain the tools needed to produce positive results for organizations and improve teamwork and culture.
Public relations degrees equip students with the skills needed to plan and implement communications, branding, and image campaigns for organizations. Covered topics may include social media management, media relations, and marketing, along with an examination of public relations within different sectors, such as in government, the nonprofit sector, and corporate industry.
Sports management degrees cover recreational and leisure services, fitness and health, and event management. Degree-seekers learn how to manage and evaluate sports programs. The curriculum may also delve into laws and policies in the sports and entertainment industries.
Sustainability degrees teach students how to incorporate ethically, socially, and environmentally conscious practices into organizations. Degree-seekers learn how to develop sustainable marketing campaigns and implement sustainable operations, and how to navigate environmental laws and policies.