Degrees for Aspiring Chief Operating Officers: Program Overviews

Chief operating officers (COO) are the high-level leaders of an organization's day-to-day operations, overseeing the executives who manage various company departments, such as sales, communications, and human resources.

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Essential Information

COOs and other top business executives often have a strong educational background in all aspects of business, such as marketing, finance, and accounting. If you aspire to such a position, you can pursue a degree in business administration at the bachelor's and master's degree levels. Programs incorporate comprehensive coursework with the application of learned practices, theories, and principles in a professional environment. Internships may be included.

To enroll in the bachelor's program, students must be high school educated with satisfactory ACT or SAT scores. A bachelor's degree, GMAT scores, letters of recommendation, and work experience are all required or recommended for the master's level.

Bachelor of Business Administration

If you're interested in gaining a foundation of business principles, you can earn a Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA). Some programs allow for concentration in a specific area of business. Intensive coursework, informative lectures, and practical real-life experience are at the heart of business degree programs.

Degree programs combine general educational requirements in the arts, humanities, and social sciences with introductory and advanced courses specifically designed for the business major. Lecture course topics cover a variety of business subjects, including:

  • Managerial accounting
  • Principles of finance
  • Legal issues in business
  • Marketing principles
  • Computer information systems

Master of Business Administration

A Master of Business Administration (MBA) is becoming increasingly popular for recent graduates or working professionals looking for career advancement. Master's degree programs allow for focused, advanced study on topics introduced in undergraduate degree programs. Programs combine advanced seminars with the opportunity to apply learned fundamentals in professional situations.

Degree programs at the master's level allow for advanced studies in business principles. Informative, interactive lectures are often offered in the following topics:

  • Quantitative problem-solving
  • Advanced management practices
  • Supply chain and operations management
  • Leadership and organizational behavior
  • Entrepreneurship

Popular Career Options

By graduating with a degree in business administration, you have the academic background and experience to apply to jobs in a number of different fields, such as sales, marketing, finance, and government. Some popular career paths are:

  • Marketing associate
  • Financial analyst
  • Operations manager

Employment Outlook and Salary Info

As of May 2015, the median annual salary for chief executives is $175,110, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The BLS attributes high salaries, other perks, and prestige as reasons for the large number of qualified applicants for job openings, which keeps competition for these positions strong. General and operations managers accounted for 2,145,140 jobs in 2015, a significantly larger population than chief executives, who accounted for 238,940, as reported by the BLS (

To become a COO, many students pursue bachelor's and master's degrees in business administration in order to prepare for their prospective career path. Students who manage to become employed in these positions can work in many different fields.

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