Choosing a Business Major
Trying to decide on a business major can be tricky because business encompasses lots of potential fields of study and employment. This guide provides advice on how to choose the best business major for you, looking at the required courses and career information in several areas of study.
Business programs cover various aspects of business to prepare students for entry-level jobs or graduate school. Although course content will inevitably vary according to the business major selected, this degree path will typically cover general elements of accounting, economic theory, operations management, and marketing as standard, as well as offering classes in more specialized topics.
When choosing the best business major for you, it's worth bearing in mind that your choice will affect the fields of work available to you after graduation, as each field has its own career options, educational requirements, and job prospects.
Popular business majors include:
- Information systems management
Accounting programs teach students how to use mathematics for business and tax purposes, which is ideal for students seeking a career in an accounting department or as a certified public accountant (or CPA). While aspiring CPAs usually need additional education after a bachelor's degree, an accounting program prepares students for taking the CPA exam or working in other aspects of business.
In addition to core business administration courses, classes in an accounting degree program may include:
- Business ethics
- Financial and managerial accounting
- Information systems and communications
Graduates of accounting degree programs may pursue employment as accountants or auditors. While accountants perform tasks such as computing taxes, creating financial statements, and finding ways for companies to improve profitability, auditors are responsible for ensuring financial records are accurate and non-fraudulent. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (or BLS), auditors and accountants will experience 11% employment growth between 2014 and 2024, which is about average. In May 2016, the median wage for this group of professionals was $68,150.
Finance majors learn about the stewardship of finance in corporations, institutions, and individuals, enabling them to perform financial analysis, strategy, and management effectively.
Classes in a finance degree program may include:
- Entrepreneurship principles
- Business finance
- Debt and money markets
- Financial management
Possible career options for finance majors include employment as financial analysts or personal advisors. Financial analysts use financial and economic data to help companies and individuals make decisions about investments, including stocks and bonds. Personal financial advisors, on the other hand, help individuals make decisions about insurance, investments, and taxes. The BLS reports that employment growth in these occupations between 2014 and 2024 will be much higher than average, with the demand for personal financial advisors increasing by 30% and for financial analysts by 12%. Salary outlook is also good. In May 2016, the BLS reported median wages of $81,760 for financial analysts and $90,530 for personal financial advisors.
Find schools that offer these popular programs
- Accounting and Bookkeeping
- Business Economics
- Business Finance
- Business Management and Operations
- Business Marketing
- Business Support and Administrative Services
- Entrepreneurship and Small Business Development
- Hospitality Management
- Human Resource Management
- Information System Management
- International Business
- Sales and Merchandising
- Specialized Sales
Information Systems Management
Information systems management degree programs focus on applying technology toward the business world. Students learn to understand and detail the change in technology and computer applications within a company or organization.
Classes in this degree program may include:
- Database management
- IT manager statistics
- Economic analysis
- Digital transformation
A possible career option for management information systems graduates is to become a computer and information systems manager. These professionals recommend technology for businesses, manage data security, coordinate with other information technology professionals, and install software and hardware as needed. The BLS expects fast employment growth of 15% for this career between 2014 and 2024. Computer and information systems managers earned a median salary of $135,800 in May 2016.
Marketing degree programs deal with the pricing, distribution, branding, sales, advertising, retail management, and promotion of a product or service. It may also include studies of human nature, which can be used to help predict consumer behavior.
Classes in a marketing program include:
- Personal selling
- Marketing research
- Marketing strategy
- Export marketing
- Marketing analytics
Marketing program graduates may work in various roles, including as market research analysts or advertising, promotion, and marketing managers. Market research analysts are responsible for determining which services and products are in demand, as well as in forming target markets and pricing. Those in a managerial role lead entire marketing programs, which include some of these same tasks but place greater emphasis on the management and coordination of art directors, sales agents, and financial staff.
Between 2014 and 2024, the BLS expects fast growth of 19% for market research analysts and about average growth of 9% for advertising, promotion, and marketing managers. The May 2016 median wages were $62,560 for market research analysts and marketing specialists and $127,560 for advertising, promotion, and marketing managers.
In conclusion, a business degree can help students get ahead in many fields, but career options may be affected by the choice of business major. Four of the most popular business majors - accounting, finance, information systems management, and marketing - help students hone their skills and develop specializations in different areas of business.