Business Management Degrees

What is a business management degree? Learn the basics areas of focus in business management degree programs as well as the different degree options within business management.

What is a Business Management Degree?

Business management degree programs focus on how to efficiently run businesses and corporations. Undertaking a business management degree engages you with the planning and execution of strategies for business operations. These degree programs prep you to excel at the personnel, finance, operations, and marketing aspects of business.

Graduating from a business management degree gives you the opportunity to work in a wide variety of business industries, including advertising, hospitality, and manufacturing, to name a few.

Business management concentrations can be found at every degree level, and at each level, all business management degrees include coursework that covers various business models, finance, accounting, and economics topics. Although many careers in business management and operations prefer candidates with at least a bachelor's degree, it's important to note that educational requirements vary with position seniority and employer, so you should choose a degree path that's right for your professional goals.

Degree Typical Program Length Example Career & Median Salary*
Associate's 1-2 years Bookkeeper; $39,240
Bachelor's 4 years Financial Analyst; $84,300
Master's or MBA 2-3 years Operations Manager; $100,410
* Source: bls.gov; Salary (2017)

Associate's Degree in Business Management

Business management associate's degree programs focus on proving you with a general education about business leadership and business practices. You'll gain an introductory understanding of marketing, purchasing, finance, sales, and more. Programs may also emphasize common processes and tools used for data processing, bookkeeping, and office management.

If you wish to continue your studies, you could choose to obtain a bachelor's degree in business, which provides you more thorough insight into the business world, as well as open doors to mid or upper-level career positions.

Some common careers for graduates of a business management associate degree program include:

  • Administrative assistant
  • Office manager
  • Sales manager
  • Bookkeeper

Bachelor's Degree in Business Management

A bachelor's of business management degree program prepares you for business roles within a wide variety of industries. You'll learn the ins and outs of business operations, and you may be able to choose a specialization such as public administration, marketing, healthcare management, real estate, or human resources. Bachelor's degrees typically take four years to complete, though part-time and accelerated programs are available.

Bachelor's degree graduates who wish to attain management or senior-level positions within the business industry may find that a master's degree in business management or a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree makes them a more competitive candidate. Certifications, such as the Certified Business Process Professional (CBPP) credential, are also options for those who want to boost their business knowledge.

With a business management bachelor's degree, you may pursue careers such as:

  • Marketing manager
  • Financial analyst
  • Operations analyst
  • Human resources personnel

Master's Degree in Business Management

Master's degrees in business management can take between two and three years to complete. These programs give you insight into business practices and leadership, and you can often tailor the curriculum to fit a specific concentration you want to specialize in, such as communications, international business management, or organizational development.

If you want to pursue an MBA degree, you can find a program with a business management focus. These programs generally take two years to complete, though part-time, accelerated, and executive MBA programs designed for working professionals can impact this timeline. To apply to an MBA program, you often need to have a few years of professional working experience in addition to previous schooling, and many MBA programs allow you to partially design your own curriculum to focus on your desired business concentration.

Master's or MBA degrees prepare you for a wide variety of management and executive positions, including:

  • Operations manager
  • Project manager
  • Management analyst
  • Senior project leader
  • Retail or Wholesale chain manager

Online Business Management Degree

Online degrees are an excellent option if you need a program with flexibility due to family obligations, work, or really any reason. These programs allow you to complete your courses remotely on your own time while giving you the same quality education you'd receive in a traditional classroom environment.

Many options for online business management degrees exist at every level in colleges across the U.S. Some programs are fully online, but there are also hybrid programs, which allow you to take some coursework remotely online and some courses on campus, as well as self-paced programs, where you can set your own course schedule. If you choose to pursue an online degree, you will have fewer hands-on learning opportunities, so you may need to proactively seek out opportunities for practical application.

Online degree programs typically require you to have regular access to course materials and may still require you to engage with your instructors and student peers frequently. Students may communicate through web applications, email, chat, or some proprietary system the school uses.

Business Management Courses

Coursework that you'll encounter in a business management degree program varies depending on the degree you're seeking. Classes for business management programs involve core curriculum that give you a basic understanding of business functions and practices. Additionally, you could take courses related to various business specializations, such as human resources or entrepreneurship. At the graduate level, many of these courses discuss the role of management and leadership in more depth.

Common coursework includes:

Business Fundamentals Courses

In introductory business courses, you'll learn about the history and theory behind established business practices. These courses introduce you to business terminology and basic business administration. Often, these courses include case studies, which show you how principles apply to real-world business scenarios.

Finance and Accounting Courses

Finance and accounting courses introduce you to budgetary, investment, and asset concerns of businesses. You might also learn about different financial systems, as well as interact with accounting software.

Marketing and Advertising Courses

Marketing and advertising courses explore consumer behavior and trends and describe strategies that businesses employ to attract these consumers. These courses explain business actions in the global consumer marketplace, and often explore ramifications of marketing and advertising decisions.

Business Law Courses

Business law courses introduce you to the basics of business ethics and the legal elements that impact businesses in the global economy.

Information Systems Courses

Information systems courses explain how business organizations manage their assets securely and discuss security and ethics concerns of various systems. You'll explore how information systems contribute to successful management of business operations.

Macroeconomics and Microeconomics Courses

Macroeconomics courses discuss behavior and decision-making that occurs within economies and the factors that contribute to these behaviors. These courses often discuss markets at the global scale. Microeconomics, on the other hand, discusses individual decisions. Both courses cover the effect of supply and demand, competition, and regulatory restrictions.

Organizational Behavior Courses

Organizational behavior courses introduce you to human behaviors in a work environment, and explain how different work structures impact employee performance, motivation, and more. You'll study behaviors of both groups and individuals within businesses.

Communications Courses

Communications courses focus on effective dissemination of information between people, individuals and organizations, and among multiple organizations. These courses can be focused around public speaking, mass media, groups, and more.

What Can I Do with a Business Management Degree?

A degree in business management opens the door for a wide variety of business management careers. You could go on to work in business roles within industries as varied as healthcare, hospitality, retail, and construction. Completing a graduate level degree may make you better suited for management and teaching roles, but generally, with a business management degree, you can be assured that many positions pay mid-to-high-range median salaries.

Business Management Skills

Earning your degree will help you develop and practice important skills that will serve you throughout your career in business management. Here are a few of the most important qualities you'll refine as you progress through your degree program:

  • Written and verbal communication
  • Strategic thinking
  • Ability to motivate and grow employees
  • Leadership
  • Decision making