The Most Common Business Degree Abbreviations

Confused by so many options? Find out what all those letters stand for

Harvard University
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Business degree abbreviations can vary from school to school, but most educational institutions use a standard format. However, there are so many types of business degrees available—especially when it comes to graduate options—that it can be confusing what all the abbreviations stand for, especially when some are so similar (such as the EMS for Executive Master of Science and EMSM for Executive Master of Science in Management). Read on for a compilation of the most standard abbreviations and their meanings.

Bachelor's Degrees

Bachelor's degrees are undergraduate degrees. The Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree is more broadly focused on liberal arts, while the Bachelor of Science (BS) has a more targeted curriculum. The most common business-related bachelor degrees include:

  • BA: Bachelor of Arts
  • BBA: Bachelor of Business Administration 
  • BPA: Bachelor of Public Administration
  • BS: Bachelor of Science
  • BSB: Bachelor of Science in Business
  • BSBA: Bachelor of Science in Business Administration
  • BSc CIS: Bachelor of Computer Information Systems

Executive Degrees

Executive degree programs are commonly designed for working business professionals who want to advance their knowledge in general business (business administration) or in a particular area such as public administration, management, or taxation. Although many students in executive degree programs are already executives, not all work in a supervisory capacity—some students simply exhibit executive potential. The most common executive degrees include:

  • EMBA: Executive MBA
  • EMIB: Executive Master if International Business
  • EMPA: Executive Master of Public Administration
  • EMS: Executive Master of Science
  • EMSM: Executive Master of Science in Management
  • EMSMOT: Executive Master of Science in Management of Technology
  • EMST: Executive Master of Science in Taxation
  • GEMBA: Global Executive Master of Business Administration

Master's Degrees

A master's degree is a graduate-level degree that's earned after completing undergraduate-level education. There are many specialized master's degrees in the business field. The most common include:

  • IMBA: International MBA
  • MAcc: Master of Accountancy
  • MAIS: Master of Accounting and Information Systems
  • MBA: Master of Business Administration 
  • MBE: Master of Business Education
  • MBI: Master of Business Informatics
  • MBS: Master of Business Studies
  • MFA: Master of Fine Arts
  • MHR: Master of Human Resources
  • MHRM: Master of Human Resources Management
  • MIA: Master of International Affairs
  • MIAS: Master of International and Area Studies
  • MIB: Master of International Business
  • MIM: Master of International Management
  • MIS: Master of Information Systems
  • MISM: Master of Information Systems Management
  • MMIS: Master of Management Information Systems
  • MMR: Master of Marketing Research
  • MMS: Master of Management Science
  • MNO: Master of Nonprofit Organizations
  • MOD: Master of Science in Organizational Development
  • MPA: Master of Public Administration
  • MPAcc: Master of Professional Accounting
  • MPIA: Master of Public and International Affairs
  • MPL: Master of Planning
  • MPP: Master of Public Policy
  • MRED: Master of Real Estate Development
  • MTAX: Master of Taxation

Master of Science Degrees

Master of Science degrees, also known as MS degrees, are graduate-level degrees with a tightly focused track of study in a particular area such as accounting, finance, management, taxation, or real estate. The most common Master of Science degrees in the business field include:

  • MSA: Master of Science in Accountancy (or Accounting)
  • MSAIS: Master of Science in Accountancy Information Systems
  • MSAT: Master of Science in Accountancy, Taxation
  • MSB: Master of Science in Business
  • MSBA: Master of Science in Business Administration
  • MSF: Master of Science in Finance
  • MSFA: Master of Science in Financial Analysis
  • MSFS: Master of Science in Foreign Services
  • MSGFA: Master of Science in Global Financial Analysis
  • MSIB: Master of Science in International Business
  • MSIM: Master of Science in Industrial Management
  • MSIS: Master of Science in Information Systems
  • MSITM: Master of Science in Information Technology Management
  • MSM: Master of Science in Management
  • MSMOT: Master of Science in Management of Technology
  • MSOD: Master of Science in Organization Development
  • MSRE: Master of Science in Real Estate
  • MST: Master of Science in Taxation

Exceptions to Standard Degree Abbreviations

Although most business schools use the abbreviations above, there are some exceptions. For example, Harvard University follows the tradition of Latin degree names for some of their undergraduate and graduate degrees, which means that the degree abbreviations are reversed in comparison to what many of us are used to seeing in the United States. Here are a few examples:

  • AB: This is the name for the Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree. AB stands for artium baccalaureus.
  • SB: This is the name for the Bachelor of Science (BS) degree. SB stands for scientiae baccalaureus.
  • AM: This is the equivalent of the Master of Arts (MA) degree. AM stands for artium magister.
  • SM: This is the equivalent of the Master of Science (MS) degree. SM stands for scientiae magister.