Guide to Education and Careers for Business Majors

Schools, Degrees, and Jobs in the Business Field

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What Is a Business Major?

The term business major is used to describe students who are enrolled in an education program with a focus on business. For example, students who are earning a degree in business administration, business management, international business or business technology are considered business majors. Students who specialize in a business-related area such as accounting, marketing, or public relations might be considered business majors as well.

Why You Should Major in Business

Business is one of the most popular majors in the United States, particularly at the undergraduate level. The National Center for Education Statistics estimates that one in five students at the bachelor's level graduates with a degree in business. But popularity is only part of the reason why many people consider business when choosing a major. Other reasons include:

  • Specialization options: Business majors have more specialization options than the average major, allowing students to truly study what they are really interested in.
  • Job flexibility: A business degree can qualify grads for a lot of different job options, which means that this degree may make it easier to secure employment after graduation.
  • Monetary rewards: Being able to support yourself financially is important. Business majors tend to earn a higher median starting salary than the average grad. (Learn more about starting salaries for business majors.)

    Why You Shouldn't Major in Business

    Not everyone is suited for an education and career in business. Majoring in business can be demanding. The coursework is often rigorous, and there isn't much time to have fun while you're in school. After graduation, you will be forced to compete with other degree holders in the job market.

    Remember, business is one of the most popular majors - the market will be saturated with people just like you who are applying for the jobs that you want.

    If you are in business for the money alone, you should know that business is not the most lucrative major. Although business majors tend to earn a higher median starting salary than the average grad, there are other majors, such as engineering majors, that pay more. It is also important to consider job satisfaction. Will you be happy 10 years from now when you're working for 60 hours a week for a large corporation and a CEO that doesn't even know your name? This scenario is commonplace in the business field and could happen to you.

    Where to Get a Business Education

    Most colleges and universities have business programs for both undergraduate and graduate students. You can even find business programs at small community colleges. But, if you are serious about getting a good business education, you may want to consider a business school, which is an institution that focuses exclusively on business programs.

    The best business schools stay on top of (and ahead) of trends in business education and are able to put you in contact with the best employers and networking opportunities.

    Dedicated business schools also tend to offer valuable amenities outside of the classroom, such as global learning experiences, formal internship programs, state-of-the-art research facilities, clubs, and case competitions.

    There are many things to consider when choosing a business school. The most important is accreditation. It is essential that you get your degree from an accredited school or program so that you get a quality education, have the ability to transfer credits, and graduate with a degree recognized by other schools and employers. Other things to consider include:

    • Degree offerings: You need to choose a school that awards a degree you are interested in. For example, if you want to work in project management, you should find a school that awards a project management degree.
    • Program delivery: Some schools have campus-based programs, while others have online programs. Look for a school that delivers a program that works with your individual needs.
    • Reputation: Some business schools have a better reputation than others. For example, Harvard Business School is widely respected around the world, whereas a school like University of Phoenix is not as highly regarded in some communities.
    • Fit: Business school admissions can be competitive. Some schools have minimum expectations when it comes to undergraduate GPA, standardized test scores, and work experience. It is important to understand the admissions requirements of each school so that you find a school that fits you - aim high, but be realistic about your ability to get accepted to certain programs.
    • Philosophy: Different schools have different philosophies. For example, some schools like the ACU College of Business Administration have a distinct faith-based environment that integrates religion with leadership and business education. Schools like this may or may not align with your personal philosophy.

    Degrees Levels for Business Majors

    Business majors can choose from degrees at every level. Undergraduate degree options include associate's degrees and bachelor's degrees. Graduate level options include master's degrees and doctorate degrees. You do need to have an undergraduate degree (a bachelor's) before you can pursue a master's degree, but your undergraduate degree does not need to be in business. Many of the students who are pursuing a Master of Business Administration have a degree in other fields.

    Careers for Business Majors

    There are many different career options for business majors.

    The specific jobs that are available to you will depend on many factors including:

    • Degree level: If you have an associate degree, you may qualify for entry-level positions, such as administrative assistant or office administrator. With a more advanced degree like an MBA, you could qualify for supervisory level positions like business manager.
    • Specialization: Many business majors specialize in a subfield like accounting, advertising, finance, human resources, or supply chain management. Your specialization (the topics you studied in school) will have a big impact on the types of jobs you are qualified for. If you focused on accounting, a job in the accounting field would be a natural fit. But if you specialized in advertising, you might struggle to find a job in supply chain management.
    • Work Experience: Getting your dream job after graduation isn't always an option because some jobs require more than just education. You may need work experience in your chosen field before you are considered qualified for certain positions. 
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    Schweitzer, Karen. "Guide to Education and Careers for Business Majors." ThoughtCo, May. 31, 2016, thoughtco.com/business-majors-education-and-careers-4050071. Schweitzer, Karen. (2016, May 31). Guide to Education and Careers for Business Majors. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/business-majors-education-and-careers-4050071 Schweitzer, Karen. "Guide to Education and Careers for Business Majors." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/business-majors-education-and-careers-4050071 (accessed December 16, 2017).