Business Administration vs. Business Management: How Do They Differ?

What's the difference between business administration vs. business management? Find out more about both business fields to pick the best fit for you.
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  • Business tops the list as the most popular major for college students.
  • Financial officers, operations managers, and business analysts often have a business administration degree.
  • Business management jobs include sales managers, marketing managers, and account managers.
  • Business administration focuses on structural organizational skills, whereas business management focuses on employees.

Do you want to study business but can't decide between a business administration and business management degree?

Don't worry! There are plenty of different industries available to you in each field.

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Plus, business majors made a median annual salary of $65,000 in 2019, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). And because business graduates have higher-than-average salaries, this major is the most popular pick among college students.

So, just how many degrees are awarded in business each year? In the 2019-2020 school year, 387,900 degrees were awarded, according to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES).

And as far as concentrations go, undergraduates chose business management and business administration more than any other business specialty.

But that still leaves the question: What's the difference between business administration and business management?

What Is Business Administration?

Business administration deals with the processes of running a business —the day-to-day operations.

As a business administrator, you'll oversee the overall workings of a company. You'll also have specialized knowledge of accounting, entrepreneurship, finance, human resources, marketing, or nonprofit management.

If you earn a bachelor's in business administration degree, you can pursue careers in various settings, such as healthcare, retail, finance, or tech.

A business administration degree curriculum provides a broad understanding of business processes. Courses cover accounting, economics for business, macroeconomics and microeconomics. Students also learn management theory and practice, policy and strategy, and statistics.

Beyond classroom theory, you'll likely complete a business practicum and capstone project. These experiences provide on-the-job training and the ability to network with future employers.

What Is Business Management?

In a business management bachelor's program, you'll learn the basics of running a business. You'll also study how to coordinate a team and company to achieve certain goals.

If you enroll full time, you'll complete about 120 credits over four years for a bachelor's in business management degree.

Courses in a business management degree may overlap with business administration. Required courses cover foundational business concepts such as accounting, business statistics, and human resources. Other course topics may include managerial accounting, marketing, and organizational leadership.

As a business student, you may also complete a capstone project and business internship to put theory and analysis into practice.

What's the Difference Between a Business Administrator and a Business Manager?

Think of business managers as the face of a company. They are the company leaders who supervise staff and resources to work toward a business goal.

Business administrators, however, handle the overall operations and functions of a business, including accounting, finance, and marketing.

Job Expectations

Business managers and business administrators serve important functions in companies throughout various industries.

The work setting and size of the business dictate what a business manager or business administrator does.

Generally speaking, as a business manager, you'll focus on improving daily operations and managing a company's payroll, financials, and contracts. You'll support the company's culture and need strong communication and problem-solving skills.

If you become a business administrator, you'll support the senior management in carrying out company policies and establishing priorities and management timelines. Beyond working with senior executives, you'll also interact with stakeholders.

Other organizations, such as schools, businesses, and government agencies, will need business administrators to provide operational support to management teams.

Career Outlook

Either as a business administrator or as a business manager, you can expect similar median salaries and job security.

The pay for business administration and business management positions depends on experience. The lowest 10% of business administrators made less than $59,470 in 2021, while the top 10% made more than $168,910 a year, according to the BLS.

Pay also varies by industry. The BLS reports that medical and health services managers made a median salary of $101,340 in 2021. But advertising, promotions, and marketing managers made a median salary of $133,380 the same year.

Business Administration Business Management
  • Median Annual Salary (May 2021): $99,290
  • Job Growth (2021-2031): 7%
  • Median Annual Salary (May 2021): $102,450
  • Job Growth (2021-2031): 8%

Business Administration vs. Business Management: 3 Factors to Help You Choose

Let's be honest — the difference between business management vs. business administration can be subtle. As such, it can be difficult to choose between the two fields.

Think about what you want: Your career path depends on your unique set of interests and skills.

Factor 1: Your Interests

You want a job that you enjoy doing every day.

So when deciding on a college major, you want to be clear about your interests. Think about what area of business you want to concentrate your focus on.

Do you want to work managing teams of people directly? Then consider business management.

Do you prefer executing work projects and seeing the direct impact of your work? Then business administration might be right for you.

Factor 2: Your Skill Set

Picking a college major requires you to reflect on your strengths and weaknesses.

Do you have the communication and organizational skills to manage projects and teams of people? If so, you may enjoy a career as a business manager.

Or are you better at seeing the vision, breaking it up into workable parts, and executing it flawlessly whether by yourself or with a team? If so, a career in business administration may be ideal.

Factor 3: Your Career Goals

Before you commit to a college major, understand where you want to be in 2-4 years. What is your career objective?

If you want a specialized business role, you should pursue a bachelor's in business administration, where you can focus your study on marketing or finance, for example.

Otherwise, if you're hoping to lead company operations and employees, a bachelor's in business management will better prepare you.

BestColleges.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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