A bachelor's in business administration can lay the foundation for a successful and stable career. Because the undergraduate business degree is so versatile, graduates can use the knowledge and skills they gain from a business administration program throughout their careers, even when they switch specialties. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that all business and financial operations careers will see an above-average growth rate of 10% between 2016 and 2026.
Now is a great time to begin a career in business administration. As technology continues to disrupt the world's largest industries, bachelor's in business administration programs prepare graduates to lead, even in a rapidly changing world. Business administration students can select from a variety of concentrations and have access to flexible online learning with challenging curricula.
Should I Get a Bachelor's in Business Administration?
Many bachelor's in business administration programs take place primarily or entirely online. Distance learning options are helpful for students who must work or tend to family obligations during their time at school, but there are benefits to on-campus programs, as well. In-person students may get to know their professors and classmates well, creating networking opportunities. These traditional education models work well for students who are able to attend college in person on a full-time schedule.
Students who are close to graduation have access to several job placement resources, such as job fairs, career counselors, and internships. Each of these opportunities gives new graduates a leg up in finding the perfect entry-level business position. Both online and in-person undergraduate business programs set up graduates for success in MBA programs. Bachelor's degrees create solid foundations for MBA studies. Students gain strong analytical skills, which can translate into many different professions. Employers know that business degrees highlight candidates' critical thinking and communication skills.
Students with a bachelor's degree in business administration understand a broad range of business practices, including hiring, budgeting, marketing, project management. These graduates know how to operate the many parts of a successful business, and may go on to fill entry-level positions like those of budget analyst, operations manager, and purchasing agent.
What Can I Do With a Bachelor's in Business Administration?
An undergraduate business degree can prepare graduates for a wide range of career opportunities. Schools often offer concentrations that help students find their niche, but this doesn't limit graduates in their choices. The right career path for any given student may depend on their financial goals, interests, and personality type. Logic-driven learners may gravitate more toward accounting and auditing, but those who are people-focused may become personal financial advisers. Likewise, big-picture thinkers may choose careers in convention and meeting planning, while detail-oriented students may enjoy being financial examiners.
- Accountants and Auditors
These business professionals may specialize in areas such as taxes, personal finance, and business finance. Accountants often keep books for their employers, while auditors inspect those books to make sure accountants follow rules and regulations. These positions require specialized knowledge, so many employers require a bachelor's degree for business administration.
Median Annual Salary: $69,350
Projected Growth Rate: 10%
- Cost Estimators
Cost estimators use their knowledge of business practices and particular industries to forecast business costs in those industries. These professionals must consider costs from all aspects of a business, and employers appreciate the well-rounded education that a business administration program can provide.
Median Annual Salary: $63,110
Projected Growth Rate: 11%
- Budget Analysts
When businesses want to cut costs and improve efficiencies, they turn to budget analysts. These business people look over documents such as budgeting spreadsheets, spending logs, and proposals. Budget analysts ensure legal compliance, look for spending inefficiencies, and propose alternative methods whenever possible.
Median Annual Salary: $75,240
Projected Growth Rate: 7%
- Meeting, Convention, and Event Planners
Many industries send representatives to conventions, continuing education events, and large meetings. These events must go off without a hitch, which is where business event planners come in. They oversee every aspect of the event to make sure attendees meet their goals and enjoy themselves.
Median Annual Salary: $48,290
Projected Growth Rate: 11%
- Personal Financial Advisers
Individuals and families often need financial advice from a knowledgeable professional. Personal financial advisers look over each client's financial situation and design plans and discover tools to help execute that plan. People put their livelihoods in these professionals' hands, so personal financial advisers should have impressive credentials to show their clients.
Median Annual Salary: $90,640
Projected Growth Rate: 15%
How to Choose a Bachelor's in Business Administration Program
The first step toward earning a business degree is choosing the best program for your educational needs. Applicants should consider program length and cost, as well as accreditation status, location, and available concentrations. Students may consider which concentration best fits their career goals. Learners can choose from specializations in healthcare management, accounting, and international business.
Each institution offers its own selection of concentrations, so it's vital for students to assess their prospective schools' concentration options before committing to a program. Sometimes a school does not offer a full specialization in a particular area, but may provide individual classes on the subject. Students should also look into each program's curriculum to learn whether it requires a final thesis or capstone course.
Most business degrees, like bachelor's programs, take four years of full-time study to complete. However, several factors could change this projection. Learners with prior college credits can accelerate their programs by choosing a school that accepts transfer credits. Some students may also choose accelerated online programs or take summer classes to graduate sooner.
Degree candidates who need to work full time while in school might opt for part-time enrollment, which might delay their program completion. Some schools may design programs specifically for these working students to help them graduate on time.
Students should prioritize programs that have full accreditation to ensure a high-quality education that graduate schools and employers will respect.
Programmatic Accreditation for Bachelor's in Business Administration Programs
Applicants should look into whether their prospective schools have institutional accreditation. This credential can come from either a regional accrediting organization or a national one. Regional accreditation is preferable, because these credits are considered more prestigious and tend to transfer more easily.
Programmatic accreditation is also important. This type of accreditation looks at a specific program, such as the business administration bachelor's degree. The Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP) is the primary accrediting body for these programs. This organization analyzes business school programs and accredits only those that meet its high standards. Learners who choose a plan without this accreditation may receive a sub-standard education and have trouble finding a job after graduation. Furthermore, graduate schools may not recognize the undergraduate degree. Students work hard for their diplomas and should put those efforts toward accredited programs.
Bachelor's in Business Administration Program Admissions
During the admissions process, applicants may need to gather plenty of paperwork, including transcripts, letters of recommendation, and test scores. There is no limit on how many applications a student can submit, so learners should apply to all the colleges they would want to attend and for which they meet admissions requirements. Candidates should not apply to schools that do not have the right concentrations, or that are too costly, and students who do not meet a school's posted minimum requirements should consider putting the application fee toward another institution.
When applicants find the programs that best fit their needs, they should rank schools according to which they would most like to attend. Students who are particularly worried about money may prioritize less expensive schools, while learners who care more about location may rank institutions accordingly. Applicants can then send applications to as many colleges as they can afford to, starting with their top-ranked schools.
- Minimum GPA: Many schools require a high school or previous college GPA of at least a 2.5, but some set the bar as high as a 3.5. Applicants can sometimes get this requirement waived with high test scores or considerable work experience.
- Application: It can take a few hours for students to fill out an application since most require some sort of essay. Applicants can use services like CommonApp to apply to several schools at once.
- Transcripts: These documents help institutions verify GPAs and previous learning experience. High schools often send transcripts for free or a small fee.
- Letters of Recommendation: Applicants can ask former teachers, professors, and managers to write letters of recommendation. It's important to give these references at least two weeks notice before candidates need the letters.
- Test Scores: The ACT and SAT both act as standardized tests for undergraduate applicants. Students can request the testing organizations to send official scores to the schools of their choice.
- Application Fee: Application fees can range from $25 for local two-year colleges to $100 for some Ivy League universities. Students who can demonstrate financial hardship can often get waivers for these fees.
What Else Can I Expect From a Bachelor's in Business Administration Program?
Accredited business administration programs meet many of the same general standards, but details may vary. Each school offers its own set of concentrations and courses, with programs of varying lengths. Still, learners can expect some common elements.
Concentrations Offered for a Bachelor's Degree in Business Administration
|Accounting||All businesses rely on some kind of accounting, which makes these graduates vital to the economy. Students learn how to balance books, comply with regulations, stick to an ethical code, and use modern accounting systems. Many of these programs include the courses necessary for the CPA exam.||Accountant, auditor, CPA|
|Management||Managing employee teams takes a special set of skills that students can acquire with this concentration. Courses include subjects like psychology, economics, team building, and statistics.||Manager, entrepreneur|
|Business Communication||Learners in this concentration take classes on writing, business strategy, and speech. This specialization sometimes includes corporate education and training, as well.||Communications manager, public relations specialist, consultant, strategist|
|Marketing||In this specialization, students learn how to create strong brands, sell to the public, and utilize innovative technology to strengthen the relationship between a brand and its customers. After graduation, these professionals may work in dedicated marketing firms or within an in-house marketing department.||Marketing manager, account executive, sales representative, public relations manager|
|Healthcare Management||The healthcare industry is so unique and growing so quickly that many schools have developed business concentrations exclusively for it. Students will learn about healthcare systems, insurance, strategies, and regulations.||Healthcare manager, administrator|
Courses in a Bachelor's in Business Administration Program
A students' chosen school and concentration determines their curricula, but some courses are consistent between most business administration programs. The following classes are common among most business administration programs:
- Business Statistics
Business managers of all kinds use statistics to analyze results and plan for the future. This course teaches basic statistical analysis and how those theories apply to the business world.
- Business Law
Business professionals must adhere to industry-specific regulations. Students who take this course will learn how to read, interpret, and apply business laws in their work.
Microeconomics: This area of study focuses on how businesses and individuals manage money. Business students can learn the overarching theories of microeconomics and how they apply in the real world.
- Business Communication
Business majors who do not specialize in communications need to understand the basics of effective communications. In this course, students learn to write memos, give presentations, and craft resumes.
- Principles of Management
Regardless of specialty, many business people go on to manage a team in their careers. This course prepares learners for this responsibility with theories and common management practices.
How Long Does It Take to Get a Bachelor's in Business Administration?
It usually takes most high school graduates about four years (or eight semesters) of full-time study to earn a bachelor's degree in business administration. However, many elements can affect this timeline. Programs that offer accelerated courses, transfer credits, summer semesters, and school credit for work experience may not take a full four years. Students who want to graduate in less than four years typically need to take a full course load each semester, which is 12 semester credits. However, most institutions do not let students go above 15 or 18 credit hours each semester.
Some learners may take longer than four years to finish their undergraduate programs. Those who need to enroll part time due to work or family commitments often take longer. However, these students can make up for some of the difference by taking summer and winter courses.
How Much Is a Bachelor's in Business Administration?
Higher learning institutions often publish their tuition rates along with their estimated costs for room, board, and fees. Students should check with their chosen schools to see what their prices will be. On average, undergraduate programs from public, four-year universities cost $20,770 per year, according to College Board. This includes room, board, tuition, and fees for full-time students attending school as in-state residents. However, students can pay drastically different amounts depending on their enrollment status, residency, and the school in question.
For example, students at public, two-year colleges pay an average of $11,970 per year for all the same fees, as long as learners are in-district residents. Degree candidates who take the first two years of core courses at local, two-year colleges stand to save tens of thousands of dollars on their education.
On the other hand, learners who choose private colleges or universities outside of their states of residence stand to pay much more for their degrees. The yearly average for room, board, tuition, and fees at out-of-state public schools is $36,420. Meanwhile, private institutions top the list with an average annual cost of $46,950.
Certifications and Licenses a Bachelor's in Business Administration Prepares For
- Certified Public Accountant
The CPA credential is perhaps the most sought after and difficult in the accounting industry. To earn this gold-standard certification, accountants must pass an exam and meet their state's requirements for college credits.
- Chartered Financial Analyst
For investment managers, the CFA credential is the most recognizable certification. Applicants must complete the course from the CFA Institute and then pass the coordinating test.
- Certified Trade Show Marketer
Trade show and event marketers represent their brands at large events. While these professionals do not have to be certified to practice, CTSM certification can help them stand apart from the crowd.
- Certified Financial Planner
Because financial planners deal with people's livelihoods, many clients want to see top-notch credentials. This certification requires professionals to pass an exam.
- Project Management Professional
Project management is an important part of any growing business. Business professionals can apply for this certification to prove to employers that they are ready to see projects through.
Resources for Business Administration Students
Finding accredited business programs can be difficult, but the ACBSP makes it simple. Applicants can find programs and learn about the importance of accreditation here.
Since states have different requirements for becoming a CPA, gathering information can get confusing. The NASBA has all the information that future CPAs need to get started.
This scientific journal covers emerging theories and studies involving business and management. Professionals and students who want to stay on the cutting edge can subscribe.
Students who strive to be ethical in their professions can subscribe to this quarterly journal for up-to-date news and discussions.
This online magazine continues to be widely read for its timely news stories and thoughtful pieces. Readers are not just entrepreneurs, but business professionals of all kinds.
Professional Organizations in Business Administration
Professional organizations allow members to make connections that can advance their careers. Fellow members can provide advice, mentorship, and other insights. Furthermore, annual conferences offer more networking opportunities. These organizations also lobby for their members and provide continuing education opportunities.