A bachelor's in business management is the most popular major among college graduates, according to data compiled by the University of Georgetown. Students receive instruction in finance, business operations, marketing, and leadership.
Completing a bachelor's prepares graduates to start their own businesses or begin entry-level management positions. Having a bachelor's in business management allows graduates to work in small businesses, nonprofits, or with large organizations (e.g., healthcare or manufacturing companies).
The following guide explains what business management is, what to expect from a bachelor's in business management program, and different careers worth exploring with a business management degree.
What Is Business Management?
Business management is a broad term encompassing many aspects related to operating a business. A business manager can lead a marketing team, manage finances and accounts, or monitor day-to-day business operations. By developing leadership and strategic planning skills, graduates of a bachelor's in business management program are qualified to take on diverse roles in a variety of businesses.
What Are the Best Bachelor's in Business Management Programs of 2020?
|1||University of Florida||Gainesville, FL|
|2||Florida International University||Miami, FL|
|3||California State University - Fullerton||Fullerton, CA|
|4||San Diego State University||San Diego, CA|
|5||University of Illinois at Springfield||Springfield, IL|
|6||University of Hawaii - West Oahu||Kapolei, HI|
|7||Florida Atlantic University||Boca Raton, FL|
|8||Appalachian State University||Boone, NC|
|9||Wesleyan College||Macon, GA|
|10||LeTourneau University||Longview, TX|
Should I Get a Bachelor's in Business Management?
Business management is a fast-growing field. Managerial positions are in high demand and are expected to continue to grow. From 2019 to 2029, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects management jobs to increase by 5%, resulting in approximately 505,000 new positions.
Although there are some entry-level positions available to high school graduates or students who complete an associate degree in business, those who complete an on-campus or online bachelor's degree in business management are more competitive in the job market and make a higher average salary. According to PayScale, the average annual salary of an employee with an associate of applied science in business management is $53,290, whereas the average salary for someone who holds a BS in business management is $68,140 annually.
A bachelor's degree in business management is a versatile degree and prepares graduates to pursue a variety of careers. Besides managerial positions, a graduate of a bachelor's in business management program can explore careers in finance, accounting, marketing, and human resources.
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What Will I Learn in a Business Management Program?
A bachelor's in business management degree typically requires 120 credits and takes full-time students four years to complete. Because of its interdisciplinary nature, business management graduates complete coursework in areas like marketing, economics, business, and accounting.
Students can often choose a concentration within their business management program. Five possible concentrations are marketing, finance, human resources management, accounting, and global business.
Regardless of which concentration business management majors choose, all students take courses that cover a variety of business subjects. The following list describes five common courses encountered by business management students.
- Financial Accounting
This course introduces the theoretical concepts of financial accounting and their practical applications. It also discusses financial accounting trends. Along with financial analysis, students learn how to identify problems and practice making financial decisions.
- Project Management
In this course, students learn the various elements of a business project and gain a deeper understanding of a project manager's role. After learning key terms related to project management, students typically complete a group project allowing hands-on application of newly developed skills.
- Introduction to Marketing
Starting with marketing principles, this course covers theories behind marketing strategies and their practical applications. Students gain an understanding of industry analysis and how consumers impact the marketing industry to maximize effective marketing techniques.
- Principles of Economics
This course provides introductory information on economics, covering both microeconomics and macroeconomics. Students learn how economists analyze data and information concerning the economy and how that can impact business decisions.
- Business Software
Introducing students to popular programs used in business management, this course provides information on a variety of software and allows for practice with these systems.
What Can I Do With a Bachelor's in Business Management?
A bachelor's in business management is a versatile degree that prepares graduates to work in a variety of positions — they needn't only pursue managerial roles. Students who graduate with this degree develop a strong understanding of accounting and finances, human resources, marketing, and economics, thereby allowing them to accept positions in diverse fields.
- Marketing Manager
A marketing manager leads a marketing team within a company. These managers oversee the success of a company or product. Their daily tasks may include looking at target demographics, monitoring the demand for a project, determining price points, and watching market trends.
Monitoring and keeping financial records, accountants have the flexibility to work in a variety of companies — both large and small. Being versed in financial laws, accountants help make sure that companies operate in an ethical and legal manner.
- Human Resources Manager
An HR manager oversees an HR team and acts as a bridge between employers and their employees. Along with finding new employees and coordinating trainings, HR managers resolve conflicts and uphold important employer laws and regulations.
- Sales Manager
Utilizing strong mentorship skills, a sales manager supervises a team of salespeople. With the ability to work for companies in diverse fields, a sales manager builds a team, sets quotas, and assists team members in reaching goals and maximizing their sales.
- Operations Manager
An operations manager oversees all aspects of the creation of goods and services. They may manage the production process and monitor inventory and costs. Operations managers work closely with other team members to deliver quality products or services to consumers.
How to Choose a Business Management Bachelor's Program
Obtaining a bachelor's in business management opens the door for graduates to work in a variety of positions. Because this is such a popular degree, there are many programs to choose from.
When choosing a business management program, consider the following:
Is it within my budget?
What type of accreditation does the school and/or program have?
Is an online or in-person program a better fit?
Does the program offer concentrations of interest?
Is the school known for their business degrees?
How to Get Into a Business Management Bachelor's Program
When applying to a bachelor's in business management program, applicants need to meet all requirements. In order to be considered for a program, candidates must have a high school diploma or the equivalent. A minimum GPA and ACT/SAT score may also be needed.
Along with transcripts, test scores, and fees, programs may request an essay and/or letters of recommendation. Although there are no unique requirements for a business management program, applicants can stand out by highlighting leadership skills or management experience in their essays.
How Long Does It Take to Get a Bachelor's in Business Management?
Whether a student pursues an in-person or online degree in business management, it typically takes four years of full-time study to graduate. Requiring core classes, general electives, and program-specific courses, students must earn at least 120 credits.
Working students or students seeking a more flexible path may be interested in accelerated online programs, which enable learners to complete a bachelor's in business management degree in less than four years. These programs typically operate throughout the year, and they may award credits based on a student's previous professional experience.
Depending on an individual's desired path, additional certifications or licensures may be required. For example, CPAs must earn a license. Additionally, graduates can further their career options and earning potential by completing optional certifications.
How Much Does It Cost to Get a Bachelor's in Business Management?
Consider all of the potential costs when deciding where you want to go to school. The average tuition, fees, and room and board for undergraduates during the 2018-19 school year was almost $25,000. However, in-state public schools typically cost significantly less than private institutions. Additionally, some online bachelor's in business management programs charge all distance learners the same rate — even if they live out of state.
Interview With a Professional in Business Management
Erica McCurdy is the founder of McCurdy Solutions Group — a coaching and consulting company that integrates coaching psychology, goal-setting, and accountability practices to help business leaders. She is also the founder of Atlanta Divorce and Parent, which focuses on co-parenting, parenting coordination, and career reentry. Erica is a member of Forbes' Coaches Council and a credentialed ICF member. She also holds four specialty certifications, including professional master coach and business coach.
- Why did you decide to pursue a career in business management? Was it something that always interested you?
While I would love to give you an answer that is as passionate as I am about business today, I cannot. I left Westminster, a prestigious Atlanta private prep school, out of 11th grade after a disagreement with my mother in which I professed that I was bored and ready to move on.
At the time, I was 16, about to turn 17, and had no idea who I was or what I wanted to study. Her requirement was that if I left high school early, which in the 80's was something that people didn't do, I had to study business so that I would always have a career. So, business it was. I actually had to drop out of my high school to go to college. They didn't have an early graduation option, and my acceptance by the University of Georgia was not contingent upon the attainment of my GED. So, I'm an MBA who doesn't have a high school diploma or equivalency.
My first year was rocky, but once I got my sea legs and began my business courses, I realized that I possessed an understanding of business that made the conceptual work pretty easy. My parents always had their own businesses and I grew up working alongside them. I watched them work with customers. I helped manage inventory, worked with customers, and paid invoices.
I understood what it meant to have a business that was responsible for creating enough income to support employees and their families, and my parents always made sure I understood that part of the responsibility for having a company like ours was to make a difference in the lives of others. Some of my most powerful moments of inspiration have come from understanding how to make that happen in the context of running a business.
- What did your career trajectory look like after you graduated? How did you end up in your current position?
After graduation, I had three job offers. Two were out of state with large global companies and one was here close to home with a smaller telecommunications company. At the time, some of my friends thought I was crazy, but I chose the company closer to home.
I was a specialist working with our top clients and we were doing innovative things in the world of two-way wireless communication. It wasn't long before I was hired away to work for BellSouth in their big business marketing. These were exciting times! The world was going wireless and digital. Email integration, video conferencing, and text messaging were just starting to happen, and I was right in the middle of all of it. Then, I had my children and for me, everything changed.
I was given a year of leave when I had my twins. I often think that was my biggest pivot-point in my career. Had I come back in 12 weeks, I think I might still be in corporate America — and probably still happy, as well — but during my year, I had time to think about what I knew about business and what I could do with what I knew.
I started a little eBay company with my sister and we were easily making money every month. Then I asked my (now-ex) husband if he had ever wanted to be anything different when he was young, and he said, "I always wanted to be a garbage man." That conversation led to the start of Georgia Sanitation, Inc. With two other partner families, we created what is still my favorite startup. I will never forget the day we realized we topped $1M in revenue.
It only took a few years to grow to over seven figures and a territory covering a large piece of northern metro Atlanta. After selling the company in 2006, I worked in a variety of capacities across several industries until I opened my doors as a consultant and coach in 2013.
- What do you love about working in business management?
The problems we face don't really change, but we are more intentional about how we think about problem-solving, and that makes all the difference. For example, we know more about psychology and how our brains handle stress then we have ever known. We can look at people as situation managers, recognizing that not all problems require a solution, and not all problems are truly problems that can be solved.
For me, business management is a lot like playing with Legos. We are given a bag full of bricks in a multitude of colors, shapes, and sizes. The possibilities are endless. So, it is up to us to understand what the end result is supposed to be. Are we building a robot? A ship? A castle? Business management is, at its core, putting the right pieces in the right place in the right order to create the right structure to achieve a team goal.
- How has your degree in business management helped you in your career?
When I was young, I was far more cavalier about my degree than I am now. Instinct and talent must exist for an idea to have life, but a business management degree gives structure to those great ideas. I have seen so many people in my career become paralyzed when they were faced with information they didn't understand. Having a business management degree gave me broad exposure to different business practice areas, which has translated into a level of comfort with concepts, terms, and application.
I can keep up with most business conversations and ask intelligent questions when I don't understand something. My degree taught me how to read and produce a financial report and — more importantly — look for missing information. I can spot inconsistencies in data. I don't get overwhelmed or feel belittled when other people start using technical jargon. I think about the economic impact and how marking, HR, finance, and operations will need to communicate. My degree has made me a generalist at a time when the generalist is needed more than ever.
- What advice would you give to individuals considering pursuing a degree and a career in business management?
Welcome to you! Everyone who does anything needs what you are about to learn, and you are getting a leg up on the rest of the world. Don't be afraid to push and ask hard questions, change your mind, and push again. Stay humble, but don't be a doormat. The only way to resolve your questions and figure out how all of this works is to ask, listen, research, and ask again.
I would encourage you to keep your mind open in every class you take, whether you enjoy the content or not. Learn to speak the language of each competency — accounting, marketing, economics, finance, and so on. I would also encourage you to appreciate those who find a specific love for any of the core business competencies and build a network of experts who can support you as a generalist.
Finally, I would encourage you to read and write. Read things that are enjoyable to you, not the things that you think you are supposed to read. Writing is a lost art. What will quickly differentiate you from your peers will be your ability to express yourself in writing. Write often and write well.
- What are some of the skills someone considering a career in business management must have to be successful?
From a soft-skills side, we rarely talk about etiquette, but I do want to mention how important an understanding of etiquette is. I'm amazed at how few people know which utensils to use at a formal business dinner or understand how and when to begin eating. I've even seen people who forget to put their napkin in their lap or are chewing gum at the table.
Knowing how to shake hands properly, receive a business card, offer a proper greeting, or make an introduction can set the tone positively or rapidly undermine a meeting. Knowing how to dress properly or how to engage in small talk during a meet and greet, networking event, or prior to the start of a presentation are all necessary skills that are rarely taught in class.
In addition, let's add resilience, determination, self-assurance, and commitment to the skills list. At the end of the day, someone who wants this career needs to be comfortable making decisions, leading teams, and making recommendations. Business management is not the career for someone who needs a consensus or validation before every step in the process.
Resilience is needed to be able to weather the economic and emotional ups and downs of business leadership. Business managers are the people who commit to a direction, steer the ship, and push through. It can require a thick skin and an ability to show compassion at the same time.
- Any final thoughts for us?
None of us gets it right 100% of the time. As an entrepreneur, I've tried and succeeded and tried and failed. I don't think I used different skills when I had different outcomes, so I have had to give myself room to be okay with that.
I've looked back and wished I had paid more attention to my classes — especially finance. I would love to take that class again now that I know what I know today! I wish I had been less serious and given myself more room to be creative with my thinking. Business management is an art. It takes creativity and passion, so don't let anyone tell you that you lack either of those just because you are choosing this path.