A bachelor's degree in business management typically features an interdisciplinary curriculum that explores the fundamentals of organizational leadership, business operations, finance, and marketing.
Graduates are prepared for entry-level management positions within a variety of large and small organizations, as well as further education such as an MBA or other graduate program. A management degree also prepares learners to successfully start and operate their own business ventures as entrepreneurs.
The following guide provides essential information for prospective business management students, including career opportunities, curriculum components, accreditation, and admission procedures.
What Is Business Management?
Business management is a broad term that captures the concepts, theories, and practices employed in the operations of a business. As an academic discipline, business management involves the interdisciplinary study of business administration, marketing, accounting, economics, finance, and information systems. In applied practice, business management includes various acts of leadership, planning, and strategy that help employees and departments work together to efficiently achieve organizational goals.
Nearly every type of organization -- large corporations, nonprofits, small businesses, sole proprietorships, and entrepreneurial endeavors -- relies on business management principles to succeed and grow. While the specific goals of an organization depends on its size and needs, business managers can work to reduce operation costs, increase productivity and sales, retain employees, and ensure compliance with policies, regulations, and laws.
A business management degree prepares graduates to work in a number of fields, which we discuss in more detail in the following section.
Whether you want to pursue your business and management degree online or on campus, our program page can help you prepare for the journey ahead.
What You Can Do With a Bachelor's in Business Management
As a versatile degree, a bachelor's in business management prepares graduates for a variety of career paths in fields such as accounting, sales, finance, and marketing. In many of these fields, a bachelor's degree in business management qualifies candidates for entry-level positions. However, gaining work experience or earning an advanced degree can lead to increased career opportunities and salary potential. Additionally, workers in this field often earn high salaries, with sales managers and marketing managers earning a median salary of over $100,000 a year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
Accountants prepare financial records, including personal and business tax records. They review financial records to ensure their accuracy and oversee financial operations for businesses. A bachelor's degree in business with a concentration in accounting prepares candidates for many entry-level accountant jobs. At the higher levels, professionals with a master's degree can qualify for CPA certification.
Median Annual Salary: $70,500
Projected Growth Rate (2018-28): 6%
- Sales Manager
Sales managers oversee, train, and organize a team of sales representatives for their company. They design training programs and analyze data to set sales goals, and many sales managers travel to represent their company or meet clients. A bachelor's degree plus work experience qualifies professionals to work as sales managers.
Median Annual Salary: $124,220
Projected Growth Rate (2018-28): 5%
- Management Analyst
Management analysts research an organization's structure and create plans to improve its efficiency. Also called management consultants, these professionals advise managers on how to reduce costs, increase revenue, and increase profitability. A bachelor's degree in business prepares professionals for entry-level positions in this field.
Median Annual Salary: $83,610
Projected Growth Rate (2018-28): 14%
- Marketing Manager
Marketing managers design and direct marketing plans for their company. The develop pricing strategies, oversee product trends, and perform competitor research. The position may require several years of work experience in marketing, and some companies may require an MBA.
Median Annual Salary: $132,620
Projected Growth Rate (2018-28): 8%
- Financial Analyst
Financial analysts analyze investment decisions for both businesses and individuals. They provide advice on investing in stocks and bonds and measure the historical performance of investments while projecting future growth. Business majors with a concentration in finance qualify for entry-level positions.
Median Annual Salary: $85,660
Projected Growth Rate (2018-28): 6%
Visit our career page to learn more about how you can succeed in business management, including the skills employers desire, available credentials in the field, and salary potential.
What to Expect in a Bachelor's in Business Management Program
Both online and on-campus management degrees typically require students to complete 120 credits of general education, major/core, and elective coursework. A bachelor's in business management usually includes classes in economics, marketing, organizational behavior, business law and ethics, information technology, and business statistics.
In the final semester, business students generally complete either an internship or a capstone project. Both of these experiences allow for practical, real-world application of theories and concepts they explore throughout the program. Alternatively, some business programs may require comprehensive exams.
Graduates pursue work in a variety of industries and fields. As a result, classes in the major provide students with an interdisciplinary education in business, marketing, accounting, and economics. While specific courses vary by program, explore these five common courses most business management students must complete.
- Principles of Management
- Students examine the basic functions of business management, including planning, organizing, staffing, leading, and strengthening both employee and organizational performance.
- Business Law
- This course explores the legal environment of business. Learners study contract law, employment law, accounting law, and current rules and regulations that impact the business sector.
- Business Finance
- Students learn the theories, techniques, and practices impacting corporate and private sector finances. Topics may include fund acquisition and management, investment decisions, and use of debt.
- Introduction to Marketing
- This course introduces students to fundamental concepts in marketing, such as strategy, consumer decision-making, and market targeting. Coursework emphasizes the importance of ethical behavior in marketing activities.
- Principles of Macroeconomics
- Students examine economic theory and learn to apply basic economic principles to whole economic systems. Common topics include unemployment, inflation, and national financial systems.
Erica McCurdy, CMC, YPF, MBA
Erica McCurdy is the founder of McCurdy Solutions Group, an award-winning coaching and consulting company that integrates coaching psychology, goal-setting, and accountability practices to help business leaders accelerate progress and eliminate barriers to success. She is also the founder of Atlanta Divorce and Parent, which focuses on co-parenting, parenting coordination, and career re-entry.
Erica is a member of Forbes’ Coaches Council, is a credentialed ICF member, and holds four specialty certifications including professional master coach; business coach; and youth, parent, and family coach. Recognized for four years in a row as a “Best Of” business in her industry and four years as a “Top Atlanta Coach,” she is regularly featured as an expert for Forbes, MSN, Entrepreneur.com, Recruiter.com, Bustle Magazine, Best Company, and more. Erica is passionate about her community; she is an active Rotarian, a sustaining member of the National Charity League, a mentor coach for the SEAL Future Foundation, and an active community volunteer and mentor.
- 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 twelve 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 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 pursuing 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 ok 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.
How to Choose a Bachelor's in Business Management Program
Prospective students should note the importance of attending an accredited school. These institutions provide a quality education, grant credits that easily transfer, and award diplomas that potential employers trust. Schools often hold either regional or national accreditation, but students interested in studying business should also consider those with programmatic accreditation.
Individual programs may be accredited if they volunteer to undergo specific, comprehensive reviews of particular degrees. Business programs receive accreditation from one of three organizations: the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business, the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs, and the International Accreditation Council for Business Education.
Here are some other considerations to keep in mind.
- Concentration Options: Concentrations give you an opportunity to personalize your degree plan. Look for programs with concentrations that target your specific academic or professional goals.
- Faculty Qualifications: Before you select a program, research the business department faculty to ensure you'll be taught by educators with advanced degrees and extensive, real-world business experience.
- Cost: The cost of an undergraduate degree varies depending on the school you attend. Seek out programs you can reasonably afford and ask schools directly about financial aid options.
Bachelor's in Business Management Program Admissions
The section below discusses common admission requirements for undergraduates. While the following information is representative of most on-campus and online degree programs in management, note that admission procedures for your preferred school may vary slightly. Make sure to review all school-specific guidelines before submitting an application.
- High School Diploma or Equivalent
- Minimum GPA
- Qualifying SAT or ACT Scores
- Most colleges and universities provide an online application for prospective students that asks about educational background and experience. Students can use the CommonApp to apply to over 700 different colleges with just one application.
- Applicants need to submit high school transcripts and all college transcripts. Many schools waive the high school transcript requirement for transfer students. Schools may use these transcripts to award transfer credits.
- Letters of Recommendation
- Many colleges require 2-3 letters of recommendation that speak to the applicant's academic and personal qualifications. Students should give their recommendation writers about a month's notice.
- Test Scores
- Most schools require either SAT or ACT scores for undergraduate admissions. Potential business students can research the average test scores for admitted learners at their target schools. Schools may waive the test score requirement for transfer students.
- Application Fee
- College application fees may reach as high as $90 for a single school. However, applicants can generally apply for a fee waiver if they meet income eligibility guidelines. Some colleges charge no application fee.
Resources for Bachelor's in Business Management Students
PMI offers certifications in project management and related fields, which help business management graduates stand out in the job market. PMI offers provides events, training, and resources for project managers.
A data collection site dedicated to entrepreneurship, Global Entrepreneurship Monitor creates reports and provides information on entrepreneurship.
Zonta International offers a scholarship for women earning a degree in business who hold membership at their local chapter. The organization has awarded over $1.2 million in scholarships.
Business management students benefit from networking opportunities. While joining professional organizations helps learners build a network, maintaining a current LinkedIn page while in school helps graduates find jobs.
Run by the federal government, the SBA gives loans and other financial support to small businesses and entrepreneurs. The organization also offers counseling and support to small business owners.