Business Administration Major

Career Paths

A business meeting.
Business majors learn how to run organizations. Noel Hendrickson//Getty Images

About This Major

A business administration major provides students with a general background in subjects including accounting, finance, marketing, human resources management, international business, and management. Students at many colleges take a few courses in each of these subjects, but some schools require their students to concentrate in one or more of them.

Students can earn an associate, bachelor's, master's or doctoral degree in business administration.

Associate degree programs are designated as either career or transfer programs. Career programs prepare students for work, while transfer programs are intended for students who plan to transfer to four-year colleges. Doctorate programs are research oriented and grant either PhDs or DBAs (Doctor of Business Administration). Those who want to pursue an academic career should get a Ph.D. Individuals who have a DBA sometimes end up in academia but this degree is more geared toward someone who wants to, according to the Business School Expert Karen Schweitzer, "contribute to business theory and management practice while developing professional skills and contributing professional knowledge" 

Sample of Courses You Can Expect to Take

Associate Degree Courses (in career programs)

  • Introduction to Business
  • Small Business Management
  • Business Law
  • Principles of Management
  • Principles of Marketing
  • Consumer and Family Finance
  • Mathematics of Business
  • Business Communications
  • Computer Concepts and Applications

Bachelor's Degree Courses (Many of these courses are also offered by Associate Degree Transfer Programs)

  • Introduction to Financial Accounting
  • Introduction to Managerial Accounting
  • Introduction to Mathematical Modeling in Business
  • Legal and Ethical Environment of Business
  • Organizational Behavior
  • Marketing
  • Business Policy and Administration
  • Principles of Finance
  • Managerial Finance
  • Operations Management
  • Introductory Microeconomic Analysis
  • Introductory Macroeconomic Analysis
  • Urban Economics
  • Advertising Management

MBA Courses

  • Organizations, Markets and Society
  • Financial Reporting and Analysis
  • Survey of Economics
  • Information Systems for Managers
  • Advanced Quantitative Methods for Managers
  • Marketing Analysis and Management
  • Ethnographic Field Methods
  • Corporate Finance
  • Building Shareholder Value
  • Management of Technology

Doctoral Degree Courses (some coursework depends on area of concentration)

  • Quantitative Research Methods
  • Qualitative Research Methods
  • Quantitative Analysis
  • Ethics and Corporate Social Responsibility
  • Topics in International Economics and Finance
  • Competitive Business Strategy
  • Organizational Theory
  • Applied Analytical Methods in Finance
  • Market Measurement and Forecasting

Career Options With Your Degree

  • Associate Degree: Executive Assistant, Benefit/Payroll Clerk, Marketing Assistant

  • Bachelor's Degree (entry-level or one to two years of experience): Business Administration Assistant, Compensation Manager, Business Services Coordinator, Operations Business Analyst, Project Manager, Sales Representative, Internship Manager, Business Manager, Shift Manager, Procurement Specialist

  • Master's Degree: Business Manager, Senior Business Analyst, VP Business Development, Community College Instructor, VP Strategic Operations, Adjunct Assistant Professor, Global Program Manager, Director of Business Analysis

  • Doctoral Degree: Professor, Client Strategist, Investment Analyst

*This list was compiled by searching job sites for openings that require a degree in business administration. It includes options for those who graduate with a degree in business administration only. It does not include any jobs that require earning an additional degree in another discipline.

Typical Work Settings

Business administration majors are qualified for a number of jobs that call for their background and knowledge. They typically work in offices or, in the case of those with a doctoral degree, in the classrooms of colleges and universities.

Two-year colleges and even some four-year schools hire individuals with MBAs for their faculties.

How High School Students Can Prepare for This Major

High school students who want to study business administration in college should take classes in English composition, economics, speech, advanced mathematics and the social sciences.

What Else You Need to Know

  • Majoring in business administration at a four-year college or university will lead to earning a Bachelor's of Science (BS), Bachelor of Science in Business Administration or Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) Degree.

  • The curricula for the business and business management majors are similar to the curriculum for the business administration major.

  • Depending on the graduate program, a student may not need a bachelor's degree in business administration to be admitted to a graduate program. However, he or she may have to take some prerequisite classes before beginning graduate study.

  • Doctoral candidates must write a dissertation which involves doing independent research.

Professional Organizations and Other Resources