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Definition of a Business Administration Degree

by Meagan Van Beest, Demand Media

    A business administration degree focuses on business management and prepares you to work in the world of commerce. Generally, business administration coursework includes the principles and application of economics, marketing and planning. The most common diploma in this field is the master's of business administration (MBA). Business administration degree holders work in the management of health care, insurance, real estate and technology, as well as administrative positions in general service and retail businesses.

    Types of Degrees

    There are four different types of business administration degrees. An associate's degree in business administration (ABA) usually takes two years to earn, and prepares you for entry-level managerial and administrative positions. A bachelor's degree in business administration (BBA) is a four-year degree that offers more advanced study compared to an associate's degree. The BBA is usually completed as preparation for further study in a master's program, but many managerial and administrative jobs are open to BBA degree holders. A master of business administration (MBA) is generally a two-year program that prepares you for the most common (and more advanced) careers in business management. Doctorate degrees in business administration prepare you to teach in colleges and universities or work in business research and consulting.

    Coursework

    Business administration degree coursework focuses on broad managerial principles and skills. Common classes include accounting, business ethics, communication, data analysis, economics, marketing, operations management and project planning. In addition to a general business administration degree, you can also choose an area of emphasis. Common degree specializations include advertising, arts management, brand management, corporate finance, health care, human resource management, market research, operations management, real estate, risk management, strategic planning, supply chain management and technology management.

    Careers

    A business administration degree prepares you for work in such fields as banking, finance, health care, insurance, real estate, retail business and technology. You could become an accountant, administrative executive, banker, consultant, executive director, project manager, retail manager or strategic planner. The managerial skills of business administration program graduates are also highly sought after in government (from a small city manager to a finance manager at the World Trade Organization (WTO)) and non-governmental organizations (from accountant of a local nonprofit to a strategic planning manager for the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP)).

    Considerations

    If you do not currently have a college degree, you should consider your career goals before choosing the type of business administration degree to pursue. For entry-level positions or jobs in smaller companies, an associate's degree may be all you need. If you already have a degree, you may be able to pursue an MBA. Most MBA programs require you to take and pass the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) to be admitted. Online business degree programs are also available, and allow more flexibility than traditional college or university programs. However, online degrees sometimes take longer to complete. Whether choosing an online or traditional program, look for an accredited institution; the two major accrediting agencies for business schools are the Association of Collegiate Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP) and the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB).

    Outlook

    Since the first business school opened in Paris in 1819, business graduates have been popular with companies and organizations looking for strong leadership. Traditionally, business administration graduates have an advantage in an economic downturn because their creative thinking skills and managerial training help businesses make it through the worst financial times. While keeping a job in a down market may be easier for business administration graduates, finding a job may be harder in the currently overcrowded field. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, business administration graduates can expect keen competition for top-level positions, while entry-level jobs will see fewer applicants.

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    About the Author

    Meagan Van Beest took up writing after graduating with a bachelor's degree in English literature. She has worked in advertising and marketing for the past decade. Her writing has appeared in advertising, brochures, newspapers and online magazines. Currently, as creative director of a design firm, she oversees the graphics, copy writing, and creative direction of print and Web design projects.

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