What Does a Career in Business Administration Entail?
Business administration is a broad field that relates to the operations and management of nearly every kind of organizational or business-related activity. A career in business administration potentially involves almost any type of organization. Business administrators work in the non-profit sector, charitable organizations, and small, medium, and large for-profit corporations within the global business community. The wide variety of organizations and equally varied types of business settings suggest there are real career opportunities for current students looking to earn business administration degrees.
Business administration involves business operations such as the day-to-day functions that businesses perform to meet customer and consumer needs and preferences. The field also includes important business processes like finance, accounting, budgeting, audits, investment, understanding business law, data analysis, market research, public relations, sales, and more. Senior leadership moves the organization towards its goals, and business administrators frequently occupy top business management positions, like project management and information systems management, and even executive positions like CEO, Chief Operating Officer, Chief Information Officer, or Chief Financial Officer - where the majority of decision making takes place within a company.
Components of A Successful Career In Business Administration
Many business administration career opportunities appeal to people that incline towards a lot of personal interaction, and some roles require a dedication to information gathering and analysis of data, such as market research and public relations. In modern business settings, there is a nearly universal adoption of computer-based technology and technological innovation is a major driver of change. Business administrators must have a firm command of the basics of business management and organizations and a strong commitment to meeting deadlines, both for themselves and the staff resources that they may direct.
Writing and verbal communication skills provide the means to present ideas, build consensus, and provide leadership. These skills are also a key to successful client and customer relationships. Because business involves rapid change, business administrators must build from the basics with an adaptable approach that features flexibility. The below-listed items describe components of a successful career in business in the real world, which you must have on top of a business administration degree. While you can get started with a bachelor's in business, you're likely to need a master's to gain promotions and improve your career opportunities and earning potential.
- Knowledge of Organizations and Management
- Communication and Listening Skills
- Innovation and Creativity as well as Critical Thinking
- Adaptability and Quick Decision Making
- Computer and Information Technology Skills
How to Earn a Business Administration Degree
Once a student decides to pursue one or more of the wide ranges of business administration careers, then the next step is to select a degree program to prepare for those career options. The options include an associate degree, a bachelor’s in business, and a master’s business administration degree or MBA. At each level students can also choose concentrations. These groups of courses provide a depth of knowledge in an area of study. For example, students can get concentrations in information technology, business accounting, or human resources. They can also focus on a type of industry such as healthcare or international business.
What does a business administrator do?
Business administrators focus on the day-to-day operations of an organization. They oversee the systems that make up the structure of the organization. They differ from management executives in that they do not focus on personnel and interpersonal relationships. Business administrators need to communicate clearly and effectively to members of the organization and external groups connected to the organization. They supervise staff, handle financial matters with other officers, and oversee a range of record keeping and reporting requirements. Administrators typically help make hiring decisions and lead teams of officers and employees to achieve tasks and projects.
Typical Business Administration Degree Requirements
A business administration degree focuses its core business management coursework on business operations. The core of the coursework consists of ethics, law, economics, finance, and marketing with market research. The usual requirements for an Associate Business Administration degree program is 60 hours of coursework, which usually takes 2 years to complete. About 30 hours will cover general education including English, math, science, writing, and speech. Then, there are fifteen to twenty hours in core courses for business and financial subjects, and the balance in business-related electives.
A bachelor’s in business degree program is a four-year degree that requires about 120 credit hours. The course of study divides the units equally between general studies and the business major and any minor you choose. The major core business and financial coursework and electives consist of 30 hours of classes, while a minor or concentration will consist of about 15 hours.
A master’s Business Administration degree program is a two-year degree that requires students to already have earned a bachelor’s in business or a closely related field like business management. Many MBA students use their electives to concentrate on a sub-field based on real-world experience. This is easy because most master's programs require that you already have real-world experience before you can enter the business management or business administration program.
Typical Business Administration Certifications Needed
There are no necessary Business Administration certificates. However, there are optional certificates that you can acquire in order to improve career options, including awards from the American Management Association. Administrators can get voluntary certifications for management and information security.
Academic Standards for Business Administrators
The only academic standards that you need to worry about are those imposed by the college or university you choose to attend. Most institutions require you to maintain a certain GPA to remain in your courses. In addition, if you plan to continue your education to acquire a master’s business degree, you will need to have a reasonable GPA from your time obtaining your bachelors in order to get into many master’s programs.
Exam/Experience Needed to become a Business Administrator
There is no specific examination to qualify as a business administrator, experience is a key factor to getting positions from the entry-level to top executive jobs. Some entry-level positions require an associate degree, most ask for a bachelor's business degree. A master's business degree opens opportunities for candidates for mid to upper level positions.
Important Questions to Ask
How long does it take to earn a Business Administration bachelor's degree online?
A bachelor’s in business administration requires four years of full-time attendance. The coursework requires a typical amount of about 120 credit hours in total. The usual division of course work consist of about 30 credit hours in business administration, 15 hours in electives, and 15 hours in a minor field of study. Part-time attendance can add one to two years for completing the degree. Online students frequently maintain full or part-time jobs and have businesses or significant family or personal obligations. Part-time online degrees can take six years or longer.
How much does a Business Administration bachelor’s degree cost?
The costs of a bachelor’s degree in business administration will depend on the school, the policy towards in-state rates for residents, and the cost of living for on-campus students. The below-listed items describe the average tuition costs for attendance at public and private four-year colleges and universities.
- Average public college tuition (in-state): $9,970
- Average public college tuition (out-of-state): $25,620
- Average private college tuition: $34,740
In addition to tuition, students must pay living expenses generally described as room and board. These include housing, food, local transportation, and incidental expenses. In-state and out-of-state public-school students average about $10,800 per year; private four-year schools average a higher amount at $12,210.
Does the school have the major(s) you’re considering?
It is important to align the choice of school and program with the student’s job and career goals. While some students seek a BA in Business Administration to gain knowledge, many others have general or specific career goals. The choice of school and program can contribute to those goals. An initial question concerns the available major fields of study. Business administration is a broad category; the sub-fields represent major subject areas such as accounting, finance, management, human resources, and entrepreneurship.
Students should carefully review the school’s majors and course offerings to determine that there are enough courses of the type needed to enhance the student’s career plans and goals.
How many students graduate “on time,” in four years?
The National Center for Education Statistics is a leading source of information on student outcomes. One of the metrics they gather is the average graduation rate. College cost estimates use the four-year graduation as standard. When students do not graduate in four years, or “on time”, the cost of education rises dramatically as each year adds another round of tuition, fees, and living expenses. It is useful to note that online students often pay far less in living expenses by living at home while attending online.
At private institutions, the four-year graduation rate is 53%. At public institutions, the four-year rate is 35%. The six-year rate for private schools is 65.6% and the six-year graduation rate for public schools is 58.6%.
What kind of accreditation does the program hold? How is it regarded in the field?
Accreditation is an essential part of the value of a degree. Employers, educational institutions and other reviewers look for assurance of quality education. Regional accreditation of the institution and the particular program ensures high-quality education.
There are two main types of accreditation; they are national and regional. Beyond the regional accreditation level, there are institution-wide and program-specific accreditations. The ideal combination is to select a school with regional institutional accreditation and enroll in a program with regional programmatic accreditation.
Software, Technology and Skills Needed
Business administration is a broad field and some of the sub-categories are specialized in nature, like accounting or financial analysis. There are a large and constantly growing number of software tools in use in today’s business environments and these tools include customized enterprise software systems that are unique to each organization that uses them.
Clearly, business administration education cannot cover all of these systems and tools.
Graduates must be adaptable to new software systems, and they should have a sense of ease and comfort when using standard general software tools like presentation software, spreadsheets, word processing, and electronic mail.
Some specialized areas of business administration require expertise with software. They include: taxation, auditing, information technology, and information systems.
Business Administration Degree Options
Today students that seek careers in business administration have three options for starting a career and a further option for leadership. The associate degree is a two-year course of study that prepares graduates for lower level entry jobs such as assistant positions, internships, and supervised roles. The associate degree is an achievement that can open the door to gaining experience and on the job learning. The bachelor’s degree in business administration is the full entry-level degree. The BA is the standard educational entry-level requirement for nearly all the sub-fields of business administration.
The master’s degree in business administration is the advanced degree of choice for upwardly mobile careers in the field. The MA in Business administration has specializations that establish expertise and leadership in the field such as an MBA with finance, taxation, or information technology. The Ph.D. in Business Administration is the required level for college-level faculty and leading research positions. The doctoral degree establishes graduates as experts in their fields.
Associate's Degree in Business Administration
This two-year course of study prepares graduates to enter the field of business administration. Graduates can compete for assistant level jobs, internships, and early-career learning situations.
- Fundamentals of Business and Business Organizations
- Planning and Project Management
- Critical Thinking
The average tuition cost for an associate degree is $3,500 per year at public schools and about $14,500 per year at private colleges.
Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration
The bachelor’s degree is a widely requested entry level qualification. Some sub-fields like taxation and auditing require specialized bachelor’s degrees.
- Introductions to Accounting, Economics, Information Technology, and Finance
- Overviews of Management and Marketing
- Organizational Leadership
- Strategic Planning
- Business-Based Computer Studies
Some popular and high paying concentrations for the bachelor’s degree include Human Resources, Entrepreneurship, Corporate Management, International Business, and Healthcare Administration.
The average tuition and room and board cost for bachelor’s study at public schools is $21,000 for in-state students and $37,000 for out-of-state. The average tuition and room and board cost for bachelor’s study at private schools is $47,000.
Master’s Degree in Business Administration
The MA in Business Administration qualifies graduates for middle to upper-level positions. A master's degree is a leadership qualification in organizations of all sizes.
- Organizational Behavior and Structures
- Planning and Budgeting
- Accounting and Advanced Accounting
- Finance and International Finance
Some typical concentrations for master’s study include Information Technology, International Trade, Entrepreneurship, Digital Communications, and Marketing.
The average cost for master’s tuition and room and board is $19,000 for public schools and about $42,000 for private schools.
Business Admin Career Options and Earning Potential
The level of a professional’s skills and education affects salary at every level. Those with associate degrees have a higher median wage than high school graduates. Once you’re in a career path, experience is an important factor in higher wages and salary and the BLS reports mid-career median salary. The below-listed items from BLS describes the average median compensation for each education degree level.
Business Administration Salaries by Occupation
Across all types of occupations, there are correlations between educational level and income. Associate degree holders have a median weekly wage of $836, bachelor’s holders earn $1,176 per week, and employees with a masters earn $1,400 per week. Professional degrees have a median weekly income of about $1,800. Business administration workers have a similar experience. Wages rise with education and rise further when education combines with work experience.
Business Administration Occupations:
- Accounting Managers prepare and examine official financial records that must meet generally accepted accounting principles.
- Budget Analysts organize income, expenditures, and financing for public and private organizations.
- Human Resources Specialists help screen, recruit, and place employees.
- Labor Relations Specialists manage labor situations including contracts, disputes, and negotiations.
- Logistics Managers oversee the critical supply chain function for goods and services needed to support organizational processes and functions.
- Purchasing Managers have responsibility for going into the marketplace and creating favorable conditions to acquire goods and services by the most cost-effective means available.
- Administrative Services Managers plan, oversee, and direct organizational support services.
- Supply Chain Managers oversee teams of buyers that work the market to get supplies at advantageous prices.
Median Annual Salary by Occupation
|Occupation||Entry Level||Mid-Career||Late Career|
|Supply Chain Manager||$67,464||$83,160||$91,162|
|Human Resources Generalists||$50,066||$54,860||$57,244|
|Labor Relations Specialists||$60,413||$70,000||$80,000|
|Administrative Services Manager||$52,285||$60,546||$66,245|
|Director of Operations||$66,158||$81,434||$108,773|
Blacks at Microsoft
The sponsor Blacks at Microsoft is an organization that promotes black employees and employment at Microsoft. The scholarship focuses on high school students that intend to enroll at accredited four-year colleges to study eligible subjects, including business administration. Eligibility standards include demonstrated need and superior academic achievement (3.3 GPA or higher).
Abercrombie & Fitch Future Leaders Scholarship
Operating through the ¡Adelante! U.S. Education Leadership Fund, the Abercrombie & Fitch scholarship focuses on students of Hispanic heritage majoring or planning to major in business administration. The program awards five $1,000 scholarships per year. Eligible students must be actively involved in the Hispanic community, have US citizenship, a GPA of 3.0 or better, and be accepted for enrollment at an accredited institution.
Domo Scholarship for Business Management
Domo, the cloud-based executive management platform, has a $125 million in funding for scholarships. It provides $2,500 for students to promote business leadership in the global marketplace. Applicants must major in business administration or a closely related field, at a four-year U.S. university, exhibit financial need, and have a strong interest in analytics or big data. The fund selects based on a 200-word essay on new mobile technologies for realizing a competitive advantage.
Buick Achievers Scholarship Program
Since 1976 the GM Foundation has funded the Buick Achievers Scholarship Program. The program awards up to $25,000 per year for 50 first-time incoming freshmen and currently enrolled students who are entering a qualified business, technology, or engineering degree program at an accredited U.S. or Puerto Rico institution. Eligible applicants must be enrolled full-time, pursue careers in the automotive industry, and have U.S. citizenship. The fund makes awards based on academic achievement, financial need, leadership in community and school activities, and automotive career goals. The program grants preferences to women, first-generation college students, and military veterans.
Stephen Bufton Memorial Educational Fund
Deadline: May 15th
The American Business Women’s Association (ABWA) works through the Stephen Bufton Memorial Educational Fund to offer several national award programs ranging from $5,000 to $10,000 each for qualified female undergraduate or graduate students. Eligible students must be enrolled in an accredited business administration degree program. Applicants should be U.S. citizens, have at least sophomore status, be enrolled in an American college, and maintain a minimum GPA of 3.0.
GEICO Student Achievement Awards
Deadline: February 22nd
GEICO supports high achieving students with $2,500 scholarships. The awards recognize academic dedication, leadership, and community service. Eligible applicants must have a GPA of 3.0 or higher, be enrolled at a four-year school, have junior or senior status, and major in business or computer science. Students should demonstrate activity in the campus community.
Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM)
Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM) is an ideal organization for business administration students interested in human resources. This global organization has more than 275,000 members. SHRM has student chapters that promote education, involvement, and networking.
The American Association of Healthcare Administrative Management (AAHM)
The American Association of Healthcare Administrative Management (AAHM) is an excellent choice for students that want to know more about business and employment opportunities in the vibrant healthcare sector.
The American Management Association (AMA)
The American Management Association (AMA) is an excellent organizational connection for business administration students that seek to work in organizations as senior managers. This group provides helpful information and education on the latest trends and developments in organizational management. The AMA offers student benefits and discounts on programs, webinars, and seminars.
Entrepreneurs Organization (EO)
EO, the Entrepreneurs Organization, is a helpful organization for business administration students seeking careers or business ownership as entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurship is a growing part of the global economy as many individuals seek the freedom and creativity of entrepreneurial capitalism.
Association of Latino Professionals for America (ALPFA)
Association of Latino Professionals for America is an organization that promotes opportunities for Latinos in business administration fields like accounting, finance, and related business areas. The organization offers students opportunities for mentoring, hands-on experiences, internships, and networking in the Latino business community. With connections to many of the top 100 corporations, this association is well-positioned to help grow career opportunities for its membership.
Choosing an Accredited College
College degrees from accredited schools have wide acceptance and respect from employers, recruiters, and other educational institutions. Program accreditation for business schools has the highest level of benefit for business students. Many employers look for the type of accreditation that the applicant’s school maintains. Program accreditation means that the business programs rank high in the entire region or even nationally. The below-listed items describe the leading programmatic-accreditation agencies for business education.
- The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business or AACSB is the leading national program accreditation agency for business education programs.
- The AACSB rates bachelor, master’s, and doctoral business programs. The Accreditation Council for Business Schools & Programs (ACBSP) certifies associate, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degree programs.
- The International Assembly for Collegiate Business Education (IACBE) certifies all levels but does not accredit schools that only offer associate degrees.
Picking an Online vs. On-Campus vs. Hybrid Program
There are advantages to on-campus programs and online programs. The question is which form best fits a student’s needs and preferences. When selecting a program, students should try to match their needs and for students that must continue to work at a job or business the flexibility of online and hybrid education can expand their education opportunities.
On-campus programs involve traditional classrooms and lecture halls where students gather at the same place and time. Experts call this type of attendance a synchronous learning environment. On-campus programs require the student to attend the campus or another location and this may mean that they must move to a new area and pay the expenses of living on campus or in a nearby community. Many people enjoy the idea of living with other students and attending classes to interact with a group.
Online courses offer the advantages of flexibility. Online classes are mostly asynchronous, and students do not have to gather at the same place and time to participate in the learning sessions. Online courses provide flexible access from the internet and students do not have to commute or move to live on or near campus.
Hybrid coursework mixes on-campus and online education into combined schedule offered by the school or created by the student. For many students, it is an ideal combination because they can determine the amount of coursework taken on campus.
Does the College Have Post Graduate Job Placement Help & Assistance?
Many colleges and universities offer programs to help students and alumni get jobs and start careers after graduation. This type of assistance is valuable and should be a factor in selecting a school and program. A school or college may appear to be a complete community; it is also part of a larger community of corporate sponsors, research partners, alumni, business supporters, and local and national affiliates.
Colleges and universities also enjoy reputations built on the success of their graduates as leaders in the business world. If a school incorporates this wider community into a job placement and job counseling system, then students can receive tremendous advantages when searching the job market and getting opportunities for internships and hires.
You Need to Consider How Ratings and Accreditation Can Affect Your Salary
The value of a degree in business administration is not limited to the increased level of skills, capabilities, and knowledge gained from courses and internships. The value of a degree also rests upon the rating, accreditation, and reputation of the school and program. The rating and accreditation can affect the range of jobs available and the income level they would produce.
As discussed above, regional accreditation is the most widely accepted type of accreditation. Regional accreditation demonstrates quality education that meets the rigorous standings applied to an entire region of the US. The best combination is a business school with regional accreditation for the institution and program accreditation for the business program. Employers pay top salaries for graduates from schools that offer the best guarantee of quality education. Further, many careers will benefit from a good start in the job market, and degrees from accredited schools have wide acceptance and respect from employers; they offer a better opportunity for a first hire than non-accredited schools.
Top 10 Best Business Administration Degree Programs
Stanford University offers one of the most elite MBA programs in the world. Individuals have the opportunity to select between a full-time, two-year MBA program or a one-year, full-time program. The one-year program is designed for current business professionals, entrepreneurs, and mid-career leaders. It is important to note that Stanford does not feature a dedicated undergraduate business major. However, they have alternatives, such as management science and engineering or economics.
- In-State: $53,529
- Out-of-State: $53,529
- Rank: #1
- Total Enrollment: 17,381
- Graduation Rate: 94%
- Diplomas Awarded: 431
Harvard University features exclusive MBA and PhD programs for only the most prominent business students and business leaders of today and tomorrow. Harvard Business School has one of the most prestigious and desirable degree programs on the planet. Each program centers around global intelligence, learning in practice, entrepreneurship and innovation, alumni relations, residential learning communities, and publications and resources. The PhD program is one of a kind. Program participants are able to select from a variety of concentrations including accounting, marketing, management, strategy, or technology and operations management.
- In-State: $51,925
- Out-of-State: $51,925
- Rank: #2
- Total Enrollment: 31,566
- Graduation Rate: 98%
- Diplomas Awarded: 1,161
University of Pennsylvania
The University of Pennsylvania is home to the Wharton School. Many of the most influential business leaders in the world have graduated from Wharton. The school’s programs focus on analytics, entrepreneurship and innovation, finance, global perspective, leadership, and more. Over 5,000 students are active undergraduate and graduate business students at Wharton, and over 13,000 executives are in various business programs. Students can choose from online or in-person programs. And students have the option of a bachelor’s degree, MBA, MBA for executives, or a doctoral degree in business administration.
- In-State: $57,770
- Out-of-State: $57,770
- Rank: #3
- Total Enrollment: 25,860
- Graduation Rate: 95%
- Diplomas Awarded: 425
University of Virginia-Main Campus
The University of Virginia’s main campus features a top-ranking business school, Darden School of Business. The business education offered at Darden is one of intensity and excellence. Graduates often advance their careers quickly and receive assistance from many of the 16,000 alumni located throughout roughly 90 countries. This Virginia business school offers both a full-time MBA and an executive MBA to meet the needs of all program participants.
- In-State: $17,798
- Out-of-State: $50,900
- Rank: #4
- Total Enrollment: 24,639
- Graduation Rate: 94%
- Diplomas Awarded: 442
The exclusive Kellogg School of Management is located at Northwestern University. This premium business school offers several MBA programs including an evening, weekend, part-time, and executive MBA program. These programs are designed to work separately with individuals for greater convenience and a greater opportunity for success. It is also possible to select from several dual degree programs, including a JD to MBA program. Each MBA is offered in a different location with a different style of learning environment.
- In-State: $56,691
- Out-of-State: $56,691
- Rank: #5
- Total Enrollment: 22,127
- Graduation Rate: 95%
- Diplomas Awarded: 403
Columbia University in the City of New York
Columbia University is in the heart of NYC, making this advanced education one of the most in-demand due to its proximity to many of the most desirable employers in the world. Each MBA program at Columbia offers something a bit unique to cater to the many different paths of life, such as a full-time MBA for full-time students and an executive MBA for working professionals. All program participants will put theory into action, develop an entrepreneurial mindset, have access to the world’s best speakers and mentors, and be able to connect with thousands of former graduates.
- In-State: $61,788
- Out-of-State: $61,788
- Rank: #6
- Total Enrollment: 31,077
- Graduation Rate: 96%
- Diplomas Awarded: 1,141
University of California-Berkeley
The University of California at Berkeley has one of the top bachelor’s degrees in business administration. As this is a highly competitive program, students will be required to apply to a specialized pathway within the business administration degree program such as global management, entrepreneurship, or technology. Transfer students are welcome. And various MBA programs are also available to suit the needs of different career tracks including evenings, weekends, executive, and full-time programs.
- In-State: $14,253
- Out-of-State: $44,007
- Rank: #7
- Total Enrollment: 42,501
- Graduation Rate: 91%
- Diplomas Awarded: 934
University of California-Los Angeles
The University of California at Los Angeles is home to the UCLA Anderson School of Management. UCLA offers a variety of MBA programs, as well as a PhD in business administration. Each program centers around a challenging and innovative curriculum designed for current and future business leaders. Students can select amongst a variety of MBA program types including a full-time MBA, fully employed MBA, executive MBA, and a global joint MBA. The joint MBA is exclusively for leaders in multinational corporations.
- In-State: $13,240
- Out-of-State: $42,994
- Rank: #8
- Total Enrollment: 44,537
- Graduation Rate: 91%
- Diplomas Awarded: 892
University of Chicago
The University of Chicago boasts explosive and influential business administration opportunities at its Booth School of Business. Each program encourages academic curiosity while collaborating with other students. Students will develop analytical and critical thinking while learning optimal problem-solving skills. Individuals can choose from a part-time, full-time, or executive MBA programs. The Booth School of Business is home to over 54,000 alumni and 3 global campus locations. Some programs also offer weekend MBA courses and internships.
- In-State: $60,552
- Out-of-State: $60,552
- Rank: #9
- Total Enrollment: 17,002
- Graduation Rate: 94%
- Diplomas Awarded: 1,225
University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
The University of Michigan at Ann Arbor proudly offers a number of business administration degrees at its Ross School of Business. Undergraduate students can select a bachelor’s degree in business administration. Individuals who aspire to become part of the business elite have the option to choose from several MBA programs as a way to move up the ladder quickly. Each MBA program differs based on the needs of the program participants such as a full-time MBA, evenings-only MBA, weekend MBA, executive MBA, and a global MBA. Unlike many other top MBA business schools, Ross offers an online MBA for the ultimate in flexibility and convenience. The business school has over 4,200 students and nearly 275 companies recruited graduates in 2019.
- In-State: $15,558
- Out-of-State: $51,200
- Rank: #10
- Total Enrollment: 46,716
- Graduation Rate: 92%
- Diplomas Awarded: 1,342
Business Degrees & Career Paths