An undergraduate business program educates students on the fundamentals they need in order to become business leaders and successful careerists, regardless of the specific career grads find themselves in. The curriculum, which often includes online business courses, focuses on the essential critical thinking skills, decision-making techniques, and innovative problem-solving needed to prepare students for a diverse, and sometimes amorphous, marketplace. Business degrees can prepare undergrads for entry-level positions in a staggering amount of fields, and can also spur career growth for professionals already working in business. Typical programs are quite broad, offering a range of specialized concentrations.
The business degree is the most popular degree conferred on undergraduates in the U.S., according to a study by the National Center for Education Statistics. This is arguably due to the versatility of the skill set its students acquire. Those able to evaluate data, extrapolate information, and correctly interpret the results are sought by employers in just about any industry. Business school grads are also well-versed in internal policy development and implementation, resource and staff management, professional development practices, and an awareness of the socio-ethical impacts of modern business.
Employers seek business school graduates for entry-level jobs because of the breadth the degree provides. In order to narrow the extremely wide spectrum of business knowledge, most undergraduate programs require students to specialize. Coursework targeted to areas of interest such as marketing, finance, information systems or economics helps hone the skill set of an aspiring business professional.
A typical four-year business program concentrates on current theory, trends, technology and ethical practices. Typical business degree students spend their freshman and sophomore years studying general education requirements, along with introductory classes in statistics, accounting and economics.
Core courses, which are mostly taken during junior and senior year, depend on which area of specialization a student chooses. Regardless of concentration, all business majors can expect core coursework in the following:
- Transformation in Technology
- Information Systems and Applications
- Organizational and Leadership Theory
- Marketing Principles
- Business Law and Ethics
- Human Resource Management
- Cultural Diversity and Management
- Sustainable Business and Manufacturing
- Labor Relations
- Consumer Psychology
- Financial Analysis and Forecasting
- Advanced Corporate Finance
After an undergraduate program, many successful business professionals go on to earn the ubiquitous Master of Business Administration (MBA). MBA programs, considered the gold standard for advancement in corporate industry, dig deeply into accounting, public policy, operations management, supply chain logistics, entrepreneurship, customer services operations, international business, sales and marketing, statistical analysis, and strategic management.
Most MBA programs require three or more years of industry experience for admission; however, five-year dual degree programs that grant both a bachelor's and a master's do exist.
An abundance of specializations certainly exist for business majors. These options vary among individual programs, both online and in traditional campus environments. The most common concentrations within a business degree include:
Finance: Regulatory changes in the financial services market have created a complex business environment, and compliance is mandatory. Classes in corporate taxation, portfolio analysis, financial and estate planning, and retirement planning can prepare a graduate for work in the financial planning arena.
Management: Specializing in management prepares graduates for eventual supervisory positions. Students in a management concentration focus their attention on small business management, organizational design, leadership, and human resources.
Marketing: The relationship between customer, product, and manufacturer is explored by students who specialize in marketing. Coursework in sales techniques, market demographics, consumer behavior, and global marketing prepares these graduates for employment in corporate marketing and business.
Healthcare Management: This rapidly growing area of U.S. industry will continue to be in need of trained management professionals. Business majors who specialize in healthcare management are eligible for positions in any healthcare facility, supervising employees, or managing operations and administration.
International Business: As global business continues to bloom, so does the need for international business grads. Fluency in more than one language and course experiences focused on diversity, cultural, and ethnic influences in business, international finance and ethical practices all help prepare students for their careers in business.
Operations Management: Business majors in this concentration focus on best practices for overseeing the daily management of a business. Courses in management technique, logistics, business ethics, business law, and human resources are all required for this concentration.
Other concentrations offered may include project management, public relations, accounting, information systems, entrepreneurship and economics. Earning an undergraduate business degree with the right specialization can make use of your special talents and interests, preparing your for a successful career at the same time. If you are bright, driven, and competitive, business may very well be the best place for you.
Because there are so many online and traditional business programs available, take the time to research several; peruse course offerings and consider the specialty concentrations available. If you're already interested in a particular industry or role within a corporation, determine which schools provide you with the education to succeed. Maintain a high GPA in undergraduate school and perform well in the workplace, and you may very well be admitted to a selective MBA program.