Your Guide to the Associate Degree in Business Administration

Written by Coursera • Updated on

If you are interested in a business career, earning your associate degree in business administration can be a beneficial first step.

[Featured image] After earning her associate degree in business administration, a new employee sits at her laptop in an open office space smiling as she prepares for her first day as an executive assistant.

An associate degree in business administration is a two-year business degree that primarily focuses on strategy and operations. Depending on your school, the formal name for the degree may be either Associate of Business Administration (ABA), Associate of Arts in Business Administration (AABA), or Associate of Science in Business Administration (ASBA).

In this article, we’ll discuss the degree in more detail, including the type of coursework you can expect, average degree costs, and the type of jobs you can get after graduation.

What is an associate in business administration?

In earning your associate in business administration, you’ll learn the guiding principles of the business world. It’s often seen as laying the groundwork for a future career in business and can serve as a strong foundation if you eventually want to pursue a bachelor’s degree in business or even earn your Master of Business Administration (MBA).

Business administration vs. business management

There are a couple different types of associate degrees in business. Business management often focuses more on the interpersonal aspects of business, like organizational structure and communication, while business administration focuses on strategy. The two degrees tend to be quite similar and they’ll typically lead toward comparable job opportunities.

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Length of time + cost

Although it’s often referred to as a two-year degree, an associate degree may take more or less time to earn, depending on how many courses you take per semester. The important part is the number of credit hours you complete; most associate degree programs—including business administration—require 60 credit hours.

The cost of your associate degree will depend on the specific school you attend. The average tuition for one year at a public, in-district associate program in the United States was $3,800 in 2021, according to the College Board [1].

Learn more about how long it takes to get an associate degree.

Type of coursework

As with any associate degree program, you can expect to complete some general education course requirements in areas such as math, history, and composition. Courses relating to your business administration major may include:

  • Introduction to business

  • Economics

  • Accounting

  • Business ethics

  • International business

  • Project management

  • Principles of marketing

What can you do with an associate degree in business?

Beyond what you stand to learn through a business administration program, it’s worth considering what you can do—and comparing that to what you want to do—after earning your degree. Let’s take a closer look at salary and the type of jobs you can pursue with an associate degree in business administration.

Average salary

Typically, the more education you have, the higher your salary will be. In the United States, the median weekly salary of a person with an associate degree is $938, according to data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). That’s $157 higher than the median weekly salary of a person whose highest education level is a high school diploma [2].

Additionally, the unemployment rate associated with associate degree holders is 7.1 percent, lower than the 9 percent unemployment rate associated with high school graduates [2]. This data suggests that having an associate degree can increase your attractiveness to an employer or that there are more job opportunities available to people who hold an associate degree.

10 entry-level jobs you could get with an associate in business administration

Most higher level, high-growth business jobs (which often come with higher salaries) require at least a bachelor’s degree, according to the BLS [3]. However, your associate degree in business administration can be a nice entry point as you work toward furthering your education or gaining specialized experience in your chosen field.

Here are ten jobs you may qualify for—and their average base salary as of April 2022, according to Glassdoor—with an associate degree in business administration:

  1. Executive assistant, $58,061

  2. Project coordinator, $51,161

  3. Restaurant manager, $49,824

  4. Store manager, $46,599

  5. Sales coordinator, $43,887

  6. Marketing assistant, $43,576

  7. Human resources coordinator, $42,836

  8. Office coordinator, $39,491

  9. Administrative assistant, $37,529

  10. Customer service representative, $32,240

Learn more about high-paying jobs you can get with an associate degree.

Continuing your education

Often, an associate degree is seen as the first building block in your business education. As you gain experience through entry-level roles, you may realize that you’ll qualify for more opportunities within your field if you continue your education.

If you are interested in furthering your career, a bachelor’s degree in business tends to be a worthy investment. As of May 2020, the median annual salary across business and financial occupations was $72,250, according to the BLS—and nearly all of the occupations they considered required a bachelor’s degree [4].

What’s more: the 60 credits you completed for your associate degree can count toward the 120 credits you’ll need for your bachelor’s degree. This means that once you earn your associate degree, you may already be halfway through your bachelor’s degree program.

Tip: If you have plans to continue your education, or if you want to be prepared in case you decide to go back to school in the future, check that the associate degree program you’re considering is accredited. This will make it easier for you to transfer credits into your next degree program so that you can reduce the time and cost of earning your bachelor’s degree.

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There are many options for continuing your education while maintaining a job. For example, you may work toward your bachelor’s degree part-time or enroll in online courses for more flexibility.

Get started with Coursera

Even without an associate degree, you could qualify for entry-level roles in project management, social media marketing, bookkeeping, and sales operations with a Professional Certificate from industry leaders like Google, Meta, Intuit, and Salesforce, all available on Coursera. Certificates take about six months to complete, and some programs are ACE® recommended—meaning when you complete them, you can earn college credits.

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Article sources

1. College Board. “Trends in College Pricing and Student Aid 2021, https://research.collegeboard.org/media/pdf/trends-college-pricing-student-aid-2021.pdf.” Accessed April 4, 2022.

2. US Bureau of Labor Statistics. “Employment Projects: Education pays, https://www.bls.gov/emp/chart-unemployment-earnings-education.htm.” Accessed April 4, 2022.

3. US Bureau of Labor Statistics. “Projected openings in occupations that require a college degree, https://www.bls.gov/careeroutlook/2021/article/projected-openings-college-degree.htm.” Accessed April 4, 2022.

4. US Bureau of Labor Statistics. “Occupational Outlook Handbook: Business and Financial Occupations, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/business-and-financial/home.htm.” Accessed April 4, 2022.

Written by Coursera • Updated on

This content has been made available for informational purposes only. Learners are advised to conduct additional research to ensure that courses and other credentials pursued meet their personal, professional, and financial goals.

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