What Is a Business Management Degree and What Can You Do With One?

Written by Coursera Staff • Updated on

Earning your business management degree can lead to several lucrative career options.

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Business management is a versatile degree you can earn at several different undergraduate and graduate levels. With a business management degree, you can pursue many roles at either for-profit companies and non-profit organizations that fall within numerous industries such as sales, health care, commerce, manufacturing, advertising, and finance. 

In this article, we’ll go over the different types of business management degrees you can earn and the types of roles you can pursue after graduation. 

Types of business management degrees

You can earn your business management degree at the associate, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctorate level. Which type you choose to pursue depends on your overall career goals, the amount of time you have, as well as your resources. Although it’s worth noting that graduate-level degrees will first require you to complete your bachelor’s. 

Associate degree 

An associate's degree in business management typically takes around two years to complete when you attend full-time. It traditionally serves as a step toward achieving your bachelor's degree, though you can choose to enter the workforce with your associate degree and pursue certain entry-level business roles, such as administrative assistant and customer service associate, or sales representative. 

Your coursework should cover the fundamentals of business, which may include classes on accounting, project planning and management, human resources management, communication, and customer service. 

Bachelor’s degree 

A bachelor’s degree in business management takes between four and five years to complete when you attend full-time, though some online business degrees may take less time. With a bachelor’s degree in business management, you may qualify for more entry-level roles, such as human resources specialist, marketing specialist, business analyst, or financial analyst. 

Your coursework will likely focus on a number of related business subjects, including economics, finance, marketing, human resources, organizational behavior, and accounting. 

Learn more: 10 In-Demand Jobs You Can Get with a Business Degree (2022)

Master’s degree

A master's degree in management (MSM) is one type of graduate level degree you can earn in business, though the Master of Business Administration (MBA) tends to be more popular. Either degree will help you qualify for more advanced business roles, especially those involving leadership. It takes one year to complete your MSM and two years to complete your MBA when you attend full-time.  

There is high demand for MBA graduates in several industries such as health care, technology, consulting, products and services, and finance and accounting industries, according to a 2021 survey of corporate recruiters [1].

Your advanced coursework will continue building on your business knowledge while allowing you to concentrate in a certain area, such as management, finance, or marketing. Master’s level courses tend to focus on business strategy, corporate finance, business ethics, digital marketing, and leadership fundamentals. 

Learn more: Is an MBA Worth It?

Doctorate degree 

As with the master’s, it’s more traditional to earn your Doctor of Business Administration (DBA), which tends to be designed for experienced executives who have earned their MBA and are interested in pursuing C-suite roles, such as Chief Executive Officer. You can also earn your PhD in Business, which prepares you for academic work that involves conducting research or teaching. 

The length of time a DBA takes to complete will differ, but ranges between three and six years.  The coursework at this level focuses on leadership, research and analysis, management, strategic planning, and more. 

Learn more: How Long Does a Business Degree Take?

Alternatives to a business management degree

Whether you’ve earned your degree in another area and want to hone specific business skills, or you’re looking for educational alternatives in order to pursue a career in business, you can explore professional certificates or individual courses that are typically designed to help you learn about a specific area of business and gain career-ready skills. 

Learn more about the business certificates you can earn from Google, IBM, and Meta—all industry leaders—on Coursera.


Salary and job outlook for jobs in business management 

The salary for business jobs will depend on what you end up doing, and the industry in which you do it. However, the growth rate for business jobs shows promising returns. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates that job opportunities in business and finance will grow by 8 percent between 2020 and 2030 [2]. 

While you can pursue a handful of entry-level jobs with an associate degree in business, you may find more opportunities with a bachelor’s degree in business. Below, we’ve outlined some of the common entry-level and managerial roles you can pursue with a bachelor’s degree in business management. 

Job titleSalaryEducationExperience
Human resources specialist$63,490Bachelor’sNone
Market research analyst$65,810Bachelor’sNone
Financial analyst$83,660Bachelor’sNone
Human resources manager$121,220Bachelor’sFive years
Sales manager$132,290Bachelor’sFive years
Marketing manager$141,490Bachelor’sFive years

**All salary information above is sourced from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Next Steps 

Earn your business degree from a number of renowned universities on Coursera. The University of London’s Bachelor’s of Business Administration can be completed in as little as three years when you dedicate 10-12 hours a week to study. Or if you’re looking for graduate options, the University of Illinois offers two tracks: the Master of Science on Management, which takes 12 months to complete, or the Master of Business Administration.                           

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Article Sources

1. GMAC. "Demand of Graduate Management Talent: And Salary Trends, https://www.gmac.com/-/media/files/gmac/research/employment-outlook/2021_crs-demand-of-gm-talent.pdf.” Accessed March 22, 2022. 

2. US Bureau of Labor Statistics. “Business and Financial Occupations : Occupational Outlook Handbook, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/business-and-financial/home.htm." Accessed March 21, 2022.

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