Is a Business Degree Worth It? 2022 Guide

Written by Coursera • Updated on

Learn how you can assess the various areas of potential gain to determine whether a business degree may be worth it for you.

[Featured image] A business degree student in a suit stands next to one of his classmates

Any degree you are seeking will require some level of investment, whether that’s measured in money, time, or energy. On the other end of that investment should be a payoff—increased earning potential, new skills, or movement toward your career goals, to name a few.

In general, getting a business degree tends to be a worthwhile investment. In this article, we’ll break down how you can assess the various areas of potential gain to determine whether a business degree may be worth it for you.

What is a business degree?

When someone refers to a business degree, they are generally talking about a bachelor’s degree in any area of business. Programs may be more general, focusing on a broad range of business functions and how they interact with one another, or they may be more specialized, exploring in greater depth a singular area of business

Generalist business degrees may be in areas such as business administration or business management, while specialist business degrees may be in areas such as marketing or finance. Both types fall under the umbrella term of “business degree.”

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Business degree salary and job outlook

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual wage for business and financial occupations as of May 2020 was $72,250, which is over $30,000 higher than the median annual wage across all occupations. Additionally, jobs in this sector are projected to grow about 8 percent between 2020 and 2030, as quickly as the average across all occupations [1].

The majority of occupations included in this category—including accountants, market research analysts, and human resources specialists, to name a few—require a bachelor’s degree as the entry-level education, and getting a degree in business could position you to move into these career paths.

What can you do with a business degree?

A business degree can guide you toward a range of careers within the world of business, and can also prepare you for a career in adjacent fields. Learn more about in-demand jobs you can get with a business degree.

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In general, getting a bachelor’s degree can set you up to earn more money than a person with an associate degree or high school diploma. In 2020, bachelor’s degree holders earned a median weekly income of $1,305, while people with an associate degree earned $938, and people with a high school diploma earned $781, according to the BLS [2]. (Annually, that translates to $67,860 for a bachelor’s degree, $48,776 for an associate degree, and $40,612 for a high school diploma, assuming people worked all 52 weeks in the year.)

Benefits of getting a business degree

A 2019 ZipRecruiter survey found that business is one of the least-regretted college majors among job seekers [3], indicating that business majors generally feel satisfied with what their degree afforded them. In general, these degrees are flexible, come with valuable career resources, and can lead to further business opportunities.

Transferable skills

Beyond the potential financial gains, people who complete a business degree program may find a somewhat unique level of flexibility in its applications. Business is present in nearly every modern industry, meaning degree holders have the option to apply their business degree to just about any area of industry.

Some transferable skills business degree holders may learn in the classroom include:

  • Communication

  • Adaptability

  • Teamwork

  • Leadership.

Career resources and networking opportunities

Additionally, business school can be a great place to plant the seeds for your future success. Many undergraduate programs have career resource centers and extensive alumni networks that can be useful both while earning your degree and after you graduate. You may find opportunities to secure internships or learn directly from people who were once in the same place you are now.

Relationship building

If your long-term goals involve seeking a graduate degree, such as a Master of Business Administration (MBA), setting the foundation with an undergraduate business degree can be a useful step. Although a business degree is generally not a prerequisite for earning an MBA, you may make some valuable connections with faculty who can serve as long-term business mentors or may later write your MBA letter of recommendation.

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Typical business degree cost

Business degree seekers face some costs in exchange for the benefits mentioned above. On a financial level, that cost can range greatly depending on the school you attend. According to research from College Board, the average tuition and fees for the 2021-2022 school year are [4]:

  • $10,740 for a public four-year in-state school

  • $27,560 for a public four-year out-of-state school

  • $38,070 for a private nonprofit four-year school

Typically, students spend about four years working toward their bachelor’s degree requirements.

Understanding your return on investment (ROI)

One way to decide whether a business degree is worth it for you is to look at your potential ROI, which is essentially a comparison of your likely long-term gains against your short-term losses. Since it’s not possible to quantify certain aspects of your business degree—things like skills gained and networking opportunities—ROI typically deals with the financial aspects of value.

According to an analysis from ​​The Foundation for Research on Equal Opportunity (FREOPP), business degrees have a positive ROI 98 percent of the time. That means the vast majority of the time, business degree holders end up making more money because of their degree than they spent earning it. What’s more, over half the time, the returns are worth $500,000 or more [5]. (For comparison, the median net ROI across all degrees was $306,000.)

These numbers sound promising, but remember that they are generalizations, not guarantees. FREOPP has a tool that can help you estimate your long-term earnings based on major and university here [5].

Is a business degree right for you?

Getting your bachelor’s degree in business can be associated with several benefits; however, the degree is only truly worth getting if the projected outcomes align with your goals. To get a better sense of what a business degree might entail, enroll in one of the University of London’s open online courses, Business Sustainability in the Circular Economy or Management Concepts through Metaphor and Music.

Both courses are part of the Bachelor of Science in Marketing. The school also offers a BSc in Business Administration. Earn your business degree entirely online from a top 25 UK university while gaining the knowledge and skills you need to move forward in your career.

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Article Sources

1. US Bureau of Labor Statistics. “Business and Financial Occupations, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/business-and-financial/home.htm.” Accessed December 8, 2021.

2. US Bureau of Labor Statistics. “Education Pays, 2020: Career Outlook, https://www.bls.gov/careeroutlook/2021/data-on-display/mobile/education-pays.htm”. Accessed December 9, 2021.

3. ZipRecruiter. “The Most Regretted College Majors, https://www.ziprecruiter.com/blog/the-most-regretted-college-majors/.” Accessed December 8, 2021.

4. US News and World Report. “Trends in College Pricing and Student Aid 2021, https://research.collegeboard.org/pdf/trends-college-pricing-student-aid-2021.pdf.” Accessed December 8, 2021.

5. Cooper, Preston. “Is College Worth It? A Comprehensive Return on Investment Analysis: FREOPP, https://freopp.org/is-college-worth-it-a-comprehensive-return-on-investment-analysis-1b2ad17f84c8.” Accessed December 8, 2021.

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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