Study General Business: Undergraduate Degrees at a Glance
Business if often seen as a field that offers job security and stability. No matter what circumstances the economy faces, businesses always exist and new ones are opening every day. If you want to learn the basics of business, an associate's or bachelor's degree in business may be a good fit for you.
A general business degree can prepare you for a variety of jobs. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicted average or faster-than-average growth rates during the 2010-2020 decade for business office managers (15% predicted job growth), human resources specialists (predicted to increase 21%) and personal financial adviser jobs (predicted to grow 32%).
|Who is this degree for?||Individuals interested in entry level business careers||People interested in leadership positions within the field of business|
|Common Career Paths (with approximate mean annual salary)|| - Entry-level first-line supervisor of retail workers ($41,000)* |
- Tax preparer ($39,000)*
- Payroll and timekeeping clerk ($38,000)*
-Small business owner (salary unavailable)
| - General/operational manager ($114,000-this salary is more common for people with several years of experience)* |
- Sales manager ($117,000 this salary for those at least with 1-5 years of experience)*
- Human resources manager ($109,000 this salary more common for those with human resources or management experience)*
-Independent business owner (salary unavailable)
|Time to Completion||2 years full-time||4 years full-time, or 2 years beyond associate's degree|
|Common Graduation Requirements||Roughly 60 credit hours in business and general studies coursework||Roughly 120 credit hours in business and general studies coursework|
|Prerequisites||High school diploma or GED||High school diploma or GED; associate's degree for a degree-completion program|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2011 figures).
Associate's Degrees in General Business
Associate's programs in general business are geared toward people who are interested in pursuing entry-level positions in any type of business or for those who want skills that are transferable to many careers. These programs focus on teaching you how to effectively communicate, strategize, collaborate, organize and problem solve in a variety of settings.
Associate's business degree programs are widely available, so you have a lot of school options. You'll find that some schools only offer general business degree programs, while others offer business management or business administration programs. All of these degree programs are similar in nature. Some general degree programs offer an opportunity for you to specialize in a particular area of business, like hospitality management or business accounting. You can complete an associate's program terminally, or you may have the option to transfer your degree to a 4-year institution and have the credits count toward the first half of a bachelor's degree in business.
Pros and Cons
- A wide variety of careers are available to people with an associate's degree in business
- Concepts learned in an associate's-level business program can be helpful for individuals interested in entrepreneurship
- Associate's-level business programs are very common, so finding a school is not difficult
- Most high-paying jobs in business require higher education
- An associate's degree is not required to own your own business
- Only about 50% of new businesses survive 5 years or more*
Source: *Small Business Administration.
Courses and Requirements
While pursuing your associate's degree in business, you can expect to take a diverse set of classes aimed toward providing you with a solid grasp on the basic foundations of business management. Some general courses you might take in an associate's-level business program include:
- Business marketing
- Leadership and management
- Payroll management
- Principles of accounting
Associate's programs in general business are commonly available on campus, online and through hybrid programs that combine both types of learning. Online general business programs offer similar coursework to campus-based programs, and program goals and outcomes are the same. If you are looking for a flexible school schedule while pursuing your degree, an online program may be a good fit for you.
Stand Out ith This Degree
Some associate's degree programs may offer areas of specialization. Choosing an area of specialization when pursuing your associate's degree will make you stand out when applying for jobs within that specialization. Many people pursue general business degrees, and potential employers will be looking for people who have a specialized education relevant to what they do.
Bachelor's Degrees in General Business
Bachelor's degree programs in general business are designed to provide students with the skills required to pursue leadership positions within a variety of business-oriented careers. Upon completion of a bachelor's program in general business you will be able to apply critical thinking skills to concepts of business management, effectively create business strategies, utilize problem solving to overcome common obstacles in the business world and communicate professionally with coworkers and clients. Some of these programs are designed as degree-completion programs for adults who have some credits, but not enough for degree. These programs may offer you credit for documented work experience.
Most schools offer specializations within their business program, such as accounting, project management, small business management/entrepreneurship and human resources management. You can specialize by choosing electives in your area of interest.
Pros and Cons
- A bachelor's degree in general business is a requirement for many higher-paying business jobs
- A wide variety of careers are available to people who hold bachelor's degrees in business
- Business programs are very common, so you have many schools to choose from
- When applying for top positions, you will be competing with applicants who hold master's degrees in business
- There are many business degree holders, so finding a job may be more difficult than you think
- A business degree is not required to work in all business-related jobs
Courses and Requirements
While pursuing your bachelor's degree in business, you will take a combination of general studies and business-related courses. The business-oriented portion of your courses will focus on teaching you how to develop yourself as a professional, communicate with others, apply concepts of economics and management to business strategies and make ethical decisions in the workplace.
Because these programs general in nature, your courses may focus on ensuring you learn the fundamentals of business. In a degree-completion program your courses may depend on the number and type of courses you previously completed. While the exact courses you take will vary depending on your school, some courses you might take in a general business program include:
- Professional development
- Principles of marketing
- Business finance
- Business statistics
If you are interested in pursuing a bachelor's degree in business, you have the option to do it on campus, online or through a hybrid program. Online bachelor's degree programs are commonly available through online institutions and campus-based schools. Coursework available online is virtually the same as courses available on campus, and the learning goals and outcomes for the programs are typically the same. You can pursue the same jobs after graduation with an online degree as you could with a degree earned on campus.
Stand Out with This Degree
While internships are not typically required to obtain a bachelor's degree in business, participating in one can provide you with valuable hands-on experience to put on your resume after graduation. Internships are available in a variety of settings, and interning will give you the chance to take concepts you learn in class out of the classroom and apply them to real-world situations while learning from professionals in the field.