Online Bachelor's in Business Administration

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Comparing Business Management and Business Administration Degrees

Business administration or business management? On the surface, these two degree paths are similar: Both are four-year degrees. Both are offered by many major accredited universities. Both are popular among undergraduate students. However, look a little closer and you can see that there are important differences between the two programs.

For starters, a Bachelor of Science in Business Management (BSBM) degree focuses on, naturally, business management. Coursework may include business communication, basics of accounting, management theory and more. A Bachelor of Science in Business Administration (BSBA) can have different specializations. Students can focus on more practical applications of business, such as finance, marketing, economics and operations. While theory is there, students of BSBA programs can learn tangible skills behind business management, leadership and ethical decision-making.

Business team making plans at conference table

Similar but Not Identical

These two degree paths have clear similarities, but the ways in which they differ are just as notable. 

If searching for the broader of the two educational paths, business management fits that bill. As noted by the Houston Chronicle, the essence of management in this vein lies with a view of the bigger economic picture. Students in management programs aim to have a broad understanding of modern business trends but may not necessarily concentrate on the specifics of any market.

Conversely, business administration is sometimes considered most appropriate for people who plan to take specialized business roles when they complete their studies. Those looking to be high-level accountants, chief technology officers, chief operations officers and similar roles would likely be best served by a BSBA degree before possibly moving on to graduate-level education.

In some ways, the two primary business degrees are different in a way similar to public policy and public administration degree programs. Management is about vision, planning and communication, while administration concerns itself more with ensuring that a business’ nuts-and-bolts operations continue to function in tip-top shape. 

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Choosing a Path

Both the BSBA and BSBM degree programs can offer students a multifaceted foundation that can serve them well upon graduation, when they begin searching for their true careers. Those participating in either program should , for example, develop a strong understanding of the most essential business principles – finance, accounting, marketing and ethics, to name just a few. Those skills can function well in dozens of different industries. 

As the programs progress, curricula grow more specialized for both paths of business education. In the management arena, students sometimes move away from strict business practices and toward areas of study like communications and human resources management, because they will more regularly deal with fellow employees, clients and business partners. Administration students, meanwhile,can  find the specialty to which they are best suited and take courses focusing on ways in which they can keep a business running, such as personal finance, business law, consumer behavior and project management. According to The Balance, this can involve highly specific subcategories within preexisting specializations – tax accounting and auditing principles versus the finer points of managerial or cost accounting, for example.

Prospects for the Future

Career outcomes for the bachelor’s degrees in business administration and business management cover a wide range of options. BSBA graduates often pursue roles in sales management, finance management, healthcare administration and marketing management, among others. BSBM graduates can attain similar roles, but are also known to pursue financial analyst, management analyst, real estate sales, supply chain management, public relations and other roles. Overall, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects job growth in the thousands for many business jobs by 2024, such as management analysts, accountants, financial managers, real estate brokers and others.

According to the additional data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median wage for an organizational accountant was $68,150 as of 2016. Budget analysts, logisticians and financial examiners saw $73,840, $74,170 and $79,280, respectively, as their median earnings during the same year, and constitute jobs that BSBA degree recipients often occupy. The higher echelons of earnings for such positions – all of which the BLS states usually require only a bachelor’s degree at the entry level – edge well into six-figure territory. Careers that may be popular among BSBM graduates, such as financial analyst or public relations manager, have reported median salaries of $81,760 and $58,020, respectively, per the BLS.

Ultimately, the choice is the student’s. But the applicability of an administration education may bear greater fruit for those who chase it. Maryville University offers an online Bachelor’s in Business Administration program for qualified students. If you’re interested in learning more, visit the online BSBA program page for more information and contact an enrollment advisor today.

Now that you better understand the difference between business administration and management, discover potential business administration careers.